« AnteriorContinuar »
better of the two. The race for the vase, with the Derby pretender of 'forty-four included, put the first genuine stamp on the provincial renown of Sweetmeat, and a class of the stake appeared at the time to do almost as much for Annandale. This said Ascot Stake, by the bye, was nearly the sole "cause of complaint" in the administration of the whole week-a finer plan for spoiling a good race, as has often been proved before this, could have scarcely been hit on. Here, moreover, there is no earthly excuse for attempting it. Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, at Ascot, have now each surely material enough for the day, without adopting these semi-heats; everybody, again-the uninitiated for luncheon, the legs for wagering-feels grateful for a few minutes more allowance of time between the acts. The Wokinghams, Nurserys, and such like assemblies, may be put into classes; but cutting in two a handicap stake that might rival the Goodwood, is the next thing to cutting it up outright. The great event, for a wonder, went off without a murmur in another lucky hit for the Emperor, thereby confirming my Lord Albermarle's lease on the race, and hinting that even the old mare was running off, and the mighty Foig not quite so certain of running on. As regards the latter, "sure did'nt I say so?" The Sir Hercules are early birds and nothing more.
For three years has the small ten sovereign subscription new twoyear-old stake been going, and in that period has contrived to establish itself as the most important one in the kingdom. The interest and sensation, indeed, attached to its winners hitherto has been almost too much. Ratan and his affair for the Derby, Old England and his affair for the Derby, have only to be followed now with the facts of the horse that ought to have run first for the one, actually doing so for the other. Greater promise for this than Sting has since shown no man need ask for, and a better first favourite never stood under ten to one. One great thing to be hoped is, that his rider will for the future always "recollect" himself. Mr. Bell, the celebrated "little jockey," very deservedly ranks as a good one, but still for all that at times is apt to be uncommonly wild in his riding, and just at present I freely confess to have more fears for him than his horse. The field for this race was by far the best ever telegraphed for it, a superlative opinion one might well give to all and every thing concerned, though next year, with the further assistance of steam, every day at Ascot is to be a great and a grand one.
Strange to say, the Hamptonites, with time to get second wind, actually revived, if not altogether recovered, from the moral parliamentary proceedings. The racing, as racing, could call for no further notice in a summary like this, were it not out of compliment to a Mr. Parr, a great man certainly in a small way, and one who deserves credit as being endued with an art for making animals run and pay, that few other mortals would venture on. His season, with Ninety-one, Waterloo, Europa, and Company, is really worth tracing out as an example of good placing, training, and riding, all due to one headpiece, and that I believe on the shoulders of a genius entirely selftaught. It is not the greatest triumph that invariably contains the greatest talent.
Newcastle, good in itself, and great to northern friends and neigh
bours, still went off comparatively without much spirit, as it opened without much general interest. The marked effect of the sport here was to send up Mentor, another of the disappointed Derby nags, to within a touch or so of first favourite for the St. Leger, a position the subsequent running at Liverpool went considerably to strengthen. Although the opponents he met here were all of the same so-so sort, the confidence was yet well placed. Mentor's personal appearance being no mean help to his performances; he has hitherto, however, shown himself one of those unlucky devils who can run well at any time but just when you want them to.
For the Northumberland Plate Inheritress again disappointed her party by winning when they did not expect her to, whereas at Ascot she lost when she should have won. Her all-graceful pilot on this occasion, though, managed to obtain for her fair play, and consequently the stable pulled through with the less-fancied of their exhibition, a case not unusual at any time, but terribly in fashion this year. As to the et cætera, Malcolm earned for himself an introduction to the Derby books at outside odds, a price that "the total of the whole" of his efforts has not improved upon.
Of a whole cluster of provincial meetings coming on much about the same time and place, Bibury Club and Stockbridge bear away the palm; one of those few promised revivals that kept their faith, and seem inclined to keep it, by the united talent of amateur and professional. The Gloucestershire Stake, on the contrary, with its numerous amendments, change of air, and other recipes, never looked worse; the plain state of the case being that there is a famous opening for any country gentleman in the county or neighbourhood who might be induced to put out his capital and attention on the turf. There used to be once on a time, at least so tradition avouches, a very excellent sample of home supporters in these parts, and not a few of the stock either; while at present hungry trainers, half-worked jockeys, and over-trained horses congregate, on the principle of the Kilkenny cats, to devour each other. It is only such good managers as our friend Parr can make a game with such rules as this to it. At Winchester, another long ailing, inferior spot, as far as racing is concerned, some of the right sort I have alluded, it appears, are coming out again; they certainly look better about there, and with the assistance always guaranteed from Isaac Saddler and "honest John," a respectable two days' sport might be established. The house of Worcester, per contra again, has been tumbled down even faster than two or three years since it was set up, the public good having, it is whispered, been sacrificed to private interest. It is natural perhaps to endeavour to accommodate a good sportsman close at hand, but it should be remembered by all committee men that the prosperity of a meeting depends mainly on strangers. The horses in work, handy to your course, you may count pretty safely on; while to others it is you must not merely give every fair chance, but the leetle encouragement (if allowed at all) to induce them to honour you with a visit. Race-horses, moreover, like ladies, seldom travel alone, and an acceptance for the handicap is tolerably certain of bringing a plater or two with him.
The July, at present, undoubtedly enjoys the unenviable distinction of being the worst and most uninteresting of the whole seven gatherings annually provided for the benefit of Newmarket and the amusement of its visitors. The Second Spring, however, the first October, and this said July are much like the Thursdays at Tattersall's, occasionally may be of some importance, but, generally speaking, such that no man need put himself out of the way to attend. One would at the first superficial glance be apt to imagine that if either of these three were susceptible of lasting improvement, the middle meeting of the year, taking place as it does in the very height and heart of the season, would be the one to call attention to. When, though, we come to examine the matter more determinedly, we own at once this to be the grand cause of its retrocession-the success of the Spring and Octobers, above and beyond the celebrity of their situation, is owing no little to the time with which one opens and the other winds up the calculations and cross purposes of the Olympic world. July and Chesterfield two-year trials, that should be of some pretension, passed away with but little inquiry fore or aft; Queen Anne's prudence and Free Lance's subsequent doings not tending to rank them or their opponents as anything formidable. The assistance afforded these stakes in other material looked and proved less than customary, an amount of temptation that might well warrant the warmest supporter of the "legitimate drama" in reserving himself for something more showy.
A terribly disheartening acceptance list for the Tradesmen's Plate cast a kind of damper over the Liverpool week, that it did not in reality deserve; to look back upon, I should unhesitatingly pronounce this as the most interesting meeting of the year. The handicap, notwithstanding the poverty of its qualified ranks, and the moderate amount of its actual starters, still, (taking our estimate by the common quality of the day) numbered some of the best animals in the best stables both of North and South. The solution of the Ironmaster enigma alone, the horse that might have won the Derby, and was to win next week the Goodwood cup, was well worth, as the saying goes, "all the money." The true and correct decision of this event with Lothario, another of the well supported Goodwood firm, afforded a capital line, for those who had the power of taking it, as to what was to be done at home; while the Leger, on the reverse, though, as they generally enact it here, one of the truest and gamest, led to many false conclusions on its yet more northern namesake. Irish generalship, carried out with the fearful cut-and-thrust Hibernian jockeyship, might have been taken into some consideration, as, indeed, it would appear it was, by the Baron, notwithstanding his unequivocal defeat, being straightway handed over to that great Wizard of the North, Mr. John Scott. Another victory for Mentor gave him another lift for Doncaster, the "won by a head" being softened down on the ground of his being very indifferently ridden, a plea which, whether just or not, could be of but small intrinsic value, when it was remembered that in all probability he would on all future occasions command the services of the same Mentor. On precisely the like sort of reasoning, Pantasa's performance was negatived in well earned compliment to his jockey; although I am now much
inclined to think that, with as good a preparation as he had riding, Pantasa's real worth was sufficient not only to have won this Leger, but the Doncaster one also. This horse has invariably run right well, but never yet, in my mind, right fit; though no admirer of "living skeletons," I think he has been a little too favoured in fleshnot the worst of faults after all, and only let him have a rather fairer allowance of play (i. e. work) and fortune, who shall say but that Pantasa may yet stand as one of the very best nags out in 'forty-six?
In the Mersey Princess Alice took an unexpected beating from the first specimen of Launcelot's stock, called Luminary-a filly which only needed health and life to be more known and feared; and for the Derby Handicap Sweetmeat gave Mr. Hill and his man, Mr. Wadlow, one more proof that public performances are truer tests than private trials after all. There were signs, though, of the iron hero being suspected before this.
"If I have a propensity," as the man in the play says, it is this leaning towards public running-a pardonable eccentricity, for which I am free to confess I find little indulgence in the great and the grand doings at Goodwood. The winner of the two great events of the meeting, nevertheless, might afford one some proof as to the way in which many of the extraordinary trials vary with the actual races. How many horses will run well on their own ground, over a gallop that they know every yard and turn in by heart, that will not comparatively run at all on strange courses. This I take to be the great secret with Miss Elis, a mare Lord George is known to have always had a good opinion of, but whose public efforts up to this period scarcely tended to establish the correctness of any such idea. Once at home, however, it was evident enough nothing for the stake ever had a chance with her but Egis, a filly whose successes immediately preceding would alone have made Miss Elis good, even supposing it could have come to a race between them; while for the Cup, did not that terrible Leger clipper, Weatherbit, with all the bloom of his Ascot laurels fresh on him, and never, as the looks of self and party assured one, in better trim, bow down to her canter? Never mind about a few pounds' weight either way when a three-year-old can go two days following over the Goodwood Cup course with the chosen of the country against her to this tune; and show us something even further or better, in plain fact, when proclaiming the Oaks winner as so much the better of the pair? It is clear that Weatherbit, like how many before him, did not recover Goodwood in time for Doncaster; although in his best day never answerable for any of that extra-ability he was cried up to, and to which some young and ready hands were so firm and fortunate in giving "the lie with circumstance."
Nearly all the cream of this heavy week went again to two homeconsumers, as it did the year before last, when Forth's stable took the Cup and the Stakes, Kent's a majority of the remaining "good things." This time, those first-fruits being engaged, the venerable veteran had nothing for it but to fall back on the two-year-old list with Sting and Lady Cecilia, to an effect that Ham, Molecombe, and Lavant records give as all to be wished for. The last two of these effectually cleared up any yet remaining doubts on Sting's Ascot de
feat, and set him up as first favourite for the Derby confessedly without having ever (as indeed he continued to the close) been at any one time, in any one of his races, pressed or punished. With the ladies no such enviable distinction was attained; Cuckoo, Princess Alice, and Mr. Wreford's two, all beaten at times, contesting the claims of superiority with Mr. Gratwicke's mare, who retired after a close shave on the right side of the post. With two and three-year-old fillies I must e'en admit public running is an awfully tangled web to unravel, and one but rarely yielding profit to those who attempt it. The man who can take short odds on the Oaks would plan a railroad or build a theatre.
For the rest of this splendid meeting-raised, it must be said, a little too much on the plan of the boys and frogs, "what is fun to you is death to so many others"-the gentlemen conducted themselves with all proper grace; Egis mended her mishap in the race for the Chesterfield Cup, and the Merry Monarch, the winner of the Derby Stakes, being beaten by a mare who had once previous contrived to carry off a fifty pound plate, was forthwith backed for the Leger at
8 and 9 to 1!
It might be very easily imagined that Goodwood alone should always insure a decent allowance of sport at Brighton, coming off as it does within a few miles and days of the other; but gentlemen and professionals in these times are not over partial to running altogether for their own money, and if the Brightonians themselves do not care about the races, as it appears they do not, it is pretty evident that racing men, though hitherto auxious to support, will speedily regard them with equal indifference. The running here this season has only the effect of making one travel elsewhere for something more interesting, which we find at Wolverhampton, in the performances of a clipping filly, by Jereed, not in the Leger herself, but giving a strong lift to a stable companion, the Pacha. This added some spirit to the betting on a race not remarkable for too much animation (minus the Weatherbit question), which York, a meeting we may look on as once more re-established, tended considerably to increase. What the Two Thousand is to the Derby is the Great Yorkshire to the St. Leger; and Miss Sarah's victory over a field unusually strong, at any rate in actual performance, advanced her to a high place, but justly due to certainly the best "shy" then over. The second for the Derby, the second for the Oaks, the winner of the Goodwood Stakes, the winner of the Goodwood Cup, surely could not be all false; and if only tolerably true-if we could only venture to rely on it, what an eclipse it made of Red Robin! Oh, these trials! these secrets! almost enough to force one into the philosophy of the last new "authority" published, where, among other matters, we are earnestly recommended to train and try horses by clockwork. The companion stake to this, drawn out on the same judicious principle of "many a mickle makes a muckle," had also its full share of influence on the future; Malcolm, with all his high blowing, finding his way well through the dirt and clean away from a field of fourteen the market though did not seem willing to acknowledge any such insinuated negative to the Epsom hill until after Doncaster. Quantity passed off satisfactorily enough for quality in the Great Ebor Handicap, the latter