The Baron's Year

26th May 2016

The Baron's Year

The proprietor of Palace House Stables, Baron Mayer Amschel de Rothschild had such a successful year in 1871 that it was known as "The Baron's Year". The Baron's horses won four of the five Classics, he headed the owners' list and his King Tom was the season's leading sire. Throughout the season tipsters regularly advised punters to "Follow the Baron".

The youngest son of banker Nathan Mayer Rothschild first registered the family's dark blue and yellow silks in 1843 and had his horses trained by John Scott at Whitewall Stables in Malton. Ten years later, he appointed Joseph Hayhoe, Scott's former head lad, as his private trainer at Russley Park, near Marlborough.

The new partnership enjoyed a successful first season, which included Hyacinth winning the Windsor Town Plate at Ascot and the classy Hungerford notching up a hat trick with wins at Brighton, Doncaster and Leicester. More significant for "The Baron's Year" though were the victories of Rothschild's £2000 purchase King Tom, in the Triennial Produce Stakes at Newmarket, and Mentmore Lass, in the 1000 Guineas. Their daughter would be Hannah.

With the Norfolk-born Hayhoe unhappy training in remote Wiltshire, in 1856, Rothschild moved him to Newmarket, installing him at Primrose Cottage Stables. Classic success continued, with a second 1000 Guineas, in 1864 with Tomato, and the Oaks in 1867 with Hippia. Both were daughters of King Tom and their successes were a prelude for 1871.

Then Baron Rothschild won £24,430, more than double the amount won by the second most successful owner. Hannah contributed £12,730, whilst Favonius (£5,990), Corisande (£3,610), and Chopette (£1,565) played their parts.

Hannah won four of her six races. Under Charlie Maidment she won the 1000 Guineas (£3400), the Oaks (£4100), the St Leger (£4800), and walked over for the twenty-third Triennial Produce Stakes (£430) at Newmarket's First October Meeting. She was a close-up third to King of the Forest and Ripponden in the Prince of Wales' Stakes at Ascot; and was third (when conceding weight) to Verdure and Veranda in the Newmarket Oaks. The horse, named after Rothschild's daughter, was "a small-boned filly somewhat lacking in substance" and disappointed at four and five.

Favonius was beaten a head by Albert Victor on his debut in the Thirteenth Newmarket Biennial but turned the tables next time out when winning the Derby (£5125) ridden by Tom French. He won three other races: the Midsummer Stakes (£250) at Newmarket July Meeting, the Brighton Cup (£300) and walked over for a £200 Sweepstakes. In his other two races he finished half a length behind Shannon in the Goodwood Cup and was unplaced in the Cambridgeshire. At stud, Favonius got Derby winner, Sir Bevys (1876), bred and raced by Rothschild's nephew, Baron Leopold de Rothschild, and trained by Joseph Hayhoe.

Corisande finished behind her better fancied stable companions in the 1000 Guineas, Oaks and Brighton Cup. After easily winning the Coronation Stakes at Ascot and Grand Duke Michael Stakes at Newmarket she capped her season by landing a gamble in the Cesarewitch under Maidment.

In the summer, speedy two-year old Chopette won the Queen's Stand Plate and Fern Hill at Ascot on consecutive days as well as the Filly Stakes at Newmarket. Then in the autumn, she won the Fitzwilliam Stakes and the Bradgate Park Stakes at Doncaster on consecutive days before taking two Sweepstakes and two Plates at Newmarket.

King Tom, who stood at Rothschild's stud farm at Crafton, near his country estate at Mentmore, was the leading sire of the year. His stock won prizes worth £17,971, mainly thanks to Hannah and Corisande. Rothschild also bred Favonius, a son of Parmesan from Zephyr by King Tom, and Chopette a daughter of North Lincoln. "The Huddersfield Chronicle" echoed the sentiments of many when they wrote "by exercise of patience and judgement in breeding, (Rothschild) has achieved in one season all that a true lover of racing can desire."

The champion owner and breeder was very popular. The "Field" summed up his season, "Baron Rothschild has accomplished a feat that no other owner of racehorses has ever previously done - namely, won the Derby, Oaks, One Thousand Guineas, and Doncaster St Leger in one year, with horses bred at his own stud. No victory could have been more popular than that of Hannah at Doncaster, as she is a good honest filly and has been run straight through all her engagements, as an animal belonging to a popular and high-minded sportsman like Baron Rothschild should be." When he died in 1874, Rothschild was described in "Baily's Magazine" as "the Model Sportsman".

Tony Lake