« AnteriorContinuar »
Here we may recognise some of the customs very similar to those observed in the present day, in “the breaking up” of the fox, except that as the whole field do not carry horns, “the musical honours” are dispensed with. Only imagine the effect of two hundred horns all blown at once in the middle of a large Leicestershire or Northamptonshire pasture. Neither is Charley chopped to pieces, the hounds being permitted more naturally to carve for themselves after their own fancies. The directions for taking them to water after the ceremony of breaking up or rewarding has been performed, when they are sufficiently cool, points out the fact that injury would have been apprehended by giving it to them when overheated by their exertions in chase. I have seen masters of hounds take them to water before they broke up their fox, but I must confess I never could reconcile myself to the propriety of so doing.
THE RACING KNELL OF ’FORTY-NINE, WITH A TELE
SCOPIC PEEP AT THE CANDIDATES FOR 1850.
“ The trim-booted jockey no more mounts his steed
To traverse his course with endurance and speed;
The knell of 'forty-nine has boomed forth the requiem of our greensward pastimes, and until the "joy bells" of returning spring are heard recalling to life the dormant energies of the turf, all that is left us is to gossip o'er the past, endeavour to gather instruction from its experience, hoping “ on and ever” for the bright future.
The past racing season has been more fruitful in its results, and produced a greater amount of sport of one sort and another, than any of its predecessors on record. Book horses, money favourites, “rig races" and “ropings” have multiplied to no trifling extent; turf malpractices of various kinds have been on the increase; for as a facetious friend of mine terms it, “ how to best them” has been the chief study of the many and the great gain of the few, who consider “there is no trust, no faith, no honesty in men; all perjured, all forsworn, all nought, all dissemblers;" and accordingly make the most of such opportunities as the fickle goddess sends them, or their own wits can devise.
This may well be termed “the betting age," for speculation of this kind has steadily increased ; the suppression of "sweeps
" little goes” serving only to divert the gambling mania into another channel; hence the leviathan multiplication of betting lists and list bettors, which now far outnumber the ring bettors, and possess another immense advantage over them, viz., the fingering of the cash beforehand. The daintily-baited hooks of “the angling sharps ” have been swallowed with avidity by the “flat-fish,” and from the commencement of the racing season at Liverpool last March, to its close at the Yorkshire Union Hunt in November, but one desire has been manifested by the racing community, viz., that of “outdoing all former doings”-in this respect at least, if in no other, exhibiting the greatest perseverance.
The seven stipulated gatherings at the racing metropolis–Newmarket -inclusive of stakes, plates, and matches, produced a total of two hundred and sixteen races! with fourteen “walks over and only three dead heats. At the first of their autumnal ré-unions no less than eight first farourites were "bowled over” in one day, to the great delectation and profit of the “gemmen fielders ” alias round bettors, who had reason to sing Jubilate! The money run for, inclusive of match forfeits, at these seven meetings amounted to the enormous sum total of fifty-four thousand five hundred and sixty-four pounds ten shillings! no small lump of capital to be offered for competition at one emporium of racing alone.
The two great events of the year with the sporting world, namely, the Derby and St. Leger, produced less speculation, and caused a smaller amount of money to change hands in the ring, than on any similar occasion for many years. This was chiefly attributable to the exceedingly small price taken throughout the entire season about the Flying Dutchman, the first favourite for and winner of both, and the firmness and steadiness he displayed in the market, the result of unbounded public confidence in his noble owner, whose well-known straightforwardness, combined with a conviction of the speed and powers of endurance of the horse, produced the effect of bringing within the narrowest compass the investments on other animals. If the excellent example of the Earl of Eglinton was but more generally followed, the result would go nigh towards bringing back the palmy days of your Fitzwilliams, Scarboroughs, Leeds, Pierses, Watts, and Garforths ; but there will be symptoms of a healthy pulse in the turf constitution until the malpractices which have disgraced it are abolished ; “reform them altogether."
The betting-ring, too, still requires the energetic mind and purifying hand of another Lord George Bentinck to cleanse it from the leprosy which has done so much towards destroying, and which will, unless checked in time, effect that unwished-for result ; but little good can be accomplished in the shape of turf reforms, whilst the infection of turf adventurers is permitted; men who stick at nothing that ingenuity can devise or scheming accomplish to "put money in their purses. The removal of Mildew to Newmarket, par exemple, although seeming in itself a trifling occurrence, has given a severe blow to one clique of turf tricksters ; without for a moment impugning the honesty, skill, and invariable integrity of his former trainer John Gill, those who had the power, and have used it, of changing Mildew's training quarters will know very well to whom these observations are intended to allude.
Returning from this digression to the two-year-old performances of the Flying Dutchman. There is no public two-year-old to whom one can point as the certain finger-post to the Derby goal for the ensuing merry month of May; no juvenile who during the first year of his racing career has exhibited feats at all to compare with those of the victorious Dutchman in 1848, who, as a youngster, was out on five different occasions without being approachable at the ending post.
The "ins and outs of the candidates for Derby honours in 1850 are far from few ; hence the field is to a great extent open.
Your Italians, Mildews, Conquering Williams, Knights of Avenel, Niggers, Bolingbrokes, Swedes, Sweethearts, &c., in themselves form an important phalanx of winners as well as beaten horses, to which must be added the “dark division ” yet to be brought to light. Rare sport this in perspective for the ring-bettors, book-makers, and list-men, who will cast their eyes with more than ordinary satisfaction on their Derby-books, saying to themselves “ The public will back all these public horses, independent of the darkies ; now if I should but succeed through the advent of an outsider in skinning the lamb’ what a golden fleece that would be, requiring the combined biddings of many tanners to effect its purchase. It is quite clear the round bettors on the Derby of 1850 will have an excellent opportunity of making large profits ; there is no bugbear of a crushing first favourite to mar their efforts; and sure am I they will seize upon the fortunate chance, and turn it to a good account, if the backers of horses but show the slightest disposition to nibble at the bait. Oh ! leviathan Davis, what an opportunity is yours ! your ingenuity, untiring industry, and ceaseless energy will find ample scope for employment in the coming season. Look out, too, ye Hills, Ives, Greens, Stebbings, Grays, Pedleys, Pettijeans ; rejoice, too, ye smaller fry ; see what a Californian prospect is before you. I know ye will never let a chance slip of saying, “Done, I'll lay it you.” Then come your Metropolitan and Chester Monstre Handicaps, as piquant entrès to employ the intervening time in the sporting banquet, affording
* pretty pastime for pence and pencils,” reminding one of the gambling days of old, when the cry of the gentlemen who twisted round the wheel of (mis) fortune ever was, “ Down with it ; twenty can play as well as one, and one as well as twenty.”
Among the winning jockeys, Nat and Frank Butler as usual figure conspicuous, nor is this to be wondered at, having as they invariably do the choicest pick of the best stables. The former has during the past season bestrode no less than ninety-three winners; the illustrious Frank being close in his wake as the victorious rider in sixty-five different events ; whilst Charles Marlow as the private jockey of Lord Eglinton claims the palm of the double event, Derby and St. Leger, and many other “ good things ” which he has scored to his noble master's account.
Having now touched upon some few of the principal features of the past season, and given a glimpse of what may be expected from the forthcoming one, I must “ draw the curtain,” for a change comes o'er the spirit of the sport. Racing-delightful, legitimate racing is cast aside for a time, to make way for hedge and ditch steeple-chasing ; pity 'tis that sportsmen “should leave that fertile field to batten on the barren moor ;” but man is “a gambling animal,” and here again we have a proof of it, for the merry music of the hounds seems to have