« 上一頁繼續 »
Lewes is another town now holding its races, or rather race, exactly on the same system, bat, as good sport has until very lately been shown there, it is only fair to give two or three years trial for the officials to work round. Political matters appear to have been the rock on which these races have split, and I am sorry to say this is not the only spot I could name where sport of all descriptions has suffered from its baneful influence. Again, Bedford, Lichfield, and Winchester seem at present, by the small space they occupy in races past, hardly deserving of the royal bounty ; though the first of the three has I see this season tacked three additional stakes to it, while last year one plate was the solitary accompaniment.
Notwithstanding its vicinity to Ascot, a day's sport was this year provided at Reading, and from the spirited manner in which arrangements appear to have been entered into for the future, it bids fair, after an interval of something like thirty years, to become once more a good country meeting. Abingdon also, in the same county, and always affording two pleasant days, talks of still greater things; while the adjoining city of Oxford has now suffered two seasons in succession to pass over without a race. How say you, gentlemen of the town and county, guilty or not guilty to the charge of apathetic indifference? Numbering too, amongst you, Rawlinson, most renowned breeder of, Thornhill, most renowned handicapper of, and Peyton, most renowned rider of, high-mettled racers. How say you, guilty or not guilty ? I fear the evidence is too strong, and that the charge might be brought home to all—from that old sportsman, the Lord Lieutenant, down to that knowing man, the clerk of the course.
Passing over Egham, which, minus dead horses if not dead heats, was just passable, we come to York. York races, as we read in old novels and old plays, once upon a time wont to attract such crowds of high-bred company and high-bred horses, but of late years wont to do nothing of the kind, has certainly taken a fresh lease. Three new stakes, all worth winning, and all going off with effect, though unfortunately from some cause or other the handicap had but a poor acceptance; still, by way of recompense, the field, if not large, consisted of some of the most successful horses of the year; and, on the other hand, if the two-year-olds were not regarded as exactly first class, there were plenty of them. The great race, however, was the Great Yorkshire-a striking example of the popularity of a small stake over the Grand Municipal, and some others, which require a small fortune to be put down to entitle a horse to a start; this race had the luck to make its debût with the destined winner of the race of the north amongst the field, though not as the destined winner ; it will I think, however, be admitted that he ought to have beenopinion which found many supporters immediately after the race, and which time proved to be tolerably correct. From a statement now going the rounds of the papers, I am glad to see that the committee, with Mr. Orton at their head, really mean re-establishing the races; improvements being about to be made in the course and the stand, and above all the country gentlemen, perhaps the wealthiest in England, being solicited to engage themselves actively in furthering the good cause.
Though we are always sure of two very fair days' racing at Warwick, the interest in the meeting is mainly in the handicap, which, with the now almost certainty that something may be learnt about the St. Leger, rarely fails to draw together the majority of the sporting men. Notwithstanding the number of subscribers and capital acceptance, the Leamington neither furnished a large nor a good field ; not that it was below the average, for we seldom see one or the other here. Forth, with both his mares well in, was backed at odds against the field; the terrific running, however, made by that capital and true cocktail, Greenfinch, spoilt his game by separating the young ladies. For the Guy, Gaper pursued his game of in-and-out by lowering the colours of his Abingdon conqueror, just in the same way he had previously treated Decisive; and three, as usual, showed for the cup, won by Ben-y-ghlo, but after a vast deal more work for his money than when he ran away with the Trial in the spring.
Fortunately for the races and themselves, the good people of Doncaster have within the last two or three years discovered, that trusting entirely to the St. Leger was not exactly the way to fix their harvesthome for the middle of September; and accordingly, though they may not have gone to equal lengths with Liverpool or Goodwood, by giving some money and more attention they have done much towards making a week's sport instead of a day's. In consequence of the Bessy Bedlam, Plenipo, Ludlow, and other disgraceful affairs, the St. Leger, for the last twelve or fifteen years, has been rather notorious than celebrated ; and, if it had not suffered in the number of subscribers or in the actual value of the stakes, had certainly sunk considerably in general estimation. From this system of wholesale robbery the race has been gradually recovering, but has had to struggle with another growing evil, the effect of which was perhaps still more detrimental, and of such a nature as to render it next to impossible to frame any measures for suppressing or counteracting it. I think it almost needless to add that I allude to the influence of Scott's stable over, and the monopoly which for some time it enjoyed with, the race. For four years, we know, without a break did the brothers carry it off, with the betting on them for each and all; in fact, there was not near so much doubt as to their winning, as what they would choose to win it with. Of the injury this series of victories did, let the short fields in each year bear witness; and of the injury it consequently did the town, let the continued falling off in company and interest also corroborate.
From both these evils Doncaster now appears entirely free : with regard to the first, there is no doubt that each of Scott's triumphs was fairly gained; and if, as in Coronation's case, the best horse did not invariably win, it was more to be attributed to folly on the part of his friends than foul play on the part of his foes. As to the second incubus, when Scott's chance was thought to be best-certain, in fact, he has thrown out—the overwhelming influence is no longer admitted, for the two best horses of their respective years, both winners of the Derby, both backed at odds for the St. Leger, and both in Scott's stable, have been beaten chiefly, if not entirely, from bad generalship. This is life itself to the meeting, and gentlemen will no longer deny themselves a trip to the north on the plea of a “certainty," which it will be remembered has been the case for the last three years, and all of which have tended to prove that though he may be one, Mr. Rawlinson is not the only over-cunning or over-confident man in this ever erring world. A flatter race than that for the last Leger, as far as the book or the attendance went, was never known; while in reality, the bonâ file run for it, though with an unusually small field, could not well have been better. As regards the result, there is no question that Cotherstone should have won, and had his “help,” Prizefighter, been dead, or in any other stable, there is little doubt but that he would ; the influence of the party was for once too strong even for itself, and to the mistakes that arose from it does Mr. Wrather owe his winning the last St. Leger. Still, I think that, barring Cotherstone in toto, Nutwith was decidedly the best horse in the race, and will always prove himself their superior, should he at any future period meet with the horses that ran in behind him at Doncaster.
The interest in the Yorkshire handicap, and the race for it, was quite equal to that for the Leger; and Lord Eglinton found himself still upon velvet, by winning it with Pompeyman animal who, whatever failings he may have, does not number a want of gameness amongst them. From the close finish, it was evindent that, but for the awkward running of the half-bred one at Warwick, Forth would have had a rare picking of the heavy handicap races; while the running of another half-bred one here was still more awkward-for his backers at least. No people “under the sun” are sweeter upon their horses than the Sadlers; and few, I am sorry to add, more frequently disappointed; neither Cerebus, Belissima, nor the Conqueror having realized the confidence placed in them for great events.
T'Ould Mare having at length declined cantering over for the cup, it became once more an open race-at any rate, for last year; further it would not be prudent to venture, as the form in which Alice Hawthorne won it fully entitles her to rank with the old favourite; and, had the latter still been in work we should certainly have had a race for it, though as it was nothing could have been less like one. Poor Charles XII., with a whole army of three-year-olds, were beat almost literally “out of sight;" and among others Gorhambury, who came to Doncaster for-I really cannot exactly say what ; sufficient it is that his appearance was regarded with a shade or so of suspicion, which we have too often seen hanging over the Doncaster deeds of some parties. The brace of two-year-old stakes were settled in the in and out, “now my turn, now yours,” which has marked many races of this description during the past season ; though I fancy, had she been so inclined, Colonel Anson's filly, following in the Yeoman's and Attilla's steps, might have won them both. In addition to these there was much more capital sport, and Doncaster has good grounds for entertaining hopes of still better days.
Contrary to the general opinion, another Autumn meeting was announced over the Aintree, which, from the support it received, will, I think, be the last, and no mistake; there being but one race, and that for a produce stake, with (to be precise) a hack scramble as a
finish. The judge's decree for this said stake was certainly remarkable, as it inade Aristides' performance tally to the iota with what he did the week previous at Doncaster ; but then, could a jack-ass instead of his former antoganist have caught him at that eventful moment, the result most probably would have been the same, as Aristides, unlike his namesake of old, generally refuses his services when most required.
As long as the two more valuable stakes continue to act as the wind-up to the season, nothing but a flat week can be expected for the first October, although in the last there were many races highly interesting to the few who were “there to see.” For the Duke Michael Lord Exeter at length got a turn, and something by way of return from the blood of old Lucetta ; no small credit however, is due to Sam Mann for the very tender style in which he handled a very tender piece of goods. Colonel Peel having declined interfering with the two-year-old stakes we had larger, if not better, tields for both, but without the result of either causing any change of importance with reference to the Derby. Antler has certainly given signs of his having the making of a smartish nay about him, but the careless manner in which his nomination was sent in, has deprived him of all hopes for Epsom; one would have thought that after the memorable Bloomsbury trial men would have become over-particular in all cases where the pa!ernal honours were divided. For the St. Leger and the plate that followed it, Gaper pursued the tenor of his way, and made his retiring bow for the season strictly in character; liis forte nearly all along appears to have been losing when backed, and winning when taken Icast notice of-witness, Epsom, Ascot, Stockbridge, Winchester, Abingdon, Liverpool Alituinn, and Newmarket.
Since the establishment of the two large handicaps, with the liberal addenıla furnished thein by the powers at hoine and abroad, the most complete success has marked the closing meetings, to which they give such a brilliancy. From the first they have invariably brought together large fields, figured in the market as heavy betting races, and the finish, in almost every instance, has conveyed, as well as much pleasure to the spectators, a feeling doubly gratifying to the handicapper. Never was a greater surprise than when Coranna was announced as the winuer of the Cesarewitch; Clarion's victory for the same race was something like it, but not near so astonishing. In the later in. stance the animal was trained on the spot, and had icen out there in public but a fortnight previous, when he ran very badly; there was, however, not the slightest ground for presuming that his first October performance was the effect of, what is now by courtesy called, clever management, as his own party did not pocket a sovereign by the event over and above the actual stake; and next to winning it their wonder is how they came to start him for it. For tlıc three first years the Irish threw in for either Cesarewitch or Cambridge. shire; while these grand affairs, whatever good they miglit have done the town in general, favoured no particular party resident therein : last year the natives of the emerald isle were disappointed, and the natives of the place made an opening with Ralplı, which we see they
this season followed up; though, from the unexpected agent that accomplished it, little more than the bonour of the thing remained at home. The way in which Cotherstone won his race, and the way
in which Voltri lost his, gave additional proofs that even the Scott's at times may or will make mistakes : a greater imposter than this said Voltri never was saddled, and yet, thanks to the swallow of some, 10 to 1 has been his price for the Derby! Another mistake during this meeting was laid to Mr. Goodman's account-still more serious in its consequences could it have been proved; and, considering the amount of evidence brought to support it, most ridiculous and injudicious as it could not. The running of the two-year-olds on the whole was anything but good; and the public, one and all, appeared willing to wait a little longer for something better.
It would not have been necessary to separate the three October meetings but for the appearance of the winner of the St. Leger at Richinond, where he by no means increased the amount of glory be had acquireıl at Doncaster; still he ran a very fair race, and, as he always has, a very game horse, with Alice Hawthorne for the cup; in fact, it was but little inferior to any of his previous performances. For the two and three-year-old stake, suiting him in no respect, he should not have been started; but, as I have already observed, with the winners of Derby, Oaks, or St. Leger, as with Napoleon, the word impossible bas seldom sufficient weight.
The Houghton meeting was a capital wind-up to a capital season; the race of the week-the Cambridgeshire, was a much closer thing than that for the Cesarewitch; and again, to the delight of the regulars, won by an outsider;, though there is not the shadow of a doubt but that Coranna would, had it not been for bad directions, coupled with almost as indifferent jockeyship, liave also been hailed as the victor in this; which, notwithstanding his defeat, must unquestionably be regarded as his best performance, and ranks him high amongst those of his year as a good and extraordinary animal; the worst of it is, all the world now knows this as well as his friends, and of course he can never again have such a chance. Had John Day thought proper to send his crack for the Criterion, it would have been one of the most interesting events of the whole year, and, by the way men began soon after Goodwood, promised some awfully heavy betting between the pair; but as John, to the chagrin of many, did not think proper, he stripped the race of nearly all its attraction, and people came more to see how Rattan would win it, than with any great idea that he could fail to do so. It is needless to say that his performance was all that could be wished, and once more Newmarket numbered the first favourite for the Derby amongst her chosen steeds ; Stockbridge certainly sent something by way of apology, but took, I should say, very little by the motion, as far as taking the length of the winner went.
The finish for the Nursery did not disgrace any set-to of late years for that stake, and though not finishing with a dead heat, as is usually the case, was the very next thing to it. The race does not call for any further remark, neither shall I notice any other individually, merely