We Australians love our horseracing and when it comes to lauding our champion gallopers, past and present, we certainly don’t hold back.

When Crisp was recently inducted into the Australian Racing Hall Of Fame, I thought I’d do a Google search to familiarise myself with his outstanding achievements both here in Australia as well as overseas. Apart from his legendary second placing behind Red Rum in the 1973 English Grand National Steeplechase, I found little else on the rest of Crisp’s career.

Unlike past champions of flat racing, jumps champions of yesteryear appear to be forgotten, and as years turn into decades, so too their memories become more distant. In my opinion, there are five jumps horses in Australia that can arguably be termed ‘Champions’ – Crisp, Redditch, Mosstrooper, Roisel and Redleap. These hugely popular horses of their day carried massive weights over towering obstacles, winning by enormous margins.

They all survived the jumps bar one, Redditch.

This blog has been set-up to remember and acknowledge the deeds of these five champions. I have spent many hundreds of hours researching and piecing together the careers of these great horses. I have listed the details of every one of their career starts over the hurdles and steeple fences with newspaper commentaries of the races, where possible. I have credited the sources of the commentaries that I’ve used. I’ve also included my own writings on events that occurred throughout their jumping careers.

This is my own small way of ensuring that these largely forgotten heroes get their identity back, and that they can be remembered and acknowledged for what they were – Champions.

The great jumpers, Winterset, Pedro's Pride, Sussex & Daimio have also been added to this blog.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014



                             1884 b g. Dante - Pandora.
                             Owner: Mr S. Miller                   
                             Trainer: H.A. Bellamy.
                             Prize money: £5,049
                             Died 22 June 1908 aged 24

                             Colours: Red, white armbands, red and white quartered cap.

Redleap - C. Robertson

                                         Complete Career Record

                                                7 Starts - 4 Wins 0 placings  

                                            L/Rider 26/01/1889 Caulfield: Handicap Steeplechase-2 ¼ miles
                                            WON 13/07/1889 Flemington: Grand National Hurdle Race-3 miles
                                            20th 24/07/1891 Flemington: Grand National Hurdle-3 miles
                                            WON 09/07/1892 Flemington: Grand National Hurdle Race-3 miles
                                            WON 16/07/1892 Flemington: Grand National Steeplechase-3 miles
                                            WON 13/08/1892 Caulfield: Grand National Steeplechase-4 miles
                                            8th 29/10/1892 Flemington: Maiden Plate WFA-1 mile

Redleap was bred by his owner Mr. Septimus Miller, who, along with his brother Albert owned and operated Mill Park, a 3500 acre property on the outskirts of Melbourne.
Mill Park was predominantly a training and schooling operation for the many horses, mainly jumpers, that the brothers bred, owned and raced. Mill Park was the benchmark in training establishments of that time, having its own training track complete with padded hurdles and starting gate. The brothers’ trainer, Humphrey Bellamy, lived and trained on the property and he was assisted by a large team of workers and riders who also resided at Mill Park.

Redleap’s career was a very limited one due to serious feet problems, these problems made his training a day to day proposition and he was often too sore to be trained at all.
As a result of these feet issues, Redleap’s career spanned only 3 years and 9 months and during that time he was only fit enough to compete in 7 races.

Of those seven races, Redleap won four – 2 Grand National Hurdles (1889 & 1892) and two Grand National Steeples, both in 1892. In those days, the V.R.C. (Flemington) and the V.A.T.C (Caulfield) both conducted their own ‘Grand National’ races, the Flemington version of the Steeplechase being a 3 mile race while the Caulfield Grand National was a 4 mile event. In the 1892 Caulfield Grand National Steeple, Redleap shouldered 13st.12lb. (88kg) a weight that has never been carried to victory in a Grand National Steeple before or since.
It must be remembered that these were the days before brush fences had been introduced, so these horses were jumping solid 4 foot structures that included log fences, stone walls, paling fences and unpadded post and rail fences. For a horse to carry 88kgs to victory over 4 miles while contesting more than 20 of these solid obstacles beggars belief.

Redleap was a classic example of the ‘What might have been’ horse.

When one looks at what he achieved in a career plagued by soreness and unsoundness, one has to wonder, what might have been, had he not been sidelined with health and fitness issues for so much of his career.


L/Rider 26/01/1889 Caulfield: Handicap Steeplechase-2 ¼ miles
6 ran - 10.6 (6/4F) W. Olds
1st Flashlight 12.10 (5/2) T. Corrigan – 2nd Beadsman II 11.9 (5/1) J. Masters
3rd Geelong 11.3 (5/1) W.S. Cox. 1 ½ len x 3 len. Time 5min 14 ½

Beadsman II and Redleap went away in front, Geelong being last. Redleap showed the way in an awkward fashion over the first fence, Beadsman, Shamroch, Dandy, Flashlight and Geelong following. Shamrock took a lead of three or four lengths as they reached the back of the course, and he showed the way round at a steady pace, the others, being close behind him. Dandy was in second place, Geelong, Redleap, Flashlight and Beadsman following, in that order.  Shamrock led over the jumps in the straight, the second one bringing Redleap to grief. He jumped awkwardly, and, striking the fence without falling, knocked Olds out of the saddle.  The mishap very nearly brought Flashlight down. As they went away from the straight Shamrock led from Beadsman and Flashlight, the last named again nearly coming down over the fence on the hill, Corrigan, however, pulled him together, but at the next fence he was again in trouble through Dandy baulking. However, he got over, and followed on in last place. Shamrock leading from Beadsman and Geelong while Redleap was following riderless. Shamrock, going in fine style, led as far as the sod wall, where the others were closing on him. At the last fence Shamrock struck, and, though he did not fall, got rid of his rider, who got a heavy fall. Flashlight got over the last jump in fine style, and despite the efforts of Beadsman and Geelong, he won by a length and a half from the first named, Geelong being three lengths away. (The Age-28/01/1889)

WON 13/07/1889 Flemington: Grand National Hurdle Race-3 miles
17 ran – 9.8 (4/1) W.S. Cox
2nd Corythus 11.2 (6/4F) M. Carey - 3rd The Rhymer 10.7 (12/1) A. Newland.
4 len x 6 len. Time 5min 54

The 17 runners were quickly formed into line, and after two or three trifling breaks-away Mr. Watson dropped his flag to a very even start. Nooroo, on the rails, was the first to find his legs, and closely attended by Islander, Elfrida, Corythus, The Rhymer, Incident, and Redleap, he showed the way over the first hurdle, but passing the stand Elfrida and Nooroo were almost on terms, Corythus, Redleap, The Rhymer, Islander, Rainbow, and The Victim following in that order, while Lord Harry, who was slow to begin, was some distance off, last. Along the river, Nooroo cut out the work at a good pace, his attendants being Elfrida. Redleap, Corythus, The Victim, Rainbow, and The Rhymer, the last lot consisting of Frolic, Blue Mountain, Ayrshire, Ellerslie, and Lord Harry. There was no alteration to note at the bridge, but along the back stretch Redleap slightly lost his place, and dropped back sixth, but as they fled past the abattoirs and by the sheds he regained his position alongside Corythus, who was close behind Nooroo and Elfrida. Nooroo maintained his advantage into the straight, and again led past the grandstand, Islander, close up, coming next, followed by Rainbow, Elfrida, Prosper, The Victim, Corythus, Incident, Redleap, Blue Mountain, Dragon, and Ayrshire, who were closely packed, and while Frolic had improved his position, Ellerslie and Lord Harry were still toiling away a long way in the rear of the field. Nooroo led past the wharf booth, but immediately afterwards be retired in favour of Prosper, who took up the running for a few strides along the river, where Redleap was lying second, then Islander, Nooroo, The Victim, Dragon, Rainbow, Corythus, and Elfrida. Passing the bridge, however, Redleap headed Prosper, and led along the back at a merry pace. Prospers nearest attendants being The Victim, Corythus, Frolic, and Lady Wilde. At the sheds Lord Harry, who had gradually made up his lost ground and had taken up a position immediately behind the main body, fell, and rounding the bend Redleap drew out three lengths in front of The Victim, Corythus, and Frolic, who were succeeded by Lady Wilde, Incident, Elfrida, and Dragon. At the last hurdle but one, just before turning into the straight, The Victim fell, and Frolic, who was in his wake, came to grief on top of him, Elfrida also losing her chance by a similar mishap; Prosper likewise came to grief. In the meantime, Redleap retained his place in the van, and headed for home well clear of Corythus and Lady Wilde, after whom came Incident, The Rhymer, and Dragon. Redleap blundered slightly at the last hurdle, but managed to keep his feet, and drawing away from the favourite, who was dead beaten, Mr. Miller's horse won in a cantor by two lengths. The Rhymer, who was persevered with to the end, was third, six lengths away. Lady Wilde, half a length behind The Rhymer, was fourth, Ayrshire fifth, Incident sixth, Nooroo seventh, Minder eighth, Dragon ninth, Ellerslie tenth. Blue Mountain and Rainbow next, then Prosper, who walked in.                                   (The Australasian-20/07/1889)


20th 24/07/1891 Flemington: Grand National Hurdle-3 miles
26 ran – 11.12 (12/1) W.S. Cox
1st Crusoe 9.12 (20/1) M. Burke - 2nd Goldleaf 9.2 (33/1) H. Underwood
3rd Leroy 10.9 (12/1) A. Ferguson. 5 len x 20 len. Time 6min 20

Hamilton showed the way over the first hurdle, followed by Bonnie Doon, Ixion, Pingara, Stewpan and Crusoe, with Kapo and Birdie heading the others. As they passed the stand for the first time Havilah took up the running, but dropped back after a few strides, and Hamilton led then towards the river turn, with Porcius close up, the pair lying clear of Stewpan, Havilah, Birdie and Parnell, and then came The Student and Kapo, with Pentagon and Ixion heading the others.
Hamilton and Porcius continued in the lead along the river side, and then succeeded Havilah, Parnell and Ixion, with Pentagon a little way behind the others strung out, the last two being Redleap and William Tell. Priscilla came down at the next fence, and going along the back, Porcius had established a lead of two lengths from Hamilton, then after a gap came The Student and Parnell, followed by Tumult and Pentagon. Hamilton came down at the next fence, and at the sheds, Porcius was leading by five lengths from Bonnie Doon, on whose girths were Havilah, Birdie and Parnell, the last three being Redleap, William Tell and Pingara. Porcius led into the straight from Bonnie Doon, Havilah, Birdie, Parnell, Pentagon, Africanus, with Ixion at the head of the others. Porcius still leading from Bonnie Doon passed the stand with Birdie, Havilah and The Student, then almost together came Africanus, Pentagon, Crusoe and Ixion, while in the next division were Frolic, who nearly came down, Redleap, Pingara and William Tell in file. Bonnie Doon ran up to Porcius as they raced along the river side and the pair cut out the running two lengths in advance of Havilah, the next in order being Stewpan and Pentagon, then Crusoe, The Student and Ixion and,  further behind, Goldleaf. Going along the back, Crusoe advanced into second place from Porcius and at the sheds was leading from Goldleaf who was moving very fast, the nearest of the others being Frolic, Bonnie Doon and Havilah, while Porcius ran off at the sheds.
Crusoe maintained his advantage round the turn, and coming into the straight with a clear lead won easily by five lengths from Goldleaf, Leroy a bad third, Pentagon was fourth, Bonnie Doon fifth and Havilah sixth. Then came Tumult, Ellerslie Lottie, Ixion, Quilp, Africanus, the last four being Redleap, Pingara, Parnell and Frolic. (The Australasian-25/07/1891)


WON 09/07/1892 Flemington: Grand National Hurdle Race-3 miles
23 ran – 11.10 (10/1) W.S. Cox
2nd Fire King 10.9 (33/1) F.D. Brewer – 3rd Donald 10.4 (4/1F) P. Keating.
2 len x 6 len. Time 5min 58 ¾  

The field was taken in hand opposite the carriage paddock a few minutes after time, and the horses fell into their places without much trouble. When the flag dropped, Friction, who with Goldleaf occupied the position near the rails, was the first to break line, but Redleap in the centre almost immediately showed in advance, and Mr. Miller's big bay led over the first hurdle from Pilot, Knight Of The Garter, Donald, and Indolence, the latter on the extreme outside. Havilah had the leading position as the judge's box was reached, Abergyle, Redleap, Pilot, Butcher Boy, Tayforth, Knight Of The Garter, and Indolence attending him closely, with Porcius and Ellerslie last, the large field, well packed, presenting an attractive picture. Havilah held his lead out of the straight and along the river ride, Pilot at the latter point moving up to within half a length of him, Redleap going well within himself next, and Tayfortb, Donald, Knight Of The Garter, Friction, and Abergyle all lying handy. Lyndhurst and Porcius acting as whippers-in. At the bridge Tayforth's easily distinguished colours were observed in the van, Abergyle taking second position, with Kimberley, Friction, Havilah, Redleap, Pilot, Donald, Satyr, and The Student following in that order, while The Pioneer, who was jumping badly, had fallen back to the rear. Along the back of the course and past the abattoirs Tayforth was still showing the way, Redleap lying handy, with Kimberley, Friction, Abergyle, Havilah, The Student, and Satyr next, the field being in compact order. At the sheds Abergyle ran up to Tayforth, and Havilah, Redleap, Friction, Bolton, and Kimberley were all in good positions. Mr. Cox allowed Redleap his head as the turn was rounded, and the son of Dante was the first to enter the straight, Kimberley, Bolton, Havilah, Porcius, Donald, and Indolence following in close order. Knight Of The Garter blundered at the hurdle at the distance, and very nearly came down. Redleap took them along at a merry pace past the judge's box the second time, Pilot taking a run into second place, with Bolton, The Student, Porcius, Friction, Islander, Abergyle, Indolence, Tayfortb, Satyr, and Fire King succeeding, the last two being Knight Of The Gaiter and The Pioneer. Redleap made the pace out of the straight and along the river side, Pilot and Bolton being almost on even terms, with Friction, Abergyle, The Student, Havilah, Tayforth, Satyr. Tim Swiveller, and The Victim succeeding in that order, the rear berths at this stage being occupied by Butcher Boy and Lyndhurst. Tayforth, on the inside, rushed to the front at the bridge, Redleap, going as strong as a lion, in second place. Islander, Friction, Pilot, Fire King, Donald, Abergyle, Havilah, and Satyr next, the field now being spread over a large expanse of ground. Tayforth's bolt was quickly shot, for he retired at the back, where Redleap was once more sailing along at the head of affairs, Abergyle being close up, while the colours of Pilot, Friction, Satyr, Fire King, Donald, The Student, Havilah, and islander were the most prominent of the others, the leaders at this stage commencing to close up, while Porcius broke down and was pulled up. Redleap, who came along with a fine, swinging stride, was three lengths ahead at the sheds, Donald running into second place, with Fire King, Haviiah, Tayforth, Pilot, and Islander, all lying handy. Before reaching the turn Abergyle came down, and The Pioneer, Satyr, and Knight Of The Garter came to grief at the same point. Redleap was well in advance as the straight was entered, Fire King, Donald, Havilah, Pilot, and Tayforth next, and the remainder of the field hopelessly out of it. Fire King drew up to the leader as the last hurdle was approached, and Donald for a moment looked dangerous, but, after landing, Redleap was shaken up, and he came away, and won by a couple of lengths from Fire King, who beat Donald by six lengths; Havilah was only a length away fourth, then after a gap of a dozen lengths came Pilot, followed at intervals by Ellerslie, Islander, Friction, Tayforth, Tim Swiveller, Goldleaf, Kimberley, The Student, Bolton, and The Victim, while Lyndhurst, Indolence, and Butcher Boy cantered in a long way in the rear. (The Australasian-16/07/1892)

WON 16/07/1892 Flemington: Grand National Steeplechase-3 miles
18 ran – 13.3 (9/2F) W.S. Cox
2nd Confidence 10.10 (10/1) A. Reed - 3rd Wellington 11.5 (20/1) P. Keating.
8 len x 20 len. Time 6min 45 ¾ (course record)

Harrie Auhl was first away and led past the stand followed by Freeman, Redleap and Jack’s The Lad. Egyptian led up to the first jump at the river side, where he fell and Freeman came down at the next obstacle. He was remounted. Harrie Auhl, Jack’s The Lad and Cocoanut came to grief at the next jump. Schoolboy was in command at the bridge, but at the sheds, Rob Roy was the leader. Schoolboy, The Duke and Redleap next. Blister coming down. The Duke fell at the first fence in the straight running. Rob Roy showed the way over the treble in front of the stand, Schoolboy close up with Redleap, Torrent, Beggar Boy, Wellington, Rufus, Confidence, Shanks, Boulevard and Esmond next, and Freeman last.
Rob Roy and Schoolboy were the leaders at the riverside, Redleap going well in fourth place, Rufus fell at the bridge where Rob Roy and Redleap were fighting for the lead. At the sheds, Redleap drew out with a lead of a dozen lengths. Confidence going in pursuit of him at the turn. Redleap was, however, full of running, and landing over the last fence safely, he won very easily by seven lengths from Confidence, twenty lengths between second and third.
Boulevard was fourth, Schoolboy, Torrent, Rob Roy and Freeman next, while Shanks walked in. Esmond got rid of his rider. (The Australasian-18/07/1892)


WON 13/08/1892 Caulfield: Grand National Steeplechase-4 miles
11 ran – 13.12 (6/4F) W.S. Cox
2nd Boulevard 10.12 (10/1) G. Watson – 3rd Freeman 12.3 (3/1) J.E. Brewer.
4 len x 12 len. Time 8min 45 ¾

The start was made just at the beginning of the home turn. When they began their journey, Redleap was in front with Phantom Cohuna, Beggar Boy, Shanks, Freeman, Blister, Schoolboy, Boulevard, Blair Athol and Whiteman following in order. There was no change in those positions as they negotiated the treble in front of the stand, but rounding the bend away from the straight the favourite was in front from Phantom, Schoolboy, Boulevard, Beggar Boy, Cohuna, Freeman, Blair Athol, Shanks and Blister with Whiteman last.
Schoolboy went up into first position as they cleared the post and rail fences approaching Mr. Davis’s house, and Phantom and Redleap were close to him with Cohuna and Freeman next. Schoolboy was still in the first position at the six furlong post and Boulevard was second with Redleap and Phantom close up. Schoolboy dropped back a little approaching the sod wall, over which Redleap showed the way to Boulevard with Schoolboy next. Those three formed the first division and some lengths off came Phantom, Cohuna, Blair Athol and Freeman. The rest were close together and Whiteman 20 lengths off last. These positions were not altered as they entered the straight the second time, but as they approached the treble Redleap was running very unkindly. He seemed to settle down more after they passed the stand, and Schoolboy took up the running again, with Boulevard and Redleap upon his heels. Phantom was at the head of the second division, which was some lengths off, and Freeman, Cohuna, Blair Athol, Shanks, Beggar Boy, Blister and Whiteman followed in the order given.
Coming to the sod wall the second time, Schoolboy, Redleap and Boulevard were abreast about three lengths in front of Freeman, Cohuna and Shanks who were also abreast and then came Phantom and Beggar Boy together, while Blister, Blair Athol and Whiteman were in the rear, and in this order they completed the first half of the journey.
Redleap entered the straight for the third time with Boulevard and Schoolboy following him, these three jumped the logs in front of the stand in the same order, with Phantom following.
There was a gap of four lengths and then came Freeman, Beggar Boy, Cohuna, Shanks, Blister and Blair Athol and some distance off Whiteman last. The pace grew very fast as they began the last circuit, Schoolboy rushing to the front from Boulevard and Redleap. The increase of the pace brought down Cohuna at the post and rail fence on the hill, and Blair Athol met a similar fate at the next fence, in the hollow, where Whiteman also stopped. The pace was very hot along the back where Beggar Boy was showing a bold front, with Schoolboy, Redleap and Boulevard in his wake. The pace was a cracker as they raced at the sod wall, and Boulevard and Redleap flew it safely, the race being now reduced to a match between the two. Boulevard drew away as they reached the last fence, and loud shouts proclaimed the defeat of the favourite.
Boulevard led into the straight under the whip, whilst Redleap was catching him with Mr. Cox sitting still. Mr. Watson keeping Boulevard wide from the rails, allowed the favourite to come up on the inside, and a splendid struggle between the pair was maintained to the distance, where Boulevard succumbed, and Redleap won by four lengths amidst terrific cheering. Freeman was third twelve lengths off, and the came Schoolboy, Shanks, Beggar Boy and Blister. 
(The Age-15/08/1892)

A cable has been received from England asking the Messrs. Miller to put a price on Redleap, to which a prompt reply was sent, ' Money will not buy him'. Other overtures have been made with a view of sending the champion home to compete for the Liverpool Grand National, but all to no purpose, the Messrs. Miller having decided to decline all proposals by way of arranging for Redleap's appearance in England. For all that, it is by no means improbable that Redleap may be sent to England inside 12 months, but if so it will be to carry the familiar red and white livery and no other. The project is under consideration, and, by way of a preliminary step in testing the measure of success likely to be attained, Redleap's name is intended to appear in the list of entries for the next Liverpool Grand National. The prospect of Redleap appearing at Aintree next season will largely depend on the weight allotted him. Precedent is all in his favor, as the Liverpool event has never yet been won by any horse carrying 12st. or over. Further, the utter failure of the late Mr. White's contingent has created a prejudice against Australian horses, and it is believed Redleap would not get very much over 11 st. In the event of a favorable decision being arrived at, the expedition would be thoroughly Australian in character, and under the personal supervision of either Mr. Septimus or Mr. Albert Miller, who would be accompanied by their own trainer and Mr. W. S. Cox, jun., than whom nobody could do the big horse greater justice in his efforts to compete successfully against the flower of the English and Irish steeplechasers. Every Australian sportsman would be delighted to hear that the contemplated invasion of Aintree by the king of Australian steeplechasers had been sanctioned by the Messrs. Miller.  (The Inquirer and Commercial News-Perth 15/10/1892)                                                          


8th 29/10/1892 Flemington: Maiden Plate WFA-1 mile
12 ran – 8.12 (10/1) W.S. Cox
1st Attalus 7.13 (4/1) T. Nerriker – 2nd Angola 5.8 (8/1) A. Luckman
3rd E.K. 8.12 (8/1) J. Fielder. 2 len x 1 ½ len. Time 1min 43 ¾sec

At the first attempt they got away to a very fair start, the favourite being the first to show, but when going Budgeree rushed to the front and led Devon, Angola, Ronda, and Inheritance with Salutation last. Passing the sheds Budgeree was still acting as a pacemaker, his attendants being Angolo, Hyena, Ronda, and Attalus. Angola led into the straight from Budgeree and Ronda, with Attalus, E.K., and Devon showing prominently. Angola still held command to the distance, where Ronda was coming fast with Attalus and E.K. also prominent. At the half-distance Attalus drew out, and although E. K. answered gamely he was unable to catch the colt, who won by a length and a-half, Angola being two lengths behind E. K. third. Then came Prior, Ronda, Budgeree, Devon, Redleap, Hyena, Salutation, and Inheritance, finishing in that order, with Rob Roy last. (The Queenslander-5/11/1892)

The Maiden Plate at Flemington would be Redleap’s last appearance on a racecourse, though it wasn’t the last time that he was entered for a race.                                                       
In early September 1897, Redleap, now a thirteen year old, was nominated for the Findon Harrier’s Cup to be run over 2 miles at Caulfield. It is said that his owner, Mr Miller, had no intentions of starting the former champion but was simply curious at what weight Redleap would be asked to carry if he were still capable of racing. When weights were released, Redleap was allotted 16.4 (103.5kg) the highest weight ever given to a horse for an open race in Australian turf history. 

The following is an article titled ‘A Great Jumper – Redleap’s Career’ by ‘Goodwood’ which appeared in The Australasian (Melbourne) Newspaper on Saturday July 6th 1918. 

That Redleap was the best horse over jumps that ever carried a saddle in Australia is the opinion of most racing men. Sussex may have been a better all-round horse, but as a jumper, pure and simple, Redleap stood alone. That is the estimate of Mr. Septimus Miller and of the late Mr. Albert Miller, two pretty good judges. I did not see Sussex race, but witnessed all Redleap’s victories and if Sussex were better over fences (as some few contend) then Sussex must have been a phenomenon.  
Diamio I would place next to Redleap as a fencer. Redleap only started in seven races, and he won four – all Nationals. Mr. Septimus Miller describes Redleap as having been a bright bay, with black points. He stood about 16.3 hands high, was lengthy, but not a heavy-bodied horse, for such a big one. He carried himself well and looked a high-class horse. Neither in schooling nor when racing did Redleap fall or run-off. He was a natural jumper, flying his jumps whether they were hurdles or fences. He had perfectly clean legs to the day of his death. His trouble was his poor feet. He got fever in them – otherwise laminitis.

Had there been no weakness in this direction, he would, without doubt, have earned fame as a flat racer as well as a jumper. Redleap did not make a very auspicious commencement on the turf. His first appearance was in a steeplechase at Caulfield on January 26 1889. He had been well tried at home and stated favourite at 6/4. When holding a long lead, he ran down a fence, and, jumping it somewhat awkwardly, unshipped his rider, W. Olds. As far as the stable was concerned, this was not altogether unfortunate, as Redleap was let into the next V.R.C. Grand National Hurdle with 9st 8lb, and in winning it landed some very big wagers.

The Messrs. Miller, as a matter of fact, never during the whole of their career on the turf backed a horse for so much money as they did Redleap on that occasion. They knew him to be a good jumper, and his trial on the flat, over three miles, with shoes on, was 6sec. better than was actually made in the race.  He was assisted in it by three other horses, who picked him up at different stages and he beat them all pointless in 5min. 48sec., running the last furlong in 13 sec. This latter part of the performance seems almost impossible, but I have the details of the trial from Mr. Septimus Miller himself.

No wonder the gelding was so confidently backed. The Champion Stakes that year was won by Carbine, and he took 5min. 56sec. to run the three miles. Carbine, of course, had he been required, could have made much better time. That Redleap would have taken a lot of beating in a Melbourne Cup (for which he was once entered), Mr. Miller firmly believes, but he could never be got fit to run in it. The only flat race he ever started in was the Maiden Plate, at Flemington, won by Attalus. That was the last race in which Redleap took part. He was not in condition, and made no show.

Humphrey Bellamy, who is still training horses at Caulfield, prepared Redleap for his first Grand National Hurdle Race on the Messrs. Millers' private track at Alphington. The track was composed of cinders, and its hardness probably contributed to the weakness of Redleap’s feet. On reaching the course on the day of Redleap's Grand National Hurdle Race victory, the late Mr. Albert Miller ran across James Scobie, who trained two of the starters, Corythus and Blue Mountain. "I would advise you to have a little on Corythus, Mr. Miller," said Scobie, "he has done a marvellously good trial." "So has Redleap," replied Mr. Miller, "and I would advise you to back him." Corythus started favourite at 6 to 4, while Redleap was at 3 to 1.

They ran first and second, but it was no race, Redleap winning easily by two lengths from Corythus, who had 11st. 2lb. to carry to Redleap's 9st. 8lb.
That Scobie had some justification for thinking highly of his horse was subsequently borne out. Corythus carried 12st. 9lb. and won the Second Hurdle Race at the meeting in a canter. With 13st. up he was beaten by Bellringer, 11st. 91b., in the V.R.C .three miles hurdle race in the spring, but won the two miles hurdle race, carrying 13st. 71b., while in the following season he took the V.R.C. Veteran Stakes (7st. 12lb.), running the mile and a half in 2min. 36sec. The Rhymer (Newland) was third to Redleap and Corythus, the other runners being Blue Mountain (J. Scobie), Dragon (J. Gardner), Ellerslie (Keating), The Victim (Mr. Brannigan), Incident (T. Corrigan), Frolic (P. Bolger), Elfrida (Brown), Lady Wilde (Batty), Ayrshire (Suey), Nooroo (Twomey), Prospect (Leftwych), Islander (P. McGowan), Lord Harry (T. Wilson, jun),  Rainbow (M. Burke). The late W.S. Cox, jun. (who then rode as an amateur) had the mount on Redleap, as he did in all the gelding’s winning races. M. Carey rode Corythus.

A number of the riders on that day are dead now, and one or two of them, including Corrigan, Burke and McGowan, met with a tragic end. James Scobie is still much in evidence as a trainer at Flemington, while Bolger is training horses in Western Australia. Blue Mountain’s weight was 13st. 6lb., and as may be guessed, he was never dangerous. He finished eleventh. Handicappers do not in these days give horses such crushing weights in a Grand National Hurdle race.

In the year he won his first Grand National Hurdle Race, it was intended to start Redleap in the Grand National Steeplechase on the second day of the meeting, but a couple of days after his Hurdle victory, his feet were in such a bad way that he could hardly hobble out of his box. However, the stable had an excellent substitute in Eaglet, who, starting at 6 to 4 in a small field, won easily. Redleap did not run again until the Grand National Hurdle Race of 1891, won by Crusoe.

The ground was very heavy, and Redleap, who was not in his best form, finished fourth last, with 11st. 12lb.up. Redleap reached the zenith of his fame in the winter of 1892. Portion of the winnings over his first Grand National were expended in building up-to-date stables and a fine training-track at Mill Park. These were known as the Redleap stables and track. Bellamy was still in charge of the Messrs. Miller's horses, but he was at Alphington while Redleap was trained on the new track and looked after by H. Tibballs, who came over from Tasmania some years previously with Malua.

Redleap was the first horse trained there. It was intended to start him only in the Grand National Steeplechase that year, but he went so well in a three miles’ trial on the fiat (picking up and beating over the last five furlongs My Queen, a fairly smart mare) that it was decided to let him first take his chance in the Hurdle Race.
That he won both races is a matter of turf history. For the Hurdle Race, Donald was favourite at 4 to 1, with Redleap (who was not so heavily backed by the stable on this occasion) next in demand at 10 to 1. Owing to a bereavement in the family of the Messrs. Miller, Redleap ran in the name of H. A. Bellamy. Redleap's weight was 11st. 101b., and after making a good deal of the running he won by two lengths from H. Connolly's Fire King, ridden by Mr. F.D. Brewer, with Donald (P. Keating) third. There were 23 starters including several smart horses, and the time was 5min. 58 ¾ sec.

The following Saturday he carried 13st. 3lb., including a 10lb. penalty, and won the Grand National Steeplechase. He was never far from the front, and, taking charge after passing the abattoirs, won by seven lengths from the South Australian grey, Confidence, 10st. 10lb., with the Tasmanian - owned Wellingtons,11st. 5lb., third, 20 lengths, further back. Redleap started favourite at 9 to 2, with Boulevard and Freeman text in demand at 6 to 1 each. The time, 6min. 45 ¾ sec., was good for those days. There were several falls in the race, and The Duke sustained fatal injuries.

Redleap's crowning triumph was in the Caulfield Grand National Steeplechase a few weeks afterwards. He was allotted 13st. 12lb. in the four miles race, and the late Mr. Harrie Smith, who was then secretary of the V.A.T.C., had posters displayed all over Melbourne advertising the fact. Redleap was a great advertisement for the club that day. The other starters were Godfrey Watson's Boulevard, 10st. 121b, (owner up), who was second, D. O'Brien's Freeman, 12st 3lb. (J.E.  Brewer), who finished third; Beggar Boy. (P. Nolan), Blair Athol (J. Bird), Schoolboy (J. Neylon), Shanks (Mr. F. D. Brewer), Whiteman (J.S. Edge), Blister, (J. Scobie), Cohuna (T. Corrigan), and Phantom (C. Newland). Blair Athol was owned and ran in the colours of Miss Kate Ronzio (afterwards Mrs. J. Bird), who was a fearless follower of the hunt, and took Blair Athol over hundreds of fences in the Ballarat district. She is the mother of A. J. Bird, who will be riding in the approaching Nationals.

Redleap was favourite at 7 to 4, with Freeman next in demand at 3 to 1. The favourite was always well up, and at the last fence was three lengths behind the leader, Boulevard, who ran-out a little at the straight entrance, allowing Redleap up on the inside. Boulevard battled it out to the distance, where Redleap had his measure, and he beat him home by four lengths in 8min. 45 ¾ sec. Freeman being twelve lengths away third. There was tremendous cheering as Redleap passed the post, and again on his returning to the weighing enclosure, the scene being reminiscent of that associated with Carbine's Melbourne Cup victory. Mr. Septimus Miller tells me that Redleap must have carried over 14st. that day, as his bridle was a very heavy one. Redleap was a great puller, and Cox always rode him with a bit and bridoon.

When his racing days were over Redleap was pensioned off at Bacchus Marsh, where he died a few years ago. His skeleton is in the Museum attached to the National Picture Gallery, alongside the skeleton of Trenton. Redleap, who was bred by his owners at Bacchus Marsh, was by Dante (son of Fireworks) from Pandora, by Panic from Flying Roe, by Warhawk from Flying Doc, by The Premier from Wilhelmina, by Romeo. His sire, Dante, though lengthy, was a small horse, with particularly low withers. Both the sire and dam of Dante, however, were big. Pandora produced even a bigger horse than Redleap in Mernder, a good steeplechaser in his day. He was by King Tom. According to Mr. Miller, Mernder stood 17.2.hands high. Pandora was a fine, roomy mare, but not particularly high.  
In stakes alone Redleap won £5,049. What he won in bets for his owners in his four winning races can only be guessed at. In his first race Redleap’s name was wrongly printed on the racecards as Redleaf. The name Redleap Mr. Septimus Miller saw on a private residence while on a visit to Sydney. He made a note of it as a good name to give a jumper.

                                       Jumps racing at Flemington in the late nineteenth century

                                       Jumps racing at Flemington in the late nineteenth century

Jumps racing at Caulfield in the late nineteenth century


  1. Congratulations on a fabulous blog Robert. I don't know why it has taken me so long to find it but I am so glad I did - and I will be spreading the word.

    Just superb research. Thank You.

    1. Thanks for your kind words, James.
      I've enjoyed every minute of the time that I've spent researching these wonderful jumps champions.
      It's great to hear that someone else has also enjoyed the results of my work.