Lionel & Brook Holliday

Holliday, Major Lionel
Along with his son, Brook Holliday, Lionel Holliday bred numerous top class racehorses over a number of years, and many of the equine families he nurtured are still yielding results at the highest level to this day. There is a summary table at the bottom of this page of some of the horses bred by the Major and his son. Besides his reputation as one of the leading stud masters of the second half of the twentieth century, he also had a less impressive reputation as being a somewhat difficult and tough character, some would say in fact a typical Yorkshireman!. He was leading owner (1956, 61 & 62) and breeder (1954, 56 & 62) three times, and he won the Oaks with Neasham Belle, the St.Leger with Hethersett, and the 1,000 Guineas with Night Off, all of whom were home bred. In addition he also bred the sire (the aforementioned Hethersett) and dam (the celebrated Windmill Girl) of the Derby winner Blakeney, although he never won the Blue Riband himself. However not only was the best horse he ever bred, Vaguely Noble, not a classic winner, but Holliday died before it ever set foot on a racecourse.

The original family firm of Read Holliday & Sons of Huddersfield had been founded by Lionel's grandfather Read in 1803, and eventually merged with Levensteins of Manchester under the name British Dyes Ltd (later to become ICI and, latterly, Zeneca) and manufactured 11 million tons of TNT at their site in Huddersfield without any loss of life. Read Holliday was the son a of Bingley wool spinner. Read lived at the palatial Lunn Clough Hall, but eventually built virtually all of Queen's Road in Harrogate, which is now one of that town's most expensive areas, and died at Queen's Road a very wealthy man.

Lionel Brook Holliday was born in 1881 and died in 1965, he was educated at Oatlands School Harrogate, Uppingham School and Bonn University. He served as a Major in France in World War One (receiving the T.D.) but in 1915 he was recalled from the front line as he was one of the few British men with a working knowledge of the production of picric acid, vital for the production of explosives. He became responsible for a Government owned plant, which by the end of that first year was producing 100 tons of picric per week. In the same year Read Holliday was nationalised (at which point it became British Dyes) and Holliday received 10,000 for his share of the business. This was used to purchase a 30 acre site at Deighton, next door to the Government plant he was running where he founded in 1916 a new dye manufacturing business called L.B.Holliday and Co Ltd. Appropriately the land was the former site of Huddersfield Racecourse ! The business prospered under Holliday and eventually, after World War Two, employed over 800 people. Holliday eventually receieved the O.B.E. for services to industry. The company eventually went bankrupt in 1982 and was sold.

Major Holliday originally lived at Badsworth Hall (now demolished) near Pontefract, before renting and eventually buying (in 1936) Copgrove Hall. In contrast he bought Cleaboy Stud in Co.Westmeath in 1914, and had his first winner in 1918, although his most prolific years as an owner and breeder were after World War Two. It is hard to gauge the Yorkshire element of his breeding operation as I have seen descriptions ranging from "his breeding was centred on Cleaboy, and he only kept a few mares at Copgrove" to "the mares and foals were all based at Copgrove, and transferred to Cleaboy as weanlings". Probably the truth is somewhere in between, although obviously the emphasis must have been on Cleaboy in the years before the purchase of Copgrove. It is for this reason that his considerable breeding achievements are documented here, rather than on the Copgrove Stud page. Holliday also owned Sandwich Stud in Newmarket, which was bought in 1958, this was largely used as base for mares visiting Newmarket stallions and as a stud for some of Holliday's stallions including Hethersett and Narrator.

As well as his business, racing and breeding interests Holliday was also a great man to hounds and was Master of the Derwent, Badsworth, Grove, Rufford and York and Ainsty (North) hunts in successive years. Indeed the hunt kennels for the York & Ainsty were based at Copgrove in the years around the second world war. He was also a greatly feared Justice Of The Peace! Allegedly one of his favourite drinking toasts was "Here's damnation to the working man" ! Possibly not a particularly pleasant man (perhaps this explains why he was not elected to the Jockey Club till shortly before his death), but an incredibly successful owner and breeder.

The level of success the stud enjoyed in the post-war years can be gauged by the table below (as breeders, not as owners);

Year No of winners Races Won Value

Position in
Breeders Table




















































































As well as the stud's mentioned above Holliday also owned the historic LaGrange private training stables in Newmarket, where he had a succession of thirteen private trainers (he claimed they arrived on bicycles and left in Rolls-Royces!) including most notably the following, who 'served' (rather like a jail sentence!) consecutively;

Holliday was a great fan of Nearco, and this sire served the stud extremely well, but his habit (in later years) of naming horses with the same first letter as their sires meant he had an awful lot of horses who's names began with N! Holliday's success was largely based around six distaff lines, which are discussed below;

Lost Soul
The most important of the Holliday families was Lost Soul (1931 f by Solario - Orlass) who , like so many great foundation mares, was bred at
Sledmere. She was purchased as a yearling by Major Holliday for a mere 1,800gns at the Doncaster St Leger yearling sales of 1932. This was a good price (from the Holliday perspective) as Solario was one of the leading sires at that time, and Orlass had already bred six winners including the Derby third Shian Mor. Although not top class on the track Lost Soul did win two races at three, and at four was placed in the City and Suburban Handicap and the Victoria Cup. At stud she bred seven winners including four really good horses in Nearly (1940 f by Nearo) who was third in the Middle Park Stakes, Goldsborough (1944 f by Nearco), Saved (1947 c by Lighthouse) and Dumbarnie (1949 c by Dante) who won the Stanley Ford Stakes and was Champion Sprinter, he was also later to sire Mick Easterby's good horse Lochnager (King's Stand Stakes, Nunthorpe Stakes) who in turn was damsire of the popular sprinter Lochsong.

The aforementioned Nearly was useful at stud, and another daughter of Lost Soul was Tinted Venus (1950 f by Tudor Minstrel) who produced eleven winners for Holliday including Gallop On (1960 f by Grey Sovereign) who won the Acorn Stakes (and was later second dam of Hilal, Prix de Ris-Orangis G3, 2nd.Prix du Moulin G1) and Fortune's Darling (1956 f by Fair Trial) who had a somewhat lucky win in the prestiguous Lowther Stakes at the York Ebor meeting. As an example of Holliday's strident breeding standards Fortune's Darling, who was a very lightly framed filly, was sold as being unsuitable for breeding, and this assesment was later justified as Lord Howard de Walden had no real success with her, although she did produce a minor listed winner in Belgium. A lesser known daughter of Lost Soul is Hailea (1937 f by Blenheim), and her line has recently produced a good horse in Indian Creek (Hardwicke Stakes G2, Earl of Sefton Stakes G3, Gordon Richard Stakes G3, 2nd.Prince of Wales's Stakes G1, 3rd.Champion Stakes G1), and, further back in time, Sybarite (Prix de Royallieu G3, Prix Fille de l'Air G3) indeed this particular branch of the Lost Soul line has produced a number of good winners for the McAlpine family over the years. However of all Lost Soul's offspring it was to be Phase (1939 f by Windsor Lad) who was to gain the most plaudits.

Holliday nearly didn't keep Phase as, with the outbreak of war, he decided to sell all his yearlings in 1940 and they were bought as a job lot by leading Irish owner - breeder Joe McGrath ..... except for "the filly with the big head" ..... Phase! She won three times in the wartime calendar at Newmarket, including the Bottisham Stakes, but this wonderful mare only really showed her true merit at stud where she produced nine winners from fourteen foals including Neasham Belle (1948 f by Nearco) who won the Epsom Oaks, NethertonMaid (1944 f by Nearco) who won the Princess Elizabeth Stakes, and was second in the Epsom Oaks, Narrator (1951 c by Nearco) who won the Champion Stakes (as a maiden at 20-1!) and Coronation Cup, Setting Star (1952 c by Signal Light) who won the City and Suburban Handicap, None Nicer (1955 f by Nearco) who won the Yorkshire Oaks, the Ribblesdale Stakes and the Lingfield Oaks Trial and was a gallant second in the St.Leger and No Pretender (1953 f by Nearco) who won the Lingfield Oaks Trial and was later dam of Ebor winner Proper Pride (1959 c by Prince Chevalier) for the Major.

As is frequently the case, the most successful of Phases' fillies on the track, the Oaks winner Neasham Belle, was a relative failure at stud, although she did produce four minor winners, one of her daughters was later the dam of Le Solaret (Golden Gate Handicap G3). Two of Phase's other daughters did continue the line however. The first was the aforementioned None Nicer who only produced six foals, but five of these were winners, the best of which was Cursorial (1961 f by Crepello) who, trained by Walter Wharton, won the 1964 Park Hill Stakes for Major Holliday and was second in the Lingfield Oaks Trial. Cursorial's best produce was Fine Blade (1968 c by Fortino) who won the Duke Of Edinburgh Stakes and was third in the Observer Gold Cup. This branch of the family later produced the Stewards Cup winner Al Trui, and the City & Suburban Handicap winner Ben Adhem (1982 c by Hotfoot), who was bred by Brook Holliday. The only other decent daughter of None Nicer was All Hail (1964 f by Alcide) who won a stakes race in France. This branch of the family has been largely fallow in recent times.

However Phase's most important daughter was Oaks runner-up Netherton Maid who produced Pirate King (1953 c by Prince Chevalier) who won the St.James' Palace Stakes, Craven Stakes and the Newmarket Stakes as well as being twice second in the Eclipse, Chatsworth (1950 c by Chanteur) who won the Great Jubilee Handicap and the Manchester Cup twice, and was second in the Coronation Cup and later a leading sire in New Zealand, and Pampered King (1954 c by Prince Chevalier) who won the Brighton Autumn Cup and was a good sire for the Holliday's producing Pugnacity (Lowther Stakes, Falmouth Stakes, King George S) and Philanderer ( Westbury Stakes), before being exported to the States. Netherton Maid also produced the unraced Cherished (1955 f by Chanteur) who is covered under Brook Holliday below. However Netherton Maid's most important offspring was undoubtably Bride Elect (1952 f by Big Game). This speedy filly won two races including the Queen Mary Stakes, but at stud she was even more succesful producing Hethersett (see below), Proud Chieftain (1957 c by Persian Gulf) who won the Magnet Cup and Rosebery Stakes and was second in the Eclipse Stake and third in the Coronation Cup, later at stud in Ireland, Royal Prerogative (1969 c by Relko) who won the Victoria Cup Handicap for Brook Holliday as well as being placed twice in both the Hungerford Stakes G3 and the Earl Of Sefton Stakes G3. Bride Elect also produced two good broodmares in Ambrosia (1965 f by Alcide) who is detailed below under Brook Holliday, and Prudent Girl (1968 f by Primera) who was sold out of the Holliday family but produced Providential (Washington DC International G1, 3rd.Prix du Jockey Club G1) and Play It Safe (Prix Marcel Boussac G1, 4th.1000 Guineas G1) for her new owners. More recently the Prudent Girl branch of the family has produced Tioman Island (Goodwood Cup G3) and Blew By Em (Lawrence Realization Stakes G2, Pilgrim Stakes G3).

Bride Elect's son Hethersett (1959 c by Hugh Lupus) was the best of the Lost Soul family to race in the famous 'white, maroon hoop and cap' Holliday colours. First time out he won the Duke Of Edinburgh Stakes at Ascot by five length for Dick Hern, with Harry Carr up (on/off Holliday stable jockey Stan Clayton having been sacked ..... again), in his only other race at two he was a disappointing fifth in the Timeform Gold Cup (now the Racing Post Trophy G1). On his seasonal debut at three he won the Brighton Derby Trial impressively and, as a result, was made favourite for the Derby. After a tremendous fracas on the descent to Tattenham Corner a number of horses, including Hethersett, were brought down, and thus Holliday's best chance of winning the Derby came to naught. Badly injured, Hethersett was only walked out for the next five weeks, and could only finish seventh on firm ground at Goodwood in the Gordon Stakes. By the time of York's Ebor meeting however the going was on the soft side, and Hern had been able to get much more work into the son of Hugh Lupus, and as a result he won the Great Voltigeur by a short head. Only fifth favourite for the Leger, Hethersett had the sticky conditions he relished and, after taking the lead over a furlong from home, came home clear by four lengths, with the off-form Derby winner Larkspur back in sixth place. On his final run, over a distance too short for him, Hethersett managed a decent second in the Champion Stakes at Newmarket. His exploits enabled Holliday to claim the 1962 Champion Owner and Breeder crowns (the later championship for the second season in a row), and Hern the first of his four training championships, although this was his last season as Holliday's private trainer, as he had already given notice to quit to go and train for the Astor's at West Ilsley. Hethersett failed to win in his four outings the next year.

Bride Elect's three year old daughter Aerial Lady (1963 f by Alcide), placed in the Princess Elizabeth Stakes, Lingfield Oaks Trial and Princess Margaret Stakes, topped the December Sales of 1966 at 25,000gns as a part of the semi-dispersal that occured after the Major's death. The 'Executors of the late Major L.B.Holliday' sold three of the top eight lots that year, the original advert for this dispersal listed over 60 head (at least 20 from the Lost Soul family) including an 18 year old Neasham Belle (one of three daughters of Phase catalogued) and Noble Lassie. Branches of the Lost Soul family also did well for other Yorkshire breeders with Sipsey Bridge (third dam Lost Soul) producing Derring-Do (Queen Elizabeth II Stakes) for Burton Agnes Stud. More recently the same branch has produced Tim Easterby's Romatic Myth (Queen Mary Stakes G3). For the Aga Khan the family produced such notable horses as Doyoun (2,000 Guineas G1, 3rd.Epsom Derby G1), Dumka (Poule d'Essai des Pouliches G1), Dalsaan (Hungerford Stakes G3), Dafayna (Cork & Orrery Stakes G3, 3rd.July Cup G1) and Dolpour (Gordon Richards Stakes G3, 2nd.Champion Stakes G1). The Lost Soul family is also responsible for Northern Gem (Pretty Polly Stakes G2), Sarhoob (Prix Eugene Adam G2), Taiki Hercules (Derby Grand Prix G1), Nanticious (Ribblesdale Stakes G2), Saraca (Prix Vermeille, Prix Saint-Alary, 2nd.Prix de Diane), Droll Role (Washington DC International, Canadian International) and Flossy (Champion Stakes). In short this family, largely developed over many generations by Lionel Holliday, is one of the most important in the stud book, although it has been a little quiet in recent times. It's importance to the Holliday stud can be gauged by the fact that in 1962 18 of the 53 mares in the Holliday stud were from this family, although an incredible 33 had Nearco in their blood!

Belle Sauvage
Belle Sauvage's dam Tropical Sun (1940 f by Hyperion - Brulette) was third in the wartime substitute Oaks at Newmarket, her dam having won the Epsom equivalent in 1931. Tropical Sun was the dam of Belle Sauvage (1949 f by Big Game) who was acquired by Major Holliday from her breeder, Catherine Macdonald-Buchanan, as a yearling for 3,700gns in 1950. Belle Sauvage won one race at three, but she was the dam of six winners for Holliday including Pandour (1955 c by Petition) who won the Dee Stakes and was second in the Solario Stakes, and she was also later the second dam of Lombard (Grosser Preis von Dusseldorf G1, Preis von Europa G1, leading sire in Germany) and Moss Trooper (Prix Kergorlay G2), although both these horses were bred by others. Most notably however Belle Sauvage was also dam of Noble Lassie (1956 f by Nearco) who won two of her fourteen races, including the Lancashire Oaks for the Holliday/Hern combination in 1959. She produced six winners including a minor stakes winner, Really Noble (1975 f by Relko) and a decent broodmare in Regal Lady (1970 f by Relko) who's stud career is covered
below under Brook Holliday. However Noble Lassie is most famous as the dam of Lionel Holliday's best known horse, Vaguely Noble (1965 c by Vienna).
At the time of his death, aged 85, Holliday's horses were trained at LaGrange Stables by Walter Wharton. The winding-up of the estate took some considerable time so the final group of horses to be sold by the executors did not reach the sales ring until 1967. The string at this time included a beautiful bay colt by Vienna out of Noble Lassie called Vaguely Noble. Trained as a two-year-old by Wharton for Brook Holliday, he was beaten in his first two races, albeit only into second place on both occasions. It was only the advent of softer ground in the autumn that allowed Vaguely Noble to show his full potential, and he inflicted a twelve length victory on the opposition in his next race and, two weeks later, he won the Observer Gold Cup (now the Racing Post Trophy G1) at Doncaster by a very impressive seven lengths. After the victory Brook Holliday was asked by Wharton (who had already been given his notice to quit LaGrange) if it was permissible for the trainer to give an interview on television. Somewhat bizarrely the reply was a fairly unequivocal 'No', a very strange response in the circumstances to say the least !
Due to the death of his owner (not to mention the poor record of sire Vienna) there were no classic entries for the colt and Brook Holliday pressed ahead with plans to sell him at Tattersalls, mainly to help settle the massive death duties he had incurred. After a huge opening offer of 80,000gns events were quickly wrapped up with the winning bid of 136,000gns being a then world record price for a racehorse, an especially good price given the poor stud career of Vienna (who was originally owned by Sir Winston Churchill). The purchaser was Dr.Robert Franklyn (who swiftly sold a half share to fellow American Nelson Bunker Hunt) and the horse was transferred first to Paddy Prendergast in Ireland, but he was quickly moved to France to be trained by Sea Bird's trainer, Etienne Pollet. He won the first two races of his three-year-old career, the Prix de Guiche and the Prix du Lys, but was then only third in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud. However he quickly bounced back for a facile victory in the Prix de Chantilly, before the final racecourse appearance of his short career where we won the Arc de Triomphe by three lengths from Sir Ivor, with one of the best ever Arc fields ever seen trailing in behind him. Dr Franklyn later said "Vaguely Noble is a credit to his late breeder, Major Holliday. We take our hats off to English breeding, which has shown it can produce the best horse in the world". Voted the 17th best horse of the 20th Century by the Racing Post, Vaguely Noble became a great sire of turf horses (including Dahlia, Estrapade, Nobiliary, Gay Mecene, Empery and Noble Decree), and an equally renowned sire of broodmares (the dams of Golden Fleece, Indian Skimmer, Dahar, Tamarisk, River Memories, Touching Wood and L'Emigrant for example), which will ensure his legacy lives on for many years to come.
Vaguely Noble's full sister Vive La Reine (1969 f by Vienna) produced 5 winners at stud including leading two-year-old RB Chesne (Champagne Stakes G2, Washington Singer Stakes L) who Cleaboy sold as a yearling to Charles St George, he was won of the better horses by the largely disappointing sire Brigadier Gerard. Vive La Reine was also, via her daughter Alathea, second dam of brothers Lead On Time (Criterium de Maisons-Laffitte G2, Prix Maurice de Gheest G2) and Great Commotion (Cork & Orrery Stakes G3, Beeswing Stakes G3, 2nd.Irish 2,000 Guineas G1, July Cup G1).

Springtime (1932 f by Apelle - Fancy Free) was a 1/2 sister to Blue Peter (Derby, 2,000 Guineas, Eclipse) and was bought privately by Major Holliday from the renowned breeder Lord Roseberry. She did well at stud breeding 12 winners including the Oaks third and Haverhill Stakes winner Nelia (1943 f by Nearco) who herself produced four winners including the tough and consistent Penitent (1949 c by Persian Gulf) who won 20 races over 5 seasons including the Old Newton Cup, and Crotchet (1954 f by Chantuer) who won the Lingfield Oaks Trial and was second in the Park Hill Stakes, Princess Royal Stakes and Cheshire Oaks, and third in the Yorkshire Oaks. Crotchet was later dam of Ballette (19643 f by Ballymoss) who won the Blue Seal Stakes. However Springtime's most important progency is Nberna (1942 f by Nearco) who bred four winners including Philos (1950 c by Persian Gulf) who won both the Warren Stakes and the Bentinck Stakes, and the unbeaten two-year-old Phantom Star (1956 f by Persian Gulf). Neberna was also the dam of Chorus Beauty (1952 f by Chanteur) who won 2 races and was placed third in both the Ribblesdale Stakes and the Lancashire Oaks. Chorus Beauty produced three foals for Major Holliday, before being sent barren to the 1961 December Sales where she fetched 700gns. She failed to get in foal again, eventually finishing up in Sweden. Accompanying her to Tattersalls however was her 1961 foal by Hornbeam, later to be named Windmill Girl. This foal failed to make her reserve, but owner/breeder/trainer Arthur Budgett later agreed to purchase her privately from Major Holliday for the reserve price, 1,000gns. Put up for resale as a yearling she again failed to make her reserve of 5,000gns so Budgett decided to train her himself at his impressive Whatcombe Stables, now occupied by Paul Cole. Sent out from here she won the Ribblesdale Stakes as well as being placed second in the Oaks and third in the Irish Oaks. From six foals (in seven years, she died in a paddock accident aged 11) Windmill Girl produced five winners, but most importantly she was the dam of two Derby winners - Blakeney (by Holliday's Hethersett, who stood at Sandwich Stud but died after only three seasons), who famously also failed to make his reserve as a yearling, and Morston, who won the Derby on only his second start, again owned and trained by Budgett. Both the human and equine families involved have thus gained immortality for this remarkable feat. Mortson (who at one point stood at the
Norton Grove Stud in Malton) a son of Ragusa, was a relative failure at stud, although he did sire More Light, Whitstead and Oraston. Blakeney, a longstanding fixture at the National Stud, was slightly more successful, although no supersire, and got classic winning siblings Juliette Marny and Julio Mariner as well as classic winners Tyrnavos and Mountain Lodge (homebred by Garrowby Stud) and other good horses such as Roseate Tern, Three Tails, Band, Electric and Sexton Blake. Budgett's Kirklington Stud (now run by his son) continues to do well from this family as it has also produced Bonne Ile (Yellow Ribbon Invitational Handicap G1), Hi Lass (Prix Gladiateur G3) Ile de Nisky (Cumberland Lodge Stakes G3, 2nd.Hardwicke Stakes G2, 3rd.Irish Derby G1, 4th.Epsom Derby G1) and Centaine (Preis der Diane G2) for them.

This French mare (1931 Asterus - Merry Girl) was owned and bred by the leading breeder Marcel Boussac, and although she was never actually owned by Holliday she did produce two daughters who were acquired by him and had a significant impact on his breeding operation. The first of these daughters was Vellada (1939 f by Tourbillon) whom Holliday purchased as an eleven year old for 5,200gns in 1950. To his own stallion Narrator (from the Lost Soul family) Vellada produced No Saint (1959 f) who won 3 races including the Crookham Stakes and was second in the Yorkshire Oaks, Ribblesdale Stakes, Newmarket Oaks and Solario Stakes, No Saint's broodmare career is covered under Brook Holliday below. To Nearco Vellada also produced Noble Chieftain (1952 c) who won the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot and the Sandown Produce Stakes. This branch of the family also later produced that grand miler Persian Heights (St.James' Palace Stakes G1), although not for the Holliday's.
The second significant daughter of Tsianina was Palma Rosa (1941 f by Mahmoud) who Holliday purchased as an eight year old in 1949 for 10,500gns from her breeder Marcel Boussac. She produced Persuader (1954 f by Petition) who won the Horris Hill Stakes and Clarence House Stakes for Holliday. Persuader produced eleven winners for the stud including Garim (1968 c by Narrator) who won thirteen races including the Premio Tevere, No Argument (1960 c by Narrator) who won the Spring Cup Handicap and the minor winner Seductive (1971 f by Shantung) who, for others, was later dam of Super Moment (Charles H Strub Stakes G1) and second dam of Flying Continental (Charles H Strub Stakes G1, 2nd.Santa Anita Derby G1) and Pale Ale (Prix Penelope G3). However Persuader's most important contribution was as the dam of Night Off (1962 f by Narrator) who was Champion Two Year Old Filly in 1964 having won the Cheveley Park Stakes. She followed up the next year, 1965, by winning the 1,000 Guineas for Holliday when trained by Walter Wharton, she was also second in the Coronation Stakes. In many ways it is fitting that Night Off should be Major Holliday's last major winner as both the sire and dam were homebred horses who's respective families he had developed over many years. For Brook Holliday Night Off produced only three winners although these did include Madame's Share (1968 f by Major Portion) who won the Prix d'Astarte G3, the Ripon Champion Trophy L and the St.Catherine's Stakes L, as well as being fourth in the Criterium des Pouliches G1. Night Off also produced Baldur (1972 c by Breton) who was third in the Dewhurst Stakes G1. Another daughter of Night Off was the unplaced Sweet Relations (1973 f by Skymaster), who was later dam of Montekin (Waterford Crystal Mile G2, 3rd.Prix Jacques le Marois G1) and Mazaad (Will Rogers Handicap G3) for other breeders.Stetchworth Park Stud did well with another daughter of Persuader in the shape of Docklands (1977 f by On Your Mark) who produced Port Helene (by Troy) who won the Lingfield Oaks Trial L, and was second in the Lancashire Oaks G3, and third in both the Ribblesdale Stakes G2 and the Park Hill Stakes G2.

This mare (1953 Djebel - Ballisland) does not appear to have been owned by Holliday for too long and seems to have been purchased out of training mainly to be sent to his own stallions, namely Narrator and Pampered King. However the last horse she bred for the Holliday's was Pugnacity (1962 f by Pampered King), possibly Ballynulta was sold after this, as her earlier foals had not achieve much at the highest levels, despite her producing ten winners in all. However Pugnacity more than made up for the sale of her dam by winning eight times from twenty-one starts for trainer Walter Wharton, including victories in the Lowther Stakes, Falmouth Stakes, King George Stakes and the Hyperion Stakes, as well as being placed second in the Coronation Stakes. Inherited by Brook Holliday she produced seven winners including one of his best horses in the shape of Relkino (1973 by Relko) whom he sold as a yearling from Cleaboy for 58,000gns, the top price for a yearling in England or Ireland in 1974, to Lady Beaverbrook. Sent to Dick Hern he won the Benson & Hedges Gold Cup G1, Lockinge Stakes G2, Ascot 2000 Guineas Trial Stakes G3, and was second in the Epsom Derby G1 (where the distance was probably slightly too much for him) to Empery, who's sire was of course Vaguely Noble. It would be accurate to say therefore that the 1976 Derby was very much a triumph of Holliday breeding, even though they owned no runners in the race! Relkino was also second in the Champion Stakes G1 and third in the Sussex Stakes G1. Pugnacity also produced Hard Fighter (1971 c by Habitat) for Brook Holliday, who won the Montgomerie Stakes L, and was third in the St.James's Palace Stakes G2.

Miranda (1905 by Gallinule - Admiration) was a sister to the great Pretty Polly. Rather like Tsianina she was never actually owned by Holliday but two of her descendants played an important role in the development of the stud. The first of these was Miranda's daughter Mollusca (1913 by St Frusquin) who was purchased at at the 1923 Ballsbridge Sales in Ireland for 1,000gns from her breeder Giles Loder. Although already ten, Mollusca bred a number of winners for Holliday including Young Native and Molly Bawn, who herself produced Fair Profit, who won four races. This branch of the family produced numerous early winners for Holliday, but no 'big' horses.

Miranda also produced Mirawala (1923 f by Phalaris) who in turn was the third dam of Verdura (1948 f by Court Martial). Twenty seven years after he had bought her distant relative Mollusca, Holliday bought Verdura at Newmaket as a yearling for 5,700gns. Verdura won four races for Major Holliday and produced Avon's Pride (1957 c by Artic Prince) who won the Cesarewitch for Holliday/Hern and Gratitude (1953 c by Golden Cloud) who won 3 races including the Nunthorpe Stakes and the New Stakes. Verdura also produced Pharsalia (1954 f by Panorama) who was a leading two-year-old winning the Queen Mary Stakes, Lowther Stakes and Molecomb Stakes, this filly produced nine winners, but her main contribution is as second dam of Coltinger (1973 c by Relko) who won the Premio Ellington, and as ancestress of Duck And Dive (Greenlands Stakes G3, 2nd Phoenix Stakes G1), Only Yours (Child Stakes G2, Lowther Stakes G2) and Osario (Supreme Stakes G3). However, notwithstanding all the above Verdura's major contribution from the Holliday perspective was in Brook Holliday's ownership and she is therefore covered in more detail below.

Other good horses owned and/or bred by Major Holliday not covered above (as they don't come from his most important families) include;

Dacian (1953 c by Dante - Hanging Fall) Dewhurst Stakes, Gordon Stakes
Nortia (1959 f by Narrator - Maitrise) Nassau Stakes, Lingfield Oaks Trial, Magnet Cup Handicap
Cracker (1961 f by Court Harwell - Isetta) Nassau Stakes
Galivanter (1956 c by Golden Cloud - Lycia) July Cup, Palace House Stakes, Great St Wilfrid Handicap, 2nd.Nunthorpe Stakes, Sire
Philanderer (1961 c by Pampered King - Awfully Jolly) Brigadier Gerard Stakes
Courageous (1952 c by Court Martial - Fire Song) National Breeders' Produce Stakes
None Fairer (1953 f by Nearco - Gambol) Fred Darling Stakes

In the advert for the 1966 Dispersal sale the lots were listed as 'Lost Soul Family', 'Paraffin Family' and 'Fancy Free Family' (ie Springtime) as well as 'Other well-bred mares' ; most of the mares were covered by 'Holliday' sires such as Narrator, Pampered King, No Argument and Galivanter, although the 18 year old Neasham Belle was in foal to Henry The Seventh and others such as Alcide, Faberge II and Aggressor had been utilised.


Holliday, Lionel 'Brook'
Son of Major Lionel Holliday. Born in May 1928, Brook Holliday was elected to the Jockey Club in 1964 (remarkably early - perhaps to make up for the delay in electing his father) and is a former Chairman of the York Race Committee for 35 years, serving as Chairman from 1992 to 1997. Brook and the family faced massive death duties and Walter Wharton was given his notice at LaGrange, which was then sold. In the Autumn of 1969 the Copgrove Hall Estate was placed on the market with 1,619 acres, the main 7 bedroom house, 19 cottages, 39 loose boxes and 14 railed paddocks, a price of 400,000 was anticipated for the whole, although a number of the lots found different buyers and Guy Reed, who at that time owned Nidd Park, purchased the main house and the surrounding 50 acres of land. Tony Gillam (son of Brook Holliday's sister Diana Gillam) bought the 900 acre Wheatlands Farm, where he founded a stud and also trained. After Brook took over operations became slightly more commercial, for example in 1976 Cleaboy Farms was the leading vendor at the Houghton Sales with 8 lots sold for 206,300gns, including 76,000gns for a Relko half brother to Vaguely Noble (the second top lot) and 50,000gns for a Blakeney half brother to Relkino.

Holliday retained the Cleaboy and Sandwich Studs to start with, although Cleaboy was eventually put on the market in early 1978 (422 acres, 42 boxes, managers house and 5 cottages), and Sandwich Stud was sold to the Thompson family (who own the adjacent Cheveley Park Stud) late in 1986. The deal for Sandwich was originally to have included the majority of the remaining Holliday mares, but that part of the deal was later cancelled. The following year however Holliday did sell the majority of his mares (a dozen) to the Aga Khan (who is well known for preferring to buy into families 'en masse'). This left Holliday with just three mares, two of which were Britannia's Rule (3rd.Epsom Oaks G1) and Black Veil (a 1/2 sister to Embla, Cheveley Park Stakes G1). After the sale of Sandwich the majority of Brook Holliday's bloodstock were kept at the Tarbrook Stud of his sister, Diana Gillam, although this was itself sold in the late eighties. Even after selling Cleaboy his horses were still officially bred by the 'Cleaboy Farms Company'. Holliday had numerous trainers over the years including Dick Hern, Denys Smith, Jonathan Pease, Henry Candy, Michael Stoute, Henry Cecil and James Bethell (his brother in law).

Brook Holliday (left) at the 1966 December Sales with Tim Vigors. Click for a larger image.

Mr Holliday sold his Mount St John estate, at Felixkirk,Thirsk to Viscount Petersham in 1995 for around 3m and now lives close by at Thirlby Grange (he also owns the adjacent Cinquecliffe Grange Farm). Cleaboy Farms is still registered at Thirlby and has assets of over 1m, and still mentions thoroughbreds amongst it's activities. Although never quite as enthusiastic or successful as his father, Brook Holliday was still involved with a number of top class horses, some of which have already been mentioned above, he did for example own Vaguely Noble throughout his two-year-old career, and was the breeder of Relkino. In addition he has performed a number of roles within the Jockey Club and at York racecourse, as well as being a Steward at Thirsk, Newmarket, Epsom and Newcastle. Many of the best Holliday mares were sold early on, but Brook kept members of most of the main families. His breeding success with some of those families is noted below.

Inherited from his father, Verdura (1948 f by Court Martial) was from the Miranda family, branches of which had served Major Holliday so well in the early years. She produced early winners for the Major, but her best offspring ran for his son, these included Heathen (1968 c by Hethersett) who won the Greenham Stakes and Clarence House Stakes for Brook Holliday and Dick Hern, and was also placed third in the Dewhurst Stakes, he was later Champion Sire in Uruguay. However Verdura's best horse was Highest Hopes (1967) who was one of the best horses sired by Hethersett in his short stud career. Trained by Dick Hern (who was by this time based at West Ilsley) she easily won her only race as a two-year-old in 1969. At the start of the following season she romped away with the Ascot 1000 Guineas Trial by 8 lengths. A week later she met the Champion Two-Year-Old filly Humble Duty in the Fred Darling Stakes, and these two fillies crossed the line together, with both their jockey's barely moving, each trying to give their mounts an easy ride. Highest Hopes was eventually declared the winner, these days both jockeys would have been stood down! The two met again in the 1,000 Guineas but this time, whilst Humble Duty won, Highest Hopes finished well down the field. Next time out she was back in good form and finished second to Sweet Mimosa in the Prix de Diane (the French Oaks). After this she took another trip to France and hacked up in the Prix Eugene Adam and followed this with a reasonable second place in the Yorkshire Oaks, behind Epsom Oaks winner Lupe. In her penultimate and best race she won the Prix Vermeille with both Sweet Mimosa and Lupe behind her - sweet revenge indeed. Unfortunately her last run, in the Champion Stakes at Newmarket, was a repeat of her previous appearance at HQ and she trailed off badly, beating only one horse home. Highest Hopes was one of the mares Holliday later sold to the Aga Khan and she produced Hushang (1990 c by Shernazar) for him, who won the Made In Europe Val Des PresTrophy G2. Verdura also produced Patroness (1955 f by Prince Chevalier) who won the Produce Stakes at Sandown and who's descendants include Rainbow Connection (Princess Elizabeth Stakes G1R, Demoiselle Stakes G2), Rainbows For Life (Coronation Futurity Stakes G1R, Champion in Canada), Colour Chart (Prix de l'Opera G2, Prix de la Nonette G3, 2nd.Beverly D Stakes G1), Tempera (Breeders Cup Juvenille Fillies G1, Sorrento Stakes G2), Equerry (Prix des Chenes G3, Prix du Prince d'Orange G3) and Archdeacon (Prince of Wales Stakes G1R). Verdura was also second dam of Evita (1977 f by Reform) who won the Nell Gwyn Stakes G3 for Lord Howard de Walden.

Regal Lady
From the Belle Sauvage family, Regal Lady (1970 f by Relko) was a half sister to the great Vaguely Noble. Unraced, she was the dam of four winners for Brook Holliday including most notably Britannia's Rule (1976 f by Blakeney) won only won one race viz the Lupe Stakes L, but was also second in the Lancashire Oaks G3, third in the Epsom Oaks G1, and fourth in the Yorkshire Oaks G1. She was also second dam of Wedding Gift who won the Prix Saraca L. Regal Lady was later sold to Juddmonte, and produced Regency (1990 c by Dancing Brave) for them who won the Prix Hocquart G3 and was third in the Rothmans International Stakes G1 and the Hollywood Turf Cup G1, as well as being placed in numerous other group races. However Holliday had a good replacement in the form of the retained Britannia's Rule who did admirably well for the stud producing Broken Wave (1983 f by Bustino) who won the Prix du Carrousel L, Guarde Royale (1984 c by Ile de Bourbon) winner of the George Stubbs Stakes L and second in the Henry II Stakes G3, Clifton Chapel (1985 c by High Line) who won the Dee Stakes L and was third in the Lonsdale Stakes L and the Cesarewitch Handicap and Surf Bird (1986 f by Shareef Dancer) who is a Holliday mare to this day and has produced 5 winners including Break The Rules. Saxon Maid (1991 f by Sadler's Wells) was probably the best of the Britannia's Rule's progeny and, sold by Brook Holliday, raced for Sheikh Mohammed, winning five races including the Fred Archer Stakes L, The Foster's Silver Cup Stakes L and the November Handicap, she was also placed second in the Princess Royal Stakes G3 and the Harvest Stakes L and third in the Park Hill Stakes G3. Another of Britannia's Rule's daughter is the unraced National Ballet who was later dam of Name Of Love who won the Rockfel Stakes G3.

Cherished (1955 f by Chanteur - Netherton Maid) was another horse inherited by Brook Holliday, whilst she never made it to the racecourse, she did represent the Lost Soul family and it is therefore easy to see why she was retained. Although she had already produced both High Flown (1960 c by Hill Gail) who won the Cecil Frail Handicap and Never A Fear (1962 f by Never Say Day) who won the Ripon Champion Trophy, for the Major, her most important descendants were bred or raced or both by Brook Holliday. The first of these was her daughter Heath Rose (1964 f by Hugh Lupus - sire of Hethersett). This filly was actually bred by the Major, but raced for Brook and was the second top-rated two year old filly in England after winning the Imperial Stakes. The next year she won one race in France, but was also placed second in the Prix de la Calonne and third in the Prix Vermeille and the Prix de Minerve. At stud she only produced three winners but these included the speedy Tudenham (1970 c by Tudor Melody) who won the Middle Park Stakes G1 for Brook Holliday and trainer Denys Smith in 1972 (Smith having only received his first Holliday horses in 1971), this colt was also second in the Mill Reef Stakes G2, and was later a sire in Japan. Heath Rose also produced the minor winner Ring Rose (1973 f by Relko) who produced Balladier (1980 c by Busted) who won the Major Michelets Minnelop G3 in Sweden, and the Doonside Cup L closer to home at Ayr. Ring Rose was one of the mares later sold to the Aga Khan. Another daughter of Cherished was the unraced Won't Linger (1961 f by Worden) who produced two useful horses in the minor stakes winner Skein (1968 c by Skymaster) and the useful Hazy Idea (1967 f by Hethersett) who won five races including the March Stakes and the Crookham Stakes and was placed fourth in the Criterium des Pouliches and the Prix Royal Oak. Hazy Idea produced numerous winners at stud including minor stakes winners Rubric (1972 c by Red God) and Corviglia Boy (c by Crepello). However Hazy Idea's best offspring was Hittie Glory (1973 c by Habitat) who was yet another leading two-year-old from this branch of the Lost Soul family although, unlike Tudenham, he had been sold as a yearling for 30,000gns.After landing his maiden at Newmarket's July meeting he then won the the Flying Childers Stakes G1 and followed that with a very brave victory in the Middle Park Stakes G1 and finished the season rated second only to Wollow on the Free Handicap. The following year he was trained in France (trainer Scobie Breasley having moved from Epsom) and by far his best performance that year was when finishing third in the King's Stand Stakes G1, when he didn't get the best of runs, it seems fair to say however that he didn't really train on. Hazy Idea was amongst the batch of horses sold to the Aga Khan and her in utero filly Harouniya (1987 f by Siberian Express) later produced Harghar (1993 c by El Gran Senor) who won the Saranac Stakes G3 for him. Hazy Idea is also second dam of the Aga Khan's Hazarista (2001 f by Barathea) who in 2004 won the Blue Wind Stakes G3 and was third in both the Irish Oaks G1 and Yorkshire Oaks G1.Most notably however Hazy Idea is the third dam of Harzand, winner of the 2016 Epsom Derby G1. Trick (1993 f by Shirley Heights) who's dam is a half sister to Hittie Glory has recently produced the useful White Rabbit for Lord Halifax's Garrowby Stud.

Another Lost Soul family mare mare that Holliday held onto was Ambrosia (1965 f by Alcide - Bride Elect) A winner of one race she produced a number of winners for Brook Holliday including St Briavels (1974 c by Sovereign Path) and the admirably consistent Hard Fought (1977 c by Habitat) who won twice at Royal Ascot in the Holliday colours (trained by Michael Stoute) viz the Prince of Wales's Stakes G2 at four and the Jersey Stakes G3 at three, he also won the Earl Of Sefton Stakes G3 and the Westbury Stakes G3.

No Saint
No Saint (1959 f by Narrator) represented the Tsianina family, largely covered above. She produced seven winners from twelve foals for Brook Holliday, including Conjuror (1963 f by Crepello) who won the Imperial Stakes. But her most important foal was Blessed Again (1965 f by Ballymoss), who produced four winners for the stud including Glowing Halo (1979 f by Grundy) who was later dam of Garabagh (Saval Beg Stakes L). However most notably Blessed Again was also dam of Blue Cashmere (1970 c by Kashmir II) who was a top class sprinter winning seven races including both the Nunthorpe Stakes G2 and the Temple Stakes G3 for trainer Michael Stoute. Unfortunately Blue Cashmere (who later stood at the Goosemoor Stud) had been sold as a yearling, however Blessed Again's winning daughter Kaftan (1975 f by Kashmir II), an own sister to Blue Cashmere, was retained and she produced five winners from only six foals including Embla (1983 f by Dominion) for Brook Holliday, the last really top class flat runner the Holliday's have bred. Sold to Sheikh Mohammed Embla was an excellent juvenille winning the Cheveley Park Stakes G1. Although she could not quite replicate this form at three, she did manage a decent second in the Coronation Stakes G2. Embla produced some minor winners for Sheikh Mohammed, who later sold her for a bargain 38,000gns at the 1995 December Sales, but she has produced Zenno El Cid (1997 c by Caerleon) who won the Mile Championship G1 in Japan, for her new owners Orpendale. Embla is also dam of the winner Ghost Tree (1990 f by Caerleon) who is dam of black type performers One Step At A Time and Got To Go. Another of Kaftan's daughters, the winning Black Veil (1980 f by Blakeney), was one of the three Brook Holliday retained after the Aga Khan sale, but she didn't produced anything of significance, and was later sold.

And finally a Holliday bred jumper; Inlander (1981 c by Ile de Bourbon - Blissful Evening by Blakeney) was bred by Cleaboy and in Britain won the Ascot Stakes, the Swinton Insurance Brokers Handicap Hurdle and the Sunderlands Imperial Cup. Transferred to America he won the Colonial Cup and was second in the 1987 Breeders Cup Chase, these exploits led to him winning the 1987 Eclipse Award as Champion Steeplechaser.

Most recently Brook Holliday's breeding interests were down to three mares boarded at the Hedsor Stud in Buckinghamshire (listed below). He has had the occasional horse in training with Middleham trainer James Bethell, who's sister is Holliday's second wife (their daughter Lucy is well known in the eventing world), and who also keeps his mares at Hedsor. The three Hedsor based mares, who will now be getting on in years, were;

Holliday's more recent racing activity has been as joint owner (with well known Yorkshire racing stalwart Mary, Lady Manton) of the Mick Easterby trained Compton Verney and as owner and breeder of the Tim Easterby trained Off Chance who lost her maiden at the second attempt in April 2009, before winning the Pipalong Stakes L at Pontefract the following year, 2010, when her own sister Offspring, also retained with Tim Easterby was also a winner. Off Chance made a good start to 2011 finishing second in the Doncaster Mile L and Dick Hern Fillies' Stakes L and third in the Conqueror Stakes L, Pipalong Stakes L and Pomfret Stakes L to take her winnings to over 60,000. Brook Holliday died in May 2014 at the age of 85.

Selection of Major Winners bred by the Holliday Family

YOB Name Distaff Family Best Performances
1943 Nelia Springtime Haverhill Stakes, 3rd.Epsom Oaks
1944 Netherton Maid Lost Soul Princess Elizabeth Stakes, 2nd.Epsom Oaks
1948 Neasham Belle Lost Soul Epsom Oaks
1948 Dumbarnie Lost Soul Stanley Ford Stakes, Champion Sprinter, Sire
1951 Narrator Lost Soul Champion Stakes, Coronation Cup, Leading Sire
1953 Gratitude Miranda Nunthorpe Stakes, New Stakes
1953 Pirate King Lost Soul St.James' Palace Stakes, Craven Stakes, Newmarket Stakes, 2nd.Eclipse Stakes (twice), Coventry Stakes, Hardwicke Stakes
1953 Dacian   Dewhurst Stakes, Gordon Stakes
1954 Crotchet Springtime Lingfield Oaks Trial Stakes, 2nd.Park Hill Stakes, 3rd.Yorkshire Oaks
1954 Pharsalia Miranda Queen Mary Stakes, Lowther Stakes, Molecomb Stakes
1955 None Nicer Lost Soul Yorkshire Oaks, Ribblesdale Stakes, Lingfield Oaks Trial Stakes, 2nd.St.Leger
1956 Galivanter   July Cup, Palace House Stakes, Great St Wilfrid Handicap, 2nd.Nunthorpe Stakes
1959 Nortia   Nassau Stakes, Lingfield Oaks Trial, Magnet Cup Handicap
1959 Hethersett Lost Soul St.Leger, Great Voltigeur Stakes, 2nd.Champion Stakes, Leading Sire
1959 No Saint Tsianina Crookham Stakes, 2nd.Yorkshire Oaks, Ribblesdale Stakes, Newmarket Oaks, Solario Stakes
1961 Windmill Girl Springtime Ribblesdale Stakes, 2nd.Epsom Oaks, 3rd.Irish Oaks, dam of two Epsom Derby winners - Blakeney and Morston
1961 Cursorial Lost Soul Park Hill Stakes, 2nd.Lingfield Oaks Trial Stakes
1962 Night Off Tsianina 1000 Guineas, Cheveley Park Stakes, 2nd.Coronation Stakes
1962 Pugnacity Ballynulta Lowther Stakes, Falmouth Stakes, King George Stakes, Hyperion Stakes, 2nd.Coronation Stakes.
1965 Vaguely Noble Belle Sauvage Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, Observer Gold Cup, 3rd.Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud, Champion Sire
1967 Highest Hopes Miranda Prix Vermeille, Fred Darling Stakes, Prix Eugene Adam, Ascot 1000 Guineas Trial Stakes, 2nd.Prix de Diane, Yorkshire Oaks
1970 Tudenham Lost Soul Middle Park Stakes G1, 2nd.Mill Reef Stakes G2
1970 Blue Cashmere Tsianina Nunthorpe S G2, Temple S G3
1973 Relkino Ballynulta Benson & Hedges Gold Cup G1, Lockinge Stakes G2, Ascot 2000 Guineas Trial Stakes G3, 2nd. Epsom Derby G1, Champion Stakes G1, 3rd Sussex Stakes G1
1973 Hittie Glory Lost Soul Flying Childer Stakes G1, Middle Park Stakes G1
1976 Britannia's Rule Belle Sauvage Lupe Stakes L, 2nd.Lancashire Oaks G3, 3rd.Epsom Oaks G1
1976 R.B. Chesne Belle Sauvage Champagne Stakes G2, Washington Singer Stakes L
1977 Hard Fought Lost Soul Prince of Wales's Stakes G2, Jersey Stakes G3, Earl Of Sefton Stakes G3, Westbury Stakes G3.
1981 Inlander   Eclipse winner as Champion Steeplechaser, Colonial Cup, 2nd.Breeders Cup Chase
1983 Embla Tsianina Cheveley Park Stakes G1, 2nd.Coronation Stakes G2.
1991 Saxon Maid Belle Sauvage Fred Archer Stakes L, Foster's Silver Cup Stakes L, November Handicap, 2nd.Princess Royal Stakes G3, 3rd.Park Hill Stakes G3
2006 Off Chance   Pipalong Stakes L, 2nd.Doncaster Mile L, 3rd.Conqueror Stakes L, Pipalong Stakes L, Pomfret Stakes L

All information provided on this site is given on a 'best endeavours' basis. No guarantee as to the accuracy of the data is implied nor should it be assumed. For clarification please contact the relevant parties.
If you have any comments, corrections, suggestions, pictures or (most importantly) information please
email me.

If you can't see a toolbar at the top of this page either you have an in-compatible browser of you have accessed
this site via an old link, please use instead.