Chaloner, Tom

photo courtesy John Griffiths
Tom (left) was born on June 2nd, 1839, in Manchester and, in 1852, along with his two brothers Willie and Dick, went to Ashgill, the Yorkshire racing establishment of the legendary John Osborne. There, he fell in love with, and eventually married, Ellen, Osborne’s daughter. She gave him eight children and the family lived at Spring Cottage, Malton.

He first rode in public the following June at Carlisle, and was able, at that time, to ride 4 st. 7 lbs. His first win came on the unusually named Sister to Mrs Rigby which won a selling stakes at Liverpool on Thursday, 12th July, 1855.

Tom won the 1860 Liverpool Spring Cup on 4/1 chance Moorcock and, in 1861, won his first Classic, the St Leger, riding Caller Ou for owner/trainer William l’Anson. On the strength of this he was invited to Newmarket to ride for James (Jem) Godding and, riding for intrepid gambler R.C.Naylor, won the 1862 Oaks on Feude Joie.

That year, Naylor owned a 2-y-o called Macaroni who was beaten in a two-horse race on his only start as a juvenile. Despite this unpromising debut, Naylor had massive confidence in the horse, and quietly backed him throughout the winter to win him £100,000 in the 1863 Derby. 

Tom Chaloner was booked to ride Macaroni throughout his second season. The tale of that Derby Day is worth the telling. 

Not since 1857, when the race had been run in driving rain, half-sleet, half-snow, had there been a wet Derby – that all changed as a steady monotonous downpour continued throughout the day. Unsettled by the weather, Macaroni tried to bolt on the way down, forcing Tom to his feet in the stirrups as he fought to hold him. At the start, horses became fractious and ill-tempered as they stood in the relentless rain – it took an incredible 32 attempts to get the field off and running, some half-hour late. 

The runners bunched rounding a treacherous Tattenham Corner and a jockey (D Hughes) screamed for room. His horse, Saccharomerter, the second favourite, struck into the heels of one in front and fell heavily, his jockey escaping with a severe shaking. Another horse, Fantastic, jumped over the stricken Saccarometer and fell on his nose and knees, bringing down King of the Vale (Johnny Daley) in the process. At the furlong marker George Fordham sent Lord Clifden, the favourite, into the lead and looked sure to win until Tom, riding for all his worth, unleashed his mount - Macaroni and Lord Clifden flashed past the post together. 

Tom won by a head and  landed some massive bets for his owner.

William l’Anson, for whom Tom had won the St Leger, now owned and trained the brilliant Blair Athol who, on his debut, had won the 1864 Derby with – according to one report - ‘ridiculous ease’. In fact, the 13/1 winner had prevailed by just 2 lengths. No less than 15 spur marks were counted on his side, administered by the unsteady Jim Snowden, then struggling with alcoholism. (The horse was lucky to have been in the line up - a stableboy, in the pay of bookmakers, had tried to prevent the horse from running at Epsom by continually kicking the colt on his legs and genitals.)

The horse was then sent to contest a race in France, the valuable Grand Prix de Paris at Longchamp. 

Jim Snowden, who had ridden the horse in the Derby and was now struggling with alcoholism, was replaced by Tom. It was to prove a terrifying experience. Rough seas made the crossing to France perilous; they were intimidated by a hostile reception and the horse was left stressed and upset after an abortive gallop in unfamiliar conditions. 

On the course, Tom was threatened with physical attack and, on the way to the start, the crowd began throwing things at both horse and jockey. It was a miracle that the pair finished second. (One paper reported, possibly unjustly, that Tom had been caught napping. Under the circumstances, this seems unlikely.)

Tom’s association with Caller Ou was nothing less than sensational. The horse ran 101 races in six years, winning 51 of them. Tom rode her in almost all her races, including the unforgettable St Leger of 1861 when, starting at 100-1, Caller Ou beat the Derby winner, Kettledrum, by a short head. In 1863, Tom rode the filly in 27 races, winning 18.

Tom, a reliable and unassuming man, rode five winners of the St Leger and three of 2,000 Guineas.

From his earnings he bought a pub for his parents, and saw them do very well.

He had just began to train when his health began to fail.

Tom died at Osborne House on 3rd April 1886, aged 46. He left a personal estate of £799 1s. 6d. 

Ellen managed to retain her husband’s license – a unique feat in those times – to train horses on the Heath. His son, Tom Junior, won the 1895 Cambridgeshire and dedicated his win to the memory of his father. Ellen still rode out on her hunter well into her nineties. Having outlived her husband and all of her sons, she died on 5th March 1944 and is buried in St Agnes’ Church, Newmarket.

Tom trained the 2,000 guineas winner, Scotfree.

Tom’s Family

Tom Chaloner’s parents were Thomas Chaloner (1815-1859) and Mary Thomson (1815-1889). Tom was baptized on 10th July 1839 at Manchester Cathedral. He married Ellen Osborne (1846-1944) in the Spring of 1865 at Leyburn District, Yorkshire.

Tom and Ellen had eight children: Philip Arrowsmith (1875-1910), George (1869-1939) and Thomas (1866-1943), who all trained at Newmarket. Another brother, Richard (1873-1943), was a successful jumps jockey. Other sons were Henry, John and William. There was one daughter, Mary Ellen.

George Chaloner rode for a short time but was forced out of the saddle when his weight dramatically increased. George was apprenticed to his mother and, soon after she had received her licence, he rode a horse at Hampton Court for her called  Jacob on which he claimed his apprentice allowance. He won, but Charles Wood, the jockey, objected that George Chaloner was not 'lawfully apprenticed' because a boy could not be apprenticed to a woman. The stewards were in a quandary until a barrister-sportsman noticed a case of a boy who was apprenticed to a woman plumber. The stewards overruled  Wood's objection.

Tom Chaloner’s classic wins:

Two Thousand Guineas: Macaroni (1863) and Moslem (1868) dead-heat with Formosa.

The Derby: Macaroni (1863)

The Oaks: Fue de Joie (1862)

St Leger: Caller Ou (1861), The Marquis (1862), Achievement (1867), Formosa (1868) and Craig Millar (1875)


Other big races won include:

Northumberland Plate: Zeta (1856), Great Northern Handicap: Skirmisher (1857), Doncaster Cup: 

Vedette (1857) and Sabreur (1860), Great Metropolitan: Telegram (1858), Goodwood Stakes: Wallace