Sailor (horse)

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Sailor Derby winner.jpg
Sailor, painting by Ben Marshall
Foaled18 May 1817
CountryUnited Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
OwnerThomas Thornhill
TrainerWilliam Chifney
Record2: 2-0-0
Major wins
Epsom Derby (1820)

Sailor (1817–1820) was a British Thoroughbred racehorse. In a brief racing career in the spring and summer of 1820 he won both of his races including The Derby. He collapsed and died on the Newmarket gallops shortly after his Derby win.


Sailor was a tall, leggy chestnut horse[1] sired by Scud out of the mare Goosander. Goosander was a highly successful broodmare who also produced The Oaks winner Shoveler and was a sister to the dam of the Derby winner Sam. Sailor was trained by William Chifney and ridden in the Derby by Chifney’s younger brother, Sam Chifney, Jr.[2] Chifney was one of the outstanding jockeys of his era, and one of the first to hold horses up in the early stages of a race before finishing strongly: he became famous for this tactic which became known as the "Chifney Rush".[3]

Racing career[edit]

Sailor was one of the leading fancies for the 1820 Derby before he appeared on a racecourse: in November 1819 he was being offered at odds of 15/1 for the race by British bookmakers.[4] Sailor won a sweepstakes at Newmarket on his debut in spring 1820.[5] The Derby was run in extremely difficult conditions at Epsom on Sailor's birthday on 18 May. A violent storm on the eve of the race demolished many of the tents and booths which had been set up on the downs and left the ground very soft, which suited Sailor.[2] He started the second favourite at odds of 4/1 in a field of fifteen runners.[6] In a fast-run race, Sailor won the Derby easily by two lengths from Abjer, with the favourite Pindarrie finishing fifth.[7]

In the autumn of 1820, Sailor was being exercised on Newmarket Heath when he stumbled, staggered for two hundred yards and collapsed. He died on the spot from what was subsequently determined to be a burst blood vessel in his chest.[1]


Pedigree of Sailor (GB), chestnut 1817
Scud (GB)
King Fergus* Eclipse*
Creeping Polly
Fenwick’s Herod mare Herod*
Highflyer* Herod*
Augusta Eclipse*
Herod mare
Goosander (GB)
King Fergus* Eclipse*
Creeping Polly
Grey Highflyer Highflyer*
Trumpator Conductor
Fancy Florizel
sister to Juno (Family: 6-c)[8]

Sailor's pedigree contained significant inbreeding. He was inbred 3 × 3 to King Fergus, meaning that the stallion appeared twice in the third generation of his pedigree. He was also inbred 4 × 4 × 4 to Eclipse, 3 × 4 to Highflyer, and 4 × 4 to Herod.


  1. ^ a b Denis Larionov & Alexander Zhulin. "Read the ebook The post and the paddock by Henry Hall Dixon". Retrieved 2011-12-27.
  2. ^ a b Mortimer, Roger; Onslow, Richard; Willett, Peter (1978). Biographical Encyclopedia of British Flat Racing. Macdonald and Jane’s. ISBN 0-354-08536-0.
  3. ^ Onslow, Richard (2000-04-27). Headquarters: a history of Newmarket ... - Richard Onslow - Google Books. ISBN 9780907351108. Retrieved 2011-12-27.
  4. ^ Sporting magazine: or, monthly ... - Google Books. 1820. Retrieved 2011-12-27.
  5. ^ "Ben Marshall* (British, 1767-1835) | Mr. Thornhill's Sailor being Rubbed Down at Epsom". Retrieved 2011-12-27.
  6. ^ Morris, Tony; Randall, John (1990). Horse Racing: Records, Facts, Champions (Third ed.). Guinness Publishing. ISBN 0-85112-902-1.
  7. ^ Sporting magazine. Rogerson & Tuxford. 1820. p. 96. Retrieved 2011-12-27 – via Internet Archive. sailor epsom derby.
  8. ^ "Thoroughbred Bloodldines - Goosander - Family 6-c".