18th August 2016

Flint Jack is the only dual winner of the Ebor Handicap, but Warlock won two as well. Whereas both of Flint Jack’s successes came at York Warlock also won a Doncaster version. Although considered to be an “unlucky” horse the roan won a St Leger, defeated a Derby winner, won two Her Majesty’s Plates and once even got the better of the mighty Fisherman.

The son of Birdcatcher was foaled in 1853 and owned by a respected member of Newcastle Corporation, Anthony Nichol, who had enjoyed Classic success with Newminster. Like Newminster he was trained by John Scott at Whitewall Stables, Malton, Yorkshire.

In May 1855, after showing promise at home, Scott fancied the two-year-old to land the Woodcote Stakes, one of the first six-furlong races of the season, at Epsom. Ridden by Sim Templeman, the 3/1 favourite dwelt at the start and failed by a head to catch Lawn and had to settle for a share of second place with Spindle.

Sore shins prevented Warlock from re-appearing until August. Then, in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at York, he came up against the highly regarded Artillery. Again ridden by Templeman, he was a well beaten fourth behind the odds-on winner who was consequently heavily backed for the Derby.

His season finished on a high note in September. In Artillery’s absence he started evens favourite in the Two Year Old Stakes at Doncaster. In a race run in the pouring rain, Templeman sent him to the front at the Red House eventually beating Announcement by “a clever neck”.

Earmarked as a horse with potential, his first three runs as a three-year-old were blighted by bad luck. Making his seasonal debut in the North Derby at Newcastle, he was tracking pacesetter King of the Gypsies and going well. Then, when the leader bolted at the Newcastle Turn he bolted too. He then fell in a ditch, by the side of the course, throwing Templeman and rolling on him. Fortunately horse and rider escaped serious injury; whilst Artillery was considered a lucky winner of the race.  The following day, this time ridden by Edgerton, he was fancied to gain consolation in the Northumberland Plate. The 4/1 second favourite was well placed but, rising up the hill, crossed his legs and fell, the race going to Lord Zetland's Zeta. Next time out he finished second in the Cumberland Plate (twice round and a distance) at Carlisle when he should have won. His jockey, 19 year-old George Fordham, mistook the chair at the distance for the winning post and easing down, allowed Fisherman, ridden by Quinton, to reel him in to land the spoils by a short head.

Due a change of luck, in August, starting as the 4/1 second favourite, Nichol’s light blue, red-sleeved colours were first past the post in the Great Ebor Handicap. Given a copybook ride by 18 year-old Henry Withington, Warlock tracked Fordham on the favourite, The Coroner, until turning for home, when he moved onto the heels of the pace-setting Merlin.  Inside the final furlong, he went on to win by a cosy half length.

Warlock Ebor Handicap 1856

Next seen in the St Leger, his stable companion, Victoria, was said to be better fancied but those who witnessed the ease of his Ebor success felt obliged to support him at 12/1. With the 8/13 favourite and Derby winner, Ellington, one of the first beaten, the race developed into a three-way contest between Warlock, Bonnie Scotland and Artillery. Close home, in the hands of Nat Flatman, Warlock forged two lengths clear and became Scott’s thirteenth winner of the oldest Classic.

The partnership came out again a day later and finished fifth in the Doncaster Cup behind Fandango.

As a four-year-old, his 1857 season started in the Tradesman’s Plate (Chester Cup) when, ridden by John Wells, he never threatened. Re-united with Flatman, he then finished tailed off in the Gold Cup before clashing with prolific winner Fisherman in Her Majesty’s Plate at York. It turned into a game of cat and mouse between two former champion jockeys, Wells on Fisherman and “Nat” on Warlock:

“Upon the starter lowering his flag, for the horses to go, the couple commenced walking, and so proceeded for about 100 yards, when they began to canter. This pace was continued until a mile and a half had been run, and from this point, until reaching half way up the distance, the cry was “Fisherman wins?” Warlock, however, carried on in an invincible lead, and won comparatively easy by a neck, after never being headed.” (The Era)

Nat Flatman Nat Flatman

The next day, he reappeared in the Great Ebor Handicap and started a warm 5/4 favourite. With Templeman back in the saddle he “made an indifferent exhibition” managing only fourth place, leading some to question Fisherman’s well-being.

A month later, Flatman up, he turned the York Ebor form around when he won the Doncaster version, beating Tasmania a half a length.  Scott explained that the 9/1 hope was “delicate (and) won’t come two days together” causing Bell’s Life to question “his public running hereafter”. Two days later he finished third in the Doncaster Cup, won by Vedette.

Warlock then finished sixth in the Cesarewitch before coming out again a week later to land the 2/5 odds in Her Majesty’s Plate at Lincoln, by holding off Wardermarske by a head.

Increasingly difficult to train, racing as a five-year-old his opportunities were limited. The handicappers had him in their grip whilst he was short of the class for the prestigious Cup races. After he finished fourth in the Great Northern Handicap at York behind Tunstall Maid, it was noted in The Era that he was “tiring under his weight perceptibly”. Then at Ascot, in the Gold Cup partnered by Alfred Day, he finished a well-beaten fourth as Fisherman took his revenge.

Henry Hall Dixon, "The Druid", thought Warlock was so delicate that he “wanted a wonderful amount of management”. Fortunately, from the “Wizard of the North” he received that care and in his prime there was “something very corky about him”. Dixon concluded that he was "game but slow" yet on his day Warlock was capable of conjuring up magical performances.

Tony Lake