At the start of the summer horse-racing season, here at Juels’ Limited, we have had the great privilege of obtaining a classic sporting trophy to add to our collection.
Back in the 1930s, a true horse-racing champion emerged. The name of the horse was Hyperion and it still resonates through the horse-racing fraternity to this day.
The importance of this particular horse is evident in the life-size bronze statue which was made of Hyperion, by sculptor John Skeaping, which stands in Newmarket High Street to this day, outside the entrance to the Jockey Club headquarters. The horse’s preserved skeleton is also on display in the National Racing Museum, also in Newmarket. Both are testament to the admiration, affection, acclaim and notoriety the horse gathered during its short racing career.
The famous London gangster and gambler of the era Jacob Comer (known as Jack ‘Spot’) reportedly made a fortune, said to have been ‘his weight in gold’ when Hyperion won both the Derby (as favourite), easing to victory by breaking the track record. And then, following a lengthy injury ahead of the 1933 St Leger, Hyperion’s odds were slashed. However, the horse led from the front and romped home. It was said that Jack celebrated by spending money like it was going out of fashion, following the victory at Doncaster.
Hyperion was owned by Edward George Villiers Stanley, the 17th Earl of Derby, and trained by the legendary George Lambton. He had been considered too slight to be a champion as he stood only 15.1 hands high and was one of the smallest horses ever to win a British Classic race. However, he was said to have had good action and a beautiful temperament.
As a two-year-old Hyperion won the New Stakes at Ascot and the Dewhurst Stakes, plus a dead-heat in the Prince of Wales Stakes, from five starts in 1932.
The following year was Hyperion’s wonder year. Through 1933 he was undefeated in four starts, winning the Chester Vase, the Epsom Derby, the Prince of Wales Stakes and the St Leger Stakes. After his famous St Leger wins at Doncaster, Lord Derby commissioned equine artist Martin Stainforth to paint a portrait of the horse.
As a four-year-old he raced four times, winning two races, the March Stakes by 10 furlongs and the Burwell Stakes, both of which were run at Newmarket.
When Hyperion was retired to stud as a five-year-old his success continued and he became one of Great Britain’s leading helping produce the winners of 752 races – who in turn went on to produce many champions.
THE TWO GREATEST MEN
When Hyperion died, aged 30, in 1960, his owner Lord Derby got together with friends to toast him from a bottle of cognac that had been opened in honour of Winston Churchill. They drank to ‘The two greatest grand old men of our time.’