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Racing historian Michael Tanner appeals for help to find grave of horse Sceptre, winner of four Classics, which had links to Newmarket

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Racing historian and author Michael Tanner is hoping Suffolk News readers might be able to help him with his latest literary project, the story of the renowned Edwardian race mare, Sceptre.

The only horse to win four Classics outright, a record never likely to be equalled, Sceptre had numerous links with Newmarket.

In 1900 she set a new record of 10,000 gns for a yearling at Tattersalls; she was unbeaten in six races at Newmarket and spent her final years at Lord Glanely’s Exning Stud, where it’s presumed she was buried in February 1926.


Mr Tanner, whose latest book about jockey Steve Cauthen was published last year, is particularly keen to try to identify the exact location of Sceptre’s grave.

“It may have disappeared beneath latter-day housing developments but anyone who might have any knowledge about its whereabouts or any other information about Sceptre’s time in Exning can email me at MichaelRTanner@ymail.com,” he said.

Sceptre was bred by by the 1st Duke of Westminster, Hugh Grosvenor, and was born to be a champion, being a daughter of 1896 Derby winner Persimmon and Ornament, who was a full sister to Triple Crown winner Ormonde. But the Duke died in the winter 1899, the year she was foaled and the following year she, along with all his bloodstock were sold at Tattersalls where Sceptre fetched 10,000 guineas, paid by well-known gambler Robert Siever.

Michael Tanner
Michael Tanner

In 1902 Sceptre’s victories included the 2,000 Guineas in a then record time of one minute 39 seconds and two days later the 1,000 Guineas. She finished fourth in the Derby, despite being left at the start, and two days later, won The Oaks. After winning the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot, Sceptre ran twice at Glorious Goodwood, where she won the Nassau Stakes. The following month she won her fourth classic, the St Leger.

Sceptre changed hands several more times, being owned by Edmund Somerville Tattersall, of the Tattersalls family, John Musker and finally Lord Glanely for his Exning stud, but after several failed attempts to get her in foal she was set to be sold to a Brazilian breeder, despite her owner’s promise when he purchased her that she would remain in his care for the rest of her life.

Such was the public outcry that Lord Glanely felt obliged to cancel the sale.