Delicate Grace Dedicate Races





Lot J. 26 was a three-year-old chestnut Australian filly by BIARRITZ out of EASTERN GLOW by CROWN GEM.

When the Swaine drew CORVETTE in the griffin lottery they were eager to see their first racehorse in the flesh.

1975, late summer, CORVETTE arrived in Hong Kong.

John Swaine, a barrister by profession, a Queen‘s Counsel and an unofficial member of Legco, had been a member of HKJC since 1960.

He was a regular race-goer and had applied for a subscription griffin on several occasions without success before.

However, Mr & Mrs Swaine were disappointed to see a tiny animal standing in the middle of a box.

The horse was really quite tiny and came to Peter Supple‘s stable.

She was just fifteen hands low, thus, supposedly a sprinter.

Mr & Mrs Swaine did not have any high hopes for her.

Sir John Swaine wanted a name that suggested speed, grace, femininity and a fighting heart.

According to Mr Murray Supple, son of trainer Peter Supple, she was named CORVETTE because Sir John’s father was in the Royal Navy.

He wanted to use a nautical theme in choosing a name.

He was looking out at the harbor one morning from his flat, some vessels gave him the inspiration.

Thus he selected CORVETTE, which is a small ship.





When CORVETTE had her first barrier trial it became obvious that this filly had ability and made up for her lack of size with being very competitive.

Green, she’s green, Mr & Mrs Swaine complained but she was willful and wanted to race against the boys her own way, passing them all after the home turn.


1975-11-22 Hartack, inaugural Maiden Race, Set Weight

CORVETTE proved an inspired name for the headstrong young filly which ran an astonishing first-up 3rd over 1400 metres on the sand.

She made up an enormous amount of ground to finish two lengths and a head 3rd to LITTLE CORPORAL and BONNIE DART.

Such was the amount of ground that CORVETTE recovered making the Stewards asked her jockey Bill Hartack for an explanation.

He reported that she was very green and started to duck in and out once under his call.


1975-12-13_1 Hartack, inaugural victory, Central Stakes

CORVETTE, at her next start, won a mile race in the wet.

She was the hot favorite set behind the pacemaker BONNIE DART along the way.

Easily went to the front on hitting the straight winning by an effortless five lengths from SHAKTI.

But she was still proving a handful to ride.


1976-01-17_5 Paquet, The Derby

The French master perfectly kept CORVETTE at the back perfectly according to plan during the long distance race.

CORVETTE scorched around the outside at the bottom of the straight and dashed pass the leaders for a fine win.

They could not hold off the storming finish of CORVETTE, who went on the win by half a length.


1976-03-06_5 Hartack, Governor‘s Cup

CORVETTE was put aside for a spell and made her reappearance a month later.

She came with a thundering run around the outside to tip out the English mare BROADLAW over 1650 metres.

She finished very strongly for an easy two lengths victory.


1977-05-14-3 Hartack, Flyaway Cup

CORVETTE took off around the outside of the field and dashed past those leaders.

She held on comfortably to score from SUN LORD and MONEY NO OBJECT.


1978-05-20 Burnett, Sassoon Challenge Cup

CORVETTE had to be retired because she was blinded in one eye during this race on the sand.

It was fitting that the winner of that race was Hong Kong‘s new king, SILVER LINING.

CORVETTE only placed 7th.

Lady Swaine determined to start her breeding career and sent her to stud in England.





Date R-Ind. Class Course Dist. Race Wt. Jockey Field Draw Place Time Odds
1975-11-22 72 Griff. Sand 1400 Griffin Set race 135 W Hartack 10 7 3 1.36.6 6
1975-12-13 105 Griff. Turf 1650 Central Stakes 125 W Hartack 14 12 1 1.51.7 2.4
1976-01-01 127 Griff. Turf 1800 Kukri Stakes 135 W Hartack 10 6 2 1.54.7 1.7
1976-01-17 153 Griff. Turf 2230 Derby 125 P Paquet 7 2 1 2.24.6 7
1976-03-06 238 2 Turf 1650 Governor‘s Cup 127 W Hartack 13 12 1 1.42.0 14
1976-10-30 37 1 Turf 1235 Class 1 Handicap 120 W Hartack 11 11 6 1.17.8 5.4
1976-11-20 77 1/2 Turf 1650 Class 1 , 2 Handicap 116 G Lewis 10 9 6 1.42.4 15
1976-11-27 89 Open Turf 1235 Fakei Cup 121 W Hartack 11 9 6 1.13.9 11
1976-12-11 113 Open Turf 1800 P & O Cup 111 C C Chan 12 5 3 1.51.5 18
1977-01-01 141 Open Turf 2230 Chinese Club Chal. Cup 119 W Hartack 6 5 3 2.18.6 5
1977-01-29 193 1 Turf 1800 Class 1 Handicap 116 R Turcotte 13 13 5 1.49.6 7.5
1977-02-12 216 2 Turf 1650 Q E II Cup 138 W Hartack 14 6 WD 1.40.8
1977-03-19 278 2 Turf 1800 Cricket Club Stakes 136 W Hartack 9 3 5 1.51.5 6.8
1977-04-02 302 Open Turf 2400 Open 116 J Roe 6 2 3 2.33.5 6.3
1977-04-30 358 1/2 Turf 1800 Class 1 , 2 Handicap 133 W Hartack 10 7 6 1.56.6 5.6
1977-05-14 381 2 Turf 2230 Flyaway Cup 131 W Hartack 6 6 1 2.22.8 4.8
1977-10-08 2 2 Sand 1030 Class 2 Handicap 128 W Burnett 8 2 2 1.06.8 8
1977-11-05 60 2 Turf 1650 Saunders Trophy 130 W Burnett 13 7 2 1.41.5 11
1977-12-03 109 2 Turf 2230 Jubilee Chall. Cup 136 W Burnett 5 4 5 2.21.3 3.1
1978-01-02 154 1/2 Turf 1650 Class 1 , 2 Handicap 125 P Paquet 12 5 2 1.45.6 3.9
1978-02-18 206 Open Turf 1800 Jockey Invitation Cup 118 J Roe 14 9 3 1.49.5 22
1978-03-11 240 2 Turf 1235 Class 2 Handicap 139 J Roe 11 6 8 1.19.7 10
1978-04-08 294 1/2 Turf 1235 Class 1 , 2 Handicap 124 C C Chan 11 7 5 1.22.2 27
1978-05-20 374 Open Sand 2000 Sassoon Chall. Cup 117 W Burnett 12 10 7 2.12.8 9.3


WD = Withdrawal





CORVETTE and FANTAN had little in common.

They met each other only twice on the track, each finished ahead of the other.

Beside blinded in one eye coincidentally, these two winners each had that rare and marvelous quality – a great heart.

The two left their legends behind for the UK and they could live happily ever after.


CORVETTE had inherited the size and characteristic of her great, great grandfather MAN O’ WAR, the greatest American thoroughbred.

In 23 races from five to twelve furlongs on all surfaces she took 4 firsts, 4 seconds (3 just a nose behind in the photos) and 5 thirds (in two of them the winners, SUPER WIN and AERAS set new records).

She averaged $7,266 in stakes money for Sir John each time she went out.


Sir John Swaine thought she was not much to look at, nor did they had any idea at that stage how involved his wife and himself were to become in racing as a result of CORVETTE.


Murray Supple concluded:

CORVETTE was small, but she had a big heart and from her very first barrier trial it was obvious that she was a very good filly.

She was then sent to England to breed.(She might be the first horse from Hong Kong to do this!).

Her Grandson SYLLABUS (I broke him in as a Yearling) was sent to Hong Kong and was a Class 1, Class 2 horse.”

CORVETTE elevated racing in Hong Kong far beyond a mere fanatical gambling past-time.





CORVETTE (sometimes corvet) is a small, maneuverable, lightly armed warship, originally smaller than a frigate (2000+ tons) and larger than a coastal patrol craft or fast attack craft (500 or fewer tons)





Derby 1976-01-17_5 CORVETTE – 《RacingMemories.HK》

Derby 1947-01-14_3 NORSE QUEEN – 《RacingMemories.HK》

Derby 1966-05-21_3 TENDER HEART – 《RacingMemories.HK》

ELEGANT FASHION (C190) – 《RacingMemories.HK》

Derby, The Hong Kong Racing Tradition – 《RacingMemories.HK》


Acknowledgment to Mr Peter Yuen for providing data.

Acknowledgment to Mr Murray Supple for providing data.

Acknowledgment to HKJC Racing Registry for offering record.





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