From the Darlington & Stockton Times of February 28, 1874

Devastating news in the D&S Times 150 years ago this week. “Voltigeur, the pride of Yorkshire sportsmen, and one of the best and most popular horses that ever ran, was destroyed shortly before seven o’clock on Saturday evening,” it said.

Volti was bred in 1847 and was owned by the Earl of Zetland, of Aske Hall near Richmond, where he was trained. In 1850, after winning his only race at Richmond racecourse, Volti won the Epsom Derby at odds of 16-1, with Lord Zetland’s tenants winning so much, that up to ten of them drank themselves to death within a year in celebration.

Volti then won the St Leger at Doncaster in a run-off after the main race finished in a dead heat, and two days later turned out in the Doncaster Cup, going head to head with the Middleham-trained Flying Dutchman, the greatest racehorse of the day. In a major surprise, Volti won by half-a-length.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Voltigeur in his box having won the 1850 Derby

A rematch – called “the great match” – was held the following spring, at the Knavesmire at York, in front of at least 150,000 people. Volti was ahead for most of the two miles, but was pipped at the post.

It didn’t really matter in Richmond where Volti was such a hero that his lordship erected a large triumphal arch to celebrate his triumphs. It still stands on the hill down into Gilling West.

Darlington and Stockton Times: The Voltigeur Arch on the road between Richmond and Gilling West

Volti spent the rest of his days at stud at Aske, where his constant companion was a tortoiseshell cat that slept on his back.

“The late Earl esteemed highly this his favourite horse, and when well and at home, his lordship scarcely ever missed a day without paying a visit to see the animal which had won for him so much racing renown in days gone by,” said the D&S.

However, 150 years ago, he was kicked accidentally by a mare called Time Test. At first, he seemed okay, but next morning, he was unable to stand in his stable.

“Mr John Hedley, of Richmond, was sent for, and the 27-year career of the famous Yorkshire racehorse was put an end to,” said the D&S.

Volti was buried at Aske Hall, although a cannon bone from one of his legs is on display in a frame at York Racecourse. His tail was also kept, but seems to have disappeared from public view over the years.