Page images

bounty of their predecessors, but adding several plates to the former donations. Queen Anne's consort, Prince George of Denmark, kept a fine stud, and the Curwen Bay Barb, and the celebrated Darley Arabian, appeared in this reign. The queen also added several plates. George I. was no racer, but he discontinued silver plate as prizes, and instituted the King's Plates, as they have been since termed, being one hundred guineas, paid in cash. George II. cared as little for racing as his father, but to encourage the breed of horses, as well as to suppress low gambling, he made some good regulations for the suppression of pony races, and running for any sum under 501. In his reign the Godolphin Arabian appeared, the founder of our best blood—the property of the then Earl of Godolphin.* George III., though not much a lover of the turf, gave it some encouragement as a national pastime; in the fourth year of his reign, however, Eclipse was foaled, and from that period may English racing be dated!

George IV. outstripped all his royal predecessors on the turf, in the ardour of his pursuit of it, and the magnificence of his racing establishment. Indeed, the epithet. delighting in horses,'— applied by Pindar to Hiero,-might be applied to him, for no man could have been fonder of them than he was, and his judgment in everything relating to them was considered excellent. He was the breeder of several first-rate race-horses, amongst which was Whiskey, the sire of Eleanor, the only winner of the Derby and Oaks great stakes, &c. &c. Our present gracious monarchbred upon

another element—has no taste for this sport; but continued it for a short time after his brother's death to run out his engagements, and also with a view of not throwing a damp over a pastime of such high interest to his subjects. It was at one time given out, that his Majesty had consented to keep his horses in training, provided he did not lose more than 4000l. per annum by them, but such has not been the case. A royal stud, however, still exists at Hampton Court, and the following celebrated horses and mares are now there,-namely, an Arab, given to George IV. by (cheu!) the late Sir John Malcolm ; the Colonel, Waterloo, Tranby, and Ranter, as stallions; Maria, Posthuma, Fleur-de-Lis, besides several other mares, some with foals to his own horses, and some to Sultan, Æmilius, Camel, Priam, and others, the best

* The reigns of King William, Queen Anne, and George I. and 11., are remarkable in the annals of the turf, as having been the days of the noted Tregonwell Frampton, Esq., a gentleman of family and fortune in the West of England, Master of the Horse during all the above-mentioned reigns; who had a house at Newmarket; was a heavy better, and, if not belied, a great rogue. The horrible charge against him, however, respecting his qualifying his horse, Dragon, for the race, by a violent outrage upon humanity, and alluded to by Dr. Hawksworth in the ` Elysium of Beasts,' is supposed to be unfounded.


horses of the day. If we may judge from the last two sales of the yearlings-eighteen bringing within a trifle of 40001.-his Majesty may find breeding not a losing game; and it is worthy of remark, that in his stud, a regard is paid to what is termed stout blood. For example, Waterloo is out of a Trumpator, the Colonel a Delpini, Tranby* an Orville, and Ranter a Beningbrough mare. Some amusing anecdotes are on record touching the rather incongruous association of our sailor-king with the turf, one of which we will venture to repeat. Previously to the first appearance of the royal stud in the name of William IV., the trainer had an audience of his Majesty, and humbly requested to be informed what horses it was the royal pleasure should be sent down? Send the whole squad, said the king ; some of them, I suppose, will win.'+

Previously to 1753, there were only two meetings in the year at Newmarketf for the purpose of running horses, one in the spring, and another in October. At present there are seven, distinguished by the following terms :-- The Craven, in compliment to the late Earl Craven, commencing on Easter Monday, and instituted in 1771. The First Spring, on the Monday fortnight following; the Second Spring, a fortnight after that, and instituted 1753. The July, commonly early in that month, instituted 1753. The First October, on the first Monday in that month; the Second October, on the Monday fortnight following, instituted 1762; and the Third October, or Houghton, a fortnight afterwards, instituted 1770. With the last-mentioned meeting, which, weather permitting, generally lasts a week, and at which there is a great deal of racing, the sports of the turf close for the year, with the exception of Tarporley, a very old hunt-meeting in Cheshire, now nearly abandoned ; and a Worcester autumn meeting, chiefly for hunters and horses of the farmers within the hunt.

At Newmarket, though there were formerly six and eight mile races, there are now not more than four over the Beacon Course, or B. C. as it is called, which is four miles, in all the seven meetings. This is an improvement, not only on the score of humanity, but as far as regards sport, for horses seldom come in near to each other, after having run that course. Indeed, so much is the system of a four-mile heat disliked, that, when it does occur, the horses often walk the first two, It, indeed, sometimes happens otherwise, as in the case of Chateau-Margaux and Mortgage, in one of the meetings in 1826 ; but all who remember the struggle þetween those two noble animals the very best of their kind, perhaps never exceeded in stoutness—and the state in which they appeared at the conclusion, can only think of it with disgust, Chateau's dead heat with Lamplighter was something like a repetition of the scene; but, to the honour of their owners, they were not suffered to run another, and the plate was divided between them.

* Tranby, it will be recollected, performed the hitherto unrivalled feat of carrying Mr. Osbaldeston sixteen miles in thirty-three minutes and twenty-five seconds, in his wonderful match against time over Newmarket course last October twelvemonths.

# It is proper to remark, that the withdrawing the royal stud was compensated, by additional King's Plates, and by his Majesty's present to the Jockey Club of the splendid challenge-prize-the Eclipse Foot, now in Lord Chesterfield's keeping.

Although other places claim precedence over Newmarket as the early scenes of public horse-racing, it is nevertheless the metropolis of the turf, and the only place in this island where there are more than two race meetings in the year. It does not appear that races took place there previously to Charles II.'s time; but Simou d'Èwes, in his Journal, speaks of a horse-race near Linton, Cambridgeshire, in the reiga of James I., at which town most of the company slept on the night of the race.

meetings. * Great improvements have from time to time been effected on Newmarket heath, but particularly within the last twenty years, by the exertions of the Duke of Portland and Lord Lowther. These have been chiefly accomplished by manuring, sheepfolding, and paring and burning, by which means a better sort of covering to the surface has been procured, and likewise by destroying the tracts of old roads, parti. cularly on that part called the Flat, which is undoubtedly the best racing ground in the world.

The Currah of Kildare is said to be in some respects its equal, but nothing can be superior to Newmarket heath as a race-course. The nightly workings of the earth-worms keep it in that state of elasticity favourable to the action of the race-horse, and it is never known to be hard, although occasionally deep. But the great superiority of this ground consists in the variety of its courses, eighteen in number-adapted to every variety in age, weight, or qualifications of the horses, and hence of vast importance in match-making. Almost every race-horse has a marked peculiarity in his running. A stout horse ends his race to advantage up hill; a speedy jade down hill; another goes best over a flat, whilst there are a few that have no choice of ground—and some whom none will suit. The Newmarket judge's box being on wheels, it is moved from one winning post to another, as the races are fixed to end, which is the case nowhere but at New, market.*

The office of judge at Newmarket varies from that of others filling similar situations. He neither sees the jockeys weighed out or in, as the term is, neither is he required to take notice of them or their horses, in the race. He judges, and proclaims the winner by the colour—that of every jockey who rides being handed to him before starting. Indeed, the horses are seldom seen by him until the race begins, as they generally proceed from their stables to the saddling-house by a circuitous rout. The best possible regulations are adopted for the proper preservation of the ground the leg.

during the running, and we know of nothing to be found fault with, unless it be the horsemen being allowed to follow the racehorses up the course, which injures the ground when it is wet, It is true, a very heavy iron roller is employed upon it every evening in the meetings, but this cannot always be effective.

The racing ground on the heath has been the property of the Jockey Club since the year 1753. A great advantage is gained here by giving the power of preventing obnoxious persons coming upon it during the meetings, and it would be well if that power were oftener exerted. Betting posts are placed on various parts of the heath, at some one of which the sportsmen assemble immediately after each race, to make their bets on the one that is to follow. As not more than half an hour elapses between the events, the scene is of the most animated description, and a stranger would imagine that all the tongues of Babel were let loose again, Nρ country under the heavens, however, produces such a scene as this, and he would feel a difficulty in reconciling the proceedings of those gentlemen of the betting-ring with the accounts he might read the next morning in the newspapers of the distressed state of England. What do you bet on this race, my lord ?' says a vulgar-looking man, on a shabby hack, with a shocking bad hat, "I want to back the field,' says my lord. So do I,' says • I'll bet 500 to 200 you don't name the winner,' cries my lord, • I'll take six,' exclains the leg. “I'll bet it you,' roars my lord. I'll double it,' bellows the leg, Done,' shouts the peer, Treble it?' 'No.' The bet is entered, and so much for wanting to back the field ; but in love, war, and horse-racing, stratagem, we believe, is allowed. Scores of such scenes as this take place in those momentous half hours. All bets lost at Newmarket are paid the following morning, in the town, and 50,0001., or more, have been known to exchange hands in one day,

The principal feature in Newmarket is the New Rooms for the use of the noblemen and gentlemen of the Jockey Club, and others who are members of the Rooms only, situated in the centre of the town, and affording every convenience. Each memb

Each member pays thirty guineas on his entrance, and six guineas annually, if he attends -otherwise nothing. The number at present is fifty-seven ;two black balls exclude.

On entering the town from the London side, the first object of attraction is the house long occupied by the late Duke of Queensberry, but at present in a disgraceful state of decay. Kingston House' is now used as a 'hell' (sic transit gloria!); and the palace, the joint-work of so many royal architects, is partly occupied by a training groom and partly by his Grace of Rutland, whose festivities at Cheveley, during the race meetings, have very wisely


[ocr errors]

been abridged. The Earl of Chesterfield has a house just on entering the town, and the Marquis of Exeter a most convenient one with excellent stabling attached. The Duke of Richmond, Mr. Christopher Wilson, father of the turf, and several other eminent sportsmen, are also domiciled at Newmarket during the meetings. But the lion of the place will be the princely mansion now erecting for Mr. Crockford, of ultra-sporting notoriety. The pleasaunce of this insula consists of sixty acres, already inclosed by Mr. Crockford, within a high stone wall. The houses of the Chifneys are also stylish things. That of Samuel, the renowned jockey, is upon a large scale, and very handsomely furnished—the Duke of Cleveland occupying apartments in it during the meetings. That of William Chifney, the trainer, is still larger, and, when finished, will be perhaps, barring Crockford's, the best house in Newmarket. Near to the town is the stud farm of Lord Lowther, where Partisan, and a large number of brood mares, are kept—the latter working daily on the farm, which is said to be advantageous to them. Within a few miles we have Lower Hare Park, the seat of Sir Mark Wood, with Upper Hare Park, General Grosvenor's, &c. &c. The stables of Newmarket are not altogether so good as we should expect to find them. Of the public ones, perhaps those of Robinson, Edwards, Stephenson, and Webb's (now Mr. Crockford's), are the best.

That noble gift of Providence, the horse, has not been bestowed upon mankind without conditions. The first demand upon us is to treat him well ; but, to avail ourselves of his full powers and capacity, we must take him out of the hands of nature, and place him in those of art; and no one can look into old works published on this subject, without being surprised with the change that has taken place in the system of training the race-horse. The • Gentleman's Recreation, published nearly a century and a half back, must draw a smile from the modern trainer, when he reads of the quackery to which the race-horse was then subject-a pint of good sack having been one of his daily doses. Again, the

British Sportsman,' by one Squire Osbaldiston, of days long since gone by, gravely informs its readers that one month is necessary to prepare horse for a race ; but if he be very fat or foul, or taken from grass,' he might require two. This wiseacre has also his juleps and syrups enough to make a horse sick'indeed—finishing with the whites of eggs and wine, internally administered, and chafing the legs of his courser with train oil and brandy. On the other hand, if these worthies could be brought to life again, it would astonish them to hear, that twelve months are now considered requisite to bring a race-horse quite at the top of his mark to the post. The objects of the training-groom can only be accomplished by


[ocr errors]


« PreviousContinue »