James S. Delahook (C 62)

19 January 2024

James Delahooke will be remembered as a “consummate horseman” as industry figures paid tribute to the distinguished bloodstock agent and stud manager, who died at the age of 77.

Delahooke was born on January 7, 1945, the son of Garry and Priscilla Delahooke, owners of Adstock Manor Stud near Buckingham. He ran the stud for a quarter of a century from 1969 and was a successful point-to-point and amateur rider who trained the 1987 winner of the Aintree Foxhunters’, Border Burg. Delahooke stood the influential High Line for the Barnett family and was a mentor to many starting out in the industry. 

Agent and Tweenhills Stud owner David Redvers met Delahooke by chance aged 18 when doing a holiday job loading on a grouse moor in North Yorkshire. “I was immediately taken by what a nice fellow he was and he was extremely encouraging,” said Redvers. “I thought that the bloodstock industry might be quite interesting if you could afford to go up on a grouse moor at some point. I went to work for him at Adstock Manor Stud, doing the season, and the bit that really impressed me was that he was such a consummate, all-round horseman; at that time he’d only just hung up his boots from being a leading amateur. I always kept up with him, regularly seeking advice, and he was one of those industry mentors who was hugely inspirational, kind and generous with his time and expertise. I remember him as being utterly charming, very funny, someone who could talk about most angles of the sport because he’d done pretty much everything himself.”  

Delahooke advised the late owner-breeder Gerald Leigh and was behind many other star horses, particularly the high achievers from his friend Guy Harwood’s stable including Ela-Mana-Mou, To-Agori-Mou, Kalaglow, Lear Fan, Polish Patriot and Cacoethes, in addition to Dancing Brave. He had remained an active buyer at the sales this year and was an adviser to American celebrity chef and owner-breeder Bobby Flay. 

Delahooke was Pince Khalid Abdullah’s stud and racing manager from 1979 until 1985, and many of the staff he enlisted remain at Juddmonte now, while his procurement of land and stock yielded multiple champions in the famous green, white and pink silks. Purchases enduring in Juddmonte pedigrees include Sookera, granddam of blue hen Hasili, whose brood includes five Group/Grade 1 winners – Banks Hill, Cacique, Champs Elysees, Heat Haze and Intercontinental – and the Group 1-placed Dansili, who later sired 21 elite winners. 

Horses of particular significance for Delahooke were those from his long association with Juddmonte, and many of his purchases led to the generations seen for the leading operation almost 40 years later. He most famously selected the brilliant Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and multiple Group 1 winner Dancing Brave as a yearling, bought for $200,000 at Fasig-Tipton in 1984, and unearthed Khalid Abdullah’s other early Arc superstar Rainbow Quest. The acquisition of Razyana for Abdullah at Saratoga would lead to her becoming the dam of breed-shaping stallion Danehill. 

 Delahooke also mentored a number of big names in bloodstock, including agent Jamie Piggott. “James was the first agent to give me an opportunity to work in bloodstock when I was a work-rider and had been injured,” said Piggott, who recalls that he had emailed Delahooke his CV and received a flight number to Kentucky in reply. “He simply said if you’re on this flight you can look at some yearlings for me. He generously gave his time to educate me and we enjoyed a number of years working together. He was always there to share his indispensable advice, alongside some incredible experiences and great laughs. Like myself, a number of people in the game owe him a huge gratitude and the racing world will remember him as a legend and a titan who leaves an outstanding legacy.” 

Delahooke is survived by wife Angie, brothers Matthew and Tom, children Amber, Rorie, Holly and Eve, and grandchildren. 

Courtesy of The Racing Post 

Image: James Delahooke bought the Derby winner’s sire and dam for Khalid Abdullah, taken by Mark Cranham