OUR MEMORIES
Moller, Eric


 

 

Rider’s Empire; Miller’s Fortune

 

 

INTRODUCTION

 

1919, Eric Moller, with Jewish ancestry, came to Shanghai started from scratch as told in the legend.

He empty-handedly made his fortune by winning large sums at the horse races.

He constructed a fantasy home for his daughter Nancy.

She had a dream in which she saw a castle like those in the Hans Andersen fairy tales.

On awakening, Nancy drew a sketch.

The father was so fond of his youngest daughter that he immediately commissioned an architect to build her dream house.

 

 

BACKGROUND

 

Other documentations depicted that the Mollers were originally Swedish with British citizenship.

Eric Moller was the son of wealthy businessman Nils Moller, who had started a business in Hong Kong in the 1860s.

The enterprise grew and expanded into eight cities in China, including Shanghai.

1913, Eric Moller took over the family business and prospered.

He had a steamboat that ran between Shanghai and Zhenjiang in Jiangsu Province.

The family core business was shipping and shipbuilding.

In Shanghai, the Moller portfolio included shipping lines, insurance, real estate and investment.

In the mid-1920s, he decided to embark on the construction of a house for his big family – six children and a menagerie of dogs and cats.

 

 

HIGHLIGHTS

 

1900, The Mollers, father and sons, Eric Moller Senr. rode in races firstly, and the three sons, Eric Blechynden, Eric Jnr., Ralph (Bougie), and Christopher rode later.

1901, the famous Shanghai racing family invaded Happy Valley regularly in the first year of the century.

1904, Mr John B Wingard and Cire (Moller) chose “Blue and white with red anchor” as their silk.

They established the “LIGHT” stable under the name “Mr Cire”.

1913, their SUNLIGHT (Eric Moller riding) was second in the Derby.

1916, Mr Cire was partnered with Mr Henry Morriss.

1918, he had half of “Mr Adameric” Stable ownership.

 

1929, the Great Slump did not hit the China coast at the time.

1930s, especially the early period had been perilous years though.

1932 to late 1936, the financial crisis struck a year later and lasted longer.

Eric Moller left for America in business trips.

George Sofronoff, working in his stable, the largest in Shanghai.

But he feared that all the ponies would be sold, the stable closed down, he and the rest would lose their jobs.

A loan was raised somewhere, and Moller was shortly buying ships at half their actual value.

Well before the slump ended, the Moller Line was larger than it had ever been, as was the rest of the Moller empire.

 

1937 July, it was in this somewhat buoyant mood.

Moller noticed a black griffin trotting round the Shanghai Racecourse ‘in a very untrim and poor condition.’

He was apparently destined for Hongkong.

Albeit an animal ‘of quite unpretentious condition and shape’, Moller had his eye on him.

1937-08-13, the Battle of Shanghai commenced.

The worst casualty, however, was the International Settlement, which was bombed by Chinese planes trying to hit Japanese cruisers on the river.

Their explosion fell short, killing and wounding thousands of civilians.

It was at that moment that Eric Moller bought the wounded black griffin SILKYLIGHT.

1938-02-20, the first day of Hong Kong Annual race meeting, he landed the Maiden Stakes.

1938-02-21, SILKYLIGHT, ridden by his son Ralph “Budgie” scored the 66th Derby.

1938-02-23, whether in Chinese or in English, anyone writing about the China races, and who remembered it, will point to the Hongkong Champions.

It was the most dramatic race ever run on the China coast.

Dunbar‘s LIBERTY BAY after his 26 winning spree was defeated by Moller‘s SILKYLIGHT.

He got the Hong Kong Triple Crown.

 

By that time, Eric Moller no longer rode in races as with three stalwart sons he did not have to.

He sometimes threatened to throwing his stable and his sons into dismay.

1940, they took the Derby again, this time with SATINLIGHT.

1941, they had a string of 12 ponies.

However in confusing coincidence “Mr Sleg” introduced himself to the racing public with ponies named PORT LIGHT, STARBOARD LIGHT and HEADLIGHT, etc.

 

 

SUMMARY

 

Moller was a horse-racing fan and the chairperson of the Shanghai Horse Racing Club.

His beloved horse BLONIC HILL, an Arab stud stallion, brought him money and honor in the racing field.

In memory of his horse, Moller built a tomb to BLONIC HILL that stood on the lawn of the garden.

Now only the bronze statue of the horse remained there.

During the Pacific War, the house was occupied by the Japanese.

Later, it housed the Kuomintang espionage agency.

After the liberation, the Moller Mansion served as the headquarters of the Communist Youth League Shanghai Branch.

 

1950, Moller left Shanghai.

1954-04-03, Eric Moller took a flight to Singapore,while his daughter Nancy watched and waited for him at Singapore‘s Kallang Airport.

His Qantas plane crashed on landing, killing Eric Moller and 32 other passengers.

His elder sons Eric Jr and Ralph took over their father’s business afterward.

Though the Mollers left ,their companies continued operating in Hong Kong into the 1990s.

The interest in horses continued in the next generation.

They owned a successful stud farm, White Lodge Stud, in Newmarket, UK.

 

 

REFERENCE

 

Eric’s daughter, Isabel Erica Blechynden was married to jockey Victor Vander Needa.

 

In 1989, the Villa was listed as one of Shanghai‘s protected historical buildings.

 

Moller is an occupational name for a miller who keeps a flour mill or attends a gristmill.

Moller, written as Moeller in Dutch, North German, Sweden ,( Möller), and Danish (Møller).

The surname established from the Netherlands to Poland where it is of either German or Danish origin, and in Norway, it is of Danish origin.

 

 

RELATED LINK

 

1938-02-23 Champions Stakes SILKYLIGHT vs LIBERTY BAY – 《RacingMemories.HK》

SILKYLIGHT – 《RacingMemories.HK》

 

Acknowledgment to HKJC Racing Registry for offering relevant records.

 

 

 


 

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