John Daley (1846-1912)

John Daley (1846-1912) was a famous and successful British jockey in the late Victorian period. In his later years he lived in Anerley at 12 Beverley Road with his wife Florence and children Alice, John and Caroline.

He had three stand-out racing victories, one of the most notable being his riding of the racehorse Hermit to come first in the Epsom Derby of 1867. The victory was against all odds because the racehorse had burst a blood vessel a week before in training and the original jockey, Henry Custance, had asked to switch horses. It was a bitterly cold day with a layer of snow on the track. The race took two minutes and forty-nine seconds. Under Daley’s guidance, Hermit won by a neck.

After retirement at five years, Hermit became a much sought-after stud racehorse. Hermit’s owner, Henry Chaplin, became wealthy and successful, living to the age of 82. He was penniless by this time owing to mounting debts but had been promoted to the peerage.

John Daley won £6000 from his win on Hermit but his owners and sponsors won much more: between £60,000 and £140,000, huge sums in those days. Daley would often tell how he had turned down large sums of money to ‘lose’ races which he was entered in.

His other major wins were: the Epsom Oaks on Hippia in 1867 and the 2000 Guineas Stakes on MacGregor in 1870.

Born in Newmarket, Suffolk, on 7 June, 1846, John Daley’s father was a waiter and a racehorse trainer with Sir Robert Clifton. Although Daley went to the local grammar school and got a good education, his talent as a jockey was obvious from an early age. As a schoolboy aged ten, he enjoyed his first race on three-year old Renown at the Newmarket Spring Meeting, following this with a win on Beacon in April 1857.

Daley was large-framed and struggled to maintain a reduced weight to qualify as a jockey. Nevertheless he did just that and had several victories at Ascot, winning four races in 1860: the Queen’s Stand Stakes and the Fern Hill Stakes on Queen of the Vale and the Coronation stakes on Allington. He won the Goodwood Stakes on Elcho in 1861.

On retirement as a jockey, owing to his size and weight gain, he became outstandingly successful as a trainer, especially in Europe. In Germany, he coached Geranium to win the German St Leger in 1897.

John Daley died in Anerley on April 9th, 1912.

The Epsom Derby today:

For further information on Hermit the racehorse see:

And for John Daley: