The Horse Racing Dynasty That Used Astrology to Predict Winners



Colonel William (Willie) Walker believed that horses should be bred and raced based on information in their birth charts (horoscopes). Don’t believe us? Then jog on over to County Kildare to take a look at the Irish National Stud Farm, a.k.a. the horse racing dynasty astrology built. It’s all there.

When Queen Elizabeth visited the National Stud a few years ago she unveiled a sculpture that was commissioned to mark the occasion and honour a 112-year royal connection with the horse farm. For the event, sculptor Anthony Scott created a large, hollowed-out spherical dome, upon which zodiac signs and constellations were affixed.

Looking inside the sphere the background visitors see is a starry, night-darkened sky. At the centre of the exhibit in bold relief a sculpted foal has his head crazily titled skyward, drinking in starlight.

For sure, the sculpture on display at the farm has little to do with royalty and everything to do with the character and originality of the stud farm’s colourful founder, Colonel William Hall Walker. As an unidentified travel writer of an article aimed at the tourist crowd puts it: “In a place where an animal can be worth the price of an island, the legacy of the Colonel still stands as the most interesting thread in a story of stallions and stars.”

Colonel William (Willie) Walker was the son of a Scottish brewer who developed the scotch whiskey product that is marketed today around the globe under the Johnnie Walker labels. While stationed in India with the British Army he developed a fascination with Eastern philosophies, including Buddhism and astrology.

In 1900, at the turn of the century, the colonel returned to Europe and bought land at Tully in Kildare. Almost immediately he began breeding horses and putting his astrological theories to the test.

The colonel believed that horses should be bred and raced based on information revealed in their birth charts (horoscopes). Quirky to most observers was his practice of building stalls for the horses with skylights so the Sun, Moon, planets and stars could be seem and more favourably influence his nursery of prospective winners.

When a new thoroughbred foal was born, Walker would meticulously record the time of birth and draw up a birth chart (horoscope) for the event himself. Regardless of bloodlines, if he didn’t like what the chart revealed the foal would be sold immediately.

If this seems severe consider this: within 10 years the Colonel’s horses had won all of Europe’s top races. And the electional chart he chose for his horse nursery and equine breeding centre continues to work marvellously well with the horse farm continuing to produce champions in its current incarnation.

In 1915 Colonel Walker gave his horse farm to the British crown. At the time the government was desperately in need of cavalry horses as World War I progressed. The government, in turn, purchased Walker’s horse farm in Ireland and a training stable he owned at Russley Park in Wiltshire, England.

Walker was given the title of Lord Wavertree in recognition of his gesture, and the property and horses became the first National Stud for Great Britain. In 1943 the National Stud was moved from Ireland to England and, two years later, the Tully property in County Kildare became the Irish National Stud.

Even today, astrology and horse racing have a symbiotic relationship. Astrologers help bettors pick winning ponies based on an analysis of how transiting planets line up with planetary placements in the birth charts (horoscopes) of horses and riders on race day. Today, computer programs make it possible to swiftly make the needed astrological calculations. It was a bit more tedious and time consuming in Colonel Walker’s day!

Keep this in mind: the planet Saturn deals with restriction and delays and the fifth house is where solar energies are most creatively expressed. In the Irish National Stud’s horse museum, a horoscope book in a glass display cabinet lies open on the chart of a bay colt named Lord of the Sea.

The verdict is not good.

“Saturn in his 5th house …makes him very little good for racing or stud purposes. No good at all except for selling,” the horse breeder explained.

You can visit the Irish National Stud Farm and see for yourself. Details are here. 


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