Watling Street (horse)

Last updated
Watling Street
Sire Fairway
Grandsire Phalaris
Damsire Rabelais
Sex Stallion
Country Great Britain
Colour Bay
Breeder Lord Derby
OwnerLord Derby
Trainer Walter Earl
Record9: 4-4-1
Earnings £ not found
Major wins
Chesterfield Stakes (1941)
British Classic Race wins:
Epsom Derby (1942)

Watling Street (1939–1953) was a British Thoroughbred racehorse and sire. In a career which lasted from spring 1941 to September 1942 he ran nine times and won four races. Having been rated the third best British two-year-old of his generation he went on to greater success as a three-year-old the following year when he won a wartime substitute version of The Derby and finished second in both the 2000 Guineas and the "New" St Leger. At the end of 1942 he was retired to a stud career of limited importance. He was eventually exported to the United States where he died in 1953.

Thoroughbred Horse breed developed for racing

The Thoroughbred is a horse breed best known for its use in horse racing. Although the word thoroughbred is sometimes used to refer to any breed of purebred horse, it technically refers only to the Thoroughbred breed. Thoroughbreds are considered "hot-blooded" horses that are known for their agility, speed, and spirit.

Horse racing Equestrian sport

Horse racing is an equestrian performance sport, typically involving two or more horses ridden by jockeys over a set distance for competition. It is one of the most ancient of all sports, as its basic premise – to identify which of two or more horses is the fastest over a set course or distance – has been unchanged since at least classical antiquity.

Epsom Derby Flat horse race in Britain

The Derby Stakes, officially the Investec Derby, popularly known as the Derby is a Group 1 flat horse race in England open to three-year-old colts and fillies. It is run at Epsom Downs Racecourse in Surrey over a distance of one mile, four furlongs and 6 yards, on the first Saturday of June each year.



Watling Street was a tall, leggy bay horse standing 16.1¾ hands high [1] bred by his owner Lord Derby and the colt was named for Watling Street, an ancient trackway in England and Wales. His sire, Fairway, had been a highly successful racehorse for Lord Derby, winning the St Leger and two runnings of the Champion Stakes. Watling's Street's dam, Ranai, won two minor races before producing many good winners including the 2000 Guineas winner Garden Path. [2]

Hand (unit) unit of measurement of length equal to 101.6 millimetres (4 in)

The hand is a non-SI unit of measurement of length standardized to 4 inches (101.6 mm). It is used to measure the height of horses in some English-speaking countries, including Australia, Canada, the Republic of Ireland, the United Kingdom and the United States. It was originally based on the breadth of a human hand. The adoption of the international inch in 1959 allowed for a standardized imperial form and a metric conversion. It may be abbreviated to "h" or "hh". Although measurements between whole hands are usually expressed in what appears to be decimal format, the subdivision of the hand is not decimal but is in base 4, so subdivisions after the radix point are in quarters of a hand, which are inches. Thus, 62 inches is fifteen and a half hands, or 15.2 hh.

Edward Stanley, 17th Earl of Derby British politician

Edward George Villiers Stanley, 17th Earl of Derby,, styled Mr Edward Stanley until 1886, then The Hon Edward Stanley and then Lord Stanley from 1893 to 1908, was a British soldier, Conservative politician, diplomat, and racehorse owner. He was twice Secretary of State for War and also served as British Ambassador to France.

Watling Street ancient trackway

Watling Street is a route in England that began as an ancient trackway first used by the Britons, mainly between the areas of modern Canterbury and St Albans using a natural ford near Westminster. The Romans later paved the route, which then connected the Kentish ports of Dubris (Dover), Rutupiae (Richborough), Lemanis (Lympne), and Regulbium (Reculver) to their bridge over the Thames at Londinium (London). The route continued northwest past Verulamium (St Albans) on its way to Viroconium (Wroxeter). The Romans considered the continuation on to Blatobulgium (Birrens) beyond Hadrian's Wall to be part of the same route, leading some scholars to call this Watling Street as well, although others restrict it to the southern leg.

Lord Derby sent the horse to his private trainer Walter Earl at his Stanley House stable in Newmarket, Suffolk.

Godolphin Stables, also known as Stanley House stables, is a thoroughbred racehorse ownership, training and breeding operation in Newmarket, Suffolk, which has produced many notable horses. It is one of the most famous racing establishments in the world and is currently owned and operated by Godolphin Racing, the UK's largest flat racing operation.

Newmarket, Suffolk Market town in Suffolk, England

Newmarket is a market town in the English county of Suffolk, approximately 65 miles north of London. It is generally considered the birthplace and global centre of thoroughbred horse racing and a potential World Heritage Site. It is a major local business cluster, with annual investment rivalling that of the Cambridge Science Park, the other major cluster in the region. It is the largest racehorse training centre in Britain, the largest racehorse breeding centre in the country, home to most major British horseracing institutions, and a key global centre for horse health. Two Classic races, and an additional three British Champions Series races are held at Newmarket every year. The town has had close royal connections since the time of James I, who built a palace there, and was also a base for Charles I, Charles II, and most monarchs since. The current monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, visits the town often to see her horses in training.

Racing career

1941: two-year-old season

The Second World War led to horse racing being conducted on a restricted scale with a restructured programme. With many racecourses used by the military or considered dangerous due to their proximity to major population centres, races were either cancelled or moved away from their traditional venues. Most of the major races, including all the classics were run at Newmarket.

British Classic Races five British Group 1 horse races for three-year-olds

The British Classics are five long-standing Group 1 horse races run during the traditional flat racing season. They are restricted to three-year-old horses and traditionally represent the pinnacle of achievement for racehorses against their own age group. As such, victory in any classic marks a horse as amongst the very best of a generation. Victory in two or even three of the series marks a horse as truly exceptional.

Newmarket Racecourse horse racing venue in England

Newmarket Racecourse is a British Thoroughbred horse racing venue in the town of Newmarket, Suffolk, comprising two individual racecourses, the Rowley Mile and the July Course. Newmarket is often referred to as the headquarters of British horseracing and is home to the largest cluster of training yards in the country and many key horse racing organisations, including Tattersalls, the National Horseracing Museum and the National Stud. Newmarket hosts two of the country's five Classic Races - the 1,000 Guineas and 2,000 Guineas, and numerous other Group races. In total, it hosts 9 of British racing's 36 annual Group 1 races.

Watling Street began his career by winning the Littleport Stakes and the Chesterfield Stakes in the spring of 1941. He then ran in the Coventry Stakes, which was run at Newmarket instead of its usual venue of Royal Ascot. He finished second to the easy winner Big Game, a colt owned by King George VI. The main races of Doncaster's St Leger meeting in September were also rescheduled and the Champagne Stakes was run at Newbury in late June. In this race Watling Street was beaten again by Big Game, although the Royal colt's margin of superiority was only a short-head. [3] On his final start of the season, Watling Street ran disappointingly to finish fourth in the Middle Park Stakes behind the King's filly Sun Chariot. [4]

Coventry Stakes

The Coventry Stakes is a Group 2 flat horse race in Great Britain open to two-year-old horses. It is run at Ascot over a distance of 6 furlongs, and it is scheduled to take place each year in June.

Big Game (horse) British-bred Thoroughbred racehorse

Big Game (1939–1963) was a British Thoroughbred racehorse and sire. In a career that lasted from April 1941 to October 1942, the colt, who was owned by King George VI, ran nine times and won eight races. He was the best British two-year-old colt of his generation in 1941 when he was unbeaten in five starts. Two further wins the following spring including the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket took his unbeaten run to seven, but he suffered his first defeat when odds-on favourite for the wartime "New Derby". He won his only other race in the Champion Stakes before being retired to stud. Big Game's royal connections and racecourse success made him one of the most popular horses of his time.

The Champagne Stakes is a Group 2 flat horse race in Great Britain open to two-year-old colts and geldings. It is run at Doncaster over a distance of 7 furlongs and 6 yards, and it is scheduled to take place each year in September.

In the Free Handicap, a ranking of the season's best two-year-olds, Watling Street was given a rating of 130 pounds, placing him third behind Sun Chariot (133) and Big Game (133). [5]

Pound (mass) unit of mass in imperial, US customary, and avoirdupois systems of units

The pound or pound-mass is a unit of mass used in the imperial, United States customary and other systems of measurement. Various definitions have been used; the most common today is the international avoirdupois pound, which is legally defined as exactly 0.45359237 kilograms, and which is divided into 16 avoirdupois ounces. The international standard symbol for the avoirdupois pound is lb; an alternative symbol is lbm, #, and or ″̶.

1942: three-year-old season

Watling Street began his three-year-old season by winning the Shelford Stakes over one mile before running in the 2000 Guineas. He finished second, beaten four lengths by the odds-on favourite Big Game.

With Epsom Downs Racecourse out of use, the substitute "New Derby Stakes" was run on the July course at Newmarket on 13 June in front of a crowd which included the King and Queen. [6] Ridden by Harry Wragg, Watling Street started at odds of 6/1, with Big Game being made the 4/6 favourite. Watling Street won by a neck from Hyperides, with Ujiji two lengths back in third.and Big Game sixth. [7] His win, in a time of 2:29.6 which equaled the wartime Derby record, was received with little enthusiasm by the spectators who had been anticipating a Royal victory. [8]

On 12 September, Watling Street started favourite for the substitute "New St Leger Stakes" at Newmarket. He finished second of the eight runners, three lengths behind Sun Chariot, but five lengths clear of Hyperides in third. [9] Shortly after his defeat at Doncaster, it was announced that Watling Street would be retired from racing and would begin his stud career at a fee of £198. [10]

Stud record

Retired to stud duty, Watling Street made little impression as a sire of winners, with the best of his progeny being the Cumberland Lodge Stakes winner Rawson. He was exported to the United States in 1952. After standing for one season at the Claiborne Farm he died in late 1953. In his only American season he sired Go-Modern, who produced TRA United States Champion Older Mare Summer Scandal. [11]


Pedigree of Watling Street (GB), bay 1939 [12]
Fairway (GB)
Bay 1925
bay 1913
Polymelus Cyllene
Maid Marian
Scapa Flow
chestnut 1914
Chaucer St. Simon
Canterbury Pilgrim
AnchoraLove Wisely
Ranai (FR)
bay 1925
bay 1900
St. Simon* Galopin
St. Angela
Dark Sedge
bay 1916
PrestigeLe Pompon
Beattie Volodyovski
Crusado (Family:7 [2] )

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  1. "NOTES AND CHAT". The West Australian (Perth). 4 Sep 1942. Retrieved 2012-02-26.
  2. 1 2 "Blacklegs Royal Mare - Family 7". Bloodlines.net. Retrieved 2012-02-26.
  3. "KING'S HORSES. Outstanding Derby Chance". Western Mail (Perth). 26 March 1942. Retrieved 2012-02-26.
  4. "SPORTING". Evening Post. 16 June 1942. Retrieved 2012-02-26.
  5. "ENGLISH SPORTING LETTER". Townsville Daily Bulletin. 12 Mar 1942. Retrieved 2012-02-26.
  6. "BIG CAME UNPLACED". Evening Post. 15 June 1942. Retrieved 2012-02-26.
  7. Special Cable to THE NEW YORK TIMES. (4 June 1942). "ENGLISH DERBY WON BY WATLING STREET". New York Times. Retrieved 2012-02-26.
  8. "THE DERBY. WATLING STREET WINS". The West Australian (Perth). 15 Jun 1942. Retrieved 2012-02-26.
  9. "KING'S HORSE WINS St. Leger Success". The Mercury (Hobart). 14 Sep 1942. Retrieved 2012-02-26.
  10. "King's Horses Have Finished Racing". The Advertiser (Adelaide). 30 Sep 1942. Retrieved 2012-02-26.
  11. "Fairway".
  12. "English Derby Winner: Watling Street".