Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement/Gubbins, John

GUBBINS, JOHN (1838–1906), breeder and owner of race-horses, born on 16 Dec. 1838 at the family home, Kilfrush, co. Limerick, was fourth son of Joseph Gubbins by his wife Maria, daughter of Thomas Wise of Cork. Of three surviving brothers and five sisters, the third brother, Stamer, who was 6 feet 6 inches tall and of proportionate build, joined the army, and, attaining the rank of captain, distinguished himself in the Crimean war, where, discarding his sword, he carried a heavy blackthorn stick; subsequently he bred horses at Knockany, where he died on 7 Aug. 1879, aged forty-six, owing to the fall upon him of a horse which he had been 'schooling' over fences.

John Gubbins, after being educated privately, inherited the Knockany property from his brother Stamer, and purchased the estate of Bruree, co. Limerick. A fortune was also left him by an uncle, Francis Wise of Cork. Settling at Bruree in 1868, he spent about 40,000l. in building kennels and stables, and buying horses and hounds. He hunted the Limerick country with both stag and fox hounds, and was no mean angler, until forced to stop by the operations of the Land League in 1882.

From youth he took a keen interest in horse-racing. At first his attention was mainly confined to steeplechasers, and he rode many winners at Punchestown and elsewhere in Ireland. He was the owner of Seaman when that horse won the grand hurdle race at Auteuil, but had sold him to Lord Manners before he won the Grand National at Liverpool in 1882. Usna was another fine chaser in his possession. Buying the stallions Kendal and St. Florian, he bred, from the mare Morganette, Galtee More by the former and Ard Patrick by the latter. Galtee More won the Two Thousand Guineas and the St. Leger as well as the Derby in 1897, and was afterwards sold to the Russian government for 21,000l., who later passed him on to the Prussian government for 14,000l. The latter government also bought Ard Patrick for 21,000l. a day or two before he won the Eclipse stakes of 10,000l. in 1903, when he defeated Sceptre and Rook Sand after an exceptionally exciting contest. Other notable horses bred by John Gubbins were Blairfinde (winner of the Irish Derby) and Revenue. In 1897 he headed the list of winning owners with a total of 22,739l., and was third in the list in 1903. His horses were at various times trained by H. E. Linde (in Ireland), Joussiflfe (at Lambourn), and S. Darling (at Beckhampton.) After John Gubbins was rarely seen on a racecourse owing to failing health, and in 1903 he sold his horses in training. In 1905, however, his health having apparently improved, he sent some yearlings to Cranborne, Dorset, to be trained by Sir Charles Nugent, but before these horses could run he died at Bruree on 20 March 1906, and was buried in the private burial ground at Kilfrush. He was high sheriff of co. Limerick in 1886, as well as J. P. and D.L. A warm-hearted, genial personality, he was a kind and indulgent landlord and employer, and a sportsman of the best type.

In 1889 he married Edith, daughter of Charles Legh, of Addington Hall, Cheshire; she predeceased him without issue. His estates passed to his nephew, John Norris Browning, a retired naval surgeon.

[Notes supplied by Mr. D. R. Browning, of Bruree, co. Limerick; Burke's Landed Gentry; Sportsman, 21 March 1906; Baily's Magazine, May 1906; Ruff's Guide to the Turf.]

E. M.