Manor House Stud

Middleham, Leyburn, North Yorkshire DL8 4QL

Owner: Exors & Heirs of the Late Mrs.Lennie Peacock
Type: Private

Although other Yorkshire studs (such as Garrowby) may currently be more fashionable and others could be considered more 'historic' (such as Sledmere) it is Lenore ('Lennie') Peacock's Manor House Stud that has enjoyed the longest run of continuous success at the highest levels of bloodstock breeding, with three classic winners between 1945 and 1990, two of these bred and raised on the property from boarders.

Manor House Stud from Low Moor Gallops, click for larger picture Manor House Stud from opposite side of Coverdale, click for larger picture

Manor House Stables, in the centre of the village, were occupied in father to son succession for one hundred years till Lennie's husband, Dick, died in 1984. Dick had followed his father Matthew in 1951 and he had succeeded his father, Dobson (pictured below), in 1935, the stud being founded by him in 1883. Dobson had a huge string of over one hundred horses and was the first Middleham trainer ever to train one hundred winners in a season. As you head up Coverdale out of the village the stud is on the left hand side, opposite the gallops, and stretches all the way down to the river. There is also a modern yearling yard closer to the village. Lennie Peacock also farmed on an extensive scale, indeed the famous 'Middelham Jewel', which fetched 1.3m at Sotherbys in 1986 was found on her land, close to the imposing Middleham Castle, this money no doubt went some way towards financing the building of the new yearling yard. She sadly passed away in March 2018, aged 97. The bulk of the stud property (although not the new yearling yard) was subsequently sold to John Dance of Laurens fame as 'Manor House Farm' , but the family will continue to bred as 'Manor House Stud' on the remaining land.

Dobson Peacock, click for a larger image

The first two classic winners, own brother's Dante and Sayajirao, were technically bred by Friar Ings Stud, the name their breeder, Sir Eric Ohlson, traded under, but they were very much Manor House Stud born and raised. Sir Eric had purchased Dante in utero when buying the dam Rosy Legend for 3,500 guineas at the 1941 December Sales. Dante failed to make his reserve when sent up to the sales so he was retained in training with Matthew Peacock. As a two year old he won six races including the Middle Park Stakes and the Coventry Stakes. The following year he won a prep race over a mile at the old Stockton track and then suffered his only defeat going down by a neck to Court Martial in the 2000 Guineas. No chances were taken in his Derby preparation and he was worked over 1 mile six furlongs on the High Moor in a secret gallop. Suffice it to say he became the most recent Yorkshire trained Derby winner and the first since Pretender (trained in Middleham by Tom Dawson) in 1869, although, due to the war, the 1945 race was actually run at Newmarket. This was to be his last race as by the time the Leger came around he was virtually blind in both eyes, the blindness in his left eye having been blamed for his earlier Guineas defeat. No lesser authority than Timeform founder Phil Bull pronounced him "one of the best horses of the century".

Dante's brother Sayajirao was sold to the Maharajah of Baroda for the record price of 28,000 guineas (a record not beaten for a further twenty one years) and was successful in the 1947 St.Leger and Irish Derby, when trained by Fred Armstrong (father of Susan Piggott). Another boarder to do well for the stud was Cecil Moore's (of Littlewoods) One Tudor Romp who became dam of Whitstead (Great Voltigeur Stakes G2, Lingfield Derby Trial G3, Classic Trial Stakes G3, 3rd.Grand Prix de Paris G1). Moore used the name 'Mayfield Stud' but boarded his stock at Manor House, One Tudor Romp having been bought by Dick Peacock on his behalf for 10,000gns.

Dante spent his entire stud career at Theakston Stud and was sire of classic winners Darius (2000 Guineas and sire of Derring-Do - see Burton Agnes Stud) and Carrozza (Oaks). Sayajirao stood in Ireland at the Maharajah's Baroda Stud and sired Indiana (St.Leger), Gladness (Ascot Gold Cup) and Lynchris (Irish Oaks and St.Leger). Dante was a well known sire of broodmares and one of his daughters produced the speedy Tudor Melody whom Dick Peacock bought and trained for Fred Ellison, another Manor House Stables owner who kept his breeding stock at the Peacock's stud. Ellison's foundation mares were Path of Peace (bought from the estate of Lord Glaneley) and Sylvia's Grove (another foundation mare bought from Sledmere). The later produced the Gimcrack winner Precast.

Path of Peace's daughter Colombelle produced eight winners including Dornoch (Seaton Delaval Stakes, 3rd.Lancashire Oaks) and Lindsay (Cheveley Park Stakes). Lindsay, by Dante, was champion two year old filly in the same year that Tudor Melody was champion two year old colt, a unique double for owner and trainer. The Peacock family have continued the line with another daughter Arrangement, by Floribunda. She is dam of Bold Arrangement (by Persian Bold) who almost made it four classic winners for the stud when second in the Kentucky Derby G1. Campaigned at the highest level by Clive Brittain this colt won four races including the Solario Stakes L and was also placed second in the Grand Criterium G1 and third in the Prix de le Salamandre G1, Hollywood Derby G1 and the Blue Grass Stakes G1. Arrangement produced five winners in all and her daughters to do well for Manor House include; Midnight Music who has produced Galitzin (Guardian Classic Trial G3, Burtonwood Trophy L) and Midnight Heights (Premio Giovanni Falck L, Premio Archidamia L and second Premio Lydia Tesio G2), Flower Arrangement who is dam of both Armenian Dancer (Criterium Varesino L) and Flag (dam of Redkirk Warrior, who landed Flemington's Newmarket Handicap G1 in 2017, and the Black Caviar Lightning G1 in 2018) and Persian Song who is dam of Please Sing (winner of the 2008 Cherry Hinton Stakes G2, 2nd. in the Dick Hern Fillies' Stakes L and 3rd in the Chartwell Fillies' Stakes G3 and Oak Tree Stakes G3 in 2009, and 2nd in the Pipalong Stakes L in 2010), Raindancing (3rd.Princess Margaret Stakes G3 and Masaka Stakes L) and Mountain Song (3rd.National Stakes G1). Another of Path of Peace's daughters was Mountain Path, she produced that excellent sire Sovereign Path for Theakston Stud. Please Sing's retained 1/2 sister was, confusingly, also named Path of Peace ( 2007 Rock Of Gibraltar - Persian Song) and Lennie Peacock sent her to be trained by James Bethell, winnning once, her daughter Belvoir Bay (2013 Equiano) was a dual UK winner at two, as well as finishing fourth in the Prestige Stakes G3, switched to the States she landed the Blue Norther Stakes L in 2015 and the Torrey Pines Stakes G3 and Unzip Me Stakes in 2016. In 2017 Belvoir Bay took the Senator Ken Maddy Stakes G3 whilst 2018 (don't worry, this builds to a crescendo!) saw wins in the San Simeon Stakes G3 and Monrovia Stakes G3 as well as finishing second in the Buffalo Trace Franklin County G3. In 2019 however at the age of six Belvoir Bay finally landed a group one when taking the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint G1 at Santa Anita, having earlier landed the Las Cienegas Stakes L and finishing second in both the Al Quoz Sprint G1 and the Monrovia Stakes G3, for career earnings of over 1.2m to date.

The mare responsible for the stud's third classic winner was Alpine Niece (Great Nephew - Fragrant Morn) who was bought privately for 1,000.Sent to Thatching the resulting foal was submitted to the December Sales, where Lennie Peacock went to 13,000 guineas to buy out her partner, Robert Sangster (a partner in Coolmore Stud where Thatching stands). The following year the colt was sent back to Newmarket for the Highflyer Sales and made 52,000 guineas, being bought by Richard Hannon for the Irish cattle baron Jim Horgan. Named Tirol he won both the 2000 Guineas G1 at Newmarket and followed it up with the Irish 2000 Guineas G1 at The Curragh, having won his trial in the Craven Stakes G3 and also the Horris Hill Stakes G3 at two. He was largely disappointing following the second guineas, although he did manage third in the Grand Prix de Paris G1. He has been very successful at stud getting Tarascon (Moyglare Stud Stakes G1) and Miss Tahiti (Criterium des Pouliches G1) as well as the Manor House Stables trained Pipe Major, who won the Criterion Stakes G3 and was 2nd in the Champagne Stakes G2 and 4th in the 2000 Guineas G1 for James Bethell. He is also the sire of Persian Song's two offspring Raindancing and Mountain Song (see above).

On her way to Ireland to revisit Thatching, Alpine Niece was fatally injured although the stud has retained two daughters in Nice Point and Classic Design, both of whom are continuning the family tradition at the stud. Nice Point (by Sharpen Up) is the dam of the Royal Academy filly Sharp Point who won the Tipperary Sprint L and was second in the Heinz Phoenix Stakes G1 and who, for Sheikh Mohammed, is dam of 2005 winner Needlecraft (Prix Chloe G3). Sharp Point is also dam of High Target (by High Estate) who has been successful in Hong Kong, winning the Happy Valley Trophy L and The Centenary Cup L. Classic Design has done even better producing the top class Night Shift filly Eveningperformance who has won the Flying Five Stakes G3, Rous Stakes L, Scarbrough Stakes L, Sandown Park Sprint Stakes L and the Dubai Airport World Trophy Stakes L. Her best performance however came at Longchamp where she was third in the Prix de l'Abbaye G1. This consistent filly was also placed in numerous other black type races including seconds in the Palace House Stakes G3 and the King George Stakes G3.

Yearling Yard, Middleham Open Day Apr 96, click for larger picture Yearling Yard from road to Low Moor gallops, click for larger picture

Manor House Stud is also responsible for Marisela (Sheshoon - West Shaw) who was second in the 1972 1000 Guineas G1 as well as the previous years Cheveley Park Stakes G1, her half sister, who was sold as a yearling, was later grandam of that good sprinter and top class sire Indian Ridge. The Peacock's have also bred Hotbee who won the Molecomb Stakes G3.

Amongst recent boarders were Oh So Well (Sadler's Wells - Soba) and her daughter Dances With Dreams (Be My Chief), both owned by Dr.Anne Gillespie, who boarded her mares at Manor House on the recommendation of her trainer Mark Johnston. If was Johnston who bought Oh So Well for 25,000gns at the 1989 October sales. She injured herself before making it to the racecourse so the decision was made to start breeding from her. Dances With Dreams was twice placed in listed races and was fourth in the Poule d'Essai des Pouliches G1. Better was to follow as Oh So Well's next offspring was Dark Moondancer who won the St.Simon S G3, as a three year old for his breeder (when trained by Peter Chapple-Hyam), before being sold on. His 1999 success's include the Prix Ganey G1, Gran Premio di Milano G1 and the Prix d'Harcourt G2 and he achieved further group success in America.

Not one to rest on her laurels, Mrs.Peacock had purchaed a number of new mares in recent years including Arctic Air (originally bought in partnership with longtime patron Trevor Scothern, whom she later bought out, for 24,000gns at the 1996 October Sales). Trained by Ernie Weymes, she won a maiden at Ayr, but more importantly she comes from a top class Overbury sprinting family, being a half sister to Barrow Creek and Last Resort, and her dam being a 1/2 sister to College Chapel. Arctic Air has got off to an excellent start as her second foal Andronikos (2002 c by Dr Fong sold for 57,000gns) won both the Doncaster Stakes L and Prix Saraca L at two, as well as being second in the Gimcrack Stakes G2. His 2005 campaign has started well with victory in the Pavilion Stakes L which was followed up with second in the Carnarvon Stakes L and later in the Prix de Meautry G2. Mrs.Peacock 'bought in' Arctic Air's 2004 filly by Selkirk for 50,000 gns and, now named Selkirk Sky, she won her first race on her debut as a three year old for Richard Fahey in July 2007. Arctic Air's unraced daughter Arctic Song (2000 by Charnwood Forest) has been retained at Manor House and her second foal is James Bethell's useful Harley, sold for 17,000gns and a winner as a juvenille at Catterick and twice listed placed as a three year old in 2009 ; finishing 3rd in the City Plate L at Chester and second in the Thoroughbred Stakes L at Glorious Goodwood.

A horse actually bred by Mr.Scothern at Manor House is Mystical Land (2002 c by Xaar - Samsung Spirit) who was second in the 2004 running of the Norfolk Stakes G3 at Royal Ascot, having been sold from Manor House for 20,000gns as a yearling. As the year progressed it became obvious that he was one of the most consistent two-year-olds in training with further placings in the Richmond Stakes G2, Mill Reef Stakes G2 and the July Stakes G3. Another more recent purchase was Chinon (1999 Entrepreneur - Ivyanna) an unplaced daughter of a winner of the Oaks d'Italia G1, who was purchased for 40,000gns at the 2003 December Sales.

Sales successes include Dr.Anne Gillespie's c by Be My Chief - Oh So Well (1/2 brother to Dark Moondancer and Dances With Dreams) who fetched 100,000gns at the 1999 Houghton Sales. The 1998 draft at the same sale included a filly by Night Shift - Classic Design for 130,000gns and a filly by Sri Pekan - Persian Song for 120,000gns . One of the more recent mare purchases has been Lunaire, a half sister to Lucratif. Already this mare has produced 3 winners from 4 foals including Wrekin Pilot who, after some UK successes with Richard Hannon, won the Baldwin Stakes G3. in the US, one of her other winners is Moonraking who has won 9 times (flat and hurdles) and over 30,000.

With it's dry stone walls and mixture of old and new buildings the stud is certainly picturesque, if somewhat exposed to the elements! The water and land are both high in limestone content, although it must surely be more than this that enables Manor House Stud to stay at the top of the bloodtock tree, further success is bound to follow soon.

The bulk of Manor House Stud (but not including the Yearling Yard and associated paddocks to the North of the main road) was listed, as 'Manor House Farm' for sale late in 2020 at a guide price of 2m and was quickly sold in November. The Manor House and associated cottages in the centre of the village were also listed separately. The core property consisted of 289 acres (but only around 65 acres of this is actually used by the stud operation), a farmhouse and various buildings and stabling totalling 47 boxes. Before the identity of the buyer had been made public the name 'Manor House Stud' was the largest purchaser at the 2021 Craven Breeze up sale purchasing 8 lots (6 colts, 2 fillies) for a total of 1.035m guineas, the highest price being the 335,000gns paid for a son of Kingman. A few days later it was revealed that John Dance was the new owner of Manor House Farm and he has plans to redevelop it to firstly be a private training centre presided over by James Horton (assistant to Sir Michael Stoute) and secondly a base for his yearlings born at Salcey Forest Stud (he was also reportedly the buyer of Fair Winter Farm in Buckinghamshire in 2017)

However it appears that Manor House Stud will continue to trade (presumably from the buildings and land to the North) under that name. Furthermore the development plans for 'Manor House Farm' seems to be more training than breeding orientated.

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Copyright 2022 Stephen George-Powell

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