Dictionary of National Biography, 1901 supplement/Flatman, Elnathan

FLATMAN, ELNATHAN (1810–1860), jockey, the son of a small farmer, was born at Holton St. Mary in Suffolk in 1810. In 1825 he walked with a small bundle to Newmarket and begged employment of William Cooper, the trainer, a request conceded upon the intercession of the trainer's wife, who was moved to compassion by the sorrowful appearance of the puny applicant. He was soon promoted to ride trials, and in the Craven Meeting of 1829 rode Lord Exeter's Golden Pin, in a race won by Sam Chifney upon Zinganee. Among the masters for whom he rode while in Cooper's stable were General Peel, Lord Strafford, Greville, Lord Jersey (upon whose Glencoe he won the Goodwood Cup in 1834), and Lord Chesterfield. Upon the latter's Carew he won the Goodwood Cup in 1837, and next year, upon the same owner's Don John, captured the Doncaster Cup. In 1839 his riding of General Gate's Gibraltar in the famous dead-heat with Crucifix for the Criterion established his reputation. For the next twenty years the 'Augustan age of the British turf his path having been cleared by the premature death of two formidable rivals, Arthur Pavis and Patrick Conolly Flatman was perhaps the most popular jockey in the field. In 1842 he rode for Lord George Bentinck, and during the next few years he won a notable series of successes for Lord Chesterfield and General Peel. Upon Peel's Orlando he was declared Derby winner (upon the disqualification of Running Rein) in 1844, but his greatest triumph was the winning of the Doncaster Cup in 1850, when upon Lord Zetland's Voltigeur he compelled the Flying Dutchman (ridden by Marlow) to lower his colours for the only time in his brilliant career. In 1848 he scored no less than 104 wins, in- cluding the Doncaster St. Leger upon Lord Clifden's Surplice. It was not until 1853 that he was 'headed' by Tiny Wells and subsequently by Fordham. In 1859 he was thrown violently upon Bath racecourse by the fall of Lord Ailesbury's Sudbury, which he rode in the Biennial. A splintered rib which pierced the jockey's lung was the consequence, and it laid the seeds of a rapid consumption. Flatman's end was probably accelerated by the kick which he received in the first October Meeting of 1859 from the Duke of Bedford's Golden Pippin. He died at Newmarket on 20 Aug. 1860, leaving a widow and five children, and was buried in All Saints churchyard. Honest, very reserved, not at all grasping according to later standards, Flatman talked, wrote, and understood his masters extremely well. At first he rode little over 6st., and during his prime 7st. 81b. He excelled in riding two-year-olds, and very seldom used the whip; but he owed his large practice to a steady course of good riding and good conduct, extending over many years, rather than to any more characteristic qualities of jockeyship. He is commonly referred to by sporting writers as 'Nat.'

[Illustr. London News, 23 May 1853 (portraits); Sporting; Times, 25 July 1885; Sporting Review, 1853 and 1860; The Druid's Post and Paddock, 1856; Rice's British Turf, i. 263 sq.; Boase's Modern English Biography, i. 1067.]

T. S.