Fred Archer (jockey)

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Fred Archer
Occupation Jockey
Born (1857-01-11)11 January 1857
Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England
Died 8 November 1886(1886-11-08) (aged 29)
Newmarket, Cambridgeshire, England
Career wins 2,748
Major racing wins

St. James's Palace Stakes (1886)
Prince of Wales's Stakes (1879, 1881, 1883)
Champion Stakes (1878, 1881, 1885, 1886)

British Classic Race wins:
Epsom Oaks (1875, 1878, 1880, 1885)
1,000 Guineas (1875, 1879)
2,000 Guineas (1874, 1879, 1883, 1885)
Epsom Derby (1877, 1880, 1881, 1885, 1886)
St Leger (1877, 1878, 1881, 1882, 1885, 1886)

French Classic Race wins:
Prix du Jockey Club (1880, 1883)
Grand Prix de Paris (1882, 1885, 1886)
Racing awards
British flat racing Champion Jockey
Fred Archer Stakes at Newmarket Racecourse
Significant horses
Bend Or, Iroquois, Ormonde, Melton, Paradox, Wheel of Fortune, Silvio, Atlantic

Frederick James "Fred" Archer (11 January 1857 –8 November 1886), also known by the nickname The Tin Man, was an English flat race jockey of the Victorian era, described as "the best all-round jockey that the turf has ever seen".[1]

He set records for the number of Champion Jockey titles (13), number of wins in a season (246) and number of race wins (2748) which remained unthreatened until the arrival of Steve Donoghue and Sir Gordon Richards well into the 20th Century.

Delirious from wasting and the loss of his wife during childbirth, he took his own life at the age of 29.


Archer was born to Grand National winning jockey William Archer in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire in 1857. A "quick, retentive, and exceedingly secretive boy",[2] at the age of 11 he became apprentice to trainer Mathew Dawson at Heath House, now home to trainer Mark Prescott. Archer served Dawson as a stable jockey from 1874 until 1886.[citation needed] He would marry Dawson's niece, Helen Rose Dawson.[1] His first win was a steeplechase at Bangor-on-Dee in 1870 but his first official win under Jockey Club rules was at Chesterfield on 28 September 1870 on a horse called Atholl Daisy.[2][3]

Archer took his sport very seriously and was noted for his ruthlessness. In 1882 he built Falmouth Lodge and Stables (now Pegasus Stables). He was a taciturn and morose character, known for being miserly with money.[4]


Archer's first important win was on Salvanos in the 1872 Cesarewitch. The first of his Classic wins followed two years later on Atlantic in the 1874 2,000 Guineas. After this he became retained jockey for Lord Falmouth for whom he won over half of his Classics.

Archer was Champion Jockey for 13 consecutive years until 1886, riding 2,748 winners from 8,084 starts. In 1885 he rode 246 winners, a record that wasn't broken until Gordon Richards' 1933 season. He won the Epsom Derby five times and won a total of 21 classic races.


Because of his height (5 ft 10in/1.78 m) Archer had to diet far more than other jockeys. This had an effect on his health and after suffering from depression following the death of his wife, Helen Rose, Fred committed suicide by shooting himself.[5] Archer had been in a fever for several days and was being attended by his doctor. His sister—Mrs Colemen—visited him in his room and he asked her to send the nurse away. She then heard him say "Are they coming?" and saw he had the gun in his hand. Whilst she was struggling with him, he put the gun in his mouth and fired the revolver. The verdict of the jury at the inquest was: "That the deceased committed suicide whilst in a state of unsound mind". His death at the age of 29 occurred on 8 November 1886; his wife had died on the 7 November, two years earlier.[6]

He left a fortune of £66,662 (equal to about £6.5 million today) to his only daughter, the inheritance being looked after by trustees during her minority.[7] Some of his effects are now on display at the National Horseracing Museum, including the gun with which he shot himself.[1] In October 2010 a Stevengraph silk portrait of Archer sold at auction for £320.[8]

Fred is buried in Newmarket Town Cemetery, Newmarket, Forest Health District, Suffolk, England. His burial plot is to the right of the chapel.

Classic race victories[edit]

United Kingdom Great Britain

France France

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • The Life of Fred Archer by E.M. Humphries, Hutchinson, 1923.[3]


  1. ^ a b c "Archer, Frederick James (1857 - 1886)". National Horseracing Museum. Retrieved 16 April 2013. 
  2. ^ a b Seccombe, Thomas (1901). Wikisource link to Dictionary of National Biography, 1901 supplement. Wikisource. 
  3. ^ a b A Great Jockey." Times [London, England] 19 June 1923: 10. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 28 Apr. 2013.
  4. ^ Paley, Tony. "The Tinman's Farewell by Michael Tanner - review". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 April 2014. 
  5. ^ French, Yvonne (ed.). News From the Past 1805-1887: The Autobiography of the Nineteenth Century. 
  6. ^ Humphris, E M. The Life of Fred Archer. London: Hutchinson & Co. 
  7. ^ "Jockey Leaves $1,250,000". New York Times. 16 October 1910. Retrieved 16 April 2013. 
  8. ^ "Focus on: The tragic Fred Archer". Western Daily Press. 23 October 2010.