How many races did Pretty Polly win?
Notwithstanding the hosiery brand of the same name, ‘Pretty Polly’ is probably most recognisable to modern British audiences from the Pretty Polly Stakes, a Listed contest for three-year-old fillies, which is run on the undercard of the 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket. The titular Pretty Polly was a prolific racehorse in the early years of the twentieth century, winning 22 of her 24 races between 1903 and 1906, including the so-called Fillies’ Triple Crown – 1,000 Guineas, Oaks and St. Leger – in 1904.
Bred and owned by Major Eustace Loder, a.k.a. ‘Lucky Loder’, and trained by Peter Gilpin in Newmarket, Pretty Polly failed to start favourite just once, on her racecourse debut at Sandown Park on June 27, 1903. On that occasion, she won the British Dominion Two-Year-Old Plate by an official margin of 10 lengths – twice that was reportedly more accurate – and did not taste defeat until the final start of her three-year-old campaign.
After winning 15 consecutive races, Pretty Polly was sent to Longchamp in October, 1904, to contest the Prix du Conseil Municipal. However, a rough Channel crossing, a long railway journey, bottomless ground and the absence of her regular jockey, William ‘Billy’ Lane, through injury conspired against her and she was beaten into second place. She would be beaten just once more, in the Gold Cup at Ascot in 1906 on her final start, but in between times, won half a dozen more races, including the Coronation Cup at Epsom in both 1905 and 1906.