Charlton, John

1829 - 1862
Johnny Charlton‭ – ‬born at Stranton near West Hartlepool‭ – ‬was the son of the landlord of the Blacksmith’s Arms.‭ ‬He became apprenticed to Robert Johnson at Middleham,‭ ‬eventually completing his time at John Scott’s Whitewall stable at Malton.‭ ‬He rode trials for Scott before he gradually proceeded to ride in public‭ – ‬unfortunately Scott and Charlton never really got on and John left in unagreeable circumstances.

He proved to be an excellent jockey,‭ ‬his first major successes coming in‭ ‬1853‭ ‬when he won the‭ ‬1,000‭ ‬Guineas on Mentmore Lass and the Doncaster Cup on Huntingdon,‭ ‬both owned by Baron Meyer de Rothschild,‭ ‬the first Jew to be elected to the Jockey Club.

Charlton consolidated his promise with a win on Mincemeat in the following year’s Oaks.‭ ‬Then,‭ ‬in‭ ‬1857,‭ ‬he quarrelled with Baron Rothschild for whom he had ridden for a number of years and rode instead for William L'Anson,‭ ‬trainer of Blink Bonny.

Charlton’s riding prowess was not matched by his honesty,‭ ‬and he caused what became known as the‭ ‘‬Blink Bonny Riot‭’‬.‭ ‬

Blink Bonny was a powerfully-built bay filly who was unpopular with the stable staff at Hungerford House‭ ‬ ‭(‬William l’Anson's stables‭)‬.‭ ‬She started odds-on for the‭ ‬1,000‭ ‬Guineas,‭ ‬but‭ – ‬short of work‭ – ‬she was comprehensively beaten.‭ ‬Charlton was engaged to ride her at Epsom where,‭ ‬in a field of thirty,‭ ‬she started at‭ ‬20/1‭ ‬for the Derby.‭ ‬In a desperate finish,‭ ‬Charlton got up to win by a neck.‭ ‬Several professional punters lost heavily on the result.

Two days after winning the Derby,‭ ‬the horse reappeared in the Oaks,‭ ‬again with John Charlton in the saddle.‭ ‬Starting the‭ ‬4/5‭ ‬favourite,‭ ‬she won with ridiculous ease and,‭ ‬in September,‭ ‬was sent to contest the St Leger.‭ ‬

The writer Charles Dickens was one of the enormous number of people who had turned up to watch the race.‭ ‬Blink Bonny‭ started the‭ ‬5/4‭ ‬favourite in a field of eleven,  but,‭ ‬on the orders of bookmaker John Jackson,‭ ‬Charlton deliberately gave the horse a poor ride,‭ ‬finishing fourth.

Matters came to a head the next afternoon when the horse ran in the Park Hill Stakes over the same course and distance.‭ ‬Charlton again rode her.‭ ‬The filly,‭ ‬carrying a ten pounds higher weight,‭ ‬won easily by six lengths in a time that was two seconds faster than the St Leger winner had set the day before.

The crowd erupted‭ – ‬Charlton was pulled from his horse and,‭ ‬but for the intervention of former prize-fighters John Gully and Tom Sayers,‭ ‬would have been torn to pieces.‭ ‬

Scores of people became involved in the disturbance – ‬the horse and jockey  were eventually escorted from the course by an impromptu bodyguard of friends.

Following his Derby success,‭ ‬he gave the whip he used to his father-in-law,‭ ‬William Ewbank.

On Oaks day‭ ‬1861,‭ ‬he sat waiting to ride Bonny Breast Knot‭; ‬his medical advisor,‭ ‬however,‭ ‬had different ideas and persuaded him to give up the ride.‭ ‬Charlton reluctantly took heed,‭ ‬his friend John Wells taking the mount.

John's last ride, just eight weeks before his death, was at Malton on Longshot, May 23, 1862.

Leaving a young wife,‭ ‬Emmeline,‭ ‬to mourn him,‭ ‬John Charlton died at Hungerford House, Norton, of consumption in Dalby aged‭ ‬33‭ ‬on July‭ ‬26th,‭ ‬1862‭ ‬just a few months after Blink Bonny died as an eight-year old when giving birth.

John Charlton left effects of less than‭ ‬£1,000

Three months after his death, thieves broke into Hungerford House and removed every item.

Charles Dickens,‭ ‬then‭ ‬49‭ ‬and staying  at the Angel Hotel in Doncaster with his companion Wilkie Collins‭ (‬author of The Woman In White‭) ‬later wrote of the racecourse incident‭ '‬a violent scuffling and a rushing at the jockey,‭ ‬and an emergence of the said jockey from a swaying and menacing crowd,‭ ‬protected by friends,‭ ‬and looking the worse for wear.‭'

Like poor Luke Snowden,‭ ‬John Charlton was distinguishable for his uniform quietness of manner and disposition.

His favourite horse was Hungerford,‭ ‬on whom,‭ ‬in‭ ‬1853,‭ ‬he won the Northampton Stakes,‭ ‬the Yorkshire Handicap and the Doncaster Cup.

Charlton's finest riding performance came in the Goodwood Cup when,‭ ‬riding Nancy,‭ ‬he beat Alfred Day on Cossack by a head after a rare display of horsemanship from both jockeys.

John Charlton’s classic wins:

One Thousand Guineas:‭  ‬Mentmore Lass‭ (‬1853‭)

The Derby:‭ ‬Blink Bonny‭ (‬1857‭)

The Oaks:‭ ‬Mincemeat‭ (‬1854‭) ‬and Blink Bonny‭ (‬1857‭)