Tartar, one of the smallest horses to have won a classic only standing at 144,78 cm/14.1 hh, was born in Great Britain in 1789 and may best be remembered for having won the St Leger at Doncaster in 1792 - as his racecourse debut.
He was sired by Florizel, who also sired the 1780 and 1791 Epsom Derby winners Diomed and Eager, as well as 1793 St Leger winner Ninety-three. Florizel was a son of Herod, the Leading Sire in Great Britain and Ireland on eight occasions through 1777-1784. Tartar, a chestnut, was his dam’s sixth of eight foals. His dam, Ruth, was a daughter of the undefeated champion Eclipse.
It was not before 1913 that official names were required for British racehorses. Therefor did the Florizel/Ruth-colt, who later became known as Tartar and later Toy, compete as “Ld A. Hamilton’s ch. c. by Florizel out of Ruth” in his first starts.
There is no record that the then-nameless Tartar, owned by Lord Archibald Hamilton, competed in public until the autumn of 1792, when he won the St Leger. The St Leger of 1792 attracted a field of eight colts and three fillies, including Ormond and Kit Carr. Tartar started as a 25/1 outsider. Although an outsider, the little colt, ridden by his trainer John Mangle, did win with the filly Skypeeper in second and Adonis in third place.
Before the start of his four-year-old season, in 1793, Tartar was sold and entered the ownership of Mr L. Jewison. When he made his first appearance that year, at Newcastle on 2 July, he was still without an official name. He contested a £50 race, run in a series of four-mile heats, with the prize going to the first horse who won twice. He won the first heat from Ruby and Highland Lass, and took the win when both his opponents were withdrawn from the second heat. On the following day he finished third in the first heat of another £50 race, but won the next two heats to win the prize from Virgin and YoungEclipse. On 20 August, he appeared as Tartar for the first and only time, in a race at York. The race was a “give and take” race, in which horses were given a weight based on their height. Tartar started the 6/4 favourite but was withdrawn after finishing second in the first heat. His last race recorded that season was at Boroughbridge on 2 October. He finished second, fourth and fifth in three heats of a £50 race won by Alexina.
In his five-year-old season, now owned by Mr. Thompson, he raced under the name Toy. On 13 June 1794 he finished second to Minimus in the first heat of an £80 race at Manchester. "According to the 1794 Racing Calendar, Toy was the horse formerly known as Tartar."
He was retired with a record of 6: 3-1-1 later that year and was sold to Count Vorontsov. He was then sold to a minister at St. James Court, and was then exported to Russia along with the 1794 Derby winner Daedalus.
The name Tartar had previously been used for several other horses in the 18th century. Most notable did Tartar’s paternal great-grandsire, a Yorkshire-bred born in 1743, share his name, as did a son of Phoenomenon and Miss West born in Britain in 1794.