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Newmarket, and where the details of racing are similarly carried out, the “Tight Little Island” will continue to be the Elis of modern times. The slaughter committed among the black sheep of the turf during the two or three preceding seasons left the flock which fattens on it a tolerably fair average-for such cattle. The accessions of new blood are considerable. Several new names of condition appeared to the nominations published in the “Spring Calendar," which came forth as lusty and boon as an alderman; and, in short, the whole thing was put on the scene couleur de rose. And then, what a winter there had been for the stables! Horses, they assured you, were as fit to run at Christmas, as they ordinarily are at Easter; while their name was “ legion.” Thus it fared with the promise of our Olympics, when, that the saying might be fulfilled—“it never rains but it pours," people read the announcement of a new meeting at Epsom, with a handicap called “ The Metropolitan Stakes,” to which the licensed victuallers of London gave a bonus of £300, or three times the amount of a royal plate! Moreover, that there might be nothing lost for the wont of éclat, all these good things were duly proclaimed in the sporting papers, with a flourish of trumpets, of which those only can form an idea who have heard the Herr Kænig execute the “ Post Horn Galope" on a seven-feet tin tube. Whether it did indeed keep the promise to the hope, as aforesaid, will be gathered from the sequel. Many men have many minds on the philosophy of horseracing, as well as on graver matters. That the turf is less remarkable for graceful passages in equestrianism than it was wont, I fear must be admitted. The prevailing taste for handicap races is inimical to the production of first-rate jockeys. It takes time, as well as many another requisite, to perfect such artists as Robinson, Chifney, and Scott. Your handicap don't mount 8st. 7lbs. a dozen times in a season, in any stable in Great Britain. How many handicaps has Robinson ever ridden in his life? Neither do the lads put forward for the light weights in these contests, often achieve anything beyond mediocrity in their profession. These races are mere “devil-takethe-hindmost” affairs. Indeed, the crowd common to them would render of little avail fine points of horsemanship. Riding “with” or “to” your adversaries is out of the question, when the vital issue is to find a break in the phalanx to enable you to make any running for yourself. The handicap is essentially of the coarse school, as regards turf knowledge: more gladiatorial than scientific or subtle
“ Plus Marti quam Mercurio”.. The racing year commences properly with the Coventry meeting. This year they had indeed a stake over the course at Liverpool, as early as the 4th of March, which a three-year-old hight, the Premier won; but though a Derby nag, his popularity in the ring was but very ephemeral. The doings at the old city of Godiva were of no account; but Warwick Spring afforded fair sport—"considering" ....On the estimate of Burlesque's performances, they got Sweetmeat up for the Chester Cup, to establish-0! that men would take counsel of experience !--the folly, in limine, of making pets for handicaps. At Northampton, immediately after, by way of comment, Discord, backed for the Trial Stakes at 5 to 1 on him, succumbed to weight as what will not from gros de Naples to granite? The favourite too, for the crack handicap was nowhere. Passing Croxton Park as too unprofessional for our purpose, we arrive at Epsom Spring Meeting. Here, for the first time, the public had an opportunity of forming an acquaintance with the great improvements in progress for the future éclat of the metropolitan races, by the spirited new lessee of the Grand Stand-Mr. Henry Dorling. The stand itself was being almost wholly remodelled and decorated both inside and out, while a new Derby Course, which should enable the spectators to see every move of that breath-suspending contest, was presented to their admiration. The removal of the ring to the lawn in front of the stand gave universal satisfaction, though a set of grumblers tried to bring ill-odour on it. The judge's chair, too, had been brought to the whip-hand, so as to enable that functionary to catch the horses as they rounded Tattenham Corner, and such a plan of centralization was carried out as completed the ensemble of perfection. The Downs, too, had been put in order, and the meeting gave us as good a day's pastime as could be wished for. Of course the feature was “The Great Metropolitan Stukes” handicap, worth net £825. Nine-and-lwenty horses started, and the winner was Chamois, out of Treen's stable, carrying, as a five-year-old, 5st. 7lbs., thereby holding out an inducement to turf philosophy to endure for a long time-hopefully. Mr. Hibburd, as starter, did much to add éclat to the business part of the affair; and Mr. Clark, in the ermine, was as eminent as he always is. Next season it is probable the bonus added to the Great Metropolitan Stakes will amount to £500. Who shall say your Boniface is not the true Amphitryon after that? Of Hampton Spring Meeting the less that's said the better. Things are conducted with a vulgarity too scarlet for the most bitter cockney. At Epsom the Grand Štand was thrown open gratis ; at Moulsey Hurst, they charged you half-acrown for sitting in your own horse and chaise on the ground, as Paddy might say:
We will now adjourn to the Craven Meeting at Newmarket, where some of us arrived rather by good luck than good guidance. As a judgment upon Sunday travelling, the special train put on for the Sabbath-day wayfarers was capsized, and great was the fall thereof .... It began without either a Craven or a Riddlesworth; nevertheless, it was far from an indifferent anniversary. The sport on Monday was tolerable, and no more. The race for the 51 sovs. sweepstakes, in which Free Lance beat Joy, had a bad effect, naturally, on Sting's popularity, though some there were who said it was too fine-drawn a conclusion. Tuesday was very brilliant, with its sunshine and handicap, as well as its peculiar Riddlesworth. For the former (not the sunshine, but the handicap) a field of five-andtwenty ran, and ended in the total overthrow of the “crack’s” men, for it was won by Kesheng, an animal never named, I think, in the betting. My Lord Exeter was fortunate enough to carry off the Tuesday's Riddlesworth, with his Galata colt-no man better deserves a slice of luck; but latterly he gets one very rarely, and then it's very thin. Wednesday introduced to public canvass the form of Iago“Honest Iago," as he subsequently proved himself. He won two remunerating races, a 200 sovs. sweepstakes, beating the winner of the Riddlesworth-and the Column, and the history of many a Derby
nag was already published. Thursday, however, was the occasion of most work; it was the scene of the Tom Tulloch movement, when the animal, whilom at 66 to 1, found backers, greedy as gudgeons, to back him at 11 to 2. When your stable-hope jumps from any odds ai all to about first favourite for the Derby, it is not an excuse for a man's drinking ten bottles of port and standing on his head on the table. I have heard of such things being done. Binnacle, they said, was the best of the three-year-olds that showed. Alarm won the Claret, beating Pickpocket alias Ould Ireland; Jericho, after a slashing set-to, beating Old England on the post. Idas ran, but the distance left him no chance. Without saying much of Catterick Bridge, save that it was an improvement on its predecessors, and brought out a few Derby_nags of no worth—or touching at all such small deer as Darham, Burton Constable, and the like, we proceed to the Bath Meeting. The sport here of late years has been rapidly -rising, I was going to say, but that would be impossible, unle it was transferred to the summit of Snowdon. It is growing more popular—that will do. Burlesque, for the Trial Stakes, beat Crown Prince, Pantasa, Refraction, and Buttress; and Nat, with the Queen of Tyne, won the Somersetshire Stakes, after a dead heat with Lord Saltoun. There was plenty of racing; but the state of the ground was awful—the Crown Prince, for instance, winning the City Cup up to his middle in mud. Here began the practice of timing" races; with what success, and what utility, may be gathered from the fact that a Sunday sporting paper made the time for the Cup 5 minutes 44 seconds, and the other authorities 3 minutes 40 seconds, or a difference of about two minutes in a distance of two miles and a half. The fact is, as done so far, the thing has been "a mockery,” if not “a snare.'
." The only way that racing can be timed, with any claim to be supposed correct, is where two stop-watches are employed--one for the start and the other for the finish. Heretofore one has served the double purpose after this fashion occasionally. Take the race for the Cesarewitch as a sample. This is started for just beyond that portion of the Beacon Course known as Choke Jade. Well, this being at the far side of the ditch, is out of sight at the winning post. To enable the timekeepers, therefore, to record the seconds occupied in running this important trial of speed, a man was stationed on the ditch with a red flag, which he was to elevate when the horses came to the post, and drop when they left it. In a space occupying some four minutes, then, there were these certain deductions from the time actually occupied in the running. The time lost between the start and its notification by the fall of the starters' flag; the time lost between the fall of the signal flag and its notice by the timekeeper, and the time lost by him in looking for the exact position of the seconds' hand on the dial of his chronometer. This is written in no invidious spirit. No one is to blame for it. The gentlemen who made the attempt did it with the desire to serve the turf; but to carry out their object, if it is to be attained at all by such means, which I take leave to doubt-a far more perfect machinery must be brought to bear upon it. One of the morning journals has announced its intention to employ agents for timing all the great races : the essay is novel, and evinces a good spirit: we may take occasion to examine what practical good comes of it.
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 manæuvring on the Two Thonsand 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 Osbaldeston, a gentleman who walks about, weighing some 11st., 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 events. 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 cagerly at 50 to 1; 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 “ Hope 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 £0 03. 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
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 lessee of the grand stand proved himself in every way an efficient representative of two such important offices, in