First racehorses fly across the Atlantic, Nov. 1946

Intl flight (NYT 1946.11.15)

“SHANNON, Eire. Nov. 14 (AP) – Eight colts will be flown to America next Tuesday, F. M. Oferrall [sic], bloodstock exporter, announced today, to race at Hollywood Park and Santa Anita. He said he believed they would be the first race horses to fly the Atlantic.

Predicting the trip would inaugurate a new era in international racing, Oferrall said, “The journey will take twenty hours instead of ten days. The horses will arrive in America comparatively fresh, and it is expected they will be able to race after a twenty-four-hour rest period.”
(The New York Times, 11/15/1946)

Intl flight (NYT 1946.11.27)“DUBLIN, Nov. 26 – No passenger flight could have caused more interest or excitement than the first flight from Shannon Airport tonight of six Irish-bred race horses across the Atlantic en route to California.

The occasion marked not only the first venture across the Atlantic by plane of bloodstock, but was described as a world record for a long distance hop by horses. The plane making the trip was the American Overseas Airline’s Skymaster air freighter Missouri American, specially converted to take eight horses across the Atlantic.

Because of weather conditions necessitating heavier gasoline reserves it was decided at the last minute to carry only six thoroughbreds. Two were left behind and will be taken on a later trip.

There was a big crowd, including many notables in Irish racing, gathered at 7 P. M. to witness the start of the historic flight. The turfmen watched with tense faces as they saw each of the six valuable racers hoisted carefully by specially built crane onto a platform from which each horse walked quietly into the plane.

Three Top Juveniles Included
The six equines were Sir Laurence, Middle Abbey, Sullivan, Great Faith, Dunboy and Ragamuffin. The first three were regarded as the best 2-year-olds in Ireland this year, while the second three raced in England this year to many victories.

Frank More O’Ferrall and Brendan Hillard, directors of the Anglo-Irish Agency, flew from London to Shannon to supervise loading of the precious cargo. Irish racing notables present included Lord Adare and Roderick More O’Ferrall, a well-known trainer.

Following the horses into the skymaster was Charles T. Leavitt, one of California’s better trainers, who had purchased the horses for Elwood P. Johnston and T. H. Pepper, both well-known American race-horse owners. With Leavitt was Phil J. Connors, president of Hollywood’s Sportsmans Club.

The captain of the flight is George Wells, who has a crew of seven as well as John Casey, the engineer who supervised conversion of the plane for horse transportation. The only fodder provided for the animals on this 6,000-mile trip is hay and water.

Customs Check at Newark
The first stop will be made at Newark Airport in New Jersey. After customs formalities there, the flight will be resumed to California.

The plane made a perfect take-off here at 7:05 P. M. (2:05 P. M. Eastern Standard Time) and is expected to reach California tomorrow evening after thirty hours of flying. It is anticipated that if the horses arrive not unduly fatigued they will be on the race track at Santa Anita in one week’s time.

Frank More O’Ferrall, discussing the flight, said: “Success of this trip may mean a tremendous lot to the Irish bloodstock industry with the opening of an American market for Irish-bred horses. Up to now when Irish horses were sent on the long sea and train journey to California it took nearly six months before they were in condition to race. Going by air, they should be ready in almost one week, which would increase the value of horses to purchasers enormously and offset to a great extent the heavier cost of air transport.”
(The New York Times, 11/27/1946)

Intl flight (LAT 1946.11.29)“Sky-writing a page of international history for the Sport of Kings book, six Irish thoroughbreds arrived at Lockheed Air Terminal early yesterday via an American Airlines DC4 from Shannon, Eire, none the worse for their flight.

Arrival of the approximately $150,000 worth of horseflesh marked the first time, airline officials and sportsmen said, that race horses have been shipped by air from one country to another.

The horses, Sir Lauerence [sic], 2; Middle Abbey, 2; Sullivan, 2, and Dunboy, 3, purchased by Mrs. Anne Peppers of Mentone and Ragamuffin, 3, and Great Faith, 3 bought for E. B. Johnston, Leimert Park, traveled in individual stalls two abreast in the fuselage of the plane. Each bangtail was supported during the 29 hour flight by belly and back bands to hold him in place.

Owners Satisfied
Their owners, who announced they will race the Irish beauties at Santa Anita, expressed satisfaction with the manner in which the animals withstood the first transoceanic horse flight and subsequent transcontinental flight to Los Angeles from Newark, N.J. – first stop after leaving Shannon. Only other stop was at St. Joseph, Mo. At Burbank they were led from their fuselage stalls into a high stall on a truck hoist which was lowered to the ground so the horses could be led into a waiting van. They are all of Anglo-Irish stock and were sold to their California owners by Morrel Fell [sic] of Shannon.”
(Los Angeles Times, 11/29/1946)

Great Faith arrives in LA (LAT 1946.11.29)

Photo: Los Angeles Times, 11/29/1946


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