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Dorothy Paget

Dorothy Paget
Born February 21, 1905
England
Died February 9, 1960
England
Cause of death Heart failure
Occupation Racehorse owner, philanthropist
Known for Sainte-Geneviève-des-Bois Russian Cemetery
Parents Lord Queenborough & Pauline Payne Whitney

Dorothy Wyndham Paget (February 21, 1905 – February 9, 1960) was a British racehorse owner. She was the daughter of Lord Queenborough and Pauline Payne Whitney of the United States Whitney family. She was a cousin of Jock Whitney, owner of the dual Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Easter Hero and latterly American Ambassador in London. She was the granddaughter of William C. Whitney, a wealthy American businessperson and politician who was also a racehorse owner.

Paget is notably responsible for the establishment of the Sainte-Geneviève-des-Bois Russian Cemetery in France. Dorothy took profound interest in the fate of the Russian refugees after having studied under Princess Vera Meshchersky, one of the Russian Red Cross trustees and daughter of Karl de Struve, Russian Minister to the U.S. Vera's niece, Olga, managed Dorothy's racing stables. It was Dorothy who purchased the plot for the cemetery, where such notable Russians as Ivan Bunin, Andrei Tarkovsky, and Rudolf Nureyev were later buried. She also saw to it that the residents of the residential home "were supplied with turkey and plum pudding at Christmas time"[1].

Thoroughbred horse racing

Dorothy Paget's mother was a member of the New York Whitney family who are one of the most prominent Thoroughbred horse racing and breeding families in American racing history. Paget too owned a stable of Thoroughbreds as well as the Ballymacoll Stud breeding farm in County Meath, Ireland. Her horses won a total of 1,532 races in both flat and hurdling. She was the British flat racing Champion Owner in 1943, the year one of her horses won the Epsom Derby. She was leading National Hunt owner in 1933-34, 1940-41 and 1951-52. She owned seven Cheltenham Gold Cup winners, Golden Miller five times, 1932-1936 inclusive, Roman Hackle in 1940 and Mont Tremblant in 1952. Her four Champion Hurdle winners were Insurance in 1932 and 1933, Solford in 1940 and Distel in 1946.

Although Dorothy Paget spent today's equivalent of many millions of pounds on bloodstock, Golden Miller and Insurance were by far the best known of her horses. They were purchased from Mr. Phillip Carr (the father of A. W. Carr, the Nottinghamshire and England cricket captain) for 12,000 guineas (£441,000 in today's currency) for both of them. Her Derby winner, Straight Deal, was home bred and sire of the Champion Hurdle winner of 1957, Merry Deal, and it was at her Ballymacoll Stud that the great Arkle was foaled. On her death in 1960, Ballymacoll Stud was acquired by the English industrialist, Sir Michael Sobell.

Her many trainers, seventeen or eighteen in all, included Basil Briscoe, Owen Anthony, Frenchie Nicholson, Fulke Walwyn, Walter Nightingall (under both codes), Henri Jelliss, Sir Gordon Richards and, for a brief period, Fred Darling.

In her early years Dorothy Paget hunted enthusiastically and in the late 1920s financed the team of supercharged Bentleys created by Sir Henry (Tim) Birkin, a member of the Nottingham lace family. She lived for the most part in Pollards Wood, Chalfont St. Giles, Buckinghamshire, England.

At the outbreak of war in 1939 and for some five years previously the two biggest racecourse gamblers, as opposed to professional backers, were both women. The other was Mrs. J.V. Rank who, like Dorothy Paget, had a number of horses in training but nothing like so many. Neither would hesitate to have £10,000 (£320,000 in today's money) or more on their horses whenever they ran.

Dorothy Paget was only aged fifty-four when she died of heart failure on 9 February, 1960.

References

  • Gilbey, Quintin. Queen of the turf; the Dorothy Paget story. London, Arthur Barker [1973] [x], 3-160 p. illus. 22 cm. ISBN 978-0-213-16435-5
  • Hermione, Countess of Ranfurly. The Ugly One; The Childhood Memoirs of Hermione, Countess of Ranfurly 1913-39. London, Michael Joseph [1998], ISBN 0-718-14333-7. (Countess Ranfurly was employed briefly by Paget in the late 1930s)
  1. James E. Hassell. Russian Refugees in France and the United States Between the World Wars. ISBN 978-0-87169-817-9. Page 68.

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