- Quote: ‘In July 1814, Dr Syntax ran at Preston Racecourse, opposite Preston North End football stadium. It was the beginning of a remarkable career’.
Racing correspondent Andrew Atkinson looks back in Part 1 of a special Feature on Dr Syntax.
In 1821, 10-year-old Dr Syntax began a rivalry with the 1818 St Leger winner Reveller. On July 4, Dr Syntax was beaten by Reveller in the Lancaster Gold Cup, reversing the form to win his seventh Preston Gold Cup a week later.
Dr Syntax (1811–1838). British thoroughbred racehorse, trained in Yorkshire, Dr Syntax is recorded as winning 36 races during 1814-1823, including the Preston Gold Cup on a record seven consecutive occasions.
Dr Syntax, who retired to Stud in 1824, has a CV that also includes five Lancaster Gold Cups and five Richmond Gold Cups.
Sire to a plethora of winners, the bay-brown horse, standing 15 hands high, was bred by William Knapton at Huntington, Yorkshire, owned during his racing career by Ralph Riddell of Felton Park in Northumberland.
It was deemed Dr Syntax’s temperament made jockeys aware, insofar as to ‘coax’ him, due to not responding to whip or spur.
Sired by Lord Clermont’s stallion Paynator, out of an unnamed mare by Beningbrough, who produced Miss Syntax and Oceana, both successful broodmares.
Dr Syntax was named after a character, created by the British writer William Combe, in a series of satirical poems.
Dr Syntax began his career at Catterick Bridge on April 13, 1814 – fell and re-mounted – finishing last, over 1m 2f.
Later races in April 1814, Dr Syntax ran second at Middleham and Durham – returning in July at Preston Racecourse, where there were two racecourses, in situ on Moor Park, opposite Preston North End football stadium.
It was to be the beginning of a remarkable milestone for Dr Syntax, when winning for the first time in a Maiden Plate – a race scheduled for a series of heats, with the prize going to the first horse – to win twice!
Racing in a field of three, Dr Syntax won the first two heats, bagging a prize of £70. A considerable sum at the time.
Dr Syntax went on to win four more races, in four outings, including at Morpeth on September 17, winning the first two races on the card – the Members’ Plate and a Sweepstakes.
Dr Syntax’s campaign in 1814 ended at Richmond, Yorkshire, winning two Sweepstakes. In the second Sweepstake he won both heats, ahead of stablemate XYZ and Biddick.
In March 1815, Dr Syntax won twice at Catterick Bridge, ahead of winning the 100 Guineas Gold Cup in April, over 3 miles, at Middleham.
Dr Syntax gained his 10th consecutive victory, when winning the Corporation Gold Cup at Lancaster Racecourse – and his first Preston Gold Cup.
A skeleton was found in Newmarket recently in a former royal stables and research is ongoing to see if it belongs to Dr Syntax.