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trotted off to Eudon Coppice, where there was soon a most delightful rattling cry of hounds, and the fox broke instantly away for one of Mr. Baker's gorse coverts, straight through to the Lodge Coppice and the Parlours, thence to Monk Hopton, crossed the flat for Spoonhill Wood, in which large covert he did not hang a minute, but again faced the open country for Callaughton, over Westwood Common to the Edge Wood, straight through that immense woodland, again over the open for Kewley, and the Grange hills for Cound Moor and St. Stephen's Hill, one of the Cound coverts. Before reaching this point the whole of the field, which had mustered very strong in the morning, were beaten off, but Mr. Morris, of the Grange, joined the hounds as they crossed his farm, and about a mile after they had run through Stephen's Hill covert found the fox lying down; he whipped him up, and two hounds made a fling at him, but, from exhaustion, were unable to hold him, and by creeping into one of the earths, which are numerous, saved his life. Mr. Baker, Mr. Tallboys, of Belswardine, and Mr. Haynes, of Wrickton, were the only three who went to the end; but neither they or any of the field who had started with them were actually in places for the last seven or eight miles. The distance over which they ran cannot be less than twenty-five miles, and the hounds had sixteen miles to return to their kennel, which was accomplished with difficulty, Mr. Baker's horse being much distressed.
I could not leave the county without making inquiries concerning the prosperity of the inhabitants of the good old town of Shrewsbury, and was much gratified on hearing they were making great progress in their connection with sporting affairs. Their races, through the zealous exertions of Mr. Frail, the clerk of the course, having been raised from a very low ebb to a state of great and still increasing popularity, has prompted the inhabitants to present their indefatigable friend with a service of plate, as an acknowledgment for the good service he has rendered to them. A twofold antagonism was offered to the races, by a strong political party, and the sanctified party which more or less exists in every town. Those difficulties Mr. Frail has overcome with resolution and success, by obtaining the support of the leading patrons of the turf. The noblemen and gentlemen of the county who do not keep racehorses subscribe to the stakes, which was not the case until Mr. Frail was in office; and now that the races are established on a firm basis, their future prosperity cannot be doubted.
Connected with racing, I have heard a very light saddle, made by Mr. W. D. Jones, spoken of in the highest terms of praise, not only for its excessive lightness, combined with roominess and length, but also for the superiority of the workmanship. It was sent to the Dublin Exhibition last year, and universally admired.
The newly established horse fair, which was held soon after I left the country, was perfectly successful. Buyers and sellers attended in great numbers, and horses with any pretensions were sold at high prices. It was, however, pretty certain that the demand for first-rate horses exceeded the supply, which will undoubtedly operate as a stimulus to breeders to regard their own welfare, by renewed efforts for the production of those which will always command remunerative prices.
BY THE DRUID.
"A hound and a hawk no longer
A cock-fight shall cease to be breach of the peace,
SONG OF THE CAVALIERS.
"I am a friend, Sir, to public amusements; for they keep people from vice."— DR. JOHNSON TO SIR ADAM FERGUSON.
"The first place where Ready-money Jack attracted my attention was in the church-yard on Sunday, where he sat on a tombstone after the service, with his hat a little on one side, holding forth to a small circle of auditors, and, as I presumed, expounding the law and the prophets; until, on drawing a little nearer, I found he was only expatiating on the merits of a brown horse."-BRACEBRIDGE HALL.
I am so utterly weary of seeing the hack expression, "blue ribbon of the turf," that I can hardly muster courage to glance back at the great tableau vivant which was presented in Epsom paddock on the day of its last award. The excitement it occasioned has all gone by ere now, and even two dozen successive nights' rest have served to soothe the agitated feelings of "The Copper Captain." Mrs. Druid always complains bitterly that I will awake at four o'clock on a Derby morning, and draw up the blind for a couple of minutes, in spite of all her gentle anathemas. This year I am ashamed to say that I kept up the charter; and as I had solemnly advised every friend I had to pepper Dervish, I naturally hoped that the rain would come to my aid, and render his defeat doubly sure. "I saw the glorious sun rise" in a regular glow that morning, and those who constituted part of the 150,000 or so units at Epsom will remember how he continued his attentions throughout the entire day. The Kingston route has peculiar charms for me, and I never enjoyed it more than I did this year, with an American friend-who was guiltless of ever having seen a mounted racer in the flesh-to bear me company. The first two miles from Kingston is rather a stupid stretch; but just at the point where you turn off into the fields stands a little wayside inn. I did not yield myself entirely to the blandishments of the agricultural tout who stood in his smock at the door, varying his invitations from "Does ony gentleman want a sandwich ?" to "Just step in, my lads, and have a snack of our beef!" but compromised the matter with a glass of cyder. The boniface-who seems to be president of "The Hook and Cussington Sparrow Club!" (six unfornates arrived on a stick while I was there)-informed me that it was as good a Derby Day, in point of numbers, as he had seen for many a year. There were many noticeable objects in the field walk; and, if he has a child-loving bump, the wayfarer must bring no coppers with him, or he will be pounced upon by a covey of little ones at every gate. However, there is not much pleasure in giving, as the mothers hover about in the offing, and seem to lay violent hands on the coins as soon as they are extracted. The string of pedestrians is quite a study. Women-some of them still in bridal blossoms-tramp along and scramble over the styles with unaided energy; shopmen come out with such tight trousers,
and relentless straps to them, that it is a moral surprise to me how they walk at all, much less lift their poker-like legs over the above obstacles; and little seedy men in black, so like Methodist preachers, go shamblin g along, that one almost fancies the tub has gone by the road, and they are taking a short cut to meet it. The crowd were very orderly, and sadly out of form as a general thing, to judge from their way of going after the first four miles. They, however, contrived to spoil so much wheat at a corner of a field, by their anxiety to get a near cut, that an excited Protectionist stationed himself at the spot in the evening, and bestowed menaces with the family walking-stick on all who approached it.
Epsom is not a place to linger in long on a Derby day, but I never attempt to face the two miles to the Downs (mem., I am not under an executory contract to exchange praise for provender) without stopping at The Albion, and having a shilling basin of their giblet or mockturtle soup. The booth-dinners are frightful humbugs by the side of it; but thrice-blest is the man who can draw the hill' successfully for a lunch. That son of Anak, Ephesus, strode gallantly past me while I stood there, and defeated the challenge of Defiance, who is far from being a fast horse, with all possible ease. He won £2,690 for Mr. Parr before he parted with him to Mr. Gordon Munro. Rataplan, again, only stood him in at some 1200 guineas, and he has already won £2,900 with him too; while the cast-off Weathergage produced him £4,100 in stakes alone. He may thus be said to have taken "a rise" out of three of the cleverest owners on the turf.
The paddock presented a perfectly lovely scene as the twenty-seven candidates paced quietly about it after their canters; but still they were an ordinary lot, on the whole. Autocrat was the handsomest-built animal among them, and was grown decidedly since last year; but he was heavily gartered up to the knee, and had a very clodpole of a jockey on his back. Alembic was another son of Anak. Isaac Day appeared to have no hopes of him—at least, I should judge so, from his countenance as he followed in his rear; while Job Marson seemed to cast a wistful look at his old York friend, little Hospodar, who, with Welham, Bracken, and Neville, were far too small for their work over such a fine galloping piece of turf. Wild Huntsman and Knight of St. George were, to the eye, the speediest-looking animals there; and perhaps, barring Dervish, they were. Dervish's weak points behind the saddle are not so strongly marked as of old, but still quite evident enough to confirm us in our steadily-expressed opinion that he is a mere miler. The Malton devotees tried to believe to the last that it was to come off, but he inspired none of that steady assurance which West Australian did. Canute (whose racing two-year-old look has quite left him) and Marsyas were utterly below the mark, and it is difficult to see why Sir Robert Pigot should have thrown away some £35 in bringing Coup d'Etât to Epsom. As a really useful outsider, we saw nothing nicer than The New Warrior ; but the public seemed indisposed to spare a look for him as George Taylor gave him his walks up and down the paddock. Andover is a thorough workman-lengthy, short-legged, and handsome generally, and about fifteen two. One of his hocks was rather capped, and his off hind fetlock is, we understand, another triumph for Mr. Major's Synovitic Lotion. We believe that he has now thrown, a couple of curbs, and, in short, he is not a horse of the West Australian and Van Tromp material, who will be heard of in Great Cup contests over
Ascot Heath. King Tom has not by any means such a racing look as either of his half-brothers, as his head, quarters, and, in short, every part of him is so especially plain. We should fancy that endurance, and not speed, is his forte, and that when they come to a regular run-in for the St. Leger, Acrobat will beat him. There is not the slightest doubt now that Butler was perfectly right in his relative estimate of this horse and Dervish. Lord Derby's two crack Epsomites have failed him, and it seems more than probable that "Butler's pet," as he is popularly called, will pull him through for the St. Leger. Poor Templeman has got all the blame, but luckily no man will bear it more philosophically. One critic considered that he was frightened;" another saw "a most extraordinary pull opposite Langland's Stand," &c., &c. The long and short of it is, that the horse is not built to stay, and that even if he was, The Cowl family, with the exception perhaps of The Confessor, have never thought it fashionable to stay beyond one and a-quarter miles. It is quite certain that John Scott will swear by Dervish to the last, and that Lord Derby will declare to win with him on the St. Leger morning if he keeps well. Some horses have the art of deceiving every one about them, and going like perfect Eclipses in their sheets, or at a trial, and it is only the jockey who has to handle them under the earnest high-pressure of a finish, amidst the howls of the "outsiders" and the Grand Stand, that can detect the soft point. Aristides, Honeycomb, and Zoroaster, for instance, were all wonderful performers in private, and yet either temper or cowardice perpetually seized them the moment they were "asked to do a little more.' We remember the late Judge Clarke, as we once walked back with him from the course on the St. Leger day, remarking how strangely sanguine trainers are about "making immense improvement, &c., in their horses running." But he added, in all my long experience, if I see a horse shirk once, I feel sure he'll shirk again; and though I hear a great deal out of the box about how running is to be reversed this next time, I universally see them finish in the same places, ninety-nine times out of a hundred, when I am in there." Hence we ask, why with health is Dervish to beat King Tom at Doncaster, when the latter will, no doubt, be more up to touch, and the distance considerably longer. If moreover the course is very heavy, he will be standing still" again, as at Goodwood. Andover's win was as clever and easy a thing as we have seen for many a long day, and we cannot suppose for a moment that even if King Tom had come to the post in his tip-top form, he could have made Alfred Day strike his lilac flag. Even losers sympathized in the glorious triumph for such a fine old sportsman as Mr. Gully, in the evening of a life which has been of late so sadly chequered.
The Oaks candidates were, we thought, on the whole, a better lot than last year. We did not expect much of Sortie in the way of looks, but she was even below our standard. Meteora had a flash style about her, and holds her head very high as she walks, or rather straddles along; and although she was by no means so "dangerous-looking" as she was last year, and had not so much wear and tear about her; we fully believed that she would have outstridden the lot opposed to her. However, as Thackeray says, "the better part of her heart went down" at the very point where Dervish's had failed him on the Wednesday, and she was as dead as a stone in Marlow's hands. Bribery we did not like at all, and Mincemeat has not much improvement about her. She is a
short-backed mare, small, well coupled up, and very like Sweetmeat about the head-as, in fact, all his stock are. Meteora will always be dangerous over short courses; and we do not apprehend that the rest will be heard of again much. It seems a blight over an animal now-adays to be an Oaks starter. So much for Epsom.
The Vase morning found us, as usual, pacing, with our sandwiches and wine-flask in our pocket, down the glorious oaken avenues of the Great Park, carrying our Versatio on our back, and our Oxley's "true and correct," &c., in our hand. I have none of the enthusiasm of the Yorkshire naturalist who walked sixteen miles there and back to a wood last month to hear a nightingale, and then rose at two o'clock the next morning, and started off again for a second "jug, jug, jug concert ; or else there was much to chronicle respecting birds, leverets, fawns, &c. However, a brace of dripping and pugnacious lovers, who dislodged me from my tree during a shower by getting up a sharp quarrel as to who had proposed such a watery trip, occupied my attention far more.
We had very few walking companions, but the present Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, late the President of the Council, late the Foreign Secretary, late the Vice-President of the Board of Trade, late the Master of the Buckhounds, seemed faithful to his old haunts of "horn and hound," and a very nice animal he rode. The weather on the three days was quite sandwich-fashion, a very splendid one between two very drizzly ones, which, to use the energetic simile of a young Berkshire farmer, "set everything a-growing like mad." It is rather fine to watch these young fellows sunning themselves in the eyes of their lady-loves, and aspiring to deeds of betting daring. One especially burned to distinguish himself, and after a copious lunch of lobster, pigeon pie, salad, sherry, &c., he was evidently so refreshed that he said in a most portentous voice-"I must now be off to the Ring, to get on Rataplan-safe to win." His female friends rather let him down, as they poured in on him, una voce, with an "Oh dear me! do be careful, with those odd sharp men." Nevertheless, "John" tore himself frowning away with quite heroic firmness, and strode hardly on to his doom, while the ladies then seemed to feel that their phaeton had sent forth a Samson to confound the Philistines. I had the curiosity to watch their Samson; and, just as I expected, he took a tour well out of sight of the carriage, and then, without speaking to any one, came back with a look of tremendous importance, and a legend to the effect that "those fellows could'nt come Yorkshire over him, by offering him half a point under the odds-not they." It was as fine "a bit of character as I have seen for some time; and I have no doubt it occurred scores of times on the Cup day.
The procession of "our most gracious Mrs." (as PUNCH's Mr. Jeames persisted in styling her) was as great a treat as ever, and I could'nt help feeling amused at the matter-of-fact manner in which a newspaper writer disposed of it, by simply stating that it contained "seventy-one horses and ponies, and ten carriages." How a man could do violence to his feelings by turning himself into a calculating machine at such a thrilling moment quite baffles me? Mr. Davis, on his bay, was, as usual, a perfect picture; and as distinct types of Englishmen in the saddle, Earl Wilton, at the Leicestershire cover side, and John Day, junior, in his jockey days, were to my mind never surpassed. To look at his own and his father's broad English backs now, it seems quite thrice twelve years since they went their "wasting" walks together at Goodwood in '42,