Blucher (horse)

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Blucher in an engraving of 1816 after a painting by James Barenger
CountryUnited Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
Breeder2nd Lord Stawell
Major wins
Epsom Derby (1814)

Blucher (foaled 1811, died 1841) was a British Thoroughbred racehorse and sire named after the Prussian General Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher, one of the most successful commanders of the Napoleonic Wars, but his name was invariably spelt without the umlaut.[1]

Bred by Lord Stawell, and one of the many notable offspring of the great Waxy (1790–1818), Blucher's first year of racing was triumphant. Between July 1813 and June 1814 he ran five times and was unbeaten, his wins climaxing with The Derby of 1814. After that he had only one further race, at the beginning of the 1815 flat season, in which he placed second. He was then retired to stud at Marelands near Farnham.

Blucher had little success as a sire but was an ancestor in the dam's line of the double classic winner Pretender (1866).


Blucher's sire, Waxy

Blucher was a bay horse bred by Henry Bilson-Legge, 2nd Baron Stawell. His sire was the Derby winner Waxy (1790–1818) and his dam Pantina.[2] Through Waxy, Blucher was descended from the Darley Arabian.[3]

Through his dam, Blucher was twice descended from the noble Herod, the foundation sire through whom the direct male line of the Byerley Turk survives.[3] He was again inbred from Herod through Waxy's dam, Maria, a mare bred by Lord Bolingbroke.[4] Herod was himself inbred from two of the offspring of the Darley Arabian, one of them being the undefeated Flying Childers.[3]

Waxy had won the Derby in 1793 and had continued racing until he was injured as a seven-year-old in 1797, when he retired, going to stud the next year and becoming an influential sire. His offspring included three Derby winners, Whalebone and Whisker as well as Blucher. Waxy's own sire, Pot-8-Os, won thirty-four races during a seven-year racing career. As well as Waxy, Pot-8-Os produced Parasol, the dam of Partisan and Lottery.[5] Waxy's full-brother, Worthy (foaled 1795), had won races and became a breeding stallion for the East India Company.[6]

Racing career[edit]

Blucher first ran at the Newmarket Houghton meeting of 1813, winning a fifteen-guineas Sweepstakes handicap for two-year-old colts and fillies. He started as the six to four on favourite in a field of three.[2]

He next ran at the Newmarket Craven meeting of 1814, easily winning a two-hundred guineas Produce Stakes for three-year-old colts and fillies. He started at very short odds of three and four to one on and comfortably beat Vittoria. At the Newmarket first Spring meeting he won the Newmarket Stakes (fifty guineas each), starting at two to one on and again winning easily in a field of nine which included Zadora and Kutusoff.[2] Coming to Epsom, on 26 May he won the 1814 Derby, ridden by William Arnull, one of a famous family of jockeys. Arnull had ridden Derby winners twice before, with Hannibal in 1804 and Octavius in 1812.[7] The Derby of 1814 had a record number of entries, with no fewer than fifty-one.[8] Blucher, who started the favourite at odds of five to two and three to one, narrowly beat a Haphazard colt, the third favourite, who had led from the start and was overtaken only at the very end. Other runners included Bourbon, Grand Duchess, Jeweller, Kutusoff, Monkey, Osman, Robin Adair, Sir Tooley Whagg O'Shaughnashane, Wanderer, Wilmington, and an Eagle colt.[2]

Blücher, the Prussian commander in whose honour Blucher was named

The Derby of 1814, falling on 26 May, came only weeks after the end of the War of the Sixth Coalition, which culminated at the end of March in the capture of Paris by a Coalition army led by Field Marshal Blücher, after whom the horse Blucher had been named, and the abdication of Napoleon Bonaparte on 6 April. In June the Allied sovereigns and their courts made a triumphant visit to England. Those attending the Epsom meeting at which Blucher won the Derby included the King of Prussia and Field Marshal Blücher, and the crowd's rapturous welcome was crowned by Blucher's victory in the main race of the day.[8]

Blucher ran next at Runnymede, Egham, where he won the Magna Charta Stakes of fifty guineas each for three-year-old colts and fillies, starting a very short-odds favourite at four and even five to one on and comfortably beating a Haphazard filly. He had no more outings during the 1814 flat season.[2]

At the Newmarket first spring meeting of 1815, the horse's triumphant unbeaten career came to an end. In the Port Stakes handicap race for all comers, one hundred guineas each, with seven runners, Blucher started as favourite at six to four and five to four on, but was beaten into second place by his half-sister Wire, a three-year old filly by Waxy out of Penelope. After this defeat Blucher was taken out of training and sent to stud.[2]

Blucher's conqueror, Wire, went on to win many more races. She was soon sold, for three thousand guineas, and her new owner took her to Ireland, where in 1816 she won more prize money than any other horse. She was retired to become an important brood mare at Westport, County Mayo, breeding many winners.[9]


Following his retirement, Blucher stood as a stallion at Marelands near Farnham, Surrey, priced at ten and a half guineas for a nomination.[2] He had surprisingly little success as a racehorse sire, but on Scheherazade he got the mare Favourite, the dam's dam's dam of the double classic winner Pretender (foaled 1866).[10]


Pedigree of Blucher, bay stallion, 1811[3]
Waxy (GB)
Bay, 1790
Chestnut, 1773
Golden Locks
Bay, 1777
Miss Windsor (by Godolphin Arabian)
Pantina (GB)
Woodpecker Herod
Miss Ramsden
Misfortune Dux
Trentham Mare
Trentham Gowers Sweepstakes
Miss Herod
Cytherea Herod


  1. ^ Blucher at
  2. ^ a b c d e f g The Sporting Magazine, October 1816 (bound into vol. 49, dated 1817), p. 1
  3. ^ a b c d Staff. "Blucher 5x Pedigree". Pedigree Query. Retrieved 29 January 2012.
  4. ^ Skinner, James (1832). "Maria". The General Stud Book. 1–2: 229.
  5. ^ Erigero, Patricia. "Waxy". Thoroughbred Heritage. Retrieved 31 January 2012.
  6. ^ Young, Arthur (1813). "Horses". General view of the Agriculture of Norfolk, Volume 2. 12: 355.
  7. ^ Derby Winners 1780-1851 at, accessed 31 January 2012
  8. ^ a b J. A. Mangan, Pleasure, Profit, Proselytism: British culture and sport at home and abroad, 1900–1914, p. 38: "The Derby attracted a record entry of 51, and Alexander, King of Prussia, Tsar Alexander I of Russia and General Blücher were there to see the aptly named 'Blucher' win. The enthusiasm was rapturous. Later, at Ascot, where Blücher attended the Gold Cup, even the Prince Regent was included in the cheers."
  9. ^ Waxy at Thoroughbred Heritage, accessed 2 February 2012
  10. ^ Staff. "Pretender 5x Pedigree". Pedigree Query. Retrieved 31 January 2012.