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The John Gosden-trained eight-year-old entire Stradivarius has become the most popular horse in Britain and is associated with the equally popular Franke Dettori.

The pair will expose some raw emotions if they manage to make it a fourth Ascot Gold Cup win on June 16 next month.However, despite being the most prolific Group-winning horse in European history, a Stradivarius celebration at this year’s Royal Ascot meeting will have to go some to match the mass outpouring of emotions Royal Ascot’s probable most popular horse in history, Brown Jack, caused when winning the Queen Alexandra Stakes for a sixth successive time in 1934.

Brown Jack was also associated with a great and popular jockey, Steve Donoghue.

Horseman Supreme Donoghue loved Brown Jack like no other horse and Brown Jack loved Donoghue.

It was fitting that during their final photo shoot Brown Jack pushed his head forward and licked the ten-times champion jockey’s face from ear to ear.   

Brown Jack reversed a normal trend because he started his career as a hurdler. 

He failed to elicit a single bid at the Goffs Sale of 1925.

Bred by George Webb in Ireland he was purchased as a backward three-year-old in training by the Hon. Aubrey Hastings with the aim of winning the Champion Hurdle for his patron Sir Harold Wernher.          

He started his jumps career at a little known Bournemouth track and was viewed with a lack of interest bordering on contempt by the lads in the yard. 

However, he soon proved them wrong and progressed so well through that season he arrived at Cheltenham in 1928 as the 4/1 favourite for the Champion Hurdle and won it within seven months of jumping his first hurdle.

Donoghue was watching the race and declared to trainer Hastings , “He will win on the flat and I will ride him.”

Hastings took Donoghue’s word for it and that was the horse’s last hurdles race.  

Within three months of the Champion Hurdle win he carried 7 stone 13 pounds to victory in the Ascot Stakes at the Royal Ascot meeting. 

In 1929 he was beaten a short-head in the Ascot Stakes by Old Orkney but three days later he took part in the Royal Ascot meetings traditionally longest race, the Queen Alexandra Stakes over two miles and six furlongs, and won it.

Aubrey Hastings had unfortunately passed away in May that year and the reins of his Wroughton stable were taken over by assistant Ivor Anthony.

In 1930 Brown Jack was unplaced in the Ascot Stakes but once again won the Queen Alexandra three days later, beating his old rival Old Orkney.    

This pattern was repeated in 1931.

His popularity by then was already immense and the reception he received could be compared to a Derby winner.

In 1932 he ran unplaced in the Gold Vase before winning his fourth Queen Alexandra.

In 1933 the yard gave him just one Royal Ascot task and he won the Queen Alexandra for a fifth time.

He was ten-year-olds when he arrived at Royal Ascot for the seventh time in 1934.

He was odds against for the first time in the Queen Alexandra and at one stage 3/1 was available.

The Evening Standard had summed up his popularity with the simple headline on all of their banners, “Brown Jack Today”.

Ivor Anthony was too nervous to watch the race and sat in the paddock under a tree. 

The race was an epic.

Brown Jack and Solarium drew clear in the straight.

Slowly, inch by inch and then foot by foot, Brown Jack forged to the front to cheers that had never before been heard in Royal Ascot history.

The scenes afterwards were also unprecedented.

Grown men wept unashamedly whilst reserved old ladies gathered their skirts and ran to the unsaddling enclosure.

A myriad hats were thrown in the air. 

Steve Donoghue stated “Never will I forget the roar of the crowd as long as I live. Ascot or no Ascot they went mad. All of my six Derby wins faded before the reception that was awaiting Jack and myself. I don’t think I was ever so happy in my life”.

Frankie’s Magnificent Seven is likely the only Ascot scene that has matched it. 

Brown Jack’s seventh success at Royal Ascot was a fitting end to a remarkable career which also included a Doncaster Cup and a win and four seconds in the Goodwood Cup.

Brown Jack, gelded as a yearling, was kind and full of character. 

He was lazy on the gallops and reportedly spent most of his time at home dosing and enjoyed cheese sandwiches.

But he was like a lion on the racecourse. 

Source: Julian Wilson’s 100 Greatest Racehorses. 

Picture: Brown Jack and Steve Donoghue, British folk heroes (