Gubbins, John Russell (1838–1906), racehorse owner and breeder, was born 16 December 1838, fourth son of Joseph Gubbins, landowner, and Maria Gubbins (née Wise) at their family home, Kilfrush, Co. Limerick. Educated privately, he inherited the property of his elder brother, Stamer Gubbins, crushed to death by a horse that fell on him, at Mountjoy Lodge, the Curragh, Co. Kildare. He also inherited a fortune from his maternal uncle, Francis Wise of Cork, with which he bought (1868) Bruree House, Co. Limerick, spending £40,000 on the building of stables and kennels. A gentleman jockey, he won the Downshire Plate at Punchestown in 1870, riding J. D. Whyte's Fairyland. He followed this with the Weller Cup at the 1883 Down Royal meeting, riding his own horse, DPS. Master of Limerick foxhounds from 1880 to 1886, he also started his own pack of staghounds at Bruree. His hunting activities were stopped in 1886 by Land League activity in Limerick; on one occasion, a crowd stoned his dogs. He was, however, popular in his locality and was high sheriff of Co. Limerick in 1886. Of burly build, his increasing weight stopped his riding and encouraged him to concentrate on training and breeding racehorses. His first major success was with Blairfinde, who won the Irish Derby in 1894. Galtee More was his greatest asset, becoming the first Irish-bred and owned horse to win, in one season, the three classics: the Two Thousand Guineas, the Epsom Derby, and the St Leger. Propelled to first place in the most successful owners' list of 1897, he sold Galtee More for 20,000 guineas (£21,000) to a Russian government delegation that included a vodka-distilling Gen. Arapoff. Ard Patrick, the half-brother of Galtee More by the mare Morganette, won the Epsom Derby on 4 June 1902 in a field of eighteen horses. By now too afflicted by gout to lead his horse to the winner's enclosure, Gubbins was the third most successful owner in Britain and Ireland in 1903. He sold Ard Patrick to the Prussian Count Lehndorff for his Graditz stud for a further 20,000 guineas in 1903. Travelling to Egypt the same year with his English trainer, Sam Darling, and the journalist William Allison, he returned to Ireland from Assouan before he reached Khartoum, the final stop of his proposed journey. Retiring from public life after 1903, he maintained two studs at Bruree House and at Knockany, Co. Limerick. He died of bronchitis at his home on 20 March 1906, leaving his estate to his nephew John Norris Browning, a retired naval surgeon. He married (1889) Edith Legh (d. 1896) of Addington Hall, Cheshire; they had no children.
Ir. Times, 21 Mar. 1906; Times, 21 Mar., 12 July 1906; William Allison, Memories of men and horses (1922); Roger Mortimer, The history of the Derby (1973); Noel Phillips Browne (ed.), The horse in Ireland (1967); John Welcome, Irish horse-racing (1982); Fergus D'Arcy, Horses, lords and racing men (1991)