Silvio (horse)

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Silvio and Fred Archer.jpg
Ink drawing of Silvio with Fred Archer
SireBlair Athol
DamsireEngland’s Beauty
CountryUnited Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
BreederEvelyn Boscawen, 6th Viscount Falmouth
OwnerLord Falmouth
TrainerMathew Dawson
Record19: 10-7-1
Major wins
Epsom Derby (1877)
Ascot Derby (1877)
St Leger (1877)
Jockey Club Cup (1878)
Leading British money winner (1877)
Leading Sire in France (1886)

Silvio (1874–1890) was a British Thoroughbred racehorse and sire. In a career that lasted from 1874 to 1877 he ran eight times and won three races. In 1877 he won The Derby and the St Leger. At the end of the 1877 season he was retired to stud where he had success both in England and France.


Silvio was bred by his owner Evelyn Boscawen, 6th Viscount Falmouth at his stud at Mereworth Castle in Kent.[1] He was sent into training with Mathew Dawson at his Heath House stables at Newmarket, Suffolk.[2] His sire, Blair Athol, was an outstanding racehorse who won the Derby and the St Leger in 1864 and went on to be Champion Sire on four occasions. Silvio’s dam, Silverhair, was a successful racehorse and produced other winners including the colt Garterly Bell, who finished fourth in the 1875 Derby,[3] and the filly Silver Ring, who won six races including the Bretby Stakes.

Racing career[edit]

1876: two-year-old season[edit]

As a two-year-old in 1876, Silvio showed promising form to win four of his five races.[4] On his racecourse debut, Silvio won the Ham Stakes at Goodwood. He then won three races at Newmarket: the Clearwell Stakes on 2 October, the Post Stakes, and the Glasgow Stakes in which he was the only starter and walked over. He then finished second to the French colt Verneuil in the Buckenham Stakes.[4]

1877: three-year-old season[edit]

Silvio began the season being regarded as the second string of Lord Falmouth's horses behind the filly, Lady Golightly,[5] and was offered at odds of 33/1 for the Derby in late March.[3] On his seasonal debut he was strongly fancied for the Newmarket Biennial Stakes in mid-April, but finished unplaced behind Grey Friar. The race was run in a violent storm, leading some observers to suggest that the form was not very reliable.[6] On 3 May he showed much improved form in the 2000 Guineas in which he started at odds of 100/6 (16/1). Ridden by the Champion Jockey Fred Archer he finished third, beaten just over a length behind the French-bred favourite Chamant and the American Brown Prince.[7]

On 30 May at Epsom, Silvio started at odds of 100/9 (11/1) against sixteen opponents in the Derby. Ridden again by Archer, he was settled in the middle of the field in the early stages and turned into the straight just behind the leaders. Silvio moved into second place two furlongs from the finish and passed Glen Arthur to take the lead a hundred yards from the line. He won "cleverly" by half a length from Glen Arthur, with Rob Roy, who may have been unlucky in running,[8] three quarters of a length further back in third [9] In mid-June, Silvio beat Glen Arthur much more decisively[10] in the Ascot Derby, the race now called the King Edward VII Stakes, despite carrying a weight penalty for his Derby win.[11]

On 12 September at Doncaster, Silvio started 13/8 favourite in a field of fourteen for the St Leger. He took the lead early in the straight and won very easily by three lengths from his stable companion Lady Golightly, with another filly, Manoeuvre in third.[12] On his final start of the year he was no match for Springfield in Champion Stakes over ten furlongs.[13]

Silvio's earnings of £12,150 made him the biggest money winner of the season in Britain.[14]

1878: four-year-old season[edit]

On his four-year-old debut Silvio ran in the Biennial Stakes at Newmarket in April and won easily by three lengths from Rifle. On the 2000 Guineas card two weeks later he won the Newmarket Prince of Wales's Stakes in which he gave ten pounds to his only rival Thunderstone and won very easily.[15] In the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot in June he was never able to get on level terms with Verneuil and finished second, beaten six lengths, ahead of the Grand Prix de Paris winner St Christophe and Hampton.[16] Speculation concerning a match race between Silvio and the 1876 Derby winner Kisber at York came to nothing.[17]

At Newmarket in October Silvio ran against his stable companion Jannette, the 1878 St Leger winner, in the Champion Stakes. He led from the start but was caught by the filly, to whom he was attempting to concede fifteen pounds, inside the final furlong and was beaten by a neck. He finished well ahead of Verneuil, Glen Arthur and Petrarch.[18] On his last start of the season he recorded his most important win in over a year when he won the Jockey Club Cup very easily from Insulaire.[19]

1879: five-year-old season[edit]

Silvio stayed in training as a five-year-old but failed to win. In June he ran twice at Royal Ascot firstly in the Gold Vase on the opening day for which he started odds-on favourite but was beaten half a length by Isonomy, who was receiving seven pounds. Isonomy went on to be the most successful horse of the season in England.[20] Two days later he started odds-on again in the Hardwicke Stakes, avoiding a rematch with Isonomy in the Gold Cup. He took the lead in the straight and looked certain to win, but was caught in the last strides by the three-year-old Chippendale, and beaten by a head. Silvio was attempting to concede twenty-four pounds to the winner.[21]

At the July meeting at Newmarket, Silvio was beaten a head by the four-year-old Phoenix after a "magnificent race" for the Bunbury Stakes.[22]

Stud career[edit]

Silvio began his stud career in England and had little impact. He was sold for £7,000 to the Duc de Castries and exported to France after two seasons and was more successful becoming leading French sire in 1886.[23] His winners in France included May Pole (Poule d'Essai des Pouliches), Jupin (Prix Lupin) and Viennois (Prix d'Ispahan)[1] In April 1890 he sustained a fetlock injury which became infected, and, despite veterinary treatment, Silvio had to be euthanized soon afterwards.[24]


Pedigree of Silvio (GB), bay stallion, 1874
Blair Athol (GB)
The Baron Birdcatcher
Pocahontas Glencoe
Blink Bonny
Melbourne Humphrey Clinker
Cervantes mare
Queen Mary Gladiator
Plenipotentiary mare
Silverhair (GB)
Venison Partisan
Queen Anne Slane
England’s Beauty
Birdcatcher Sir Hercules
The Prairie Bird Touchstone
Zillah (Family: 1-o)


  1. ^ a b Anne Peters Thoroughbred Heritage. "Blair Athol". Retrieved 2011-12-19.
  2. ^ "Horseracing History Online - Person Profile : Mathew Dawson". Retrieved 2011-12-19.
  3. ^ a b "Papers Past — Auckland Star — 8 June 1877 — THE ENGLISH DERBY". Retrieved 2011-12-19.
  4. ^ a b "Papers Past — Hawke's Bay Herald — 11 June 1877 — THE GREAT DERBY RACE". Retrieved 2011-12-19.
  5. ^ "Papers Past — Auckland Star — 12 May 1877 — English Sporting News". Retrieved 2011-12-19.
  6. ^ "Papers Past — Auckland Star — 14 July 1877 — "ENGLISH RACING NEWS.—BY AUGUR". Retrieved 2011-12-19.
  7. ^ "Papers Past — Tuapeka Times — 27 June 1877 — THE TWO THOUSAND GUINEAS". Retrieved 2011-12-19.
  8. ^ "Papers Past — Otago Daily Times — 18 August 1877 — SPOUTING NOTES". Retrieved 2011-12-19.
  9. ^ "Papers Past — Wanganui Herald — 21 July 1877 — THE DERBY". Retrieved 2011-12-19.
  10. ^ "Papers Past — Auckland Star — 6 September 1877 — ENGLISH SPORTING NOTES". Retrieved 2011-12-19.
  11. ^ "Papers Past — Otago Witness — 15 September 1877 — CURRENT NOTES". Retrieved 2011-12-19.
  12. ^ "Papers Past — Otago Witness — 17 November 1877 — RACING IN ENGLAND". Retrieved 2011-12-19.
  13. ^ "Papers Past — Wanganui Herald — 12 December 1877 — ENGLISH RACING". Retrieved 2011-12-19.
  14. ^ "TURF NOTES". The Queenslander. 23 Mar 1878. Retrieved 2012-09-22.
  15. ^ "26 Jun 1878 - SPORTING. ENGLISH BACING. (April 23 to May 9.) [". Retrieved 2011-12-20.
  16. ^ "03 Oct 1878 - SPORTING IN ENGLAND. [By WESTON.]". Retrieved 2011-12-20.
  17. ^ "Papers Past — Otago Witness — 30 November 1878 — ODDS AND ENDS". Retrieved 2011-12-20.
  18. ^ "28 Dec 1878 - NEWMARKET SECOND OCTOBER MEETING". Retrieved 2011-12-20.
  19. ^ "06 Jan 1879 - SPORTING. ENGLISH SPORTING. | London. November 23". Retrieved 2011-12-20.
  20. ^ "Papers Past — Otago Witness — 9 August 1879 — RACING IN ENGLAND". Retrieved 2011-12-20.
  21. ^ "16 Aug 1879 - ENGLISH SPORTING NEWS". Retrieved 2011-12-20.
  22. ^ "16 Sep 1879 - SPORTING IN ENGLAND". Retrieved 2011-12-20.
  23. ^ "Papers Past — Otago Witness — 14 March 1889 — IN A NUTSHELL". Retrieved 2011-12-20.
  24. ^ "Papers Past — Otago Witness — 5 June 1890 — TALK OF THE DAY". Retrieved 2011-12-20.