Book Law

Book Law (1924 – 1944) was a British Thoroughbred racehorse and broodmare. The best female racehorse of her generation in Britain, she was noted for her courage and consistency and in her prime she was described as a "fighting machine".[3]

Book Law
DamsireDark Ronald
CountryUnited Kingdom
BreederWaldorf Astor, 2nd Viscount Astor
OwnerLord Astor
TrainerAlec Taylor, Jr.
Joseph Lawson
Record14: 8-2-3
Major wins
Queen Mary Stakes (1926)
Coronation Stakes (1927)
Welsh Oaks (1927)
Gratwicke Stakes (1927)
Nassau Stakes (1927)
St Leger (1927)
Jockey Club Stakes (1927)
Burwell Stakes (1928)
Biggest prize-money winner in Britain (1927)

She showed great promise as a two-year-old in 1926 when she won the Queen Mary Stakes at Royal Ascot. In the following year she finished second in both the 1000 Guineas and the Oaks Stakes, before embarking on a six-race winning streak which included the Coronation Stakes, Nassau Stakes, St Leger and Jockey Club Stakes. As a four-year-old in 1928 she won the Burwell Stakes on her seasonal debut but then finished third in both the Coronation Cup and the Eclipse Stakes after which she was retired from racing to become a broodmare.

Her foals included the top class colts Rhodes Scholar and Canon Law, the influential broodmare Highway Code and Archive, a racehorse of no account who sired Arkle.


Book Law was a bay mare bred in the United Kingdom by her owner Waldorf Astor, 2nd Viscount Astor. She was sent into training with Alec Taylor, Jr. at his stable at Manton, Wiltshire.[4]

She was sired by Buchan, who won the Eclipse Stakes, Champion Stakes and Doncaster Cup as well as finishing second in the 2000 Guineas and the Epsom Derby. As a breeding stallion he made his mark as a sire of fillies including Short Story and the dams of Airborne and Sun Castle.[4] Her dam Popingaol won two minor races but became a very successful broodmare whose other foals included Pogrom, Splendid Jay (Yorkshire Oaks), Book Debt (dam of Pay Up) and Fair Cop (female-line ancestor of Provoke).[5]

Racing careerEdit

1926: two-year-old seasonEdit

Book Law made her first impact in June 1926 when she contested the Queen Mary Stakes at Royal Ascot in which she was ridden by Robert A "Bobby" Jones and won at odds of 7/2.[6] At Sandown Park in July she ran unplaced behind Pricilla in the National Breeders' Produce Stakes. In autumn she finished third to Applecross in the Moulton Stakes at Newmarket.[7]

Towards the end of the year she was described as the best horse of her age and sex in England.[8]

1927: three-year-old seasonEdit

Alec Taylor, Jr, who trained Book Law until the end of 1927

In a twenty-eight runner field for the 1000 Guineas over the Rowley mile at Newmarket Racecourse on 29 April, Book Law dead-heated for second place with Endowment, two lengths behind the winner Cresta Run.[9] On 3 of June Book Law started the 5/2 favourite Oaks Stakes over one and a half miles at Epsom Racecourse. She took the lead approaching the final turn but was overtaken in the closing stages and beaten a head by Beam in a "terrific race".[4][10] Book Law was then dropped back in distance for the Coronation Stakes over one mile, which, with a first prize of £4,750, was the most valuable run that year at Royal Ascot.[11] Ridden by Henri Jellis she started the 4/9 favourite[6] and won from Lord Furness's Gay Baby. The filly maintained her good form through the summer of 1927, taking the Welsh Oaks at Chepstow and the Gratwicke Stakes at Goodwood[12] before winning the Nassau Stakes (again at Goodwood) at odds of 2/5.[6]

On 7 September, with Jellis in the saddle, Book Law started the 7/4 favourite in a field of sixteen colts and fillies for the 152nd running of the St Leger over fourteen and a half furlongs at Doncaster Racecourse.[13] The race had been deprived of some interest by the absence of the Derby winner Call Boy, whose entry had been rendered void by the death of his owner.[14] Racing on heavy ground Book Law was always in close contention before going to the front early in the straight. She repelled a challenge from the Derby runner-up Hot Night and drew away to win by three lengths with five lengths back to Son and Heir in third place.[15][16]

Three weeks after her Leger success, Book Law ended her second season with a run in the ockey Club Stakes over fourteen furlongs at Newmaarket in which she was matched against older horses. Starting at odds of 4/6, she won by three quarters of a length from the four-year-old Foliation.[17] By the end of 1927 she was being described as the best three-year-old in England of either sex.[18] He earnings of £22,316 made her easily the most financially successful horse of the year.[19]

When Alec Taylor the Manton stable was taken over by his assistant Joseph Lawson

1928: four-year-old seasonEdit

Book Law began her second season by winning the Burwell Stakes over one and a half miles at Newmarket in May. At Epsom in June she started favourite for the Coronation Cup but began to struggle soon after half way and finished third behind the Italian-bred five-year-old Apelle. Both Lord Astor and Henri Jellis were bitterly disappointed by her performance, but it was subsequently found that she had been suffering from a "kidney infection".[3] The filly missed an intended run in the Ascot Gold Cup but returned on 20 July for the Eclipse Stakes at Sandown and finished third to Fairway and Royal Minstrel.[20]

Book Law's retirement was announced shortly after her defeat at Sandown. She ended her career with earnings of £31,875, making her the fourth most successful female racehorse in British turf history up to that time behind Sceptre (£38,283), Pretty Polly (£36,638) and La Fleche (£34,703).[2]

Assessment and honoursEdit

In their book, A Century of Champions, based on the Timeform rating system, John Randall and Tony Morris rated Book Law an "average" winner of the St Leger.[13]

Stud recordEdit

Book Law was retired from racing to become a broodmare for Lord Astor's stud. Book Law died in November 1944 in a paddock accident at the Cliveden Stud.[21] She produced at least ten foals between 1930 and 1944:


Pedigree of Book Law (GB), bay mare, 1924[1]
Buchan (GB)
Sunstar (GB)
Sundridge Amphion
Doris Loved One
Hamoaze (GB)
Torpoint Trenton (NZ)
Doncaster Beauty
Maid of the Mist Cyllene
Popingaol (GB)
Dark Ronald (IRE)
Bay Ronald (GB) Hampton
Black Duchesss
Darkie (GB) Thurio
Popinjay (GB)
St Frusquin St Simon
Chelandry Goldfinch
Illuminata (Family 1-n)[5]


  1. ^ a b "Book Law pedigree". Equineline.
  2. ^ a b "Sporting". The Press. 20 September 1928. p. 12 – via Papers Past.
  3. ^ a b "The Derby". The Press. 21 July 1928. p. 16 – via Papers Past.
  4. ^ a b c Mortimer, Roger; Onslow, Richard; Willett, Peter (1978). Biographical Encyclopedia of British Flat Racing. Macdonald and Jane’s. ISBN 0-354-08536-0.
  5. ^ a b c "Chelandry - Family 1-n". Thoroughbred Bloodlines. Retrieved 8 October 2014.
  6. ^ a b c Abelson, Edward; Tyrrel, John (1993). The Breedon Book of Horse Racing Records. Breedon Books Publishing. ISBN 978-1-873626-15-3.
  7. ^ "Notes and Comments". The Evening Post. 12 May 1927. p. 9 – via Papers Past.
  8. ^ "Sporting". Otago Daily Times. 24 September 1926. p. 6 – via Papers Past.
  9. ^ "One Thousand Guineas". The Evening Post (New Zealand). 2 May 1927. p. 11 – via Papers Past.
  10. ^ "How Beam won the Oaks". The Referee. 20 July 1927. p. 3 – via
  11. ^ "Notes and Comments". The Evening Post (New Zealand). 9 August 1927. p. 7 – via Papers Past.
  12. ^ "The Turf". Sydney Mail. 30 November 1927. p. 52 – via
  13. ^ a b Morris, Tony; Randall, John (1999). A Century of Champions. Portway Press. ISBN 1-901570-15-0.
  14. ^ "Trotting Fixtures". The Evening Post (New Zealand). 26 July 1928. p. 9 – via Papers Past.
  15. ^ "How Book Law won". The Referee. 19 October 1927. p. 9 – via
  16. ^ "Notes on the Form". The New Zealand Herald. 9 September 1927. p. 16 – via Papers Past.
  17. ^ "Jockey Club Stakes". The Evening Post (New Zealand). 30 September 1927. p. 9 – via Papers Past.
  18. ^ "Sporting". The Press. 1 November 1927. p. 12 – via Papers Past.
  19. ^ "Sporting". The Press. 10 November 1927. p. 18 – via Papers Past.
  20. ^ "Eclipse Stakes". The Evening Post (New Zealand). 21 July 1928. p. 11 – via Papers Past.
  21. ^ Staff (1 December 1944). "St. Leger Winner Dead". Western Times.
  22. ^ "Royal Ascot Meeting". The Evening Post (New Zealand). 4 August 1933. p. 4 – via Papers Past.
  23. ^ "Easy Eclipse Victory". The Evening Post (New Zealand). 26 August 1936. p. 15 – via Papers Past.