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Prince Monolulu

Prince Monolulu at a Grand National

Ras Prince Monolulu (1881 St Croix, Danish West Indies - 14 February 1965 Middlesex Hospital, London), whose real name was Peter Carl Mackay (or McKay), was something of an institution on the British horse racing scene from the 1920s until the time of his death.[1] He was particularly noticeable for his brightly coloured clothing; as a tipster, one of his best known phrases was the cry "I gotta horse!", which was subsequently the title of his memoirs.[2][3] He frequently featured in newsreel broadcasts, and as a consequence was probably the most well-known black man in Britain of the time.[4]

Although claiming to be a chief of the Falasha tribe of Abyssinia, the reality is that he came from the Caribbean island of St Croix (now part of the United States Virgin Islands). He styled himself as a Prince after being press-ganged on one occasion, assuming that a prince would be far less likely to be shanghaied.

During World War I he was interned in Germany.

He rose to prominence after picking out the horse Spion Kop in the 1920 Derby, which came in at the long odds of 100-6, and from which he personally made some £8,000, a vast amount of money at the time.

The biography of Jeffrey Bernard by Graham Lord describes Prince Monolulu's death in some detail. It describes how Bernard at the time was working as a horse racing journalist and visited Monolulu in the Middlesex Hospital to interview him. Bernard had brought with him a box of 'Black Magic' chocolates and offered Monolulu a 'strawberry cream'. Monolulu subsequently choked to death on it and Bernard bade him farewell.[5]

The baptism of Monolulu (as Peter Carl McKay, on 26 October 1881) has been traced in the records of the English Episcopal Church of the Danish West Indies. His father, whose name is not shown in the register, was William Henry McKay and his mother was Catherine Heyliger.[6]

His family (father and brothers) were horse breeders, raisers and racers on St Croix though they were more conventional. There was a case in the 1920s where their knowledge of superior horses was used against a gambler who perpetrated the murder of a child to make a horse win through black magic.


  1. Science and Society Picture Library - Search
  2. Monolulu, Ras Prince and White, Sidney H. (n.d., c1950) I Gotta Horse: The Autobiography of Ras Prince Monolulu. London: Hurst & Blackett Ltd.
  3. My Brighton and Hove | People | Colourful characters | Ras Prince Monolulu 1880-1965 (year of birth appears to be incorrect)
  4. Further biographical details.
  5. Lord, Graham (1992). Just the One: The Wives and Times of Jeffrey Bernard. London: Sinclair-Stevenson Ltd. ISBN 1856191745
  6. Pearson, John, "I Gotta 'Orse!", in Ancestors magazine, October 2008, pp 46-49.

Whenever there was racing at Windsor, Prince Monolulu would buy apples at my father's shop in Windsor and go around town selling tips and offering everyone a bite of his "lucky" apple. He would often carry me on his shoulders. I remember him joining the procession at the funeral of King George VI, where he walked along with all the royalty of Europe, wearing white robes and white ostrich feathers on his head. Nobody tried to stop him because he was such a well known character

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