Peel The Name; Feel The Fame
John Peel (1777-09-24 — 1854-11-13) was an senior English huntsman with 50 years, who is the subject of the nineteenth century song D’ye ken John Peel.
“ken” means ‘to be aware of’ or ‘to know’ in some dialects of the North of England.
His name was used by the Jardines owners because for many years many owners were used to not using their own names in documents of racing.
To trace the full fortunes of the John Peel stable is difficult, because of the lack of a fixed naming system for the ponies.
Perhaps it was also due to the effect of loose partnership.
One year the gentlemen of the Princely House had a taste for “Kirks”.
In another year there was a considerable leavening of “Auchens”, and then the Scottish mountains “Ben”.
In one year there were: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier and Sailor.
Then in another there were: Tom, Dick, Harry, Simple Simon and Peter Pieman.
Mr John Peel’s MERRY MONK was similarly repetitive in the Wongneichong Stakes three years in a roll.
“John Peel” in the registry, had been adopted permanently and has patronized the local Turf.
Of other classic events, John Peel’s VAGRANT won the Foochow Cup three years in succession, 1891, 1892, 1893;
The rider was Mr Hough who came to Hong Kong to live, and was made Clerk of the Course here.
John Peel brought down a comparatively big pony named in a single word SET.
Standing 13.3 hands, at w.f.i. (weight for inch) it had to carry 11 st.7 lbs. (161 lbs.).
It won the Victoria Stakes, the Navy Cup and the Grandstand Stakes and was second in the Champions.
It did well in 1902 and 1904.
The rivalry between the John Peel and Potts stables was always keen, and their champions clashed frequently and excitingly.
The results of the Annual Meeting tell briefly of one of their duels.
In the Challenge Cup, John Peel sent out two of his best — POLKA (Mr Burkill) and RAJAH (Mr Johnstone).
Mr Burkill on Polka won, covering the 1-1/2 miles in the record time of 3 mins. 48 secs.
The Annual Meeting was another war of the big stables.
In some of the lesser events, John Peel, Mr Buxey and Mr G. H. Potts provided 80 per cent of the entries.
1905-02-22, The 33rd Derby was won by COTSWOLD, owner John Peel, rider Mr Gresson.
The Derby, the Garrison Cup, the Flyaway Stakes and the Champions Stakes. COTSWOLD (Mr Gresson riding) won these same four races.
Major W. A. Eaton of The Buffs (Royal East Kent Regiment), who had been a Steward, marked the Regiment’s departure from the Colony.
The commemoration was by presenting, on behalf of the Officers, a gold cup for a subscription griffins’ race, to be won outright.
The trophy was a very handsome cup, of considerable value, and was deposited for safe custody in the Hong Kong & Shanghai Bank.
It was won by John Peel’s AUCHENDOLLY, ridden by Mr Johnstone.
It was one of the stable’s rich years when it entered 14 ponies and scored 13 wins.
Usually the John Peel string numbered at least eight ponies.
The results were again eloquent of the potential of the big stables.
Mr John Johnstone’s ponies added two more, making 15 for the Ewo colours.
Mr A. J. P. Heard, “Johnny” to all his friends, made what seems to have been his first appearance on the Hong Kong course, when he rode for John Peel.
On the first day of the Annual Meeting, the rival stables of Mr G. H. Potts and John Peel clashed again excitingly.
Mr Potts’ ALLIED KING (Mr Hill), which had won the Derby in 1920, was sent out to clinch the second leg.
But he had to cope with John Peel’s CAULFIELD (Mr Johnstone), which was favourite in the betting.
1921-02-23 the result of the Challenge Cup was a dead-heat between those two horses.
The tie had to be decided, and this was done at the conclusion of the card on the third day.
This time, ALLIED KING was made favourite 482 win tickets ( to CAULFIELD’s 294).
Mr Hill was very confident and in a slow race allowed Mr Johnstone to pace him for the whole journey (1-3/4 miles).
When he made his bid in the straight, however, Mr Hill could not get up, and CAULFIELD beat ALLIED KING to the post by three-quarters of a length.
CAULFIELD paid $11.80, which, fascinatingly, made it profitable to back both ponies!
In later years such ties were decided by spin of coin.
In his second race, the Customs Handicap “B” was the ride during the visit of His Royal Highness, Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester.
The winners (dead-heat) were Mr Yam Man’s FIFTY FIFTY (Mr Loo Yam-man) and John Peel’s NOUKHAIL (Mr Heard).
Mr John Peel’s 13.1 pony ADAM won the Great Southern Stakes (Six furlongs) in 1.28.
Then with 160 lbs, up (Mr Heard) he took the Ladies’ Purse in 1.48.3 for the Once Round.
ADAM’s burst of speed ousted from the records Mr Buxey’s GLORIOUS ROSE and John Peel’s GRETNA GREEN, joint holders of the Once Round title at 1.52.
The stable flourished until this year, when it disappeared from the list for a while.
Welcome also was John Peel, making a “come-back”.
He entered ten ponies and scored eight wins.
Pony of the year was his stable’s hybrid LOCAL OPTION (13.2 hands).
With Mr Maitland up, in three starts it won the Trial Plate, the Derby (in record time, 3.08.3) and the Champions.
“John Peel” returned but never regained the old strength.
After WWII, the use of assumed names or racing names faded swiftly, to about 10 per cent of the total.
A few time-honoured aliases still survived — notably John Peel (the Jardine Taipans).
John Peel, the racing name, ceased appearing in the race book.
John Peel had won 8 Derbies and 11 Champions Stakes.
John Peel, Jardines racing name winner of these Derby races:
1888-02-22, The 16th Derby, LEAP YEAR, Reynell
1891-02-19, The 19th Derby, ARDENT, Master
1897-02-17, The 25th Derby, RED FISH, Master
1905-02-22, The 33rd Derby, COTSWOLD, Gresson
1908-02-12, The 36th Derby, KIRKWOOD, Johnstone
1917-02-27, The 45th Derby, SILVER STREAK, Johnstone
1925-02-17, The 53rd Derby, LOCAL OPTION, Maitland
1950-04-08, The 73rd Derby, CLONFECKLE, John Peel, N Thomas, K Kwok
1885 and 1886, CONQUEROR won the Champions.
Then for three more years in succession the big race was a John Peel triumph.
1925 and 1926, LOCAL OPTION took it twice.
Kirk is a Scottish word meaning a church, or more specifically, the Church of Scotland
Auchen is the Gaelic word for ‘fields’ and also a ruined 13th Century castle situated near Moffat, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland.
Polka is a Central European dance and also a genre of dance music familiar throughout Europe and the Americas.
Rajah (/ˈrɑːdʒə/; also spelled raja, from Sanskrit राजा rājā-) is a term for a monarch or princely rulers in India or South Asia.
AUCHENDOLLY, an area near Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland.
GRETNA GREEN is a village in the south of Scotland famous for runaway weddings. It is in Dumfries and Galloway.
Acknowledgement to HKJC Racing Registry for offering record data.