1850 – “Voltigeur”



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Artist: Henry T Davis

Plate mark size: 22 x 31 inches – (approx 56

x 79 cm)

Brown colt, 1847.

By Voltaire – Martha Lynn, by Mulatto

Darley Arabian Sire line:

King Fergus Branch

Voltigeur, foaled in 1847, was bred by Robert Stephenson, who had also bred the sire, Voltaire. Voltigeur was sent as a yearling to the Doncaster sales with a reserve of ?300. He was an awkward, stocky youngster with a somewhat weak pedigree. His sire, Voltaire, had been a fairly decent runner, placing second in the St. Leger and winning the Doncaster Gold Cup. He was 21 when Voltigeur was foaled, and had previously sired only one really good animal in Charles the Twelfth, a winner of the St. Leger, the Liverpool Summer Cup, the Doncaster Cup, and the Goodwood Cup, which he won twice. Another son, the promising Yorkshire Lad, died as a two-year-old, but had captured the July Stakes.

In 1850 Voltigeur was shipped south to run in the Derby Stakes. Many onlookers were prepared to ignore the invader from the north, especially since he seemed uncomfortable in his first gallop over the Epsom Downs course. However, since the colt had just endured a rigorous train journey from Yorkshire, it was not surprising that he was a little stiff. His next gallop was entirely satisfactory to his connections, but the Earl of Zetland’s color bearer still went off at 16-1, which reflected the betting public’s skepticism of his form, and no doubt some prejudice against his Yorkshire roots. Voltigeur showed his form was not a fluke when, under Job Marson, he sailed past a fine field, including Two Thousand Guineas champion Pitsford, in time that was ten seconds faster than the three minutes for the mile and a half posted by The Flying Dutchman the previous year.

The St. Leger proved more difficult than expected. Pitsford was in the field, but it was a tough little Irish colt named Russborough who clung to Voltigeur and actually finished in a dead-heat with the Derby champion. This necessitated a race-off, which Voltigeur won by a length.