The 1896 flat racing season was famous for the rivalry between St Frusquin and Persimmon. Our latest blog by Stephen Wallis features St Frusquin, a Palace House 2000 Guineas winner owned by Leopold De Rothschild.
St Frusquin and Persimmon were both from the same blood, sired by the legendary racehorse and stallion St Simon. Home bred by Leopold, his dam Isabel had won eleven races and her sire Plebeian won the 1874 Middle Park Stakes, or Plate as it was known at the time, a race St Frusquin would win in his juvenile campaign. The Rothschild’s colt was brown with a star and snip on his face, who throughout his career was plagued with rheumatism.
He was trained at Palace House stables, Newmarket, by Alfred Hayhoe, who had succeeded his father Joseph on his death in 1881. Hayhoe junior was renowned for his old fashioned approach and could be hard on his horses.
St Frusquin made his debut on 10 May 1895 at Kempton Park where he won the Royal Plate over five furlongs. The precocious colt followed up with wins over five furlongs at Sandown at the end of June, where he beat the Duke of Westminster’s owned colt Labrador, and Newmarket in mid July before he had a spell off the racecourse due to his rheumatism and the hard summer ground.
The firm ground had been the main reason why Leopold had given Royal Ascot a miss. The Prince of Wales’s colt Persimmon had made an impressive debut at the Royal meeting winning the Coventry Stakes.
St Frusquin reappeared in the Imperial Produce Stakes at Kempton over six furlongs, where he suffered a narrow defeat. Albeit he was possibly lacking in work after nearly three months off, conceding 12Ib to Teufel (4th in the following year’s Derby) and was ridden by Fred Finlay, who had never sat on him before.
His next run a week later in the Middle Park began the trilogy of races over the next nine months between St Frusquin and Persimmon, who were owned by close friends Leopold De Rothschild and the Prince of Wales.
The Royal Colt, who after Ascot had won the Richmond Stakes at Goodwood, was sent off favourite at 2/1 with St Frusquin 4/1. However, apparently running against the wishes of the Royal trainer Richard Marsh, Persimmon showed distress when he came under pressure while St Frusquin ran on to beat the Duke of Westminster’s filly Omladina by half a length after challenging her in the dip. Persimmon finished five lengths back in third.
Persimmon was put away for the winter whilst St Frusquin returned to Newmarket for the Dewhurst which he won by three lengths conceding 10Ibs to the second.
The racing press of the day thought St Frusquin the best two year old of 1895 but thought highly of Persimmon and the Duke of Westminster’s colt Regret. Some though looking forward to the 2000 Guineas were of the opinion that Leopold’s colt had not handled the dip very well in his Dewhurst run.
Sadly for racing fans of 1896, both Regret and Persimmon had training setbacks in the spring and did not make the starting line at Newmarket. Persimmon’s owner, The Prince of Wales did make the race and The Times newspaper reported he had been staying at his rooms at the Jockey Club in town.
Meanwhile, St Frusquin, who had won his prep race at the Craven meeting was considered a certainty. In a field of only seven runners, St Frusquin was an extraordinary 12/100 favourite with Labrador next in the betting at 100/6!
Ridden by his regular jockey Tommy Loates the favourite took the lead at ‘the bushes’ and eased home three lengths clear of Love Wisely ridden by his elder brother, Sam. It was a first Classic for Leopold, who would repeat the feat in the 2000 Guineas eight years later with St Amant, a son of St Frusquin.
St Frusquin headed off to Epsom on 3 June as a firm favourite for the Derby where the 2nd part of the trilogy with Persimmon took place. But that’s another story!
Photo of Tommy Loates courtesy of Jockeypedia
Blog by Stephen Wallis