Captain Cuttle

Captain Cuttle was a British Thoroughbred racehorse and sire. He ran only six times in a career which was restricted by chronic injury problems. He was the outstanding British colt of his generation, winning The Derby and the St James's Palace Stakes in 1922. He retired after winning his only race as a four-year-old in 1923.

Captain Cuttle
Captain Cuttle.jpg
Captain Cuttle in a photograph by Frank Griggs.
SireHurry On
CountryUnited Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
BreederLord Woolavington
OwnerLord Woolavington
TrainerFred Darling
Record6: 4-1-1
Major wins
Epsom Derby (1922)
St James's Palace Stakes (1922)


Captain Cuttle, an exceptionally good-looking chestnut horse with a broad white blaze and three white socks, was bred by his owner Lord Woolavington.[1] He was from the first crop of foals sired by the unbeaten champion, Hurry On, making him a representative of the Godolphin Arabian sire line.[2] Apart from Captain Cuttle, Hurry On sired the winners of seven Classics including the Derby winners Coronach and Call Boy. His most influential son was the Ascot Gold Cup winner Precipitation, who sired four classic winners.

Captain Cuttle was named after the character in Dickens' novel Dombey and Son. Like his sire, Captain Cuttle was trained throughout his career by Fred Darling at Beckhampton in Wiltshire,[3] and was ridden in his most important races by the leading British jockey of the era Steve Donoghue.[4] The colt was particularly devoted to his trainer, following him "like a pet dog."[5]

Racing careerEdit

1921: two-year-old seasonEdit

Captain Cuttle was a slow-maturing colt and was not highly tried at two. He made only one appearance on the racecourse, finishing second in a minor race at Doncaster. Captain Cuttle's heavy physique and immaturity put a strain on his forelegs, leading Darling to treat him very carefully, riding the colt himself in most of his exercise work.[6]

1922: three-year-old seasonEdit

Captain Cuttle began his three-year-old season in the Wood Ditton Stakes at Newmarket Racecourse, which he won by six lengths. He became ill after the race[7] and had not fully recovered by the time he ran in the 2000 Guineas. He finished third in the Newmarket Classic, beaten a total of seven lengths, behind St Louis and Pondoland.

There were doubts concerning the colt's stamina, and he started at odds of 10/1 in a field of thirty for the Epsom Derby four weeks later. Captain Cuttle missed the parade for the Derby after a delay caused by a shoeing accident. Allegations were later made in the Daily Express that Captain Cuttle had been illegally injected with cocaine, to combat lameness caused by the incident. Lord Woolavington responded by instituting legal proceedings against the newspaper for libel.[8] Ridden by Donoghue, Captain Cuttle was prominent from the start before moving into the lead entering the straight. He was soon clear and won easily by four lengths from Tamar in a race record time of 2:34.6.[9]

The colt was reported to be lame after the race and there were rumours that his career was over[10] but he appeared to have recovered in time for Royal Ascot where he won the St James's Palace Stakes over a mile. He then suffered a tendon injury which forced him out for the rest of the season.

1923: four-year-old seasonEdit

On his 1923 debut, Captain Cuttle won the Prince of Wales's Stakes at Kempton. He was being prepared for the Ascot Gold Cup[5] when his tendon problems recurred and he was retired to stud.


In their book A Century of Champions, John Randall and Tony Morris rated Captain Cuttle the seventy-third best British horse of the 20th Century and the second best Derby winner of the 1920s .[11]

Stud careerEdit

Captain Cuttle retired to his owner's stud at Lavington, West Sussex. He had some success, siring the 1000 Guineas winner Scuttle but did not live up to expectations and was sold for a reported £40,000 to stand in Italy in 1927. He died at the Mirafiori stud, near Turin in March 1932 after breaking his back in a freak accident.[12]


Pedigree of Captain Cuttle (GB), chestnut stallion, 1919
Hurry On (IRE)
Marco Barcaldine
Lady Villikins Hagioscope
Toute Suite
Sainfoin Springfield
Star Thurio
Bellavista (GB)
Bona Vista Bend Or
Arcadia Isonomy
Distant Shore
Nunthorpe Speculum
Emita Galopin
Burgundy (Family: 22-c)


The name "Captain Cuttle" was taken from a character in Dombey and Son by Charles Dickens, Captain Edward Cuttle. It was subsequently applied to an LNER Class A3 locomotive, No. 2745 (BR number 60091), many of which class were named for racehorses.


  1. ^ "1st Baron James Woolavington". Retrieved 2011-11-02.
  2. ^ "Godolphin Arabian Line". Retrieved 2011-11-02.
  3. ^ "Frederick Darling". Archived from the original on 2012-06-14. Retrieved 2011-11-02.
  4. ^ "Horseracing History Online – Person Profile : Stephen Donoghue". Retrieved 2011-11-02.
  5. ^ a b "Horseracing History Online – Horse Profile : Captain Cuttle". Retrieved 2011-11-02.
  6. ^ Mortimer, Roger; Onslow, Richard; Willett, Peter (1978). Biographical Encyclopedia of British Flat Racing. Macdonald and Jane's. ISBN 0-354-08536-0.
  7. ^ Patricia Erigero Thoroughbred Heritage (1957-03-09). "Hurry On". Retrieved 2011-11-02.
  8. ^ "CAPTAIN CUTTLE". 1922-08-19. Retrieved 2011-11-02 – via Papers Past.
  9. ^ "Captain Cuttle if equine hero". Morning Leader. Retrieved 2011-11-02.
  10. ^ "ENGLISH DERBY". 1923-06-05. Retrieved 2011-11-02 – via Papers Past.
  11. ^ Randall, J and Morris, T. . Portway Press, 1999, p. 128
  12. ^ "CAPTAIN CUTTLE KILLED". 1932-03-29. Retrieved 2011-11-02 – via Papers Past.