Page images

the two following days. Contemporary with it were Lancaster and Worcester and Woodford and Odibury races! The feature at the former was the evidence that progress is on its popular pilgrimageeven in mudern Elis. The experimental trial ground parallel with the colossal Dyke was energetically proceeding towards a practical result. This place des pas perdus faces the Round Course portion of the Heath. It will be somewhat over three-quarters of a mile in length, and will shut out the espionage of the genus “ tout" about as efficiently as a boiled carrot might serve to bolt the door of Newgate. Sumehow it has been started unharmoniously-fresh blood at New market breeds bad blood : between Protection and Free Trade lies the Devil's Ditch !...... The marrow of the bones which was freezing but a few days before was seething as, few and far between, we swept across the flat for the plantation adjacent to the finish of the R. C. The beat was in several cases fatal -billing a stable-boy who was “ walking” to get down his weight, and soine labourers at work in a hay-field. Before dealing with the details of the sport, it may be as well to say it had little, if any prospective influence. The ground was dangerous, and alto. gei her the occasion scarcely rated as high as the “ ternperature.” Tuesılay's list muistered four events, but one only of any accountithe July Siakes; the nominations amounted to twenty-eight, the runners to four. Of these they selected The Reiver to win, laying 7 to 2 on him, and the others friendless. The result justified the loregone conclusion, for he went in first by half-a-score of lengths. It was baruly a canter for him, and of course gave an upward tendency to his Derby quolaliun. Wednesday-another fiery ordeal-was only distinguished by the failure of the Summer Handicap essay. The disposition, becoming by gentle degrees more and more manifest, that the spirit of the good old match-days is about to revive, promises far more healthily for Newmarket than the inauguration of a wilderness of handicaps. For the Town Plate the Ring was forewarned that “ Plot'' was started merely to qualify her for the allowance for the Lancashire Oaks at Liverpool. “What's in a name?” quoiha! Surely, when it was held expedient to make allowances for beaten horses, it never was contemplated that they might enter or would be started with the premeditated view to defeat, for ihe purpose of being entitled to a privilege awarded to want of quality-bonâ fide proven? Thursday, with a fair amount of racing, was only distinguished from a bye-day by the Chesterfield two-year-old trial. A field of seven went for it, and Dagobert won—cleverly, it was said. War-whoop was the favourite-even against the field, less a point of odds.

Worcester Summer Meeting on at the same tine-camc off better ihan might have been expected. The average of the racing was below the brand for more especial notice, and dulcia oblivia must graciously attend the policy. se

On Wednesday, the 15th ult., the Liverpool July Meeting com. menced. A great deal has been said and sung about the shabby treatment which the Turf receives at the hands of the greatest port in this great nautical kingdom. Has it never occurred to the chorus of animadversionists that the course is too far from the town? Liverpool races are as germane to half-a-dozen other head-quarters as to the metropolis of the Mersey. Aintree is “no man's land" in particular, and every man's land in general. It is as accessible to Dublin as to Lord-street, in reference to convenience of approach--or rather more so. How would Chester fare if the Roodee were at Eastham ?...... The gathering this year, moreover, was very unfavourably affected by the political movement at work over the length and breadth of the land. A new fashioned Derby was on the scene--a play-or-pay match between principle and interest, with odds at stake to the extent of the national welfare, and the hustings for ground and goal....... But these are no “ muttons" of ours...... Added to the electioneering fervour, the heat of the sun was another great discourgement to the character of the fields. Few men like to run their geod horses over a surface as hot and as hard as the floor of an oven; and the sweepings of the stables are not the most attractive metal....... For these causes it will be no matter of surprise that the catalogue was an indifferent one. The first day's sport was exhibited to "a beggarly account of empty benches." There were four races, and that was all !

Thursday--the Cup anniversary-was, of course, a popular bumper. Its holiday success was complete. With reference to the especial instance of the occasion, the same cannot be said. The previous night's quotations were in this wise5 to 2 agst. Poodle (offered)

12 to 1 agst. Herbert (tk.) 5 to 1 agst. Goldfinder (tk.)

16 to 1 agst. Banshee 5 to 1 agst. Colsterdale (tk.)

20 to 1 agst. Cossack (offered) 8 to 1 agst. Lucio (offered)

5 to 2 agst. Poodle & Termagant (tk.)

Business, it is true, was far from brisk, but nevertheless there was 6 a few" done. On the course—the Queen's Plate being run for, and much time unnecessarily wasted, the eyes of the multitude turned to the board whereon it is customary to set forth the names of the dramatis personce for the next act. Obviously there was something “ up,” for your yokels yawed and growled like vex'd Bermoothes. Some of them swore, so they did, and hinted irreverent things in form of speech very far removed from metaphor...... The earliest to show was Termagant, and the industrious rushed to back her, the cue being that she was to be the animal, and not Poodle-for, behold! there was the board, but no Poodle among the promised performers. Thus it was-up went the names of the terrible cattle-up went the telegraph-and the pet of the fancy was " non est." What do you think then came to pass ? Down went the bill of the play, and Presto! there's Poodle after all. What beasts are betting men! Half an hour since they denounced the disappearance of the crackand now here they are tearing their hair, because of the grace which gathered him to the post ! Is there no gratitude in the Ring ? Has honour no place at Tattersall's? At length, in such sort as the pious Eneas reached the territories of Queen Dido, half-a-dozen coursers set themselves in array for the Liverpool Cup, “ in specie," value 200 sovs., and a Handicap Sweepstakes of 25 sovs. each, &c., &c., 106 subscribers, 44 of whom declared. The issue of the ups and

downs was that they took 6 to 4 against that precious cur Poodle --they could not help themselves—3 to 1 against Colsterdale--6 to 1 Lucio, and more if they could get it. Let it be here minded that in the course of the fore and afternoon Cossack and Herbert were what is termed " scratched.” Sad to say, the pith of the narrative is out before we come to the catastrophe. Colsterdale won, and Poodle was an indifferent fourth! Was it all a ruse, as they express sheer policy in polite circles, or a “ dodge," as the fast phrase runs? For any influence his appearance had at Aintree, in fact, the pick of the talents might as well have been a real French fancy tyke, cut out like an African lion, with a ferocious fringe (and a blue ribbon) around his neck. Suppose the whole was a trap to catch those sunbeams—the list horses? Termagant was quoted at 10 to 1: this was, we will suppose, electrified to London: what pretty debonnair picking that would have afforded the cognoscenti who were behind the scenes as to Poodle being the true Simon Pure after all! We are familiar with the word “Ruff” on the turf-“ Revoke" is a new one, but it must henceforth find place in the Olympic vocabulary. The windup on Friday was very ample, in reference to the quantity. Lord Glasgow won the Liverpool St. Leger. Nobody would have the Earl's Caracara, but they laid 5 to 4 on Mr. Stebbing's Alfred the Great, and burnt their fingers. The Great Lancashire Produce Stakes, 10 sovs. apiece, and 40 subscribers, brought out but three, and of these there was even estimate between Sister to Mountain Deer and Auld Acquaintance. The former, however, had it in hand all through, winning as she pleased by a length and a half. Now, Fortune, dont play the Crichton of British sportsmen a scurvy trick in the sere and yellow leaf of his brilliant career. See that you preserve and promote for him the speed and bottom and hale estate of the Sister to Mountain Deer, so that she be a hundred-fold better than her elder brother. Then wilt thou deserve well of our fair favour. The Knowsley Dinner Stakes Sackbut walked over for, and a Handicap Sweepstakes of 5 sovs. each, 5 subscribers, gave us a race with five; Coticular, the last in the odds, was first in the fraya winner on the post by a head. The Bentinck Testimonial Handicap, 12 nominations, one-fourth of the lot went for; 7 to 4 on Red Lion ; it was won by Retail very cleverly, and lion rouge was last ! With a Selling Stakes of 8 sovs. each, 30 added, for all ages, the meeting finished; for this five ran; 6 to 4 only against Florence ; May Blossom won by a head.

It would be ungracious to stop short, in this review, superficial thongh it be, of the Liverpool July Meeting, of an acknowledgment for the liberal and tasteful spirit displayed by the gentleman who has the care of its official arrangement. Great improveinents have been wrought in the accommodations provided for those who constitute the racing practical staff. A leaf out of Mr. Topham's book might be profitably studied by the representatives of courses of higher pretensions than that at Airtree, if they would take the trouble rightly to distil its meaning. As I have enlarged somewhat beyond my ordinary limit on the policy pursued by a distinguished turf confederacy at this meeting, I take leave to corroborate my statements by the re.

port of it furuished by a leading sporting paper .... The notice of ile running for the cup is thus prefaced.... i

A large crowd collected round the telegraph, and the weighing. room was besieged with eager inquirers afier Poodle, but nothing satisfactory transpired : accordingly, at balf past iliree, Nos. 2, Goldfinder; 3, Doubt; 6, Culsterdale; 7, Lucio; 10, Gipsy colt; and 11, Termayant were put up. The absence of Poodle's number caused no liule seusation, and the proceeding was commented on in strong terms. Several parties at once backed Termugant at 10 10 1, and it was generally believed that she would represent the stable after all, especially as she had been walking about in the inclo-ure without Poodle for some time previously. In a few minutes, however, her number was lowered, and Poodle's substituted: the Honourable Mr. Villiers, on the part of Lord Ci:fden, having complained against the announcement of the wrong numbers before Eufficient authority had been given, and which (he asserted) bad led many into error (!), inasmuch as Termagant had not been properly weighed for. The weigher, however, declared that Sharrard, as early as three o'clock, an hour before the time fixed for the race, weighed for Termagant, and declared 4lbs. over weight, a notice of wbich was posted at The ring at the time, nothing whatever then being said of the probability of his afierwards changing for Puodle. As soon as the bubble had burst, and the real intentions of the party were apparent, there was a great ruzh to get on Poodle, who accordingly rose lo 7 to 4, Goldfinder and Colsterdale leaving off at 3 to 1 each, the latier decidedly with the call. The result of the race, which was entirely between the two lasi-mentioned horses, was a floorer for the swells, whose crack' was in difficulties half a mile from home. His defeat was proclaimed and received in a manner that must have been auything but agreeable to his party.” · During this week there was racing all over the provinces; but the details, were they wor:h it, could have 110 place here. The weather was absolutely awful, aud, for British blood in its usual condition, or training, an average not much below boiling heat. Conceive the thermometer at 98 deg. of Fahrenheit in the shade, associated with a dietary compounded, as relates to liquids, ordinarily of portwine, stout, and brandy

“Hissing hot

Think of that, Master Ford ! " The cotemporary miscellaneous meetings—in themselves wholly in significant in relation to the principle and practice of racing as it is might, nevertheless, do good service were ihey permitted to point the moral of reforination in one national instance bearing upon the interesis of the turf. They furnish evidence that the Royal Plates have outlived their mission; and that to persist in besto wing them as at preseut they are awardled, is to waste funds which might be made available for more wholesome purposes. They were originally designed to promote the inprovements of our indigenous horses. That end they ceased to minister to some century and a-half ago. Then they were looked upon as auxiliaries of sport in the localities which

claimed them as heir-looms. But that day, too, is long past; and they have become, as the rule to the exception, the privilege of a few animals-for the most part in professional hands--of an average but a degree above that of sheer leather-platers. Progress is everywhere puiting its best leg foremost, and surely, of all places, it ought not to stand still in the department of the Master of the Horse. Beside the mere material advantage their more politic economy would achieve, it would serve a cause sadly in need of friends, were a disposition to improve the social status of the course manifested in quarters calculated to operate influentially in that direction. As it is, our' especial popular sport is fast assuming the character of a mighty agent of mischief, conventionally recognized fur the plunder of the many and the profit of the few.

The quiet, cuol fashion in which this Frankenstein of the ring is spoken of and dealt with-as a perfect monster, whose presence none can, or woull, gainsay-is sigularly edifying. Just about these presents mention was made in some of the sporting papers of a passage at beggar-my-neighbours, wherein the game was said to have been played by means of a certain courser, whose name was “ Lindrick." Of course “ Brutus was an honourable man;" so the representative of “ Lindrick” denounced the calumny, and logically, as well as legally, established his case by calling on the other side to prove a negative. Our business, however, is with the philosophy of ihe fact as testifying to the “humanities" of the code whereof it forms a canon. " Lindrick," being backed for the Stakes at Worcester, makes his appearance at the filling time and place, but does not go. Undoubtedly ibat was all regular, and in keeping with the modern modus. But some of those whose “withers were not unwrung" set up a shout of indignation, thus summed up by the ico spon.lent-" But the parties who would suffer most by the nonstarting of Lindrick for the Worcestershire Stakes are justly and properly served. I allude to that greedy and unprincipled class of scainps on the turf who obtain their information by thrusting themselves into the confidence of those traitors found in most, if not in all, training stables; or in default of that, seduce some bitherto innocent stable-boys to break faith with their masters, to whose interests they ought to be bound by every legal and honourable tie. This class, dishonourably possessing themselves of information through the above means, rush to the betting-lists, and Tattersall's, and the clubs, and forestalling both owner and trainer, and the honest portion of the stable, are, in seven or eight cases out of ten, always the first investors oni a fair or superior animal. The owner or his trainer may go to Hanover, or a wariner region, if they like; but should either owner or trainer bave the audacity to scratch his horse for the race for which these busy gentlemen have backed him, then all at once they class themselves with an injured and too-confiding British public, and their demoniacal howl of disappointment is forth with pathetically and magniloquently described as a burst ofunqualified disgust uttered by the whole of London and Worcester, and likely to bring down on the devoted head of the owner or trainer an expression of public indignation not easily misunderstood !'”

« PreviousContinue »