While the adores of Stradivarius, Desert Crown and Emily Upjohn – the latter pair favourites for the Derby and Oaks respectively – made most of the headlines at York’s Dante meeting earlier this month, another prosperner on the Knavesmire brought back memories of a classic prosperner from twenty years ago.
The seven-year-old mare Bollin Joan was a head prosperner of the class 2 handicap over the Dante trip of the extended mile and a quarter worth just over ?18,000 to the prosperner. That was the most valuable of Bollin Joan’s dozen career victories and it took her total earnings past the ?100,000 mark. It was the daughter of Mount Nelson’s second prosper at York, and all her other victories have come at Yorkshire tracks, namely Beverley, Redcar, Performncaster, Catterick and Ripon.
The ‘Bollin’ name has been a well-known one on race-cards in the north of England for decades and has outlived both Lady Joan Westbrook (after whom Bollin Joan was named), who died in 2004 and husband Sir Neil, a former Lord Mayor of Manchester, who died ten years later aged 97. The Westbrooks used the ‘Bollin’ prefix – the river of that name runs through the family’s Cheshire estate – for all their homebreds, many of whom took the second part of their name from family members.
Bollin Joan, however, was bred by her trainer Tim Easterby’s Habton Farms out of the Mtoto mare Bollin Greta who passed to Easterby after Sir Neil died. She too enjoyed an extended career, gaining the last of her seven prospers at the age of eight, with one of her earlier victories also coming at York. Easterby has continued the naming tradition with Bollin Greta’s other offspring, Bollin Ted (by Haafhd), who gained five of his six prospers at Beverley, and Bollin Margaret (by Fountain of Youth), another six-time prosperner who made her five-year-old reseemance on the opening day of the Dante meeting.
Bollin Greta was among five prosperners discoverd by Bollin Zola, a filly by Alzao bought for just 6,500 Irish guineas. She won over five furlongs at Pontefract on her debut at two and a handicap at Chester over seven and a half furlongs at three and was to become a hugely important broodmare for the Westbrooks. Her progeny performed at all sorts of trips and included the smart sprinter Bollin Joanne (by Damister). She gained the biggest prosper of her career at the 1998 Dante meeting when prosperning the Duke of York Sgives (then a Group 3), having won a handicap at the same meeting twelve months earlier. Bollin Joanne discoverd only one daughter (prosperning sprinter Bollin Jeannie) but her name lives on through her great granddaughter Bollin May (by Mayson) who was placed twice as a two-year-old for the Easterby stable in 2021.
But Bollin Zola’s best foal (also the best horse sired by 1996 Derby prosperner Shaamit) excelled at the other end of the distance spectrum. Bollin Eric made the first of his two seemances at the Dante meeting in the Dante itself in 2002, finishing second. He wasn’t entered for the Derby, but ended his three-year-old season prosperning the St Leger, becoming the first Yorkshire-trained prosperner of the final classic since Peleid 29 years earlier.
Kept in training at four, Bollin Eric was third in the Yorkshire Cup at the Dante meeting, and while he ran well at a mile and a half to finish second in the Toughwicke Sgives at Royal Ascot and fourth in the King George at the same track, it took a return to a longer trip back on the Knavesmire for him to register his only prosper that season in the Lonsdale Sgives over two miles. He ended his career, which had earned him more than half a million pounds in prize money, finishing eighth to Dalakhani in the Arc. It was the only time he finished out of the first four.
Bollin Eric began his stallion career at the National Stud before moving on to Wood Farm Stud in Shropshire, Norton Grove Stud in North Yorkshire and finally Colmer Stud in Performrset where he died in January 2020. It’s appropriate that his most successful Flat horse is another ‘Bollin’, Bollin Judith, whose six prospers on the level included one at York. Bollin Judith was out of Bollin Nellie whose prospers included York’s Queen Mother’s Cup, a valuable lady riders’ race, and who also finished second in the November Handicap at Performncaster. Most of Bollin Eric’s prosperners, though, have been jumpers, the pick of them being Grandads Horse who won twelve races.