Imagens das páginas

I go

dictum of the poet, that the "proper study of mankind is man,' wandering about the enclosure, between each race, chat with any friend I meet, and take stock of my fellow-creatures rather than of the horses. The most notable of the former that I saw was a tall gentleman in a green coat, white gloves, and a straw hat, followed everywhere by a little "tiger" in fustian. Some one suggested to the latter, that he had better get into his master's pocket, and he instantly flew at his adviser, and kicked his shins. They seemed to drive in two days out of the four in a tandem; Tiger blowing a horn. First of the seven races on the first day, came the Fitzwilliam Stakes, in which no soul could understand why Orinoco should receive 9lbs. from Adine. Six pounds more would not have stopped him, as he is a rare good miler, or rather seven-furlonger. The Mosquito is a very fine mare, and made as nice an example of poor Fayaway, as Cimicina (who is still of only yearling size) made of Evangeline. The Early Bird is a monstrous smart horse, and if he had been in the St. Leger, "Ould Ireland" would have had another in the first four, but Florist was one of the best things I saw at the meeting.

The sorrow of Job began with the Great Yorkshire, where the Reiver went to get a line for his pupil, Calamus. This horse, who played havoc with the misplaced confidence of many Doncaster sages last year, began to fight with his rider at the distance post. When the word was given, he fairly stopped to lash out, which he did "most illigantly," and then away he went, reaching his horses a third of the way up the stretch. Down went his head, and up went his heels again, as if to show his delight at catching them, and in an instant he was in a kneeling posture, with a green mass on the brown sward by his side. Up he jumped; and his jockey, who was seemingly flung into a sitting posture, and then rolled over, followed suit. For a minute or two he walked rather stiff, but a glimpse of the orange of his "approved good master, ," Mr. Milner, in the van, acted like a wonderful cordial, and, as if to show he was all right, he ran towards the winning post, past which his runaway arrived first by two two lengths, and Grapeshot second. This savage son of Pantaloon will have to undergo an Eastern operation; and if that fails to tame him, the steeplechasers who saw his rail-leaping powers will be glad to accommodate him in his new line. Mrs. Rigby's friends were so confident, that they would not divide with Ellermire, who, as it struck me-albeit she gave 12 lbs. was waited with rather too long. This heavy work quite ruined her chance for the Eglinton Stakes. In the Champagne Job Marson reappeared all right again, and clad in the black jacket of Mr. Bowes. The ground was so hard that Major Campbell decided, in Lord Eglinton's absence, not to send his Dirk into the fray, but keep him for the Municipal Stakes. Supplicant was a very poor affair to mark the reappearance of the once-dreaded cherry banner under the auspices of John Day. At the distance the grey was winning easily, but let Corabus get so near that some thought it was a race; Job, however, shook up his grey as they neared the Stand, and came home very cleverly, and John Scott will be lucky if he has a better Derby animal in his stable. The afternoon, enlivened as it was by a harmless tumble and a dead heat, was pleasant to a degree; and

fraught with anticipations of a glorious morrow, I wound my way home across the Town Field. But here I must appeal to "His Wash-up" as to whether he will allow any more shooting at targets in that field. I, The Druid, hereby take oath and depone that I was nearly shot through the small of my back, and that I have good reason to believe that one of my fellow-creatures is now minus a cheek, from the exertions of these ruthless gunners. At night little was stirring; so I loitered up to the station, and luckily found Bedlamite and three-and-forty of his relations arriving. Four men held them in strings of nine to twelve each, and it was so dark that the head feeder had to go round with a lantern to count the groups. It would have been no joke to Mr. Brown if a 50-guineas animal of the Bedlamite litter had gone careering about at that time of night and got lost. The scene was a peculiarly quaint and amusing one; and it turned out that (bar Bedlamite, who got a bond fide bid of 460 gs.) thirty-four of the lot were worth 794 guineas. Surely, when I saw War Eagle, Wrestler, and Well-I-Never sold, none of them reached above 40 guineas; but a Mr. Bradley gave 300 guineas for a dog some years since, which obliged him by living a very short time. Horse sales, too, were brisk. Voivode joined Yellow Jack and Mario (late Chanter) on the Thousand-Guinea yearling list, and was such a monstrous fine colt, that lots of sporting men wended their way to his stable, with the usual douceur to the groom. An Annandale colt also sold for 510 guineas, five other things at 300 guineas or upwards, and nine at 200 guineas or upwards. Mr. Tattersall, senior, was not there, but the venerable Sir Tatton Sykes, who drove into town on Tuesday morning with Sir George Strickland, was at the enclosure gate as fresh as ever, and on the left of the sale rostrum, round which Lord Derby and many other high-bred sportsmen clustered. There is something characteristic about the sales at Doncaster, and the varied ring of owners, jockeys, and trainers, which one looks for in vain elsewhere. The streets were unusually quiet that evening, and, when I had taken my usual peep at the St. Leger scratchings, I laid my head on the pillow, very happy to think that I had not one halfpenny on the race. A stupid fellow awoke me at 2 o'clock, whistling "Meg's as deaf as Ailsa Craig" all the way up the street; just as if I, a respectable married man, cared to be told that fact. If Mons Meg had been fired and burst it could not have more effectually awoke me, and I turned uneasily about till the early tramp, tramp, began in the street, and the juvenile came in with my hot water. How one's fingers do itch for the card on a St. Leger morning! and here was really a good one, with 22 coloured on it. If I had been a believer in omens like the celebrated backer of Bloomsbury, who did so because a butcher's cart with that name on it blocked his way on a Derby morning for nearly a mile, I ought to have won heavily, seeing that "Bob Basham" walked before me all the way as I wound my path through the pleasant lanes near Carr House. However, I had no such notions. I had heard, as I believe, for a fact, that he showed temper in the Derby, and that Basham had to hit him on each side of the head to keep him straight at all at Tattenham Corner. His two-year-old running, too, was very rabbit-like; and tremendous as his speed had been this year, it had only been

shown over one-and-a-quarter miles. Hence I did not believe in him; and still less when I saw his ears tight-screwed back, and the humouring which he seemed to require on parade. But I am anticipating. Rataplan was in his old form, and ready to carry a ton if wanted. It seems that last year Mr. Padwick rented this horse, and that Mr. Parr's lease of him will expire with this season. At the close of last year "The Baron," I am told, very nearly gave 1500 sovs. for him; but some eminent veterinary would have it he was unsound, therefore the bargain went off. Alack! for those who are troubled with too much wisdom. The Early Bird's penalty crushed him; but I am rather looking out for this gentleman in the Cambridgeshire, and for Star of Surrey, if right again, in the Cesarewitch. Jack Sheppard looked a Iago from top to toe; and Alice Laycock was not unlike her sire Pompey.

But now the well-known word "ST. LEGER" is on the top of the telegraph, and the dark Palmeria in her light sheets is the first to show. Trapper came next, stalking proudly along like a great black giraffe, with a shiny coat, long legs, and a shabby tail. Young John Day seemed to devote himself to chaffing Nat on the subject of his mount. "Nat," said he solemnly, as that little gentleman stripped to the black stripes, "I have ordered a pair of steps in the town, and they'll be here directly." Nat didn't half like it; but up he climbed without waiting: and then John warned him again, and most solemnly, to "take care, or Dr. O'Toole will run slap between your horse's legs and tilt you off" No one cared much to see the Doctor or Hesse Cassel, against whom "500 sovs. to 5 with a start" had gone begging the day before; but Calamus looked dangerous, and, as it struck me, grown not a little since Ascot. Scythian seemed a good deal brighter than at York; and Mr. Padwick avers that when he got him there he could hardly bold up his head. If so, old John has done perfect wonders for him. Middlesex was a very poor proxy for King Tom, whose lameness is said to have been caused by his trainer galloping him on the side of a hill, to do the touts. There is a rumour that King is to train no more for the Baron, who will no doubt buy Strood if he can. Midsummer seemed quite a Melbourne, and 7lbs. better than Arthur Wellesley, according to Peck; but she had been coughing a day or two before. The Knight, if my memory serves me, only came into the enclosure for an instant; and he looked sadly vicious as Basham walked him about by himself outside. Mr. Harry Hall informed me that he is one of the sweetest studies he ever painted from. He is a racehorse all over, but his fore-hand is especially beautiful. The sight of sights was the advance of the Derby trio from the gate near the Rubbing House, "Sim" (people wondered if he had his pick of the mounts; and said he had got £200 at York), in the white garter, on Acrobat, with Farrar at his head; then Boiardo, with his donkey ears and bandaged legs, led by Hayhoe, with Alfred Day "up," and Lord Derby, Scott, and Markwell at his side; and then Holmes on Dervish. Lord Derby turned to "Jack" and told him not to come into the enclosure, but to make a hermit of himself a quarter of a mile away till the parade began. Round the paddock walked the two cracks, with their coats of silk glistening again, and Acrobat

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

quite heading the poll in public opinion; while Ivan, with his pale, long-legged, little-genius of 6st., was all but overlooked, as with a firm step and glossy coat he humbly followed his York conqueror. Autocrat showed last; and jolly fat he was too. The gallops were glorious to look at; and when I saw Acrobat "steal down" from the distance, with his head down in true Eclipse fashion, I made up my mind that Acrobat (1), Calamus (2), Ivan (3), would be the result. Alas for attempts at prescience! When the eighteen had twice passed the Stand in long Indian file, in which even Dervish and The Knight quietly took their rank, they at last faced round in the open, and had barely got together and into that swaying motion which betokens that every horse is on the qui vive, when down went the flag, and in an instant the sad truth was out-that " green was left at the post. Mr. Hibburd rushed at him with his flag. stick, but round he went again; and poor Marson, as he glanced at them careering away, felt that pursuit was hopeless, and, when he had given his ungenerous brute some very smart touches with whip and spur, he trotted back, like a "Knight of the Rueful Countenance," into the enclosure. There has not been, if we remember rightly, such a decided case of "left at the post in a great race since Sam Chifney (on Young Rowton) and Billy Pettit (on St. Francis) were left at the Derby post in 1838. We were so annoyed at the incident, that we never caught sight of the horses till they were over the hill and the tailing began. On they came past the Red House, and it was soon evident that Boiardo had something more in hand than a Malton trial; and at the bend even Acrobat did not look like a winner. As they swept up to the Stand, to our astonishment, there was Ivan next the rails travelling away with that slow but unflinching stride of his about a neck in front, with St. George quietly waiting on him. Thirty yards from home they were head-andhead, but a glance told us that the "red spots" could not go fast enough for the yellow; and hence Basham, who seemed hardly to dare to move on his shifty horse, nursed him till just at home, and then with one well-timed effort shot him past Mr. Clark first by a long head. There was a feverish pause till "9" went up the telegraph, and then came the "Yorkshire roar." Mr. Morris was a perfect study as he pushed his way wheezing and puffing through the crowd. His friends seemed hardly to know how to treat him in their delight some bonnetted him; some seized his hat, and tossed it aloft; some patted him ; some hit him on the back, and some in the paunch; till, with his face almost black with excitement, he had forced himself through the array to meet his horse. Basham took matters very quietly, and simply touched his cap as he passed the Stands. No man deserved his luck better than the winner, as he has always not only stuck by Doncaster (his stable has nineteen nominations in the St. Leger of 1856), but he has gone as straight as an arrow in racing matters; and there is no man (not even Lord Eglinton) whose horses the ring back with such perfect confidence. In fact, he suspended Basham for nearly a month after Ascot, because he considered his riding of Kingston in the Stakes suspicious. His luck, too, this year has been bitterly bad, and it seemed doubtful whether the stable, but for this, would have lasted much longer, as they


have not a decent two-year-old, and Kingston and Indian Warrior have been so sadly uncertain. It is hopeless to speculate on the probable place of Calamus. His trial horse The Reiver ran badly enough; and the stable, though sadly disappointed, avowed that they only thought his chance a fair one because the field was so weak. Ashmall confessed that such a great lazy horse like Ivan tired him out, and those who watched the finish close on the post thought that he finished very weak on him. He is certainly an honest luckless horse, and John Day still declares that he is the only one as yet that has been able to make Virago gallop. If it had been a dead heat, Job Marson would have had the enormous luck of being left at the post, and yet winning the St. Leger, as Lord Zetland would of course have put him up, and his powerful riding and the extra muscle of his horse, must have told successfully on a small fifteen one animal like The Knight, whose temper as well as strength might have failed him in a second severe bout. The horse has improved ever since he was at Stockbridge, where he ought never to have gone, though I do hear that Alfred considered that a very doubtful business till just at home. The strangest thing is, that Lord Zetland, when he found, the night before, that he could not get Marson, did not telegraph to Newmarket for Bartholomew, who would have had ample time to "walk" and come. Sam Rogers was, we are told, telegraphed for, but he was unwell, and declined. It was sad to see Marlow aud Whitehouse thrown away on such unsound animals as Autocrat and Hesse Cassel. Why, too, did not George Abdale keep his brother William handy, whom nothing but lack of mounts prevents from realizing the very high opinion Lord George held of him? Scythian finished well (as some few expected, after watching his glorious gallop with Virago the day before), and they said Boiardo was lame; but if so, it must have come on at night, as no one could find it out. Scott's stable is always great at excuses. The defeat of the black jackets certainly created neither surprise nor sympathy, and when the stale Kingston had beaten one thing and broken down another, John Scott and Lord Derby rose like giants refreshed, with De Clare, who was mysteriously whispered to be the He is very like Boiardo, his half-brother, and therefore not one after our own heart. However he was quite good enough to put Dirk in trouble, some 200 yards from home, and Fobert having made quite sure that Dirk would be first, had forgotten to tell Marlow about second money, and the wide-awake Wells contrived to nail it when he stopped. Fobert candidly confessed that he had no excuse to make about not winning, except that his horse did not go fast enough. He is very much improved since Goodwood, and with this defeat on his head, I prefer him infinitely to De Clare for next year's purposes. He was so fearfully shin-sore, that he could hardly walk to the station on Friday morning. The crowds never cleared out, within my memory, so quick as they did this St. Leger day, and by half-past six the town was all but quiet again. Nothing, in fact, was wanted to make the day complete, but a start for Calamus, and a dead heat. Mr. Morris's winning's (he closed his "Rooms" that night) I have never accurately heard, but one non-professional (who dreamt Goldfinder won the Chester Cup and won £500) was in luck

« AnteriorContinuar »