Koko (horse)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
GrandsireQueen's Birthday
OwnerFrank Barbour
Frederick Guest
TrainerAlfred Bickley
Major wins
Cheltenham Gold Cup (1926)

Koko (foaled 1918) was an Irish racehorse who won the 1926 Cheltenham Gold Cup. He finished third in the race in 1928 when odds-on favourite and fell in 1929. He also ran twice without success in the Grand National.


Koko was a bay gelding bred in Ireland. He was sired by Santoi a top-class flat stayer who won the Ascot Gold Cup in 1901[2] before becoming a leading National Hunt sire.[3] Koko's dan Persister was a daughter of The Derby winner Persimmon and a half-sister to Fiona, an influential broodmare whose descendants included Native Dancer.[4]

Koko was owned by Frank Barbour a linen manufacturer whose horses where trained at Trimblestown in County Meath although they were moved to a base at Tarporley in Cheshire when competing in England. The training of the horse was managed by his owner although the day-to-day handling was done by his assistant Alfred Bickley who was the trainer of record.[5]

Racing career[edit]

Koko was sent to England in the early part of 1926 with the Cheltenham Gold Cup as his objective but jumped poorly in his prep race at Sandown Park Racecourse.[5] At Cheltenham on 9 March he was ridden by Tim Hamey and started a 10/1 outsider[6] in an eight-runner field for the third running of the Gold Cup. Ruddyglow started the 6/5 favourite whilst the other runners included Old Tay Bridge (runner-up in the 1925 Grand National) and Gerald L (third in the 1924 Gold Cup). Hamey allowed the gelding to set the pace from the start and Koko was never in any danger of defeat, winning easily by four lengths from Old Tay Bridge, with Ruddyglow five lengths back in third place.[5][7] Barbour was presented with a 15 carat gold trophy cup, made by Edward Barnard & Sons Ltd.[8]

Seventeen days later Koko started the 100/8 fourth favourite for the 1926 Grand National but fell at Becher's Brook on the first circuit.[9] Tim Hamey reportedly sustained a concussion in the fall.[10]

Koko returned to Cheltenham in 1928 and started 4/5 favourite for the Gold Cup. He led for most of the way and looked the likely winner even when joined at the last by Patron Saint but broke a blood vessel on the run-in and dropped back to finish third. After the race Koko was sold by Barbour to Frederick Guest. In the Grand National he again fell at Becher's Brook and landed in the ditch on the landing side of the fence where he became wedged. His jockey W. Gurney said "Koko hit the fence just above the bar and turned clean over into the ditch. I thought he had broken his back but he was all right. He had to be pulled out with ropes."[11]

The gelding returned to Cheltenham for a third attempt at the Gold Cup in 1929 but jumped poorly before falling at the water jump. He continued to compete in minor National Hunt meetings but never contested another top class race.[5]

Assessment and honours[edit]

In their book, A Century of Champions, based on the Timeform rating system, John Randall and Tony Morris rated Koko a "inferior" Gold Cup winner.[2]


Pedigree of Koko (IRE), bay gelding, 1918[1]
Santoi (GB)
Queen's Birthday (GB)
Hagioscope Speculum
Matilda Beauclerc
Merry Wife (GB)
Merry Hampton Hampton
Doll Tearsheet
Connie Pero Gomez
Persister (GB)
Persimmon (GB)
St Simon Galopin
St Angela
Perdita Hampton
Sister Ann (GB)
Edward the Confessor Hermit
The Princess of Wales
Anlace Tomahawk
Annette (Family 5-f)[4]
  • Koko was inbred 4 × 4 to Hampton, meaning that this stallion appears twice in the fourth generation of his pedigree.


  1. ^ a b "Koko pedigree". Pedigree Online. 2016-03-19. Retrieved 2016-03-19.
  2. ^ a b Morris, Tony; Randall, John (1999). A Century of Champions. Portway Press. ISBN 9781901570151.
  3. ^ "Koko". Thoroughbred Heritage.
  4. ^ a b "Bajazet Mare - Family 5-f". Thoroughbred Bloodlines. Retrieved 2013-11-23.
  5. ^ a b c d Harman, Bob (2000). The Ultimate Dream: The History of the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Mainstream Publishing. ISBN 1-84018-381-0.
  6. ^ Abelson, Edward; Tyrrel, John (1993). The Breedon Book of Horse Racing Records. Breedon Books Publishing. ISBN 978-1-873626-15-3.
  7. ^ "1926 Gold Cup". Gloucester Citizen. 9 March 1926. Retrieved 15 November 2015.(Subscription required.)
  8. ^ "The 1926 Cheltenham Gold Cup presented to Mr Frank Barbour after the victory of his steeplechaser". the-saleroom.com.
  9. ^ Green, Reg (1993). The History of the Grand National: A Race Apart. Hodder & Stoughton. ISBN 0-340-58515-3.
  10. ^ "The Grand National". Evening Post (New Zealand). 29 March 1926.
  11. ^ "The Grand National". Evening Post (New Zealand). 7 May 1928.