Night Off

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Night Off
BreederMajor Lionel Brook Holliday
OwnerLionel Holliday
TrainerWalter Wharton
Record8: 2-1-0
Major wins
Cheveley Park Stakes (1964)
1000 Guineas (1965)
Top-rated British two-year-old filly (1964)
Timeform rating 124 in 1964, 113 in 1965

Night Off (1962 – after 1978) was an Irish-bred, British-trained Thoroughbred racehorse and broodmare best known for winning the classic 1000 Guineas in 1965. Despite running only twice in 1964 she was the top-rated filly in Britain after a win in the Cheveley Park Stakes. After recovering from illness to win the 1000 Guineas in April 1965 her form deteriorated, with a second place at Royal Ascot being her only notable performance in five subsequent races. She had some success as a broodmare, despite producing only five foals.


Night Off was a bay mare with no white markings[1] bred by her owner, Major Lionel Brook Holliday at his Cleaboy stud in County Westmeath. Holliday sent the filly to his private La Grange stable at Newmarket, Suffolk where she was trained by Walter Wharton.[2]

Night Off was the most notable racehorse sired by Holliday's stallion Narrator, who won the Champion Stakes and the Coronation Cup for his owner in the mid 1950s. Her dam, Persuader, won five races including the 1956 Horris Hill Stakes, and produced several other winners including Night Off's full brother No Argument. Persuader's dam Palma Rosa, was a French-bred mare bought by Holliday from Marcel Boussac for 10,500 guineas.[3]

Racing career[edit]

1964: two-year-old season[edit]

Night Off made her first racecourse appearance at Newmarket Racecourse in August when she finished second in the Prendergast Stakes.[3] At the same course in late September she was moved up in class to contest the Cheveley Park Stakes, Britain's most prestigious race for two-year-old fillies. Ridden by Joe Mercer she started at odds of 20/1 and won from the odds-on favourite Fall In Love with Greengage in third place.[4] In the Free Handicap, a rating of the best two-year-olds to have raced in Britain that year, she was the top-rated filly, nine pounds behind the leading colt Double Jump.[5]

1965: three-year-old season[edit]

In the spring of 1965, Night Off was one of many British horses to be affected by a respiratory infection which disrupted her training. Despite her problems she recovered sufficiently to contest the 1000 Guineas over the Rowley Mile course at Newmarket on 29 April. The filly was ridden by the Australian jockey Bill Williamson and started the 9/2 favourite in a field of sixteen. Night Off won the classic by a neck from Yami, with Mabel three lengths away in third.[3] Night Off was then aimed at the Oaks, but when tried over ten furlongs in the Musidora Stakes at York Racecourse she finished unplaced behind Arctic Melody. On 21 May, Night Off was withdrawn from the Oaks by Holliday who thought she had been drugged or poisoned, stating that the filly was "in a terrible state, almost dead."[6] A drug test was administered by the Jockey Club but was negative.[7]

In June Night Off was brought back in distance for the Coronation Stakes over a mile at Royal Ascot. She looked the likely winner in the straight but was caught on the line and beaten a short head by Greengage.[8] Her form then tailed off and she ran poorly in her three remaining races before being retired at the end of the year.[3]


The independent Timeform organisation awarded Night Off a rating of 124 in 1964, making her one of the highest rated two-year-old fillies in Europe. In 1965, however, she was given a rating of 113, one of the lowest ever given to a classic winner, and thirteen pounds behind the top-rated three-year-old filly Aunt Edith.[5] In their book A Century of Champions, based on a modified version of the Timeform system John Randall and Tony Morris rated Night Off a "poor" winner of the 1000 Guineas.[9]

Stud career[edit]

Night Off produced only five foals in twelve years at stud, but three of them were winners. The best of her progeny was the filly Madame's Share (sired by Major Portion) who won Prix d'Astarte in 1971. Another of her daughters, Sweet Relations, produced Montekin, winner of the 1983 Waterford Crystal Mile. Her son Baldur, (by Breton), showed promise as a two-year-old in 1974 when he finished third to Grundy in the Dewhurst Stakes but he did not go on to any major successes.[10]


Pedigree of Night Off (IRE), bay mare, 1962[11]
Narrator (GB)
Nearco (ITY)
Pharos Phalaris
Scapa Flow
Nogara Havresac
Phase (GB)
Windsor Lad Blandford
Lost Soul Solario
Persuader (GB)
Petition (GB)
Fair Trial Fairway
Lady Juror
Art Paper Artist's Proof
Palma Rosa (GB)
Mahmoud Blenheim
Mah Mahal
Tsianina Asterus
Merry Girl (Family: 16-g)[12]


  1. ^ "Night Off photo". Retrieved 2013-06-05.
  2. ^ "La Grange Stables – History". Archived from the original on 2013-08-28. Retrieved 2013-05-23.
  3. ^ a b c d Mortimer, Roger; Onslow, Richard; Willett, Peter (1978). Biographical Encyclopedia of British Flat Racing. Macdonald and Jane's. ISBN 0-354-08536-0.
  4. ^ "Night Off for the nap". Evening Times. 28 April 1965. Retrieved 2013-06-05.
  5. ^ a b Morris, Tony; Randall, John (1990). Horse Racing: Records, Facts, Champions (Third Edition). Guinness Publishing. ISBN 0-85112-902-1.
  6. ^ UPI (May 21, 1965). "Choice in England Scratched Amid Charges of Drugging". The New York Times. p. 25.
  7. ^ Staff (Monday, May 24, 1965; pg. 5; Issue 56329; col A). "Market Best Guide After Derby Trials". The Times. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  8. ^ "Harkaway" (17 June 1965). "Sticky going suits Casabianca". Glasgow Herald. Retrieved 2013-06-05.
  9. ^ Morris, Tony; Randall, John (1999). A Century of Champions. Portway Press. ISBN 978-1-901570-15-1.
  10. ^ Timeform (1984). Racehorses of 1983. Timeform. ISBN 0-900599-40-5.
  11. ^ "Night Off pedigree". 2012-05-08. Retrieved 2013-06-05.
  12. ^ "Polly Agnes - Family 16-g". Thoroughbred Bloodlines. Retrieved 2013-06-05.