Friday, October 19, 2007

The Churchill Series - Oct. 19, 2007

(One of a series of weekday posts on the life of Winston S. Churchill.)

Readers Note: Portions of this post first appeared in a Jan. 2006 series post.

Many Churchill fans don't know that for many years he owned a racing stable. What's more, he wasn't one of those celebrity owners who preen and eye the cameras while putting their feet in - oops - the wrong places. As with everything else he cared about, Churchill the race horse owner, was informed and "hands on."

Churchill's most successful horse was a grey, Colonist II. Churchill bought him against the advice of racing experts because he thought he saw something - a special determination - in Colonist that would make the horse "a winner."

Colonist proved Churchill right.

"This tough and indomitable grey horse has performed miracles," said one racing writer in 1950. "No horse in living memory has put up such a sequence of wins in good-class races in one season." Among the prestigious races Colonist won were The Winston Churchill Stakes and The Jockey Club Stakes.

As Colonist's racing days came to a close, his trainer reminded Churchill that Colonist would be very valuable as a stud horse. The trainer offered to arrange matters.

Churchill pondered a moment, then laughed and replied,

"To stud? And have it said that the Prime Minister of Great Britain is living on the immoral earnings of a horse?"
Churchill's official biographer, Martin Gilbert, does not say what ultimately happened to Colonist. We can wish the horse had a green old age.

I hope you all have a wonderful and winning weekend.

Martin Gilbert, Never Despair. (pgs. 488, 522, 524, 528, 563)