Birdcatcher (IRE)

Courtesy of Fores Gallery

Courtesy of Fores Gallery




Sire Line






Songstress, by Birdcatcher








Birdcatcher ch c 1833 (Sir Hercules - Guiccioli, by Bob Booty). Sire Line Birdcatcher. Family 11-d.

Birdcatcher, or Irish Birdcatcher as he was commonly called, was bred in Ireland by Mr Hunter, who sold him to Mr William Disney of Lark Lodge, County Kildare. His dam, Guiccioli (ch f 1823 Bob Booty), was bred by Mr Blake and later owned by George Knox, owner of Sir Hercules (bl c 1826 Whalebone). In the stud Guiccioli produced a number of good horses, including Birdcatcher's full brother Faugh-a-Ballagh (br c 1841) and his full sister Gramachree (ch f 1844). Faugh-a-Ballagh won the St Leger, the Grand Duke Michael Stakes and the Cesarewitch Stakes. Gramachree became the dam of the Anglesey Stakes winner It's Curious (b f 1862 Artillery), the 2nd dam of the Irish Sweeps Derby winner Selim (b c 1863 Ivan), and ancestress of most of Family 11-d.

He was described as having a blaze face with a near-hind leg white half-way to the hock. His head was said to be small, neat and expressive, set cleanly onto his arched neck. Strong sloping shoulders fit smoothly into his short, strong, tight back, complementing his depth through the loin. His quarters were muscular and his tail set high. Both arms and thighs were well muscled over wiry, lightly made legs. The springy lightness and elasticity of his stride contributed to the superlative action of one of the fastest horses that ever trod the Curragh. His son Saunterer (bl c 1854) was thought most like him.

Although Saunterer may have been similar in type his well-known shiny black coat lacked the famous "Birdcatcher ticks" of his sire. None of Birdcatcher's portraits does justice to the tufts of silver hair at the base of his tail nor to the scattered silver throughout his flanks, which were probably inherited from his sire Sir Hercules (bl c 1826 Whalebone), and which he passed on to a number of his offspring, including Daniel O'Rourke (ch c 1849) and Warlock (b c 1853).

After a successful turf career Birdcatcher was purchased by Lord Rossmore to stand at his Brownstown stud. At that time Brownstown House was the oldest stud in Ireland. From 1838 to 1845 he stood at either Brownstown or William Disney's Lark Lodge, which were adjacent to each other at the Curragh. He stood the 1846 season at Barrow's Paddocks, Newmarket and came back to the Curragh for the seasons of 1847 and 1848. The following year he was leased to Mr Jacques and stood in 1849 and 1850 at Easby Abbey, Richmond, North Yorkshire. In 1851 he was back in Ireland, only to return to England for the seasons of 1852 to 1859. In 1856 he stood at John Scott's Cawston stud, near Rugby, along with Melbourne (br c 1834 Humphrey Clinker). He returned to the Curragh in 1859.

In the stud Birdcatcher was the first Irish-bred to sire winners of English classic races, with seven of his offspring accounting for the St Leger three times, the One Thousand Guineas twice, the Derby and the Oaks. He founded two male lines, one in Oxford (ch c 1857), tail-male ancestor of the influential Blandford (br c 1919 Swynford), and the other in The Baron (ch c 1842), ancestor of Phalaris (br c 1913 Polymelus), from whom most of the world's living thoroughbreds descend.

He was Champion Sire in England in 1852 and 1856, and among the top sires fifteen times. Birdcatcher was shot in March of 1860 and buried in a sandpit at the Curragh.

Birdcatcher Sir Hercules Whalebone Waxy
Peri Wanderer
Guiccioli Bob Booty Chanticleer
Flight Escape
Young Heroine
Race Record
At 2: unplaced in the Paget Stakes at the Curragh, his only start.
At 3: all at the Curragh, won the £385 Madrid Stakes, beating Mr Osborne's Maria (b f Sir Hercules), Lord Howth's Langford (br c Sir Hercules), Quicksilver (b c Memnon) and five others, won the £200 Miltown Stakes, beating Lord Miltown's Cushneiche (ch c Roller), won a 100 sovereigns each sweep, beating Mr Somers's Normanby (br c Economist) and Colonel Westenra's Freney (b c Roller), collected a £50 forfeit from Cushneiche, 2nd in the Wellington Stakes, won by Maria, beating Colonel Westenra's Whim (gr f 1832 Drone), she the future dam of Chanticleer (gr c 1843 Birdcatcher), and eight others, 2nd in the Challenge Stakes, won by Whim, beating Maria, 3rd in the November Mulgrave Handicap, won by Mr Burke's Water Witch (bl f Sir Hercules), followed by Blackfoot (b c Young Blacklock), owned by Mr Watts who also owned The Baron (ch c 1842 Birdcatcher), beating Fusileer (ch c The Colonel), Whim and three others, unplaced in the October Mulgrave Handicap, won by Langford, followed by Whim.
At 4: all at the Curragh, won the Kildare Stakes in April, beating Colonel Westenra's Thump (b c Humphrey Clinker), Lord Miltown's Aigirio (gr c Roller), Quicksilver, and two others, won the King's Plate in June, beating Mr Watts's Croughpatrick (br c Blacklock) and five others, walked-over for the Wellington Stakes, 2nd in the April Challenge Stakes, won by Blackfoot, beating four others, 2nd in a 20 sovereigns each sweep, won by Mr Ferguson's Harkaway (ch c Economist), 2nd in the King's Plate to Freney, 3rd in the King's Plate, won by Harkaway, followed by Lord Mulgrave's Gipsy (bl f Sir Hercules), 3rd in the 30 sovereigns each September Challenge Stakes, won by Mr Osborne's Mercury (gr c Drone), followed by Mr Stanley's Austerlitz (br c Napoleon), unplaced in the 30 sovereigns each Wellington Stakes, won by Harkaway, unplaced in the Doris Stakes, won by Maria.
Notable Birdcatcher Mares
Agnes Wickfield (ch f 1849), 2nd dam of Prix du Jockey Club and Poule d'Essai des Poulains winner Revigny (ch c 1869 Orphelin) and Cambridgeshire Stakes winner Montargis (ch c 1870 Orphelin). Agnes Wickfield was also the 12th dam of the Two Thousand Guineas winner El Gran Senor (b c 1981 Northern Dancer).
Athena Pallas (b f 1849), dam of the useful stallion Neptunus (b c 1859 Weatherbit), who sired Hedge Rose (ch f 1867), a foundation mare of Family 8-c. Athena Pallas was also the 2nd dam of the Ascot Stakes winner Bete Noir (ch c 1866 Marsyas).
Auld Aquaintance (ch f 1850), dam of the Yorkshire Oaks and Park Hill Stakes winner Toison d'Or (b f 1866 Buccaneer) and the Champagne and July Stakes winner Chivalrous (ch c 1870 Adventurer). The latter sired the very good Argentine runner Porteño (b c 1892). Auld Aquaintance was also the 5th dam of Dark Ronald (bbr c 1905 Bay Ronald) who made an enormous impact on German bloodstock.
Ayacanora (ch f 1854) was a daughter of Pocahontas (b f 1837 *Glencoe), taproot of Family 3-n. Ayacanora was the dam of the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes winner Chattanooga (ch c 1862 Orlando), sire of Wellingtonia (ch c 1869) who was a good stallion in France. Ayacanora was also the dam of the July Stakes winner Sir Amyas (ch c 1869 Trumpeter).
Bird on the Wing (bl f 1849), winner of the Park Hill Stakes and placed 2nd in the Oaks Stakes.
Birdcatcher Mare (gr f 1845), 3rd dam of the good racemare Alicante (ch f 1887 Hermit).
Birdcatcher Mare (ch f 1850), dam of Railway Stakes winners Darling (b f 1855 Annandale) and Socrates (b c 1859 West Australian), and two good stallions, Solon (b c 1861 West Australian) and Xenophon (b c 1872 Canary). Solon was instrumental in the continuance of the Matchem sire line with his most influential son being Barcaldine (b c 1878). He also sired two Irish Derby winners, Maid of Athens (b f 1868) and Sylph (ch f 1880). Xenophon sired Aughrim (bbr c 1883), who in turn sired Count Schomberg (ch c 1892), the latter the sire of Contessina* (br f 1909), the dam of the Kentucky Derby winner and good American stallion Reigh Count (ch c 1925 Sunreigh*).
Birdcatcher Mare (br f 1853), dam of Weatherwitch* (ch f 1858 Weatherbit) who produced the Kentucky Derby winner and good American stallion Fonso (ch c 1877 King Alfonso). Weatherwitch* was also 2nd dam of the Kentucky Derby winner Hindoo (b c 1878 Virgil), an influential stallion and sire of the Belmont Stakes winner and Leading Sire Hanover (ch c 1884).
Blackbird (bl f 1850), dam of the two-time winner of the Manchester Cup, Ivanhoff (b c 1858 Muscovite), and 2nd dam of the Henckel-Rennen winner Goldfisch (b c 1876 Laneret).
Calcavella (b f 1844), dam of Queen Bee (b f 1850 Harkaway), taproot of Family 16-f.
Delight (br f 1855), 11th dam of Preakness and Belmont Stakes winner Native Dancer (gr c 1950).
England's Beauty (ch f 1850), dam of the Middle Park Stakes winner The Rake* (b c 1864 Wild Dayrell), and 2nd dam of the Derby and St Leger winner Silvio (b c 1874 Blair Athol).
Foinnualla (ch f 1843), dam of the Oaks winner Mincepie (ch f 1853 Sweetmeat), and 2nd dam of the Cambridgeshire winner Sutton (b c 1871 Saccharometer).
Gossamer (br f 1849), dam of the Champagne Stakes winner Prelude (br f 1856 Touchstone) and the Gimcrack Stakes winner Prudence (br f 1858 Voltigeur). Gossamer was also the 3rd dam of the Two Thousand Guineas winner Surefoot (b c 1887 Wisdom) and the 4th dam of the Goodwood Cup winner King's Messenger (b c 1895 King Monmouth).
Habena (ch f 1852), winner of One Thousand Guineas Stakes, and 2nd dam of the stallion Blairgowrie (ch c 1883 Vespasian) who was useful in Australia.
Humming Bird (bbl f 1859), 3rd dam of the Prix de Diane winner Kasbah (b f 1892 Vigilant), who founded a very successful family in France which included her grandson Ksar (ch c 1918 Bruleur). Ksar, winner of the Prix du Jockey Club and, twice, the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, exerted considerable influence in the stud.
Jeanette (b f 1843), dam of the Anglesey Stakes winner Indian Warrior (ch c 1849 Napier) and the Criterion Stakes winner Artillery (b c 1853 Touchstone). Artillery sired the Irish Derby winner Kyrle Daly* (b c 1870) who proved useful in the stud in America.
Josephine (bbl f 1854), 4th dam of the Deutsches Derby winner Herold (br c 1917 Dark Ronald) who was such a success in the stud in Germany. He sired three Deutsches Derby winners, Alchimist (br c 1930), Dionys (b c 1928) and Lupus (b c 1925) along with three Preis der Diana winners, Antonia (b f 1926), Lehnsherrin (br f 1931) and Sichel (b f 1928).
Lady Trespass (ch f 1857) winner of Park Hill Stakes, and dam of the Great Yorkshire Stakes winner and stallion Castlereagh (ch c 1875 Speculum).
Manganese (ch f 1853), winner of 15 races, including the Municipal Stakes, the Portland Plate, the One Thousand Guineas Stakes and a 2nd placing in the Eglinton Stakes. Taproot mare of Family 4-d, she was the 2nd dam of the excellent filly Apology (ch f 1871 Adventurer), winner of the Oaks, One Thousand Guineas, St Leger, Coronation Stakes and Ascot Gold Cup.
Miss Agnes (br f 1850), winner of the Fitzwilliam Stakes, taproot of Family 16-a, and dam of Little Agnes (b f 1856 The Cure), taproot of Family 16-c, Polly Agnes (bbr f 1865 The Cure), taproot of Family 16-g, and Windermere (ch f 1870 Macaroni), taproot of Family 16-b.
Mrs Ridgeway (bbr f 1849), dam of the Two Thousand Guineas and Doncaster Cup (twice) winner Vedette (br c 1854 Voltigeur) who sired the Derby winner and Champion Sire Galopin (b c 1872). Mrs Ridgeway also produced Qui Vive (br f 1856), a full-sister to Vedette and winner of the Park Hill Stakes. Qui Vive was the dam of King Cole (b c 1867 King Tom), winner of the King Edward VII and St James's Palace Stakes, and King Lud (b c 1869 King Tom), winner of the Cesarewitch and Queen Alexandra Stakes.
Partlet (ch f 1849), dam of Zukunfts-Rennen winner Partisan (b c 1859 Launcelot) and Prix de Diane winner Jeune Premiere (b f 1864 West Australian). Partlet was also the 2nd dam of the Prix Lupin winner Soukaras (ch c 1880 Faublas) and the 2nd dam of the Poule d'Essaie des Poulains winner Promethee (ch c 1878 Mars).
Reine Blanche (ch f 1855), dam of the Prix du Jockey Club winner Florentin (ch c 1863 Florin).
Skycutter (b f 1854), dam of Stachel (ch c 1868 Loiterer), winner of the Furstenberg-Rennen and the Union-Rennen.
Tartlet (br f 1858), 3rd dam of Belmont Stakes winner and Leading Sire Hastings (br c 1893 Spendthrift) and Kentucky Derby winner Plaudit (br c 1895 Himyar). Hastings sired the Leading Sire, Fair Play (ch c 1905), who in turn sired the Preakness and Belmont winner and Leading Sire, Man o' War (ch c 1917).

Songstress b f 1849 (Birdcatcher - Cyprian, by Partisan). Sire Line Birdcatcher. Family 23-a. Songstress was bred by the noted trainer John Scott, who also bred her dam, the Oaks winner Cyprian (b f 1833 Partisan). Songstress was half-sister to the Great Yorkshire Stakes winner Joe Lovell (b c 1841 Velocipede). Lightly raced at two, winning one of her two starts, she went on at three to win the Oaks Stakes, worth £2,395, beating Mr Parker's Bird-on-the-Wing (bl f 1849 Birdcatcher), Sir C Monck's Gossamer (br f 1849 Birdcatcher) and ten others. She later won the Triennial at Ascot and placed 5th in Stockwell's St Leger. As a four year old she placed 3rd in the Roxburgh Handicap at Kelso and 4th in the Triennial at Ascot from four starts. She was dam of the Poule d'Essai des Poulains winner Stentor (b c 1860 De Clare), and the ancestress of the Deutsches Derby winner Omen (b c 1918 Nuage) and the good French filly Galette (b f 1889 Nougat), who won the Grand Prix de Deauville and the Prix Ganay.

Other Notable Offspring
Caurouch (ch c 1843), winner of the Cesarewitch Stakes.
Grey Plover (gr c 1851), sire of the Irish Derby winner Golden Plover (b c 1864).
Marquis (ch c 1848), winner of the Anglesey Stakes before export to Australia where he proved a worthy stallion.
Mickey Free* (br c 1841), sire of the Belmont Stakes winner Fenian (ch c 1866).
Oxford (ch c 1857), winner, sire of the very good stallion Sterling (b c 1868). Sterling got the Derby winner Harvester (br c 1881), and three Two Thousand Guineas winners, Enterprise (ch c 1884), Enthusiast (ch c 1886) and Paradox (b c 1882).
Red Eagle (b c 1856 Birdcatcher), winner of the Cambridgeshire Stakes.
Chanticleer gr c 1843 (Birdcatcher - Whim, by Drone). Sire Line Birdcatcher. Family 23.
Daniel O'Rourke ch c 1849 (Birdcatcher - Forget-Me-Not, by Hetman Platoff). Sire Line Birdcatcher. Family 9-b.
Knight of St. George* b c 1851 (Birdcatcher - Maltese, by Hetman Platoff). Sire Line Birdcatcher. Family 26.
Saunterer bl c 1854 (Birdcatcher - Ennui, by Bay Middleton). Sire Line Birdcatcher. Family 27-a.
The Baron ch c 1842 (Birdcatcher - Echidna, by Economist). Sire Line Birdcatcher. Family 24.
Warlock b c 1853 (Birdcatcher - Elphine, by Emilius). Sire Line Birdcatcher. Family 9.