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The First Spring Meeting, if not absolutely the most interesting of the whole seven celebrated on Newmarket Heath, has no parallel, except it be the Second October. The great vernal week opened on its last anniversary with an almost unprecedented amount of sport. No portion of it, however, went to witness any peculiar claims the three-year-old stock, which it brought out, had upon the public estimation. The chief issue, of course, was the race for the Two Thousand. Nothing was listened to in the ring but the certainty it was for Tom Tulloch, Iago, his stable companion, being drawn in despair, and the party growling out their anathemas that the secret of his flying had transpired, and they could not get more on him at 7 to 4-that he won. The day was a beautiful one, but so was not the face with which Bill Scott mounted Tibthorpe (subsequently Sir Tatton Sykes) for the great event--neither those of the Tullochs, when the crack was beaten easily in a bad run race.
After it was over, Tibthorpe was examined as to his years, which turned out to be right; though beyond all doubt he was the most ancient-looking colt I ever saw. The great Filly Stakes Mendicant won, but by no means brilliantly, nor indicative of the glory she was destined to achieve. For the Newmarket Stakes we saw out the future winner of the Derby. Pyrrhus the First, however, only succeeded in vanquishing Iago, after a hard tussle; notwithstanding which, thereupon his stable went into the market resolutely, and backed him for a good stake at Epsom. There might, it is true, have been more in his victory than met the eye; but I doubt it. Of the manoeuvring on the Two Thousand I have said nothing; it only proved there was something rotten in the state of the nominations. Of the varieties of the meeting, I have been silent per force, for they were legion. Had I began with Squire Osbaldesion, a gentleman who walks about, weighing some 1lst., riding his mare Sorella, for the Queen's Plate, going to scale under 8st. 3lb.--where should I have ended? You could not avoid remarking the obvious falling off-I do not apply the phrase regretfully-in the fashion of the betting during this meeting. There was nothing resembling the off-hand speculation for which the ring at Newmarket once enjoyed a bad pre-eminence. People had
grown cautious, on the principle that "a burnt child dreads the fire; and what fingers, employed in book-making, have escaped a scorching during the last half-dozen years ?....
Chester races seemed at one time threatened with the loss of that holiday character for which, in days of yore, they were wont to be celebrated. They revived, however, in the past season, manifestlymay they so go on, and prosper! The feature at this meeting is the Trades' Handicap, one of the earliest heavy-betting races of the year. It fully bore out my view of selecting, as a principle, leading favourites for such cvents. Two of the fag-end, or thereabouts, in the market, were Nos. 1 and 2 at the finish ; that is to say, Coranna, the winner, was laid against eagerly at 50 to l; and St. George, that rar second, at double those odds. A vast field of horses was backed for it, and some thirty came to the post. Of course, there was a row, as usual. Some declared that “ Ilope told a flattering tale;' but is not that what hope generally does ? Next to the cup, as a public race, is the Dee Stakes. It brought eleven to the post, including seven Derby
nominations. The winner was Fancy Boy, an animal that subsequently occupied a prominent place for the Derby: his performance on the Roodee was certainly quite as good as anything done by the three-year-olds of the season, up to that time. Newmarket Second Spring Meeting falls, in relation to the racing season, like a minor passage in music between two sparkling major movements. Still, it was this year of a far higher scale than its late anniversaries. Like too many other meetings, the Suffolk Stakes gave it its greatest éclat. That is to say, in the estimate of the ring. As a racing achievement, it was poor indeed : a dozen went for it, and A-la-mode won easily, where-for Humdrum went up in the Derby betting, but wherefore it would be hard to decide. The once-important Rowley Mile plate was won by Cantley; but that was all the good it did him or his party-nobody fancied him for “Surrey or its field.” The result of this, however, the last of the spring weeks at Newmarket, was to indicate that the Second Spring Meeting may count on a long reign, if not a merry one.
It is rarely a season advances so far without its “coming event being more foreshadowed. The Derby was still as practically dark as I almost ever remember it—in a good year; for as to the betting, so far it was all moonshine. No three-year-old with any claim to the character of first-rate had been out; and rumours were already more than rife as to the status of the crack two-year-old of '45. Indeed, the aspect of Tattersall's partook of that already spoken of as pervading the ring at Newmarket. The jaunty style of doing business had given way to a more sober fashion. Young men no longer opened their mouths as if they had gold mines in their midriffs, nor were there old ones ready to gorge their offers of thousands, with the prospect of a compromise of £00s. 01d. in the pound.
Edinburgh and Eglinton Park are both a long way off. Neither, in legitimate racing, was of much intrinsic value. The latter had an abstract interest about it, because it was understood to be the last of its race that should be seen, at least for a season. Shrewsbury came out better than we are accustomed to see it. Many of the principal provincial stables patronized it with considerable spirit, and it served as an arena for many of the competitors of the Roodee to have another "shy.” For those who are curious in the glorious uncertainties of the turf, Shrewsbury was rife with matter of interest. Dulcet, one of the best four-year-olds of the latter part of the year, here received two stone and a beating from the Pride of Kildare. Thus, by deductions from which wisdom ought to have been reaped, the occasion grew ripe which was to place the great southern issue upon trial of its merits. Rumour, of course, was busy with those popular breaths which so often whisper away men's brains. The grimmest “tout” found some“ green spot” whereon to sow and reap the harvest of his cunning;....and thus, in the appropriate livery of spring-all smiles and tears—the mighty Derby made its entrée. The last meeting at Epsom was indeed a gallant one.
The metropolitan races were never put on the scene in anything like fitting keeping, or with appropriate properties, till the present year. The clerk of the course and lessec of the grand stand proved himself in every way an efficient representative of two such important offices, in
reference to the prosperity and popularity of a race-meeting. Mr. Henry Dorling has done and is doing more to promote the legitimate objects of our great national sport than any one who ever preceded him in a similar official career. Nothing ever approached the perfection of the arrangements. The alterations in the grand stand had transformed it into a courtly pavilion, provided with boudoirs for the fair, and such facilities for the brave-at jousting with fortune—that a man could be “done for” without almost crossing its threshold. The ring was formed on the terrace, and the saddling in front of it; and, in fact, all the necessary ingredients for ministering to enterprise and spirit were provided that ever entered into the catalogue of the completest ruination shop in the civilized world. The all-absorbing event, the Derby, went through its ordinary phases as the day of its destiny approached. Fancy Boy was the favourite at starting-to say no worse of him a remarkably unfortunate horse all through for his backers. Sting, the young invincible
, made his appearance at the post in a perilous plight. He looked as if he had just been drawn backwards through a thorn-hedge; his coat stood erect like that of a frightful porcupine. Sir Tatlon Sykes was brought on very theatrically; the others more or less artistically; the ensemble, as they cantered up the course to start, a panorama of peerless interest! It is the general opinion that Scott threw away the race-it is not mine. Sir Tatton's running with Iago for the Leger was far from a brilliant performance: it was good, and no more-nothing to entitle a horse to be backed for the two greatest stakes of his year. He was said to be “hard to ride”- his heart was none of the best; that was the solution of the difficulty. That want of honesty it was that gave Iago the victory over him at Newmarket. However, the Derby of 1846, like so many of its predecessors, went to prove that the market averages were for the most part all drawn from mistaken premises. The Oaks furnished a moral on the maxim, that “the race is not always to the swift.” Mendicant pulled through by the sheer dint of game. To the eye she was anything but a filly to pin your faith on over such a hill as that crossed by the Oaks course. These two great issues were won by Mr. Gully-his horse, Pyrrhus the First, and his mare, Mendicant, being trained by John Day, jun., at Danebury. It was a glorious achievement for the stable, and not the less cheering for the family, as it completely restored John Day, sen., who for some time previously had been in a very declining state. It cured him as if by magic; never was such a prescription as “the Derby and Oaks” for rescuing a patient from the jaws of death......
According to proverbial authority, * after a storm comes a calm,” and so it was with turf affairs. The meeting on the moor adjacent to Manchester is not yet, at all events, a matter of much racing account. The course is about the worst in the world, which may in somewise furnish a reason for it. Moreover, it—the meeting-exists upon the proceeds of its immediate industry: it lives from hand to mouth, on the revenue screwed out of the occasion. None of the races call for any especial notice, except the Hurdle-race, from its bad pre-eminence. 'It is astonishing that stewards are to be found countenancing such deadly exhibitions at a season of the year
when the probability is the ground will be as hard as a hearthstone. One
of the unfortunates who rode in that suicidal contest was killed outright, after many a hair-breadth escape in more legitimate fields.
It is no reason, because this observation was made at the time, it should not be here repeated. This reminiscence is, in some wise, a refaciamento, and on no subject can the managers of races be more conveniently refreshed than on the dangerous practice of hurdlechasing: an exhibition only fit to wind up the sport at a bull-bait. I see no cause to alter my opinion of the character of Ascot Races. The Queen and Her Royal Consort were prevented giving them their usual courtly éclat, and the intense heat of the weather was a great drawback on a fête, subjecting the company to something very like a premature taste of returning to the dust from whence they all came, high and low-however uncourtly the moral. I wish, as I have before remarked, the Jeremiad might end there; but I am bound to express my anxiety at the decay of a feature, once the comliest of this great holiday tryst. A dozen years ago the ground on the Cup-day, for a good half mile above and below the centre of attraction, the Royal and Grand Stands, was a promenade, of which probably the world never saw an epitome elsewhere. I lament such it was not on its last anniversary. The gala character of the turf received its first heavy blow and great discouragement at Goodwood. There nobody that was anybody ever ventured beyond the precints of The Stand: there it is still that “divinity doth hedge” itself-that fashion enshrines its minions from vulgar contact! Alas! for the boon old popular pastime, should ever this system of centralization be consummated; should exclusiveness ever burke good fellowship between the sons of this land, of whatever heritage !
Here Iago put money in his gallant owner's purse, and Grimston, the Queen's Vase, not precisely according to the axiom “sweets to the sweet.” Here and there the running was singularly in and out, as in the cases of the Ascot Derby, won by the brother to Valentissimo, and the Royal Hunt Cup, by Leaconsfield. Alarm won the Emperor of Russia's Cup in a very racing-like form, of which it came to pass that subsequently those who booked him burnt their fingers. Slander, one of the leaders of the Two-Year-Old party, had nothing to do to carry off the New Stakes; but for all these easy victories the ground left its reminiscences that would be served hereafter.
Hampton races no one ever goes to with a view to the racing : Moulsey Hurst is the great popular resort of such pleasure-seekers as make the course their pretence for a holiday al fresco, no more. As a place of wholesome recreation it deserves support—but on no other. It is conducted with a grasping griping spirit-or rather the want of it-most ungrateful in its influence. The heat on the last anniversary was the most intense I ever remember to have felt here, or any where else-it was positively terrific.
We now enter upon that division of the racing year which has for our observance not only the good things in esse but those in posse : we have not only the three-year-olds for our pastime, but the twoyear-olds “for our learning.” The south country meeting at Bibury and
Stockbridge is the contemporary and rival of that at Newcastleon-Tyne in the north. The consequence is, that both suffer-in the way of business. There is not materiel extant for two rings; and what is racing without betting, now? A body without a spirit. In the north there was a good deal of fun for those who hold by the maxim, “The more mischief the better sport !" For the Derby, there, the two champions in its great namesake of the south met, to settle the question of their quality. The result was, Sir Tatton Sykes tumbled about, and so did Fancy Boy-and Dolo triumphed. The less said of Bibury the better, as an exhibition of legitimate racing; it was, as La Bruyere once said of a newspaper for which he entertained little goodwill, "immediatement au dessus de rien." Newmarket July Meeting the middle week, as the natives call it-may be looked upon as the first drawing-room of the season for presentations. The July Stakes served for a début, not without some éclat. In the instance we have to deal with, the weather having taken a temporary change for the worse, damaged the pageant, and one animal having engrossed all the speculation, business was crippled. Half a score went, but they laid 7 to 4 on one of John Day's “ lot,” hight Cossack, and named nothing else. So paralyzing was the betting, that not a stable would back its own inmates for a farthing. The “crack," however, was beaten before one-half of the distance was run, and Miami won with ease. Either this Cossack was under his Danebury form considerably, or he don't like a public performance-for one can't suppose it any error of judgment.' Honest John is celebrated for his trials “and no mistake." The Chesterfield—the other twoyear-old stake-gave us a fine spirt for the half-mile. It was won by Nerissa, by a neck, the 9lb. penalty beating Miami: this latter filly ought not to be lost sight of. Liverpool July Races—alas ! that I should have to write it!--sadly lack both the sinews of war and peacemoney. They are, indeed, right energetically upheld by a few individuals; but until fostered by public countenance and support, they cannot hope for the position they ought to occupy in reference to a great national sport. There is no spot in the world better suited for a turf rendezvous than Liverpool. It is central for all the divisions of England; as well as for Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. Let them only find cash, and the cavalry will find themselves. Here, as almost universally during the year, the wickedness of backing animals at small odds for great handicaps was shown—as if through Lord Ross's telescope. They took 6 to 4 eagerly that Mendicant won the Cup, and she was not within a quarter of a mile of it. Here the great creature of the winter speculation was destined to make his first appearance, in the person of Van Tromp, the winner of the Mersey Stakes. The performance was a moderate one, but “he kept the word of promise to the hope” of those who then and there backed him for the Derby. If there be an earthly paradise, it is Tattersall's, to the man who goes " down” with the certainty of hedging himself upon velvet. It's worth fifty settling days, with a stiff balance on the creditor side of your book. Van Tromp, as it will be seen, subsequently did better, and his two-year-old form was the best we have seen out. That be is an animal to train on, I do not believe: horses, indeed, run in all shapes and of all sizes; but these are the exceptions, not the rules. Tom Tulloch gave us another sample of his quality for the St. Leger here. He really seemed to do his dévoir. "What could they have taken his measure with ?