Highflyer (horse)

Highflyer (horse)

Highflyer (1774-October 18, 1793) was a Thoroughbred racehorse and one of the 4 sires from whom the classic Thoroughbred is descended, along with his sire Herod, Matchem, and Eclipse. He is thought to be the most successful and influential sire of the 18th century, beating out even the great Eclipse.

Thoroughbred racehorse infobox
horsename = Highflyer

caption =
sire = Herod
grandsire = Tartar
dam = Rachel
damsire = Blank
sex = Stallion
foaled = 1774
country = Great Britain flagicon|UK
colour = Bay
breeder = Sir Charles Bunbury, 5th Baronet
owner = Frederick St John, 2nd Viscount Bolingbroke ("Mr. Compton"), Richard Tattersall
trainer =
record = 14: 14-0-0
earnings =
race =
awards =
honours =
updated = August 24, 2007


Highflyer was bay with a sock on his left, hind pastern. The Arabian influence could still be seen in him, having a light overall build, with a small, refined, slightly dished head, an arched neck, short back, relatively flat croup, and high-set tail. His abilities on the track could have been foreseen in his very muscular hindquarters, sloping shoulder, and deep barrel.


Bred by Sir Charles Bunbury, the fifth Baronet, the colt was foaled at Great Barton, in 1774. His dam, Rachel (1763) was by Blank, and out of a mare by Regulus, both stallions by the Godolphin Arabian, making Rachel inbred 2x3 to the great stallion. Blank also sired Pacolet (1763).

Highflyer's sire was the important Herod, one of the foundation stallions for the classic Thoroughbred, and himself an excellent racehorse and stud, producing Florizel (b.c. 1768) and Woodpecker (ch.c. 1773).

Race career

Highflyer began his racing career at a time when the trend was shifting from starting Thoroughbreds at the track at age 5, to instead begin racing them at a younger age. His maiden race was in a 2-mile October meet at Newmarket for three-year-olds, which he won. He returned to Newmarket the following year, beating out the four-year-olds in both the July and October meet, before winning an open stakes, as well as a match against the Matchem son, Dictator.

In 1779, he won an additional two races before Lord Bolingbroke accepted an offer from Richard Tattersall, who bought the colt for 2,500 pounds. Highflyer continued to race, winning with a walk over at Nottingham and in York at the Great Subscription Stakes. He then won the Great Subscription Stakes for a second time, before winning the King's Purse at Lichfield. He finished his racing career undefeated in 14 races.

Breeding career

Tattersall's grand plan for Highflyer was built to make him rich, and it certainly accomplished its task. It rested on two main points. First, Tattersall would breed Highflyer to as many mares as possible, bringing in income from the stud fee (a practice for which he was criticised, as many thought he was over-breeding the animal and later pointed to Highflyer's death at 19 to be proof of that fact). To help accomplish this, he stood his stallion at his Red Barns farm for the initial fee of 15 guineas, eventually raising the fee to 50 guineas. His second tactic was to buy up as many daughters of Eclipse as he could, breed them to breed Highflyer, and sell them on in-foal. This combined the blood of Herod and Eclipse to produce some excellent racehorses who would form the basis of the modern Thoroughbred. Estimates have found that Tattersall made at least 15,000 pounds each year off of Highflyer breedings, from which he build a mansion at aptly named it Highflyer Hall.

However, Tattersall was quick to credit the stallion with his financial success. When Highflyer died on October 18, 1793, he was buried in his paddock, and his owner gave the great horse the epitaph: "Here lieth the perfect and beautiful symmetry of the much lamented Highflyer, by whom and his wonderful offspring the celebrated Tattersall acquired a noble fortune, but was not ashamed to acknowledge it."

Highflyer was the Leading Sire for 15 years (1785-1796, 1798), during which time he produced 469 winners, including three Derby winners, 3 St. Leger winners, and an Oaks winner.

* Sir Peter Teazle: 1784 brown colt, out of a Snap mare, was his best son. He won 16 races during his life, including the Derby in 1787. He then followed the way of Highflyer, becoming Leading Sire for several years (1799-1802, 1804-1809), and siring five Derby winners, four St. Leger winners, and 2 Oaks winners, as well as many other very important colts and fillies who had a lasting impact on the breed.
* Noble: 1783 bay colt, won the 1786 Epsom Derby
* Skyscraper: 1786 bay colt, won the 1789 Epsom Derby
* Delpini: 1781 gray colt, out of a Blank mare (he was 3x2 inbred to Blank). His best get included 2 Oaks winners (Scotia and Theophania), a St. Leger winner (Symmetry), the stallions Evander, Seymour, and Timothy, and the daughter Zara.
* Diamond: 1792 brown colt, out of a Matchem daughter, his many wins included the 1796 Jockey Club Stakes, Newcastle's King's Plate, the King's Plate at Newmarket First October and King's Plate at Newmarket First Spring, the 4-mile Oxford Cup, the King's Plate at Nottingham, a 1,000 guineas match against Shuttle, and the Jockey Club Plate at Newmarket. He also finished 2nd in the 2-mile Great Produce Stakes at York, 4th in the Derby.
* Traveller: 1785 bay colt, a good racehorse winning the 4-mile Stand Plate, the Great Subscription Purse at York, and matches against Grey Diomed and Meteor (by Eclipse).
* Omphale: won the 1781 St. Leger
* Spadille: won the 1787 St. Leger
* Young Flora: won the 1788 St. Leger
* Volante: won the 1792 Oaks
* Rockingham: 1781 bay colt, out of a Matchem daughter, produced Castianira (dam to American sire Sir Archy (by Diomed)
* Escape: sired the mare Flight, who was second dam to both Birdcatcher and Faugh-a-Ballagh.
* Prunella: 1788 bay filly, out of a Snap mare, dam to Derby-winner Waxy Pope (by Waxy), Oaks winner Pelisse (by Whiskey), and Penelope (by Trumpator)
* Eliza: 1791 bay filly, out of an Eclipse mare, won the Town Plate (Newmarket), a Produce Stakes (York), the 4-mile Richmond Cup, 2nd in the Oaks and in the Craven Stakes (Newmarket), 3rd in the 4-mile Doncaster Cup and Doncaster Stakes. Produced Scud (Doncaster winner, sired 2 Derby and 1 Oaks winner) and the dam to Consul (winner of the Doncaster Cup).
* Grey Highflyer: 1782 gray filly, out of a Matchem mare, was dam to Hambletonian.
* Unknown "Eagle's Dam": 1785 bay filly, produced Spread Eagle and Didelot (both won the Derby), and the sire Eagle who was imported to the US.
* Huncamunca: 1787 brown filly, produced Champion (won the Derby and St. Leger), grand-dam to Oaks winners Maid of Orleans and Charllote, and third-dam to Mameluke (Derby winner)
* Maria: 1791 bay filly, dam to Champignon (winner of the Ascot Gold Cup)

Other sons of Highflyer include Pharamond, Slope, Walnut, Sour-Crout, and St. George. His daughters also became the dams of Meteora, Coelia, N.M.B.O., Dick Andrews, Orville, Paulowitz, Cervantes, Sancho, Oscar, and Bedford. The Highflyer-Eclipse combination produced Skyscraper, Lambinos, St. George, Volante, and Oberon.

name = Highflyer
inf =
f = Herod
b. 1758
m = Rachel
b. 1763
ff = Tartar
ch. 1743
fm = Cypron
br. 1750
mf = Blank
mm = Mare by Regulus
fff = Partner
ch. 1718
ffm = Meliora
ch. 1729
fmf = Blaze1740
fmm = Salome
blk. 1733
mff = Godolphin Arabian
mfm = Mare by Little Hartley
ch. 1727
mmf = Regulus
ch. 1739
mmm = Mare by Soreheels
ffff = Jigg
fffm = Mare by Curwen Barb
ffmf = Fox
ffmm = Milkmaid
fmff = Flying Childers
fmfm = Mare by Confederate
fmmf = Bethell's Arabian
fmmm = (Graham's) Champion mare
mfff = UNKNOWN
mffm = UNKNOWN
mfmf = Bartlett's Childers
mfmm = Flying Whigg
mmff = Godolphin Arabian
mmfm = Grey Robinson
mmmf = Soreheels
mmmm = Mare by Makeless|


[http://www.tbheritage.com/Portraits/Highflyer.html Thoroughbred Heritage: Highflyer]

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