Flying Fox: The popular racehorse

Flying Fox was a legendary British Thoroughbred Stallion that was foaled by Eaton Stud in 1896. He was owned by Hugh Lupus Grosvenor, the first Duke of Westminster and a prolific horse breeder in his own right.

Flying Fox was the fourth generation in a great line of racehorses starting from his great grandfather, Bend Or. In many circles, this generation is considered one of the most prolific of the 19th and 20th centuries.

Tracing down the family tree, Bend Or was a Derby-winning horse, and Ormonde (his progeny) won the Triple crown. Orme after him was a two-time Eclipse Stakes winner, and finally, Flying Fox won Hugh Grosvenor his second Triple Crown.

Flying Fox's Profile

  • Place of birth: Cheshire, England
  • Date of birth/age of death: 1896, died at age 15
  • Sex: Male (stallion)
  • Owner: Hugh Lupus Grosvenor
  • Trainer: John Porter
  • Sire and Dam: Orme/Vampire
  • Jockey: John Arnold Alfred
  • Record: 9-2-0
  • Career earnings: 40,000 pounds

Flying Fox's Achievements

Flying Fox was conceived to the well-accomplished stallion Orme and the vivacious mare Vampire in 1896. He was born in the United Kingdom, bred by Eaton Stud, and trained by the legendary Thoroughbred flat racing trainer, John Porter. Flying Fox was well-built, imposing, bay-colored, and possessed a majestic flowing mane. For all of his racing career, Flying Fox had John Arnold Alfred as his jockey.

With John Porter, he was always in good hands. The experienced trainer won the Triple crown three times himself. He is also revered, even today, by many historical institutions. Notably, the British National Museum has described him as "undoubtedly the most successful trainer of the Victorian era".

His trainer raced Flying Fox for only two years because he was allegedly challenging to handle. As a colt, he won three of his five races aged two (in 1898). A year later, in 1899, he managed to go undefeated for an entire season on the way to winning his only Triple Crown.

His list of major race wins reads thus:

  • New Stakes (1898)
  • Criterion Stakes (1898)
  • 2,000 Guineas (1899)
  • Epsom Derby (1899)
  • St. Leger Stakes (1899)
  • Eclipse Stakes (1899)
  • Jockey Club Stakes (1899)
  • Princess of Wales's Stakes (1899)

In his incredible career, Flying Fox accrued a 9-2-0 record over 11 races. In total, he racked up an astonishing 40,000 pounds in winnings (or roughly 5 million pounds in today's money).

Notable Remarks

Every successful career comes with awards, accomplishments, and honors - Flying Fox's career was no different. First off, the London and North Eastern Railway, in 1925, decided to name a Class A1 locomotive after Flying Fox - in keeping with its tradition of naming trains after winning racehorses.

Flying Fox was also awarded the Leading sire in France in the years 1904,1905, and 1913. This was due to the outstanding performance of the racehorses, which he sired at the time.

When his owner Hugh Grosvenor died in 1899, Flying Fox was also approaching his racing carer's tail end. As such, along with some of the other horses in the Duke's stables, he was put up for auction, bought for a then-record 37,500 guineas, and transported to his new owner Edmond Blanc's horse farm: Haras de Jardy.

Throughout his stud career at his new home in France, his progeny earned a combined 203,400 pounds in prize money (or roughly 25 million pounds in today's money). One of the first colts he sired, Ajax was an accomplished racehorse himself, winning the Prix du Jockey Club undefeated and the Grand Prix de Paris. Other distant descendants include the stallion Gallant Fox, the American Triple Crown-winning Thoroughbred Citation, and Coaltown, a US Hall of Fame colt.

Just as he was in life, Flying Fox was also revered in death. He passed away on 21 March 1911, aged 15, at Haras de Jardy. His remains are at the horse museum in Chateau de Saumur, France, and a memorial at Eaton Stud in the county of Cheshire, England.

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