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Churchill and Colonist II: The Story of Winston Churchill and His Famous Race Horse


For Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill, statesman, biographer, historian, orator, and amateur painter, the excitement and liveliness of the Turf began in 1949, when at the age of 75 he bought his first racehorse, Colonist II. One of the most popular and remarkable horses of his era, Churchill's colt, a French-bred grey, won thirteen of twenty-four races and placed in five others, all run in distances between 1 mile and 2 ¼ miles. Beloved by Churchill and thousands of admirers for his courage and steadfastness, Colonist II was known for preferring to race in front of his competition and never knowing when he was licked, which always drew comparisons to the indomitable Churchill himself.


Chapter One
Hurst Park Racecourse, Surrey

"Perhaps, Providence had given him Colonist as a comfort for his old age and to console him for disappointments." — Churchill to Lord Camrose (26 October 1950)

On Saturday, 14 May 1951, Winston Churchill took a respite from politics. On that day, Princess Elizabeth invited the eminent statesman to a luncheon at Hurst Park Racecourse in Surrey before the running of the Winston Churchill Stakes, named after the distinguished statesman.

The Winston Churchill Stakes was run at a distance of just over one mile. Churchill's thoroughbred, a five-year old grey named Colonist II, was one of the runners. Also running was His Majesty King George VI's black filly Above Board and five other challengers: Cantarello II, Fast Fox, Selskar Abbot, Star Spangled Banner, and Tourette.

Despite a cold and dreary afternoon, there was a large crowd at Hurst Park Racecourse. The field was in the starter's gate at 3:45 p.m. One minute later, the thoroughbreds bolted from the gate and thundered down the turf. Wearing Churchill's racing colors, pink with chocolate sleeves and cap, jockey Tommy Gosling and Colonist II took the lead and were in front of the field halfway up the straight.

As the field raced around the course, Colonist II led at the turn. Charging hard was His Majesty's filly Above Board with W.H. Carr in the saddle. Carr wore the Royal Colors of purple with scarlet sleeves and a black cap with gold tassel. Gold braid decorated Carr's jersey and the tips of his sleeves. Heading for the winning post, Colonist II was still in the lead, galloping with determination and confidence. Amidst the boisterous cheering of the racegoers, Churchill's grey came in first, two lengths ahead of His Majesty's black filly, with Star Spangled Banner, a black colt, placing third.

Book Review

Churchill and Colonist II: The Story of Winston Churchill and His Famous Race Horse

Reviewed by Richard M. Langworth, Churchill Project, Hillsdale College

Another example of the specialized material a determined author can pull together on Churchill is this account of the statesman's post-World War II fling with thoroughbred horse racing, starring his best-known competitor, Colonist II. The author reaches back into Churchill's early life to document his interest in horses, which began with his military career as a cavalry officer, and his days off duty playing polo, in which WSC was proficient. He was still playing the game into his fifties, and "riding to hounds" in his seventies. Acquired in 1949, the French colt Colonist II won or placed in eighteen of twenty-four races.

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