Richard (Dick) Christian was born in 1779 at Cottesmore in Rutland the son of James and Jane Christian, and was first employed in racing stables at the tender age of 12 and a half. It was in 1792 that he was taken on as a groom at the racing stables of Sir Horace Mann.

His Great, Great, Great Grandson Martin F. Slater has provided details about his famous relation and the scans which are shown below. Martin comments, 'I have a book entitled 'The Flying Parson & Dick Christian' which was published in 1934 and the book contains a quote from Dick ' I would be somewhere about 12 and a half when I went to Sir Horace Mann's racing stables. They were at Barham Downs in Kent, but he had only 2 or 3 horses. I rode my first race in a blue jacket, on Barham Downs-- I think I was second. There wasn't much more than four and a half stone of me then'. Dick was there for 2 and a half years until he had a bad accident at Margate when a chaise crossed the course & he nearly broke his knee. After this he was out of riding for 3 years and, to my knowledge, never returned to Kent.'

Martin Slater has diligently searched the records to find details about Dick's Great, Great Grandfather and the two generations before him. The records indicate Dick's family links with Leicestershire and Rutland well before Dick showed his prowess with horses in the fields and racecourses near Melton Mowbray for over 80 years, and these details are shown below.

By 1809 Dick had set himself up as a farmer in North Luffenham and by the 1820's he had moved to Melton Mowbray where he remained for the rest of his life. He was employed by Lord Scarborough between 1841 and 1852.

In 1826 Dick rode in one of the most famous steeplechases of the day. The contest was between Clasher and Clinker. The former was owned and ridden by the great Turf man George Osbaldeston, and he narrowly defeated Clinker who was owned by Horatio Ross and ridden by Dick.

Dick rode the second horse, Polyanthus, for Mr John Aspinall in the very first Grand National held at Aintree in 1836 at the age of 56. The race was named The Liverpool Grand Steeplechase and was held on Monday 29th February 1836. For further details see http://www.greyhoundderby.com/GN1836.html

He did not have a mount in the next 3 Grand Nationals, including the 1839 event which many still record as the first Grand National. Amazingly he returned to ride The Augean on 5th March 1840 when he was aged 60, but the horse was unplaced. See http://www.greyhoundderby.com/GN1840.htm

Max Stewart has provided a link to a brilliant article on Dick which is well worth a 'click'


Martin has provided a picture of Dick aged 80 and kindly reproduced a poem about Dick for inclusion on this site and it is shown below:-

Dick died penniless on 5th June 1862.

If you are able to provide further information or images about Dick Christian then email johnwslusar@gmail.com