Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Churchill Series - Apr. 30, 2008

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

Horse racing is a popular sport in both Britain and America. But it has a social status and acceptance over there that’s it’s never acquired here.

Queen Elizabeth breeds and races horses as did the late Queen Mother. Race week at Ascot is a time when politics is put aside and government leaders spend days at the track and the social events surrounding race week.

Now what does all this have to do with Churchill?

Historian Piers Brandon tells us:

In the summer of 1949, Churchill embarked on a new venture - he bought a racehorse. On the advice of Christopher Soames [his son-in-law who’d married his youngest daughter Mary in 1947], he purchased a grey three-year-old colt, Colonist II. It was to be the first of several thoroughbreds in his small stud.

They were registered in Lord Randolph's colours - pink with chocolate sleeves and cap. (These have been adopted as the colours of Churchill College.) Churchill was made a member of the Jockey Club in 1950, and greatly relished the distinction.
Colonist was a small, gutsy horse who surprised the experts by winning many important stakes races. He became a great favorite with the British public.

Churchill College, a part of Cambridge University, was founded as Britain’s national memorial to Churchill and houses his papers.

I think Churchill, with his puckish sense of humor, would have relished the idea of the great and ancient Cambridge University giving the nod to its newest college bearing his and his father's racing colors.