I write the occasional article on here about owner-breeders and if I go back to the year I first became interested in racing it was then I became attached to the exploits of an owner-breeder. His name was John Jacob Astor, though usually called Jakie Astor: until his knighthood when he became plain old Sir John Astor. He was the youngest son of the 2nd Viscount Astor, who himself was the son of the 1st, whom people regarded as just about the richest man in the world in 1900. Today the name Astor conjures (pun intended) up different things to different people. To some it means the Cliveden Set (the 2nd Lord), to others it means the Profumo Affair (the 3rd and so Jakie’s elder brother) or to others it lends its name to a hotel. To me it means a trio of owner breeders who for nearly 50 years were always near the top of the UK horseracing tree. So my story starts with the second Lord Astor. William ‘Waldorf’ Astor had all the trappings of a rich young man going to Eton and then Oxford. While there he developed an interest in horseracing and over time bought 3 important fillies/mares. The first, Conjure, cost the magnificent sum of 100 guineas while he was still an undergraduate, and the other two were a bit more. They were the mare Maid of the Mist, who was a winning daughter of the great Sceptre and then the mare Popinjay, who was a daughter of the super-mare Chelandry (look her up). The former he bought from the Bass family and the latter from Lord Rosebery. In the mid-‘20s at the height of his stud’s powers, he was able to say that all his colts, fillies and mares, save the near-pensionable Popinjay, had been bred by him. His first classic winner was the 1910 1000G winner Winkipop by St Simon’s son William the Third out of Conjure. She also won the Coronation Stakes, Nassau Stakes, Sussex Stakes and Yorkshire Oaks. A pretty good filly and with few produce a useful mare later. A full-brother called Winkie found his way to New Zealand as a stallion. There he sired Entreaty the dam of the great horse Phar Lap. Winkipop was trained by Willie Waugh (of the famous Newmarket family) but soon after this Waldorf Astor (as he was known) sent his horses to Manton to be trained by Alec Taylor Snr. He was influenced by his long-standing friend Gerald Deane and also by Somerville Tattersall. Although to people in the ‘60s George Todd was the ‘Master of Manton’ he was rather a pale version of Alec Taylor Snr, his son Alec Jnr and Joe Lawson who really were masters. The move to Manton was a masterstroke and but for one slight failing Astor did not look back. Over the next few years he built a separate stable block at Manton that is still called the Astor yard. On marrying Nancy Langhorne his father gave him Cliveden and nearby he set up Cliveden Stud. 1914 First Spear (by Spearmint out of Third Trick, daughter of Conjure) Falmouth Stakes, Nassau Stakes, and Park Hill Stakes: also second in the Coronation Stakes. 1917 Sunny Jane ( by Sunstar out of Maid of the Mist) Oaks winner but also 2nd in the 1000G: few produce but important in the ’50s and ‘60s. Magpie (by Dark Ronald out of Popinjay) 2nd in the 2000G: later sold to Australia where he won the Caulfield Cup and was a champion sire. 1918 Blink (by Sunstar out of Winkipop) 2nd in the Derby, 3rd in the 2000G and winner of the Princess of Wales Stakes. Apprentice jockey Jack Colling rode Blink in the Guineas and was certain he could turn the tables on his stablemate Gainsborough in the Derby. On Derby Day he was instructed by Gerald Deane (Astor’s Racing Manager) to ride Blink as a pacemaker for Gainsborough as the stable ‘was on’. A devastated Colling was determined if he ever had any authority he’d have nothing to do with racing managers (how he’d love it today!). 1919 Buchan (by Sunstar out of Hamoaze, an in utero purchase with Maid of the Mist) 2nd Derby, 2nd 2000G but Champion Stakes, Eclipse Stakes, Craven Stakes, and Chester Vase winner. In addition as a 2yo he won the July Stakes and as a 4yo a further Eclipse Stakes as well as the Doncaster Cup. He became a sire and was champion in 1927 and was twice leading broodmare sire. 1920 Buchan (as mentioned above) for the now Lord Astor 1921 Craig An Eran (by Sunstar out of Maid of the Mist) 2000G winner who also won the St James’s Palace Stakes and Eclipse: but another 2nd in the Derby. He was later the sire of Derby winner April the Fifth. 1922 Pogrom (by Lemberg out of Popingaol, a daughter of Popinjay): Oaks winner but also winner of the Coronation Stakes and Newmarket Oaks. Tamar (by Tracery out of Hamoaze) 2nd in the Derby: won the Gordon Stakes and 2nd in the Eclipse. 1923 Saltash (by Sunstar out of Hamoaze, Maid of the Mist’s daughter) Eclipse winner St Germans (by Swynford out of Hamoaze) Derby 2nd but winner of the Craven Stks, Lowther Stakes (different race then), Burwell Stakes (important race but now discontinued) and 3rd in the Eclipse. As a 4yo he won the Coronation Cup and Doncaster Cup. He had been Astor’s fifth 2nd place in the Derby in 6 years: he was sadly never to win it. 1924 St Germans (see above) Miss Gadabout (Cyclad out of Popingaol) Cheveley Park Stakes winner, who as a 3yo finished 2nd to Saucy Sue in the 1000G and Oaks. Jura (Gainsborough out of Maid of the Mist) Lancashire Oaks, Leicestershire Oaks and 2nd in the Yorkshire Oaks. 1925 Saucy Sue (by Swynford out of Good and Gay, a Bayardo daughter of Popinjay) 1000G and Oaks winner: also won the Coronation Stakes and Nassau Stakes. She was the leading 2yo of 1924. Astor was leading owner. 1926 Short Story (by Buchan out of Long Suit, a Lemberg granddaughter of Conjure) Oaks winner and 3rd in 1000G. Gay Bird ( by Gay Crusader out of Popinjay) 3rd in the Oaks, 2nd in the Coronation Stakes and 3rd in the Leicestershire Oaks. 1927 Book Law (by Buchan out of Popingaol): St Leger winner but 2nd in the 1000G and Oaks. She also won Coronation Stakes, Nassau Stakes and Jockey Club Stakes (then run in the Autumn and a far more important race). As a 2yo she won the Queen Mary Stakes. Often considered to be Astor’s best horse, she achieved immortality when sent to Nearco and produced a relatively useless colt called Archive. He was the sire of Arkle. 1929 Pennycomequick (by Hurry On out of Plymstock, a daughter of Winkipop). Oaks winner but later she was the dam of the Hyperion colt High Stakes (who won 34 races for Astor) and the Buchan filly Penicuik (who was sold to the US and was the dam of Pensive, winner of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes). Point Duty (by Grand Parade out of Pinprick, granddaughter of Conjure) Falmouth Stakes and 2nd in Sussex Stakes 1931 Sunny Devon (by Solario out of Plymstock) Coronation Stakes and as a 2yo the Molecomb Stakes. Volume (by Papyrus out of Long Suit, granddaughter of Conjure) Park Hill Stakes winner 1933 Canon Law (by Colorado out of Book Law) St James Palace Stakes Mannamead (by Manna out of Pinprick, a granddaughter of Conjure) Rous Memorial Stakes and Burwell Stakes: by then a 4yo he had been the joint top-rated 2yo of his year and was Derby 2nd favourite but was injured in the Spring of his 3yo campaign. He was unbeaten (winning 7 times) and became a successful sire in Hungary. So Quick (Solario out of Pinprick) Newmarket Oaks winner Betty (by Teddy out of Miss Cavendish, a daughter of Sunny Jane) Coronation Stakes 1934 Miss Elene (Buchan out Gay Bird, a granddaughter of Popinjay) Newmarket Oaks winner 1935 Field Trial (by Felstead out of Popingaol) 3rd in Derby and won King Edward VII Stakes.