Day, Alfred

1830 -1868

photo courtesy John Griffiths
A son of John Barham Day, Alfred was born on November 3rd 1830 and  baptised on October 6th 1833 at St Edith’s Church Monks Kirby, a village in north-eastern Warwickshire

He received a good education at Winchester and, in the holidays, rode his father’s horses across Stockbridge Downs. In the 1843 Cesarewitch, aged just twelve and weighing 4st 7lbs, Alfred rode the 3-y-o Shocking Mamma

A more accomplished rider than any of his brothers, he came to the public eye two years later when weighing out at 6 stone to win the Goodwood Stakes on Mr Wreford’s Flea.

In 1847 and again the following year, he won the Ascot Gold Cup on The Hero.

He won his first classic when beating the great Nat Flatman (and other top jockeys) in the 1850 2,000 Guineas. Riding Pitsford, the 5/2 second favourite, he clung on tenaciously for a neck win, thus signalling his arrival as a serious jockey.

His only Derby win (a feat his father had been unable to accomplish) came in 1854 riding Andover.

Alfred’s continual success earned him the nickname of ‘King Alfred’. Said to have ‘absolute perfection in both seat and hands’, Alfred was a deservedly popular jockey and he now rode for some of the most titled people in the land; Sir Robert Peel, Lords Clifden, Derby and Palmerston.

In the Ascot Gold Cup of 1854, he rode one of the greatest races of his career when, aboard West Australian, he beat the five-year-old Kingston by a head.

He was fortunate to win the 1856 Oaks on Mincepie – the runner-up was ridden by cross-country Robert Sly and should have won easily.

Unfortunately, like so many other members of his family, he was not completely trustworthy. When he finished third in the 1859 Derby on Trumpeter, beaten just a half-length and a neck by Musjid and Marionette (of whom he was part-owner), he was told that he would not be allowed to continue riding unless he sold his share in the horse.

Arthur's last ride came on Golden Dust which finished second at Epsom on April 17, 1863.

Arthur enjoyed riding to hounds, and did so on his favourite horse, Stonehenge. Arthur, a great uncle to Mornington Cannon, died on January 4, 1868, aged just 37. 

He was married with no children. He was buried in Stockbridge Cemetery.

He had ridden the winners of seven classics, including five for his brother John and one for his brother Will.

Two Thousand Guineas: Pitsford (1850), Hermit (1854) and The Promised Land (1859)

One Thousand Guineas: The Flea (1849) and Kate (1852)

The Derby: Andover (1854)

                                The Oaks: Mincepie (1856)

Alfred Day was born on the 3rd November, 1830, and when the height of a stable bucket he was brought out, before he was quite 11 years of age, to ride Shocking Mamma for Mr. Osbaldiston in the Cesarewitch of 1841, in which, as might be expected, he was nowhere. Reared from such a stock, riding came to him as naturally as fighting to a Napier ; and, pos- sessed of a frame which peculiarly fitted him for it, he took to a horse like a duck to water, and, as a proof how he profited by experience, 1 may instance tnat he won the Goodwood Stakes for Mr. Wreford, on Franchise, before he had completed his 14th year.
A couple of years afterwards he won the Cambridge- shire on The Prior of St. Margaret's, beating Job Marson on String, who was considered a certainty for it by Lord Edward Russell and friends. Three years afterwards saw him in every print-seller's shop in the country, with his saddle in his hand going to ride The Hero, with whom he became associated as much as Wells was with Fisherman, for he won the Don- caster Cup as well as the Ascot Cup two years in succession on him, and likewise the Great Ebor Handicap at York, when the old chesnut carried no less than 9st. 41b., and 40 to 1 was freely offered against him. Then came his famous race with Old Dan Tucker for the Great Yorkshire Stakes, in which he clearly outrode poor Frank Butler upon Nunny- kirk, to the great annoyance of Scott's stable, who wanted him a favourite for the Leger, in order to hedge their money. At York, also, he made, perhaps, his greatest hit, when, with Vivandiere, he defeated Frank again on Lord Derby's Iris. Three times between the distance and the winning post was he beaten, and yet in the end he contrived to win by a head. Honest John almost went mad on the occasion, and talked of the performance for months afterwards! But Mr. Greville did even more, for he made Alfred the present of a tenner, and wrote to one of his most intimate friends in Ireland, saying that he never wit- nessed a finer piece of jockey ship in his life, and whenever the subject has been discussed this last argument which I have advanced has invariably put an end to further disquisition. Coming back to New- market, I may remark that "the heath fairly rose at him" when on The Flea he beat Clarissa for the One Thousand, and in the three Two Thousands which he won on Pitsford, The Hermit, and Promised Land, he rode as quietly and unconcernedly as if he had been leading an exercise gallop at home, and as the little coachman said of himself, in allusion to his big rival, " he did that by artifice which the other achieved by strength." At Ascot he rode three very remarkable races, which were very much talked of at the time. One was when he won the New Stakes with Alvedis- ton for his brother William ; the other when he carried off the Ascot Stakes with Buckthorn for Lord Palmerston, when he lay so far away at starting that it was generally remarked in the stand that Alfred Day was beaten off from the first moment. Still, as he suspected, all the others came back to him, and, availing himself of his usual one run, to the astonish- ment of everyone, and of the occupants of the royal stand in particular, he won very cleverly, and both owner and jockey were equally pleased with the result. His third great victory on the royal course was at the following meeting, where he managed to get through the Ascot Cup on West Australian for Lord Londes- borough, who was very desirous, after giving a large sum for him to Mr. Bowes, to win it, to add to his collection at Grimston. This Alfred Day accomplished for him, after a terrible fight with Job Marson, on Kingston, who was only beaten by a neck. From the crippled state of West Australian's legs strong fears were entertained they would give way in the race, and his jockey avowed to me that he never had such an anxious task on his hands in his life. After this race the "West" retired into private life with his blushing honours thick upon him. Nothing either could have been finer than his steerage of Andover for the Derby, or of Mincepie for the Oaks ; and if his knowledge of pace had not been first-rate he would never have got Kingstown second to Wild Dayrell in his Derby. In short, Alfred Day was quite as much entitled to be called a heaven-born jockey as William Pitt a min- ister, while his language testified to the excellence of his education and the good use he made of it. Of Danebury he was quite as much the prop as William Scott was of Whitewall, and he was a universal favourite with all the nobleman and gentlemen of the stable, because he never took a liberty with them, and never forgot his proper position. He was by no means a strong jockey, but he was remarkable for the excel- lence of his seat, and the fineness of his hand, which were almost unexampled, and he may be said to have ridden too well for the unappreciative million. He suffered very much from wasting, which left him so weak that at times he could scarcely do justice to the animals he rode, and which exposed him occasionally to ill-natured remarks from those who little knew he could hardly sit on his horse, or walk with his saddle into the weighing-room. His two last mounts were on Ackworth, for Mr. Hill, at Epsom, and on Golden Dust, for Mr. Brayley, at some provincial meeting which I cannot at this moment call to mind. How he got Trumpeter third for the Derby, and how he won for Sir Robert Peel his great matches with Anton against Kent, and Antonio against Luff, are matters of history that will be long talked of by racing men. With hounds he was as good as with racehorse, and he was one of the very few jockeys who knew not only whot hunting meant, but also the etiquette of the hunting field. He likewise was a capital shot, especially at pigeons, and on one occasion he killed no less than 94 birds out of 100, while with his left he was wonderfully quick. In addition to these qualifi- cations, he could take his own part at cricket, and all other rustic sports. Had he been spared to continue his career as a trainer he would no doubt have dis- tinguished himself as much as he had done in the saddle ; for when he had the horses which his old employer, Mr. Pad wick, kindly gave him, he brought them out in first-rate fettle, and he quickly discovered that the for te of Julius was staying, and not speed. He also bought Lecturer as a yearling, and recom- mended the Marquis of Hastings to buy him, which he did for £500 and contingencies. To his poorer neighbours bis conduct was ever marked by kind and charitable acts, and the large attendance at his funeral testified to the regard in which he was held at Stock- bridge and its vicinity. His friends will be pleased to hear he was sensible of his approaching end, and ap- preciated to the fullest extent the kind attentions of the clergyman who attended him. Neither did he murmer at being cut off at suoh an early period of his life, as he was only in his 37th year.


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