Owen Tudor (horse)

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Owen Tudor
DamMary Tudor II
CountryUnited Kingdom
BreederCatherine Macdonald-Buchanan
OwnerCatherine Macdonald-Buchanan
TrainerFred Darling
Record13: 6-1-0
Major wins
New Derby (1941)
Newmarket Gold Cup (1942)

Owen Tudor (1938–1966) was a British Thoroughbred racehorse and sire. In a career that lasted from 1940 to 1942 he ran twelve times and won six races. His most important win came as a three-year-old in the summer of 1941 when he won the “New Derby” at Newmarket. During the Second World War many British racecourses were closed either for safety reasons or because the land was needed for military use. Epsom Downs Racecourse was used throughout the war for an anti-aircraft battery, leading to the creation of a substitute or “New” version of the race. Owen Tudor went on to win a substitute “Ascot Gold Cup” at Newmarket in 1942. At the end of that season he was retired to stud where he had considerable success as a sire of winners.


Owen Tudor was bred by his owner, Catherine Macdonald-Buchanan, who had inherited considerable racing and breeding interests when her father, Lord Woolavington, died in 1935.[1] The bay colt was sired by Hyperion out of the French-bred mare Mary Tudor II. Hyperion was an outstanding racehorse who won The Derby and the St Leger in 1933. He went on to become a successful and influential stallion, being Leading sire in Great Britain and Ireland on six occasions. Mary Tudor II, who produced five winners apart from Owen Tudor, had won the Poule d'Essai des Pouliches and finished second in the Prix de Diane in 1934.[2]

Owen Tudor was sent into training with Fred Darling[3] at Beckhampton, Wiltshire and became his trainer’s seventh and last Derby winner.

Racing career[edit]

1940: two-year-old season[edit]

Owen Tudor began his racing career by winning the Salisbury Stakes Salisbury. In his two other races he was sent to Newmarket where he finished unplaced in the Criterion Stakes and second in the Boscawen Stakes. In the Free Handicap, a ranking of the year’s best two-year-olds, Owen Tudor was rated eighth behind Poise, who as a gelding was ineligible for the Classics.[4]

1941: three-year-old season[edit]

Owen Tudor began his three-year-old campaign with an impressive win in the Column Produce Stakes. He then started favourite for the 2000 Guineas but finished fifth of the nineteen runners behind Lambert Simnel. Another disappointment followed when he was well beaten in a race at Salisbury. As a result, he was not considered among the leading contenders for the New Derby, especially after a poor performance in a public exercise gallop on 5 June.[5] One of those who kept faith in Owen Tudor was the Champion Jockey Gordon Richards who insisted that the colt would have been his Derby choice had he not been prevented from riding by injury.[6]

Fred Darling saddled five runners of the twenty runners for the New Derby on 18 June, with Owen Tudor being one of the least fancied at 25/1. The ride on Owen Tudor went to the experienced northern jockey William “Billy” Nevett, who was given leave from serving as a Private in the Royal Army Ordnance Corps to take the mount.[7] Although the crowds could not compare with those at Epsom, an estimated 50,000 were in attendance,[8] and the facilities at Newmarket were inadequate for the numbers, resulting in many spectators spending the night in the open.[9] The size of the gathering also provoked security concerns, leading the Royal Air Force to fly almost constant patrol missions in the area.[10] Two furlongs from the finish, the race was wide open, with the horses spread across the wide Newmarket straight.[6] Owen Tudor took the lead soon afterwards and pulled ahead to win, beating his more fancied stable companion Morogoro by one and a half lengths.

Owen Tudor was then given a planned[11] break of two months before returning in August, when he finished fourth to Sun Castle in a race at Newbury.[12] He then disappointed again in the "New St Leger", run at Manchester Racecourse as Doncaster was unavailable,[13] finishing unplaced behind Sun Castle and Chateau Larose. In October the colt came back to form to beat Chateau Larose over fourteen furlongs in the “Newmarket St Leger”[14] (not an official substitute race).

1942: four-year-old season[edit]

Owen Tudor stayed in training at four and began by winning the ten furlong Trial Plate at Salisbury, ridden by Gordon Richards.[15] In July he returned to Salisbury but finished sixth of the seven runners behind Mazarin in the Quidhampton Plate over one and a half miles.[16] On his final start, Owen Tudor ran in the Newmarket Gold Cup a substitute for the Ascot Gold Cup run over two and a quarter miles. Starting the 5/2 favourite he took the lead at half way and won the race easily from the filly Afterthought with Lovely Trim third.[17] He was then retired to stud.[18]


In their book A Century of Champions, John Randall and Tony Morris rated Owen Tudor the sixtieth best British horse of the 20th Century and the second best Derby winner of the 1940s.[19]

The official British Handicapper rated Owen Tudor the best three-year-old of 1941, three pounds ahead of Sun Castle.[20]

Stud career[edit]

Owen Tudor was never Champion sire but had a highly successful stud career. Although he had shown his best form in long distance races he sired outstanding performers with a range of aptitudes including the sprinter Abernant, the miler Tudor Minstrel and the middle distance performers Tudor Era and Right Royal. Owen Tudor was retired from stud duties in 1960 and died in 1966 at the age of twenty-eight.


Pedigree of Owen Tudor (GB), bay stallion, 1938[21]
Hyperion (GB)
Bayardo Bay Ronald
Rosedrop St. Frusquin
Chaucer St. Simon
Canterbury Pilgrim
Serenissima Minoru
Mary Tudor II (FR)
Phalaris Polymelus
Scapa Flow Chaucer
Anna Bolena
Teddy Ajax
Queen Elizabeth Wargrave
New Guinea (Family: 10)


  1. ^ Mortimer, Roger; Onslow, Richard; Willett, Peter (1978). Biographical Encyclopedia of British Flat Racing. Macdonald and Jane’s. ISBN 0-354-08536-0.
  2. ^ "Hyperion". Tbheritage.com. 1930-04-18. Retrieved 2011-11-15.
  3. ^ "Horseracing History Online - Person Profile : Frederick Darling". Horseracinghistory.co.uk. Retrieved 2011-11-15.
  4. ^ Morris, Tony; Randall, John (1990). Horse Racing: Records, Facts, Champions (3rd ed.). Guinness Publishing. ISBN 0-85112-902-1. OCLC 20422004.
  5. ^ "18 Jan 1941 - SPORT AND THE WAR. CLASSIC COLTS". Trove.nla.gov.au. Retrieved 2011-11-15.
  6. ^ a b "20 Jan 1941 - NOTES AND CHAT". Trove.nla.gov.au. Retrieved 2011-11-15.
  7. ^ "Owen Tudor wins Derby". Indian Express. Retrieved 2011-11-15.
  8. ^ "Papers Past — Evening Post — 19 June 1941 — SPORTING". Paperspast.natlib.govt.nz. 1941-06-19. Retrieved 2011-11-15.
  9. ^ "19 Jan 1941 - Women's Horses First & Second In English Derby". Trove.nla.gov.au. Retrieved 2011-11-15.
  10. ^ "Tudor captures English Derby". Lewiston Morning Tribune. Retrieved 2011-11-15.
  11. ^ "28 Jan 1941 - SPORT AND THE WAR. NOTABLE HAT-TRICK". Trove.nla.gov.au. Retrieved 2011-11-15.
  12. ^ "05 Jan 1941 - ENGLISH ST. LEGER Open Race Likely". Trove.nla.gov.au. Retrieved 2011-11-15.
  13. ^ "04 Jan 1942 - WORLD OF SPORT THE TURF. NOTES AND COMMENTS". Trove.nla.gov.au. Retrieved 2011-11-15.
  14. ^ "15 Jan 1941 - Stake Winners In England". Trove.nla.gov.au. Retrieved 2011-11-15.
  15. ^ "Papers Past — Evening Post — 4 May 1942 — IN ROYAL COLOURS". Paperspast.natlib.govt.nz. 1942-05-04. Retrieved 2011-11-15.
  16. ^ "Injury stops Wilde". Vancouver Sun. Retrieved 2011-11-15.
  17. ^ "Samovar is victor". Edmonton Journal. Retrieved 2011-11-15.
  18. ^ "Papers Past — Evening Post — 3 October 1942 — DEARTH OF STAYERS". Paperspast.natlib.govt.nz. 1942-10-03. Retrieved 2011-11-15.
  19. ^ Morris, Tony; Randall, John (1999). A Century of Champions. Portway Press. ISBN 1-901570-15-0.
  20. ^ "12 Jan 1942 - ENGLISH SPORTING LETTER". Trove.nla.gov.au. Retrieved 2011-11-15.
  21. ^ "Owen Tudor pedigree". Equineline.