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Title: A Mirror of the Turf - The Machinery of Horse-Racing Revealed, Showing the Sport of Kings as It Is To-Day
Author: Bertram, James Glass
Language: English
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The Machinery of Horse-racing Revealed

Showing the Sport of Kings as It Is To-Day.

   "A horse, a horse; my kingdom for a horse."



Author of "The Blue Ribbon of the Turf."

London: Chapman and Hall, Ld.
[All rights reserved.]

Charles Dickens and Evans,
Crystal Palace Press.



The details of the "Sport of Kings" embraced in the following pages,
do not claim to be a consecutive history of the turf, nor are they
intended for the instruction of professional racing men. The author
makes no pretensions to teach trainers how to train horses, or jockeys
how to ride them, and in no sense, except that it is offered for their
perusal, is the work intended for those who make the "business" of
the turf the work of their lives; the book has been written for other
persons and other purposes.

It is necessary to state this much plainly, because when a paper or an
article pertaining to the "great national sport" appears in a review
or magazine, it is at once stigmatised by the sporting journals as
containing only "pipers' news," and in the view of the critics it may
be so; but such articles are not written to instruct the critics, but
to inform the public.

Histories and other works dealing with horse-racing have at intervals
been published, while at the present time there are three daily
journals as well as a dozen weekly papers exclusively devoted to what
has been called "the great game," and other sports. In addition to
these, nearly all the daily newspapers contain full accounts of the
race meetings, and also publish weekly commentaries on the sport at
considerable length, the reading of which tends to excite interest and
provoke inquiry regarding the incidence of "the turf."

"Pray, Mr. Curzon," said once upon a time a worthy lady to the writer,
"what kind of horses are these which I notice are being milked on
the turf, and what becomes of the milk?" The ignorance of that most
respectable female, and her excellent husband as well, to whom she
had previously propounded the same riddle, is undoubtedly shared by
thousands, and it is for the edification of these and other thousands
who have never seen behind the mirror that this book has been written.

It will, perhaps, be thought by some persons that the dark side of
things is too much dwelt upon in the following pages, that too much is
said about the frauds and chicaneries of the turf, and too little about
the brighter aspects of the sport, but it must be borne in mind that
racing has unfortunately become a "business" of the most sordid kind;
the majority of the men engaged in the "sport" run their horses only as
"instruments of gambling," whilst not a few of them to ensure success
condescend to practices that will not bear the light of day. The turf
gambling of the period has become enormous, but few outside the range
of racing circles have hitherto had much knowledge of the immense
amount of money which changes hands day by day in the various betting
rings, or in the numerous turf clubs that abound in almost every city
and large town of the kingdom.

The betting in connection with horse-racing which has of late been so
fiercely denounced, and the rationale of which is so little understood
by even the best informed economists and legislators, is described at
considerable length in the following pages, whilst the practice of
betting on credit is honestly denounced for the reasons given. Chapters
of this book are also devoted to other phases of turf organisation;
the powers of the Jockey Club are detailed and explained, the rules
of racing are criticised, and the every-day work of trainers, touts,
tipsters, and jockeys set forth.

Sporting writers, when turf matters are being considered, and the
sordid motives of the majority of those who frequent racecourses and
other turf resorts are being called in question, cry out loudly about
the unfairness of attacking the turf, and allowing the more gigantic
gambling of which the Stock Exchange is the theatre to escape censure.
But as the proverb says, "two blacks will never make one white";
besides, this book is not "an attack" on horse-racing, it is simply, as
its title indicates, "a mirror of the turf."

It is the "Sport of Kings" only which is treated of in the following
pages; the author willingly leaves the wide subject of commercial
morality or immorality, to be treated by other pens.



AN EXERCISE GALLOP TO BEGIN WITH                           v

BEGINNINGS OF RACING                                       1

NEWMARKET IN EARLY DAYS                                   19

OTHER SEATS OF HORSE-RACING                               31

THE L. S. D. OF THE TURF                                  60


THE CLASSIC RACES. THE ST. LEGER, ETC.                   104

HANDICAPS                                                147

NOTES ON MEMORABLE MATCHES                               158

WITH THE PROPHETS                                        171


RACING ADVENTURERS                                       224

RACING ROGUERIES                                         270

THE LADY ELIZABETH SCANDAL                               301

RACING REFORM. SIR J. HAWLEY, ETC.                       314


JOCKEYS                                                  339

ABOUT THE JOCKEY CLUB                                    360



The origin of horse-racing cannot be fixed by any quotation of dates,
as none are extant to show by whom the first race was planned, the
terms on which it was run, the distance traversed, the kind of horses
which ran, the men who trained them, or the jockeys who rode them.

It may, however, be taken for granted that, as an English sport,
horse-racing began in homely fashion, and, in the days of old,
centuries ago that is to say, was a very different pastime from what it
is to-day.

Attempts have often been made to trace the beginnings of horse-racing,
but not with much success. It has been assumed by writers on the
subject, that there would in the first place be trials of strength of a
friendly description among neighbours, matches, perhaps, between horses
which their owners looked upon as being animals above the common run.
Scientific, or planned racing, in other words, the elaborately arranged
contests with which, as a nation, we are familiar is, it may be said,
a comparatively modern pastime. But the sport of horse-racing, as we
know it to-day, has undoubtedly been elaborated from those simple
trials of equine strength that took place centuries ago, which may, in
many instances, have been arranged to promote the selling of horses.

"Look ye, sir, let us try our horses against each other, and if yours
prove better than mine I'll buy it," is a saying that might represent
the idea entertained; and so, on an improvised course, ridden very
likely by their owners--"owners up"--at what are called catch-weights,
there would off hand be run a race of the kind indicated. At village
feasts, fairs, and other gatherings of a popular kind, as has been
often told, races of a rough-and-ready sort--precursors of the more
elaborate meetings with which the public are now familiar--were long
ago run.

Accustomed as we have long been to very complete records of racing,
we look with some impatience on the dry fragments and supposititious
statements, in which are embodied what is known regarding the birth
of horse-racing. Our public journals day by day contain more in one
publication than can be gathered from the historic records of the
country about the horse-racing of a hundred years, when the compiler
requires to carry his search back to days before good Queen Bess began
to reign. In those days neither "our racing reporter" nor "our sporting
correspondent" had come upon the scene.

We know more about the sports enjoyed in olden times by the people of
Greece and Italy than we know about those of our own country. There
was, as all who please may read, an Oaks in the Grecian Games of the
71st Olympiad, 496 years B.C. With the aid of Dr. Smith's classical
dictionaries, it would be possible to compile an interesting account
of those races, which afforded sport many hundred years ago to Greeks
and Romans. That horse-races were run in this country in the time of
the Romans is exceedingly likely. Not, however, till two centuries had
elapsed after the departure of the Romans from Britain, do we read of
much that is of interest about the horse and its uses in this country.
King Athelstan, it is recorded, received as a gift several running
horses of German breeding.[1] That King is said to have shown a great
love for the horse, and in his time running horses were much prized, so
much so that none were allowed to be sent out of the kingdom, except as
Royal presents. Athelstan's liking for horses was so well known, that
he received many gifts of fine animals, so that at the period of his
death, he was presumably in the possession of a numerous stud.

During the reign of Henry II. various documents record the fact of the
English people having become interested in horse-racing. At Smithfield,
where a market for horses had been established, races were run from
time to time, chiefly perhaps with the view of testing the capabilities
of these animals before purchasing them. "Hackneys" and "Charing
Steeds" is the description given of the horses raced in order to show
off their paces at Smithfield. That the running which took place
was other than would be incidental to buying and selling need not be
argued, there being no indication of any set race being run for a stake
of money or other prize.

Some historians of the turf, desirous of establishing the fact of these
contests being other than simple trials of speed and stamina--that they
were organised races, in fact--endeavour to prove their case by the
oft quoted description of an old chronicler, Fitz Stephen, who thus
describes what took place: "When a race is to be run by this sort of
horses, and perhaps by others, which, of their kind, are also strong
and fleet, a shout is immediately raised and the common horses are
ordered to withdraw out of the way. Three jockeys, or sometimes only
two, as the match is made, prepare themselves for the contest. The
grand point is to prevent a competitor getting before them. The horses
themselves are not without emulation; they tremble, and are impatient
and are continually in motion. At last the signal once given, they
start, _devour_ the course, and hurry along with unremitting swiftness.
The jockeys, inspired with the thought of applause and the hope of
victory, clap spurs to their willing horses, brandish their whips, and
cheer them with their cries."

The writer of these lines, as all readers of history know, was the
secretary of Archbishop A'Becket, and was himself a monk of Canterbury,
and Drayton the poet bears testimony to the accuracy of what he has

The word "jockey," as used in the above extract, may denote a
professional horseman; but at the time in question the word was
applied generally to dealers in horses, and related, as has often been
argued, more to bargaining and pricing than to riding.

In the succeeding reign horse-racing as a pastime--that is organised
racing--appears to have been established, grafted most likely on the
practice already referred to of "showing off," by a few runs, the
paces of such animals as were exposed for sale. When the pastime was
first established, racing took place only at fixed periods, generally
during the Easter and Whitsuntide holidays. The racing of those days is
alluded to in an old metrical romance:

    In Somertyme at Whitsuntyde,
    When Knights most on horseback ryde;
    A Cours let they make on a day,
    Steeds and Palfraye, for to essaye
    Which horse that best may run.
    Three miles the Cours was then,
    Who that might ryde him shoulde
    Have forty pounds of redy golde.

Records of racing and notices of the horse as a courser begin after
this time to be frequent. In the latter part of the reign of Edward
II., and in the beginning of the reign of his successor, prices are
occasionally quoted for that class of horse.

Taking now a leap to the reign of "bluff King Hal," the belief that
horse-racing, as a pastime, had by that time taken root, and was
gradually deepening its hold on the affections of the English people,
can hardly be resisted. In a document relating to the Royal household,
mention is made of His Majesty's horses as follows: "Coursers, young
horses, hunting geldings, hobies, Barbary horses, stallions, geldings,
mail bottles, pack, Berage Robe, and stalking horses." In this list is
comprised the elements of the modern stud.

During the reign of Henry VIII. various enactments were made with a
view to improving the breed of horses. To make sure that the country
should possess horses of commanding strength and size, the proportions
of both sires and dams were regulated by an Act, one of the provisions
of which was that no person should put in on forest, chace, moor, or
heath, any stoned horse above the age of two years not being fifteen
hands high, nor under fourteen hands, on pain of forfeiting the
same. This Act, which discriminated the sizes in different counties,
was undoubtedly judicious in its results, which ultimately proved
beneficial to the general breed of horses throughout the kingdom. Some
curious regulations, devised by the King were from time to time made
public. He obliged all men of a given position, especially clergymen,
to keep a certain number of horses. Thus Archbishops and Dukes, were
enjoined in this reign to keep seven trotting stone horses of fourteen
hands in height for the saddle. Clergymen also who possessed a benefice
of £600 per annum, or laymen, whose wives wore French hoods, or velvet
bonnets, were ordered to keep one trotting stone horse, under a penalty
of twenty pounds.

In the time of Queen Elizabeth, public racing was not much in vogue;
still, in the days of "good Queen Bess," the race-horse continued to
be prized. Her successor on the throne, James I., was remarkable for
his attention to horse-breeding. He ordered £500 to be paid to Mr.
Markham for an Arabian, the first animal of that breed seen in England,
while in the time of the same king, races were run in many parts of
England for silver bells, notably at Gatherly, in Yorkshire, Chester,
Croydon, and some other localities. At this period the condition of
the competing horses began to attract attention, their wants being
methodically attended to, the weights to be carried adjusted, their
exercise gallops and sweats being also properly defined. The repute of
English race-horses during the reign of the first James became so great
that they attracted attention in France, to which country several were
exported, the methods of keeping and training them which then prevailed
here being adopted by the French.

In the year 1640, in the days of Charles I., the first Newmarket
meetings were inaugurated, and, as will by-and-by be shown,
horse-racing has been a feature of that famous town ever since. An
account is given in another chapter of the rise of horse-racing in
different localities, in which the further progress of the sport in its
earlier days will be alluded to.

Many apropos squibs and satires were published during this and the
succeeding reign of Charles II. One of these is entitled "Newmarket,"
and it shows that the town had at that date become celebrated as the
chief seat of horse-racing:

    Let cullies that look at a race,
    Go venture at hazard to win;
    Or he that is bubbl'd at dice,
    Recover at Cocking again.
    Let jades that are foundered be bought;
    Let jockies play crimp to make sport,
    Another makes racing a trade,
    And dreams of his projects to come,
    And many a crimp match has made,
    By bubbling[2] another man's groom.

Oliver Cromwell kept a racing stud, and was noted somewhat for his
patronage of the turf, no doubt with the view of personally studying
how best to improve the breed of English horses. Cromwell's master of
the horse was Mr. Place, who was the means of bringing to England a
celebrated horse known as the White Turk. Charles II. did more for the
improvement of the race-horse than any of his predecessors, he may be
said, in fact, to have "made it." During his reign horse-racing took a
really firm hold of the affections of the English people--a hold never
since relaxed and that is now firmer than ever.

It has taken long to bring the English race-horse to that perfection
indicated by the paying of two or three and even four thousand guineas
for a yearling, and ten thousand pounds for a three-year-old on the
mere chance of its winning a Derby, Oaks, or St. Leger, or a big
handicap; not to mention the giving of equally large sums for stud
horses, many of which have realised during the last ten or twelve years
what at one time would have been deemed fabulous prices. That attention
was turned to horse-breeding at an early period, seems pretty certain;
men, indeed, had begun to study "the niceties of the business" more
than three hundred years ago, their studies having resulted in the
lines of superb coursers now on the turf.

Briefly stated, the growth of the British race-horse has been pretty
much as follows. When Britain was invaded by the Romans, Cæsar found
plenty of horses, such as they were, in the country. As all know, the
horse is, and has ever been, widely diffused; great dubiety, however,
exists as to its origin or native land; its remains have been found in
the most unlikely spots, and some naturalists suggest Arabia as the
native region of the animal; but no distinct proof of its being so has
been brought forward, nor in ancient history is there any mention of
Arabia as being distinguished for its horses. No matter to what country
we are indebted for this useful animal, it is now found in nearly every
part of the world.

Much that is romantic has been written about the Arab horse. The
following is one account of its creation: "Allah created the horse out
of the wind, as he created Adam out of the mud. When Allah willed to
create the horse, he said to the South wind, 'Condense thyself and let
a creature be born of thee,' and the wind obeyed. Then came the angel
Gabriel and, taking a handful of this matter, he presented it to Allah,
who formed it into a horse, dark bay or chestnut. 'I have called thee
horse,' said Allah; 'I have created thee, Arab; I have attached good
fortune to the hair that falls between thy eyes. Thou shalt be the lord
of all other animals; men shall follow thee whithersoever thou goest.
Good for pursuit as for flight, thou shall fly without wings.'"

According to the Venerable Bede, the English people were in the habit
of using saddle horses so early as the year 631, but how these animals
first came upon our island no one has ever said, nor will any person
be ever able to say; those we read about in the early times referred
to, must have been very coarse and of small value compared to the
blood stock of the present day. But even before there came an infusion
of foreign blood, much care was evidently being exercised in mating
the sexes, and in the modes of feeding and treating various kinds of
horses; they seem to have been classified at an early age according to
the uses for which they were designed. In 1512, there were "gentill
horsys," superior cattle, a kind which made good chargers; there
were also "palfreys," or horses of an elegant description, trained
for the use of ladies and invalids of rank; "hobys" were horses of a
strong and active kind, held at one time in high repute and useful for
many purposes; "every man has his hoby," is a phrase that probably
originated from the commonness of these animals; the other kind was
deemed useful for the carrying of burdens. There were also chariot or
"charotte" horses, curtals or horses with a short tail, parade or show
horses known as "gambaldynges," as also the "amblynge" horse much used
by ladies.

A considerable impetus was given to horse-breeding in England in 1588,
in which year several fine Spanish horses were washed ashore from
some of the wrecked vessels of the Armada. These animals were reputed
to have been taken to Newmarket and other places with the view of
improving the native breed; but as regards this, and indeed most of
the so-called facts about the horse-breeding of that period, no very
reliable evidence exists.

It was, during the reign of James I., however, that the race-horse as
now known to us began to be developed. That monarch, determined England
should be foremost in the art of horse-breeding, purchased from a Mr.
Markham an Arabian horse that set a distinct mark on the national stud;
the animal is reputed to have cost £154, a very considerable sum of
money in the days of the first James. The horse proved a "duffer" on
the racecourse, but was doubtless of service in "blooding" the then
courser of the nation. The King, not disheartened by the want of the
quality of speed in the foreigner, purchased the White Turk from Mr.
Place. The Duke of Newcastle having taken a dislike to the Arabians,
endeavoured to write them down in his work, the "General System of
Horsemanship." His opinion of the horse was that it possessed size,
but, lacking substance, was not a weight carrier. During the reign of
James I., horse-racing began to grow into a popular sport, and the
rules and regulations then introduced for its conduct developed in time
into the elaborate system with which we are now familiar.

Of the Darley Arabian which laid the foundation of our modern stock of
racing horses, a brief account may not be without interest.

The Mr. Darley who obtained and sent to England this celebrated animal,
was a merchant in the Levant with a wide circle of acquaintances;
being a hunting man and Yorkshire to boot, he was possessed of good
knowledge of horse flesh. Knowing the value of the Arabian horse, he
exerted his interest to procure a famous example of the breed, and
was so successful as to obtain a very fine animal at a moderate sum.
The horse being quickly sent over to this country, was placed in
charge of Mr. Darley's brother at Buttercramb near York, where he soon
distinguished himself at the stud; he got Almanzor, Childers, Cupid,
Brisk, Dædalus, Dart, Skipjack, Uranica, Aleppo, as also brother to
Almanzor, which, however, from meeting with an accident, never ran on
the turf.

Before the advent of the Darley horse in the reign of Queen Anne,
other Arabians had been brought to England. The Leedes Arabian, the
sire of Ariadne, was first known as the Northumberland Arabian, his
name being changed on becoming the property of Mr. Leedes of North
Melford, Yorkshire. Foaled in 1755, that horse was purchased in Zemine
from the Immaum of Sinna in Arabia Felix, and was brought to England
along with another horse, known in Lord Northumberland's stud as the
Golden Arabian, by a Mr. Phillips, well-known in his day for his "good
judgment of horses." The Brown Arabian served in the Northumberland
stud until the year 1766, when he was used by Mr. Leedes. Although
this foreigner was not in great demand, he was the sire of some good
winning horses. Other foreign horses which have left their mark on
the English stud were Mr. Honeywood's White Arabian, and the horse
which was sire of Makeless, and also of Bald Frampton, likewise of
the far-famed Scottish Galloway, which beat the Duke of Devonshire's
Dimple. The Arabian mare (by the Cullen Arabian out of an Arabian mare)
was bred by the Duke of Cumberland. One of the finest of the Eastern
horses brought to this country was known as the Newcombe Bay Mountain
Arabian. Standing at John Giles's farm near Southgate, Middlesex, he
sired several very good horses.

The Cullen Arabian just referred to was brought to England by Mr.
Mosco, from Constantinople; the horse had been bred in the Royal stud,
and was of grand descent and greatly esteemed for his pure blood; he
was presented to the British Consul by the Emperor of Morocco, and
ultimately became the property of Lord Cullen. The Cullen Arabian,
after covering at Rushton in Northamptonshire (at ten guineas), died in
the year 1761. Another foreign horse of some repute was the celebrated
Damascus Arabian, foaled in 1754 and brought to England in September,
1760. He covered at various places, and was considered a very fine
specimen of the Eastern horse.

The following account of this animal was written on stamped paper and
exhibited at Smeaton, near North Allerton, Yorkshire, where he at one
time covered, and could be seen as lately as 1807. "He was bred by
the Arab who was Sheick or Chief of Aeria--a person who was noted for
his breed of horses, and was presented when a foal to the Bashaw of
Damascus, and given by him to a rich Turkey merchant at Aleppo with
whom the Bashaw had heavy dealings in money affairs. He was bought at
two years old by an English gentleman, in whose possession he continued
till his arrival in England."

The Damascus Arabian was the sire of Signal and other animals. The
Chestnut Arabian may be next referred to. He was brought to England
by the Earl of Kinoul, from Constantinople, having cost the British
Ambassador over £200. He got several useful race-horses, being sire of
Narcissus, Nimrod, and Polydore, the property of Lord Northumberland.
The fee charged was five guineas, with five shillings to the groom.

The pedigrees of some of our best race-horses can, it is said, be
traced back to Lord Lonsdale's Bay Arabian, sire of Monkey and Spider.
The name of the Coombe Arabian, sire of Methodist, may also be included
in the catalogue of those celebrities which came to England from a
foreign land. The history of Mr. Bell's Grey Arabian must be given at
some length. It was industriously circulated that this horse had cost
much more money in purchase, bribes, and transport than any animal
of the kind previously brought to England. He was bought at a place
that was thirty days' distance from the port at which he would have
to be embarked for England, namely, St. Jean d'Acre. Mr. Bell, his
ultimate owner, employed a person named Philip John, an Armenian, to
negotiate the purchase at any price of a first-rate Arabian to be
sent to England for breeding purposes. Philip John did his very best
in the way of bribing and bullying, and was granted the favour in the
end of purchasing Bell's Arabian, as the horse was called, out of
the personal stud of Berrysucker, a chief of Arabs, receiving at the
same time a certificate of its pedigree and of it being of the right
Jelfz's blood--a perfect descent and a true Arab steed of the desert.
The covering fee for this Arabian was ten guineas, and he stood at Mr.
Carver's, Goulder's Green, near Barnet, in the year 1765. He was the
sire of Sir C. Bunbury's Orlando and many other good horses. Nothing
romantic is connected with those horses; they were sought for and
purchased as a matter of business, and doubtless in the hope they would
some day leave an impressive mark on British racing stock.

Another foreign horse which proved of undoubted value to the British
stud, was the Godolphin Arabian.

Different tales have been told regarding the history of this notable
animal, particularly that he was found in the ignoble employment of a
Parisian carter, so little was the value put upon his possession at one
time. Although called an Arabian, more likely the horse was a _barb_,
as his "points" were chiefly of that caste. This animal was supposed to
have been foaled in the year 1724, and when he attained full growth he
stood about 15 hands high. The probability is that Godolphin was sent
from the Emperor of Morocco as a present to Louis XIV. He was brought
to England by a Mr. Coke, who gave him to Roger Williams, of the St.
James's Coffee House. The horse was presented by Mr. Williams to Earl
Godolphin, who kept him in his stud till the period of his death. The
Godolphin Arabian was the sire of Lath, one of the finest animals of
his day. In Whyte's History, in addition to other valuable information
utilised in these pages, a list of forty colts got by this Arabian is
given; as also of twenty fillies. "Every superior race-horse since
his time up to the present day partakes of his valuable blood." The
Godolphin Arabian "died at Gog Magog in Cambridgeshire in 1753, being
supposed to be then in the twenty-ninth year of his age, and is buried
in a covered passage leading to the stable with a flat stone over him,
without any inscription."

The roll of distinguished foreigners is not completed by the Godolphin
Arabian. Louis XIV. received another present from Muley Ishmael, King
of Morocco; that was a horse known afterwards as the Curwen bay barb,
from the name of the gentleman who brought him to England. He was not
much used, except in the case of Mr. Curwen's own mares. Among the
horses of the desert, which had been brought to England, there was
also the Sedley Grey Arabian, he was the sire of Coquette and also of
Bistern, who was the property of Lord Bolingbroke; there was likewise
the Toulouse barb, sire of the famous Ryegateman, dam of Cinnamon.
The Marshall of Selaby Turk, which played an important part among
the race-horses of the period, ultimately became the property of Mr.
Marshall, the stud-groom of King William, Queen Anne, and George III.
The Byerly Turk cannot be passed without some notice: he was ridden
by his owner as a charger in Ireland, during King William's wars, and
became the sire of Sprite, a really good horse, the property of the
Duke of Kingston. The names of Ancaster Turk, the Belgrade Turk, the
White Turk, can only be mentioned.[3]

Much scorn has been evinced at the poor part which was played by
some "horses of the East" on Newmarket Heath, when they ran in one
or two races, alongside, or rather behind some of our national bred
horses. Racing critics have perhaps been rather hurried in coming
to a conclusion, they have apparently forgotten that these Eastern
animals have not been accustomed to do what our horses are trained to
accomplish. Although these imported Easterns are not fit to figure
on a race-course alongside our English animals, they may yet become
of value, by invigorating the race-horses of a future day. What has
been done before may be done again. As is well known, many good judges
are of opinion it is "in-breeding" which is depriving the race-horses
of the period of stamina, and that, in consequence, it may prove
advantageous once more to resort to the fountain-head. Mr. Blunt, some
years ago, brought this matter before the Jockey Club, and he deserves
commendation for doing so. His argument was that the speed which
characterises the English horses of the turf was developed from Arabian
blood, and that we should, in short, begin again to breed from the Arab.

This idea has been ridiculed by many racing men; but much that is
useful and profitable has been born of ridicule, and there is no reason
why the experiment advocated by Mr. Blunt should not be tried, and,
moreover, meet with sympathy. Who can tell what the result might prove
to be? not of course in one year, or even four or five years, but
ultimately. Let the blood be given time to tell. The splendid animal,
the galloping machine which is now in use, has taken hundreds of years
to make; it is unfair to expect, therefore, that any great improvement
of our old stock, or the making of an entire new breed, can be
accomplished off hand. The blood of the Darley Arabian has had a long
descent in its two lines from his sons, and how it has become mixed
with the blood of the Godolphin horse and the Byerly Turk in a line of
splendid horses, any pedigree-table will show.

It has been argued that in the days of old there was really good
work to be done, as English horses, previous to the advent of the
illustrious foreigners, were "nothing to speak of," and, consequently,
in need of the very elements which the Arabian horses were formed to
supply, and which, having been got, now remain with us for all time.
As has been pointed out by competent authorities, there are horses in
the East, other than those of Arabia, which deserve consideration;
the difficulty is how to obtain good examples of them. It is supposed
that not one of the really fine Eastern Barbs or other horses can be
purchased for any amount of money. As a matter of fact stallions are
rare, being owned chiefly by the heads of tribes, who only can afford
to keep them; poorer persons are quite contented to have a mare--"a
mare," they say, "that produces a mare is the head of riches," and all
Arabs are strong believers in the proverb of their country that "the
foal follows the stallion."


[1] In Whyte's "History of the Turf" it is stated that the earliest
mention of running horses is of those in the 9th century sent by the
founder of the Royal house of Capet, in France, as a present to King
Athelstan, whose sister he was soliciting in marriage.

[2] Bribing.

[3] The foregoing notes, it is proper to state, have been "collected"
and adapted from a variety of books and periodicals too numerous to
mention, and must be taken "errors excepted."


"Newmarket may truly be styled the classic ground of racing, and
it is there only that this delightful sport may be said to exist
in perfection. No crowd, no booths impede the view; none of those
discordant noises which make a perfect babel of other racecourses
distract the attention. The number of spectators seldom exceeds 500,
and they are mostly of the higher classes, the majority on horseback,
with perhaps a few close carriages and barouches."

The words given above were written previous to 1840, by a well-known
turf historian. Since then numerous changes have occurred at Newmarket,
the sacred heath having even on occasions been invaded by "the roughs."
At one period the place was doubtless all that has been pictured, and,
as "head-quarters," the metropolis of the turf, it has always been of
importance to racing men, and a well-known seat of training for horses
and riders. As many probably as 1,000 race-horses of all ages, it has
been computed, are housed in the training stables of Newmarket.

In considering the part which Newmarket has played in the history of
the turf, it will be as well, however, to begin at the beginning.

In the days of the second Charles, Newmarket was highly favoured by
King and Court. Although the breezy downs of Epsom were much nearer
London, His Majesty, with a party of friends in his train, visited
Newmarket much oftener than he did any other centre of racing or
hunting sports.

The earliest time at which racing took place at head-quarters was in
the reign of James I., who is said to have "permanently established
meetings, and first attended in person in the third year of his reign

During the reign of this monarch, racing made considerable progress,
the reputation of Newmarket as a centre of sport being enhanced for a
time by the arrival of some of the horses saved from the wreck of the
Spanish Armada. During the reign of Charles I., racing fell off as a
consequence of the Civil War, only to be revived with greater éclat
in the following reign; from the moment that Charles II. ascended
the throne, racing began again to flourish at Newmarket. The "Merry
Monarch," being particularly fond of racing, and indeed of all kinds
of pastime, passed much of his time at the chief seat of sport, having
erected there a palace for himself and a fine stable for his stud. In a
work on the horse, written by John Lawrence, it is stated that at one
time there was to be seen on Warrenhill, what was termed the King's
Chair, from which His Majesty viewed the horses at exercise; it was
customary for persons who took an interest in the pursuits of the turf
to visit that part of the heath at Newmarket once a year--on a certain
day in springtime--to see the coursers gallop up to this seat, on
which occasions both lads and horses were clad in new clothes.

The King's partiality for Newmarket is often alluded to in the
literature, or rather written records of the period. In Pepys' Diary,
more than one entry refers to the "Merry Monarch's" fondness for the
pastime of racing; as for instance, May 22nd, 1668: "The King and Duke
of York and Court are at this day at Newmarket, at a great horse-race;"
again on March 7th, 1669: "I hear that the King and the Duke of York
set out for Newmarket by three in the morning, to see some foot and
horse-races." Having recourse to the Diary of Pepys once more, we find
him saying, in an entry dated March 8th: "To Whitehall, from whence
the King, and the Duke of York, the Duke of Monmouth, and the Prince
Rupert, at the King's gate in Holborne; and the King all dirty, but not
hurt. How it came to pass I know not, but only it was dark, and the
torches did not, they say, light the coach as they should do." Again, a
few weeks after this mishap, on April 26th, Pepys tells us: "The King
and Court went out of town to Newmarket this morning betimes for a

These extracts not only illustrate the fact of the sport of
horse-racing being in progress at Newmarket at the period indicated,
but are also valuable as an illustration of the travelling facilities
of the time and the risks endured by Royalty.

A peep at the kind of racing then in vogue has been vouchsafed to us
by the Duke of Tuscany. The races of May 9th, 1669, at which the King
and the Duke of York were both present, are thus described in his
Grace's "Journal of his Travels in England": "The racecourse is a
tract of ground in the neighbourhood of Newmarket, which, extending to
the distance of four miles over a spacious level meadow, covered with
very short grass, is marked out by tall wooden posts painted white.
The horses intended for this exercise, in order to render them more
swift, are kept always girt, that their bellies may not drop, and
thereby interfere with the agility of their movements. When the time
of the races draw near, they feed them with the greatest care and very
sparingly, giving them for the most part, in order to keep them in full
vigour, beverages of soaked bread and fresh eggs."

The dish of sport set before His Majesty was not "up to much" when
compared with the Newmarket racing of to-day. Only two horses started
with riders in "white" and "green," the latter proving victorious;
the race, of course, witnessed by the King and his retinue, all
mounted. It appears to have been the fashion of the day for the retinue
to accompany the running horses, and to head them, waiting at the
winning-post for their arrival and the coming of His Majesty with his
numerous train of ladies and gentlemen. A blaze of trumpets and a
flourish of alarm drums announced the victory, after which the Royal
party adjourned to the house. The Duke of Tuscany, in describing the
race, says that "the horses were not let out at first, but were much
reserved lest strength should fail them; but the further they advanced
in the course, the more their riders urged them, forcing them at length
to full speed."

This primitive kind of racing probably continued for fifty or sixty
years; it was, however very much thought of by those who saw it, and
Newmarket, as the seat of sport, continued to attract much attention.
In Evelyn's diary of date July 20th, 1670, there occurs this entry: "We
went to see the stables and fine horses, of which many were here kept
at a vast expense, with all the art and tenderness imaginable."

That the "Merry Monarch" and his friends enjoyed Newmarket there is
abundant evidence to show. "I lodged this night at Newmarket," says
Evelyn, 21st October, 1671, "where I found the jolly blades racing,
dancing, feasting, and revelling, more resembling a luxurious and
abandoned rout than a Christian Court." A few days previous to that
entry there is the following: "I went after evening service to London,
in order to a journey of refreshment with Mr. Treasurer, to Newmarket,
where the King then was, in his coach with six brave horses, which was
changed thrice; first at Bishop's Stortford, and last at Chesterford;
so by night we got to Newmarket, where Mr. Henry Jermain (nephew to the
Earl of St. Albans) lodged me very civilly. We proceeded immediately
to Court, the King and all the English gallants being there at their
autumnal sports. Supped at the Lord Chamberlain's, and the next day
after dinner I was on the heath, where I saw the great match run
between Woodcock and Flatfoot, belonging to the King and to Mr. Elliott
of the Bed-chamber, many thousands being spectators; a more signal race
had not been run for many years."

A remarkable set of rules for the guidance of those taking part in the
competition for the original Town Plate was devised in this reign,
and, as will be evident from the following extracts, afforded a
foundation for many of the rules of racing, which afterwards came in
use all over England.

One of the rules is worded as follows: "Every horse that rideth shall
be bridled, saddled, and shod, and his rider shall weigh twelve stone,
fourteen pounds to the stone, and every rider that wanteth above one
pound and a half after he hath rid the heat, shall win no plate or
prize." Another rule says: "Whosoever doth stop or stay any of the
horses that rideth for this plate or prize, if he be either owner,
servant, party, or bettor, and it appears to be willingly done, he
shall win no plate, prize, or bets." Moreover, "Every rider that layeth
hold on, or striketh any of the riders, shall win no plate or prize."
Another rule confers on the judges the following power: "Any of the
judges may call any of the riders at the end of any of the heats, and
if he be found to have fraudulently cast away any of his weight and
want any more than his pound and a half, he shall lose the plate,
prize, and stakes." One more extract from these rules will suffice:
"Whosoever winneth the plate or prize shall give to the clerk of the
course twenty shillings to be distributed to the poor on both sides of
Newmarket, and twenty shillings to the clerk of the race, for which he
is to keep the horse plain and free from holes and cart roots."

Betting and "turf profligacy" of all kinds were in these times indulged
in at Newmarket to an extent far beyond the bounds of morality and
prudence, and, although King and Court were, so to put it, in "the
swim" of all that occurred, an Act of Parliament required to be passed
to restrain gaming and betting on race-horses to an excessive amount
"on tick or credit." It was upon the Act which was then passed that
the celebrated _Qui Tam_ actions, brought in 1843-44 against certain
noblemen and gentlemen to recover penalties for betting, were chiefly
or at any rate partly based. It may be as well to state here the scope
of the Act, which was entitled, "An Act against deceitful, disorderly,
and excessive gaming."

The preamble of this piece of legislation was decidedly couched in
severe language; it asserted that all games and exercises, when not
used in an innocent and moderate manner, encourage idleness and tend to
a dissolute course of life, and to the debauching of the nobility and
gentry and others; to the loss of their precious time, and the utter
ruin of their estates and fortunes. Following this exordium, it was
duly enacted that no person, by the exercise of deceit, could obtain
any sum or sums of money or other valuable lost to them at any of the
games of the period, which, as set forth, were Cards, Dice, Tables,
Tennis, Bowles, Kittles, Shovel-board, Cock-fighting, Horse-racing, Dog
matches, and Foot races; but, on the other hand, would be required to
forfeit and lose treble the sum or value of money, one moiety thereof
to be given to the King, the other half being destined for the person
aggrieved. It was also at the same time enacted for the better avoiding
and preventing of all excessive and immoderate playing and gaming for
the time to come, that no person could recover any sum betted on credit
which was above the value of one hundred pounds, and that persons
betting on tick or credit above that sum shall forfeit and lose treble
the value of all such sum or sums of money or valuables which they
shall so win.

In the brief reign of James II., nothing occurred at Newmarket, or,
indeed, at any other seat of racing sport, of any great interest to
followers of the turf. The reign of William and Mary is equally barren;
but in the days of Queen Anne, the pastime of horse-racing flourished
exceedingly. That august sovereign not only added considerably to the
number of Royal plates, but actually ran for them in her own name, as
the following entry in the "Racing Register" will show.

    YORK, _Monday, July 28th, 1712_.--Her Majesty's Gold Cup, value 100
    gs., for six years old, 12 st., four mile heats.

    Mr. Watson's dun horse. Farmer         1   1
    Mr. Carr's gr. h., Sturdy Lump         4   2
    Her Majesty's gr. g., Pepper           5   3

    Also ran, Monkey, Spot, Milksop, Blackfoot, and Mustapha.

Her Majesty evidently had a companion to Pepper in Mustard, a nutmeg
grey horse by the Taffolet, or Morocco barb, which ran at York on
August 3rd, 1713, but only got seventh and fifth in his heats.

The following information regarding the different contests at Newmarket
is derived from Whyte's "History of the British Turf":

"At Newmarket, till the year 1744, there were only two plates run for
in October, viz., the King's Plate and the Town Plate; but in 1744, the
trading inhabitants of Newmarket raised two plates of 50 gs. each: one
for five years old, 9 st., and the other free for any horse, 9 st. 4
lb., mile heats. There was also 50 gs. raised by the contributions of
persons of property, for four years old, 8 st. 7 lb. each, four miles.
At this period there were only two meetings at Newmarket, the first in
April and the other in October; but in 1753 there was a Spring Meeting
added, in which two Jockey Club Plates and several matches were run
for. In 1759 the Weights and Scales Plate was begun; in 1762 a second
October Meeting commenced of sweepstakes and matches; in 1765 the July
Meeting; in 1770 the Houghton Meeting; and in 1771 the Craven Meeting,
with a subscription of five guineas each, twenty-one subscribers,
called the Craven Stakes, for all ages, from the ditch to the turn of
the lands, which stakes were won by Mr. Vernon's Pantaloon, beating
thirteen others."

"All the above meetings," adds Mr. Whyte, "are still continued, and
several plates and sweepstakes are added to each" ("History of the
British Turf," 1840). In the year 1727, eleven Royal plates were run
for in England, one of these being run for at Newmarket.

Turning now to the annals of racing as recorded in the "Register"
(Baily's), it will be found that the pastime had become regular at
Newmarket by the year 1718; in October of that year twelve races took
place, extending from the 1st to the 31st. In the following year,
the Spring Meeting is recorded as being held in April, on six days
of which month there was sport on the classic heath; in October and
November, ten days of racing was provided. Next year, 1720, the racing
at Newmarket was considerably augmented, nineteen days being devoted
to the sport in April and May, and the same number of days in September
and October. A Royal plate always forms one of the trophies to be run
for, in heats of course. Both King's plates in this year were won by
the Duke of Rutland, who took the plate of April, 1721, also by the
aid of Fox, who won it in the previous October. Twenty-four races took
place at Newmarket in 1721, most of them matches.

Passing to the year 1731, fifteen days' racing are noted as having
taken place during April and May, whilst ten days were devoted to
the sport in October and November; most of the races being run in
heats; matches, however, begin about this period to be noted among
the results. In 1742, six races only are recorded as being run at
Newmarket, of the October Meeting only the race for His Majesty's Plate
is mentioned, which was won by Mr. Panton's Spinster. Making a jump
of twenty years, it may be stated that the kind of racing in 1751 is
much the same as the races previously chronicled. In the spring there
are "His Majesty's Plate of 100 gs. for six year olds, 12st," the same
for mares, two fifty guinea purses, a sweepstake of 100 gs. and the
subscription plate of £100 11s. for five years old, 10 st. "Nine days
were devoted to the sport in September and October; one of the races
during that month was a sweepstake of 135 gs. for the first, and 30 gs.
for the second, weights 12 st.; it was run in heats."

In 1781, the fashions of the Newmarket races had somewhat changed;
sport began in April, with the Craven Stakes of 10 gs. each for two,
three, four, five, six, and aged horses, from the ditch to the turn of
the lands, each class of horse carrying the same weight. Racing took
place on only two days, but in that space of time eleven races were
decided. The First Spring Meeting followed on April 16th, lasting to
the 21st, during which period some important contests took place for
large stakes. The Second Spring Meeting of that year was held from
May 7th, to May 12th, when no less than forty-three races were run
and decided, most of them being matches. There was a meeting in July,
beginning on the 10th, and continued on the 11th and 12th. Then came
the First October Meeting, which lasted six days, and during which
thirty-two races were run. The Second October Meeting commenced on
the 15th, with "Fifty pounds, the winner to be sold for 150 gs. if
demanded," twenty-two other races followed, and sport terminated on the
20th. At the Houghton Meeting, which began on October 29th, nineteen
different events were decided, the greater number of them being
matches; only four races, indeed, were run which were not matches.

At the present time (1891), seven meetings are still held at
"head-quarters," they are as follows: Newmarket Craven, four days;
First Spring Meeting, four days; Second Spring Meeting, three days;
July Meeting, four days; Newmarket First October, four days; Newmarket
Second October, five days; Houghton Meeting, from Monday till Friday.

During the last thirty-five years, Newmarket has greatly flourished,
and is becoming every day of greater importance. At the time indicated
above it was a poor place, many gentlemen declining to send their
horses to be trained there, some of them would not believe its being
possible to train a Derby winner on the heath. For several years, no
winner of the Derby was trained at Newmarket. By 1860, however, fortune
had begun to smile on the place, which may be said, with the advent of
the Dawson family, to have commenced a career of prosperity which still
goes on. Mr. Joseph Dawson came first with the horses of Lord Stamford;
Mr. Mathew Dawson followed, and to that gentleman's care Lord Falmouth
entrusted his horses; Mr. John Dawson likewise took up his quarters
at Newmarket. Other trainers speedily blossomed into importance, and
Newmarket horses began to make their mark on every racecourse in the
kingdom, so that the town speedily became important as a great training
centre, the best training talent of the kingdom indeed became centred
at head-quarters, and from 1863 to the present year the town has
flourished exceedingly. Land has of late become so valuable that it is
difficult to procure a site for a house or a stable under an impossible
price. The numerous persons engaged in the training stables create a
large amount of remunerative business to the tradespeople, whilst the
building operations of the last twenty years have given employment to a
regiment of mechanics and labourers.

It is affirmed that the business of horse-racing is seen at its best
at Newmarket; but such a statement may be taken for what it is worth,
as the arrangements made at the gate money meetings are remarkably
perfect. It is quite on the cards that the racing tracks at Newmarket
will speedily be so enclosed that no outsider will be able to witness
the sport, various movements in that direction having already taken



Racing of some kind, good or bad as may happen, is carried on, not
only at Newmarket, but at many other places all the year round. When
flat-racing ceases, steeple-chasing follows, and proceeds till what
is called "the legitimate season" begins; it occupies the period
from about the end of March till the close of November. Hardened
turfites, that is men who make racing and betting the business of
their lives, long, it is said, in the early part of the year to hear
the saddling-bell sound at Lincoln where the first meeting is held;
and from that much-talked-of seat of sport they journey to Liverpool,
and thence to Northampton and other seats of horse-racing, pursuing
their business most industriously, shouting the state of the odds with
stentorian lungs and booking no end of bets, for wherever half-a-dozen
bookmakers assemble, there will also be found an army of bettors eager
to take "the odds," some of them with "systems" by which they hope to
make their fortunes; others, too, are there, who trust to luck, or the
bringing off of an occasional good thing by means of a tip, which
they may receive from some acquaintance or friend, or they put faith,
perhaps, in the two horse or other wires of some brazen charlatan of
the tipster tribe, of whom for the time they become victims.

The Lincolnshire Handicap is the principal betting race of the
springtime; many horses are usually selected by bettors to win that
event, and one or two of the number will be heavily backed by men,
who, in the end, may see all their cherished mind's eye visions vanish
into thin air, as some quite unthought of outsider romps home an easy
winner. The meeting held at Lincoln occupies three days, and before
it concludes, some of the green hands, who have come on the racing
scene as _débutants_, determined to give the ring a fright by backing
many winners, will have made the old, old discovery over again that
"all is not gold that glitters." New-made owners of horses, too, will
have found out before the expiry of the three days, that men quite
as clever as themselves are ready to fight every inch of the ground.
"Keep thy head cool, lad," said, on one occasion, an old turfite to an
irate young owner, who felt annoyed, or rather aggrieved, at his horse
being placed second in a race which he fancied it had won, "you will
get other chances for your horse; the season is but young, hide your
feelings, you won't do much good at racing if you wear your heart on
your sleeve."

To-day the railways convey the masses in large numbers to the different
seats of sport. Thousands are now seen at Lincoln for the hundreds of
the olden time; but in olden times the classes were more in evidence:
county people came in their own carriages, often from considerable
distances, to be present at their local meetings, "ladies in gay
attire, and gentlemen in brave apparel;" but county ladies are somewhat
chary at the present time of braving the rough-and-ready element
which has become incidental to modern racing, and the very pronounced
rowdyism by which it is accompanied.

The spectators of the various races who assemble on the course near
Liverpool represent all classes, the middle class element being
particularly strong. The favourite race at Aintree at the spring
meeting is the Grand National Steeple-chase. On the day set apart for
the decision of that event, the trains and other conveyances from the
great port take tens of thousands to the scene, all anxious, if not
to witness the exciting event, to gamble upon it, for it is not the
sport that attracts the multitude, it is "the money." Men go upon
racecourses for whom the horses and the work they are set to do have no
charms; what they interest themselves about is the state of the odds.
"Oh," said a so-called Liverpool "sportsman," "I don't care a copper
about seeing the race. I never look at the performance. The horses go
up in the air and come down in the ditches too often for my taste;
one trembles for one's money as one sees the exhibition." There are
doubtless many who hold similar opinions; indeed, it would be curious
to know what proportion of the thousands who attend such a meeting as
that held at Liverpool are there only for the sake of the sport, not
probably ten per cent. of the number!

By the time Northampton is reached, the racing fraternity has been
well shaken down, and the new hands in betting and bookmaking have
got pretty well mixed up with the old. Acquaintances and "pals" have
met once again, and Bill and Tom, and Dick and Harry, have shaken
hands, compared notes, and exchanged small talk. All meet on the
hail-fellow-well-met system. There is no formality. Nomenclature among
the majority of racing-men seldom gets further than the Christian name,
and even that must be abridged. The wealthiest bookmaker, no matter
that he is able to keep a carriage for "the missus," and half-a-dozen
gardeners to grow his grapes, and as many grooms to attend to the
horses of his children, is only Ned, or Ted, or Jack, or Jim, to his
fellows. In these matters the turf is a sad leveller. I have myself
heard Mr. Dawson hailed as "Mat, old man," by a turf loafer whose whole
wardrobe would scarcely fetch two half-crowns, and, "Well, Johnny,"
has been addressed to Mr. Osborne by a half-drunken cabman who fancied
he was patronising that well-known horseman by addressing him so
familiarly. The late Mr. Merry of St. James's Street, who was long
connected with the turf, I remember knocked down a very cheeky turf
vagabond, who had the impudence to address him as "Sam" in the presence
of some members of his family.

It is not my cue to follow the racing crowd on tour, or to fill many
of the following pages with an account of what takes place at every
place of meeting. The seats of horse-racing are too numerous to admit
of their being so dealt with; all I desire to do at present, is simply
to give a brief notice of such of the classic horse-racing resorts as
are endowed with a history, such as Chester, York, Doncaster, Ascot,
Goodwood, and Epsom. The meetings which take place at Sandown and
Kempton Parks I leave to be dealt with by other historians.


To Chester must be awarded the merit of having first established
regular meetings. Racing sport at that place has been traced back to
the year 1511, since which 380 years have elapsed, and the races at
Chester still flourish; the theatre of the annual sports being, as at
the time indicated, the Rood Dee, which had always been the arena in
which the Chester people displayed their powers. It was there where
they contested the palm in archery, pedestrianism, wrestling, and
similar sports, and also the place where they exhibited their skill in
mimic warfare.

Although for nearly a hundred years racing of a kind took place between
the walls of the city on one side, and the river on the other, it was
not till 1609 that racing at Chester came to be organised in something
like the shape of the racing contests of to-day. The first prizes given
appear to have been a bell and a bowl, to be run for on St. George's
Day; the donor of those gifts was the sheriff of the city, and the
trophies were presented with much civic pomp and pretence. Trifling
nowadays seem such gifts in the face of the thousands of pounds
of added money, and the sideboard pieces of silver and gold which
signalise many of the race-meetings of to-day throughout the three

The races held at Chester were originally promoted by the traders who
carried on business there, such as the Company of Shoemakers and the
Company of Drapers, and were celebrated, of course, on the various
annual holidays of the far back times just mentioned. A quaint account
of the original races run on the Rood Dee was drawn up in 1595, by
"that Reverend man of God, Mr. Robert Rodgers, bachelor of Divinitie,
Archdeacon of Chester, parsone of Gooseworth and Prebend in the
Cathedral of Chester." This clerical worthy tells us that at Chester
"there is held every year three of the most commendable exercises and
practices of war-like feates, as running of men on foote, running of
horses, and shootinge of the broad arrowe, and the butt shaft in the
long bowe, which is done in very few (if in any) citties of England,
soe farr as I understand."

The same authority in his notes tells how the saddlers' ball,
"profitable for few uses or purposes," being a ball of silk, of the
bigness of a bowl, was changed into a silver bell weighing about two
ounces, "the which saide silver bell was ordayned to be the reward for
that horse, which with speedy runninge, then should rune before all the
others." In the notes it is also stated that the shoemakers' footeball
was before exchanged into silver gleaves. Without taking up space
with particulars which can be obtained in county histories, it may be
mentioned, in passing, that horse-racing was undoubtedly looked upon at
Chester as a national pastime more than two hundred and seventy years
ago. In the pageant for the inauguration of the first great festival
of St. George, horses played a distinguished part, the victors in the
various races being rewarded with the "cups and bels" provided. It
will interest lovers of the turf to learn that the silver bell was of
the then value of three shillings and fourpence.

In a "History of Horse-racing," published in 1863, appears the
following summary of the early history of the sport at Chester: "In
the year 1511, the silver bell of the value of three shillings and
fourpence was first run for as a prize; in 1609 or 1610, the bell was
converted into silver 'cupps,' the value of which is not stated, and
from this date the race was annually run for on the Rood Dee, was then
named and henceforth known as 'St. George's Race'; and in 1623 there
was another alteration made in the prize run for, as in that year the
three cups were changed into 'one faire silver cupp,' of about the
value of eight pounds. With regard to the prizes, the silver bell run
for in 1511 was apparently an absolute gift to the winner. The cups
offered in 1609, however, were only temporary rewards, held by the
winners for the space of twelve months, when the holders were under
bond to deliver up the cups to be again run for; but they retained the
amount in cash of the value of the cups as subscribed for by those who
ran horses for the prize, and which was a condition of the race. But
this again was altered in 1623, when the prize was once more to be held
'freely for ever by the winner.'"

Various alterations were from time to time made in the value of the
Rood Dee prizes; in 1629, the city companies contributed to St.
George's Race, to make up a certain sum of money; in the year 1640, the
sheriffs contributed a piece of plate of the value of £13 6s. 8d. to
be run for on Easter Tuesday, in place of a breakfast of calves' heads
and bacon, which it had previously been the custom for the two sheriffs
to shoot for on Easter Monday. In these early days of the pastime of
horse-racing, there was only one day in which a race took place, one
race only being run, and occasionally there was no lack of excitement;
in 1665, for instance, there was a "row," because "the High Sheriff
borrowed a Barbary horse of Sir Thomas Middleton, which won him the
plate; and, being master of the race, he would not suffer the horses of
Master Massey of Paddington, and of Sir Philip Egerton of Dalton, to
run, because they came the day after the time prefixed for the horses
to be brought and kept in the city; which thing caused all the gentry
to relinquish the races ever since."

Having established Chester's pride of place in the chronology of the
turf, the history of horse-racing as then carried on need scarcely be
further alluded to, except to show how gradual was the change from the
meagre sport of 1665 to the prolific pastime of the present period.
In 1745, Chester races, we learn, occupied four days, but only one
race took place each day; a case of linked sweetness long drawn out.
During the year just named, the four prizes contended for were the
St. George's Purse, of the value of £50, for which there was a field
of nine horses; the City's Golden Cup of £60, five starters; the
Contribution Plate of 50 gs., for which four horses ran.

_Lloyd's Evening Post_ of 21st March, 1780, gives the worth and
conditions of the chief race as then run, which are as follows: "On
Thursday, the 4th May, the Annual City Plate, valued £30, with a
purse of £20, given by the Corporation, for five, six-year-olds, and
aged horses; five-year-olds to carry 8st. 2lb., six-year-olds, 8st.
11lb., and aged, 9st. 5lb., mares to be allowed 3lb.; the best of three
four-mile heats. To pay five shillings to the clerk of the course, and
three guineas of entrance." The races decided at Chester continued to
multiply, as time went on, till the institution of the race for the
Tradesman's Cup, in 1824.

It would have been interesting to be able to chronicle more exactly
the rise of racing at Chester and other seats of the sport; but in
early days the records of the sport enjoyed were, in all probability,
never committed to paper, at all events they do not exist, so far as
is known to historians of the turf, in any consultative form. It would
be a sight worth seeing if the race for the St. George's Cup, with all
its surroundings of two centuries and a half ago, could be reproduced
on the Rood Dee "some fine morning in the merry month of May," to be
viewed alongside the struggle for Chester's greatest prize of to-day.
At the time when "the Cup" was instituted, the sport of racing had
attained a high position both at Chester and some other parts of
England, "the races" formed a meeting-place of the county people
which was largely taken advantage of for assemblies and other social
gatherings; but that is not the case to-day, when people arrive to see
the races by some forenoon train, and the moment sport ceases, depart
as hurriedly as they came.


"The great County of York" was famed at an early date for its seats of
racing. The "Turf Annals" of York and Doncaster have an historian in
John Orton, keeper of the match-book and clerk of the course, York. The
capital of the great county, as that gentleman tells us, was the first
to chronicle her sports, and to Yorkshire, "the British turf," he says,
"has perhaps been more indebted for the superior breed and present
perfection of the high mettled racer, than any other portion of the

Orton in his compilation--a most useful work, to which writers about
"the turf" have often been indebted--only deals with the accredited
figures of racing, when the results began to be chronicled in a
somewhat formal manner. But long before the date of the first race
given in his volume, "York, 1709," the sport of horse-racing had been
inaugurated, the prize as usual in those early days being a small
golden or silver bell, to be carried presumably, in all time coming,
by the victorious horse. In Camden's "Britannia" (1590) we are told of
horse-racing having taken place in a forest on the east side of the
city of York.

A horse-race it is recorded was run on the River Ouse when it was
frozen over in 1607, and also in the following year. There is plenty
of evidence as to the fact of horse-racing having taken place in these
early days (1590); but it was long after that period before the sport
was made to assume the shape which immediately preceded the business
kind of racing with which so many persons are familiar at the present

Some racing commentators have asserted that racing began on Knavesmire,
so early as 1709, and that the races at once became successful. The
citizens, it is said, in that year "made a collection, with which they
purchased five plates, which were run for over Knavesmire, and from
that period to the present the annual meetings have been supported with
much spirit." But the first race contested on that now famous course
was in the year 1731. It was run on Monday, August 16th, being for His
Majesty's 100 gs. for six-year-old horses, etc., 12 st., four-mile
heats, the race being won by Lord Lonsdale's c. h. Monkey, by his
lordship's bay Arabian, dam by Curwen's bay barb; racing continued
throughout the whole week, four of the contests being in four-mile
heats, the other race being the Ladies' Plate of £60, for five-year-old
horses, etc., carrying 10 st. The racing, as established in Yorkshire
in 1709, took place over Clifton and Rawcliffe Ings, about one and a
half miles north of the city. From that year onwards, racing was kept
up over the same course, and the reason given for changing to the
Knavesmire was the races having on one occasion to be postponed on
account of the River Ouse having overflowed its banks.

It will, perhaps, give a good idea of the times now spoken of, when it
is stated that, during the running over Clifton and Rawcliffe Ings, on
Monday, August 2nd, 1714, when the race for a gold cup of the value
of £60 was being decided, an express arrived with news of the death
of Her Majesty the Queen (Anne), upon which the nobility and gentry
immediately left the field, and attended the Lord Mayor (William
Redman, Esq.), and Archbishop Dawes, who proclaimed His Majesty King
George I., after which most of the nobility set off for London.

In the year 1715, there was run at Black Hambledon, a race for His
Majesty's Gold Cup, value 100 gs., for five-year-old mares. This cup,
it has been explained, was originally free to be run for by any horse,
mare, or gelding not exceeding five years old; but in the reign of
Queen Anne, the conditions were altered, mares only being allowed to
run. The first Hambledon Gold Cup was won by Sir William Strickland's
horse, Sphynx. The Gold Cup continued to be run for apparently till
1775, when, by His Majesty's commands, it was ordered to be run for
alternately at York and Richmond.

Two hundred and eighty-five years ago, there was a racecourse at
Doncaster; there is a record, in the year 1600, of action being
taken to clear the course of some impediment that had been placed
upon it. So far back, indeed, as 1595, there were two racecourses at
Doncaster--there is said to be a plan or map, still extant, showing
the lines of the track. Various interesting notes of incidents in
connection with the Town Moor, in what by a little license may be
called its prehistoric days, might be gathered into a focus, more
particularly the particulars of how sport was encouraged in its
infantile aspects by the Corporation of Doncaster; but these, in the
meantime, for divers good reasons, must be passed over.

For the year 1728, we are in possession of the printed record of two
races run on the Town Moor; these were: "On July 22nd, a plate of
twenty guineas, for horses ten stone, four-mile heats, 'won at two
heats, by Captain Collyer's b. h. Drummer, beating five others;' and
on July 23rd, a plate of forty guineas, for six-year-old horses,
four-mile heats, won by Trentham, the property of Lord Gower, which
beat three others." In the following year, there was at least one race
run at Doncaster, while in 1730, there were three different four-mile
heat races contested; in 1731 and 1732, sport again went on, a contest
for "Galloways" having been instituted in the latter year, which was
continued for some seasons. In 1738 there appears to have been an
autumn meeting, of which, however, in the years immediately following
we find no further notice; indeed, for the four years preceding 1751,
there are no returns of races run at Doncaster in print, but, in that
year, three plates of £50 each were contested.

The Marquis of Rockingham comes to the front in 1752, when he gives
a plate of £50, to be run for by four-year-olds that had never
won £50--the trophy was taken by Cato, the property of Mr. Bowes.
At Doncaster, in the year 1755, we find a programme of five races
provided, and a match thrown in the bargain. In those days, sport was
taken in leisure, the programme being spread over the week, at the rate
of one race per diem. Matches, in 1756, seem to have been "all the go,"
as no less than seven were brought off on the Town Moor in that year,
three of them being won by the Marquis of Rockingham, who had by this
time begun to play a prominent part in the Doncaster struggles.


Epsom must now be noticed, if only to say that racing took place
there long before the Derby was thought of, or the Oaks either; but
the beginning of sport on the now famous downs cannot be determined
by any mention of dates. The place, however, was long, long ago
largely frequented as a health resort, becoming at certain seasons
the temporary residence of fashionable people who assembled to drink
"the waters" and hold social communion. Sport of some kind became a
necessity, and King James I., who dwelt in the palace of Nonsuch, at
Epsom, passed much of his time on horseback, being fond of hunting and
also of "horse matches," which frequently took place, to the great
delight of the visitors.

In the reign of Charles I., horse-racing on Banstead Downs would appear
to have been pretty well established on an organised plan; references
to the sport by Pepys are numerous. Looking over the pages of a "Racing
Register" for 1727, the writer found a notice of meetings held on the
2nd, 3rd, and 6th of May, when various "give and take" plates were run
for and decided. For the time, the trophies raced for at the meetings
in question were of some value, one of them being a gold cup worth
forty guineas.

Beginning in the year 1730, racing became annual at Epsom, and was
thereafter carried on with great regularity, and continued to grow in
importance. In 1736, five days' racing was arranged to take place at
intervals. Ten years later, a plate of the value of £50, bestowed by
the Prince of Wales, was one of the trophies run for. In 1756 the total
sum of £200 was raced for at Epsom; in 1766 the amount had been raised
by fifty pounds. In 1782 two meetings were held, in the course of which
a good many events fell to be decided.

The celebrity of Epsom as a seat of sport is, of course, due to its
being the place where is run England's most celebrated race, "the
Derby," some notes on which will be found in this volume. More than
a hundred years have elapsed since Diomed carried the colours of his
owner to victory in the first race for those now popular stakes, under
circumstances of social life which have greatly changed. Not one of
the spectators who witnessed Diomed's Derby victory would, in all
probability, be endowed with the power of forecasting the growth of the
pastime, or the ability to see in his mind's eye the huge proportions
it would in time attain, or the money value which would attach to the
winning horses, or "the annual expenditure of the tens of thousands of
pounds," which would mark the recurrence of the event as it grew in
popularity alike with the owners of competing horses and those who came
to witness the race.


It was the Duke of Cumberland, William, uncle to George III., who
instituted the Ascot Meeting, more than a century and a half ago. The
first reliable notice of racing at this Royal seat of sport gives 1727
as the year of commencement, when two prizes were contended for, the
larger being of the value of forty guineas, the other ten guineas less
than that sum. In the following year one race also of the value of
forty-two pounds took place. For some years afterwards the racing at
Ascot was of an intermittent sort, as no sport took place in the years
1729, 1731-4, nor yet in the years 1737-8, nor in 1740-3. A Yeoman
Pricker's Plate of £50, for hunters only, was instituted in 1744, and,
twenty-five years later, namely, in 1769, the Members and Corporation
of Windsor each subscribed £50 to be raced for. The Duke took immense
interest in the sport at Ascot, which, in its earlier days, was of a
somewhat primitive kind, as were the surroundings vastly different in
every way from what they are to-day.

"A memory has been kept up" of some races contested on the Royal
ground, more particularly of one race, the Oatlands Stakes, run on the
28th of June, 1791, when it was said a hundred thousand pounds changed
hands. The victorious horse on the occasion was the Prince of Wales's
Baronet, which won the race from eighteen competitors. There were
forty-one subscribers of a hundred guineas each, half forfeit, and the
value of the stakes to the owner of the winning horse was 2,950 gs. The
race is said to have been witnessed by about 40,000 persons; but order
was so badly maintained that the venue of the race was shifted in the
next year to Newmarket, where the Oatlands Stakes was run for in April,
the money value involved being 3,725 gs., a large sum for those days.

During the close of the last century, Ascot races enjoyed immense
popularity; they lasted for a week, and afforded a fund of amusement
to all who witnessed them. They were beloved of the King--"the good
old King George III."--who, for a number of years, never missed being
present. He was, at any rate, never absent when the hundred guineas
was run for, which he gave for horses that had been out with the

The gambling pure and simple which, for a long series of years, was a
leading feature of the Ascot festival, is not now tolerated, although
unlimited betting is permitted. There were E. O. tables by the score,
the owners of which were made to subscribe a hundred guineas for the
benefit of the racing fund. These tables were established in tents and
marquees, where all were suited who pleased to try their fortune; even
those who gambled with pence were made welcome. In these "Royal old
days," Ascot, in the way of the times, was quite as fashionable as it
is to-day. Every house and cottage within two miles of the course was
occupied either by pleasure-seekers, or persons who had business to
transact in connection with the horse-races. The rents charged were
exorbitant; the persons who could give accommodation having learned
to make hay while the sun was shining. But sport was good, and the
surroundings were exciting. A feature of the scene, which has long
since been dispensed with, was the hundreds of booths erected for
the accommodation of visitors. Some of these canvas houses were most
commodious, and were used both for dining and sleeping in. The King and
Queen and "the first gentleman of Europe" used to pass along the lines
of the booths.

"Royal Ascot" is richly endowed with racing prizes, and it is
gratifying to know that, although the sum of added money is very
large, the meeting is not only self-supporting, but profitable. It
is but fair to give much of the credit of the success of the Ascot
meetings of recent years to Lord Hardwicke, who, when he officiated as
Master of the Buckhounds, did all he could to add to the attractiveness
of a meeting which had long been celebrated as providing one of the
most fashionable gatherings of London society. Ascot, which has been a
seat of racing for so long a period, has seen several generations of
sportsmen come and go; but to-day it is more gay and brilliant; more
attractive to fine ladies and gay cavaliers than it ever was before.
Princes and Princesses continue to give it their patronage, and the
most celebrated horses of the kingdom compete on its green turf for the
liberal prizes with which the meeting has been endowed.

It is not so easy as it may appear to compile an exact history of any
racecourse. As regards Ascot, one writer tells us that the racecourse,
or, as he calls it, the "Manor of Ascot," is private property,
whilst another authority distinctly states that it is "the property
of the Crown," and that, in consequence, no rent is exacted for the
racecourse. Fees of all kinds, however, are taken in the various
enclosures, and, as a matter of course, admission to the grand stand
and paddock has to be paid for as at other meetings; but as much of the
money taken is given to be raced for, the charges may be tolerated.
The accommodation now provided for the public at Ascot is something
like what it should be; although it still might be improved, it is
wonderfully good when compared with what it was half a century since.

The first stand erected at Ascot for the accommodation of the public
was built by, or at the cost of, a Mr. Slingsby, one of the Royal
tradesmen of the period, a master bricklayer, who was a favourite with
His Majesty "King George III. of blessed memory." This stand, which was
a substantial structure, capable of affording a view of the races to
about 650 persons, was in use till about the year 1840. Two or three
years before that date, a movement for the erection of a larger and
more convenient structure took place, and resulted in the formation
of a company with a capital of £10,000, subscribed in hundred-pound
shares. The money, after considerable difficulty, having been found,
the chief corner-stone of the building was laid in its place by the
Earl of Errol, on the 16th of January, 1839, and the occasion of the
opening of the stand was signalised by the presence of Her Majesty, who
sent for the jockey who rode the winner of the Ascot Stakes, a boy of
the name of Bell, and after complimenting him on his skill and judgment
as a rider, kindly presented him with a ten-pound note. The excellent
riding of this tiny jockey excited an immense amount of admiration,
the boy being almost a mere child, and only weighing fifty-six lbs.
When before the Queen, upon being asked his weight by Her Majesty, he
replied, much to the amusement of the Royal suite: "Please, ma'am,
master says as how I must never tell my weight."

The constitution of the new stand company provided for the application
of the profits realised in the following fashion: To begin with a
dividend of five per cent. to be paid to the shareholders, but
curiously enough, according to the constitution of the company, this
dividend fell to be paid before the wages of the stand servants! When
the dividend, the check-takers and other servants had been paid, a
sum of £500 was then to be allotted for the redemption of five of the
shares, selected by ballot out of the total number. Of the money which
might be left after that had been done, two-thirds was ordained to be
applied to the enrichment of the race fund, and one-third to be divided
among the shares, by way of a bonus, so that, in the course of twenty
years, the stand would become altogether the property of the racing
fund. This, as it may be called, Tontine plan of dealing with the
shares of the Ascot Grand Stand proved, in a sense, a little gold mine
for the shareholders who were so fortunate as not to be balloted out of
the concern, which, from the first, was exceedingly remunerative.

In the very first year, the substantial benefit accrued of £700, whilst
a bonus of eight and a half per cent. was paid to the shareholders. As
in each year the number of participating shares became reduced, the
dividend, of course, was correspondingly increased in amount, the final
dividend on the last five shares having been the handsome one of £175.
It should be stated here, that whilst all the profits of the stand and
paddock were absorbed by the company for division in the mode which
has been stated, the Master of the Buckhounds drew money from those
"betting" on the course, for booths, also for stands for carriages.
The sum taken in the first two or three years was moderate enough,
but from £300 taken in the first year, it had increased in the third
racing season to £1,500, and the money received from these sources of
income is annually increasing. About £15,000 were expended a few years
ago in improving and adding to the accommodation provided by the grand
stand, every department of which is now regulated by the Master of the
Buckhounds; and as the renewed lease obtained from the Crown has still
over forty years to run, it is probable that additional improvements
will be entered upon.

The Ascot Meeting is the next great event in the turf world to the
Epsom Summer Carnival. How rich and varied the stakes are which are now
run on the Royal heath, has been indicated. The various courses are
in fine condition; and the attendance at the meeting, which lasts for
four days, and with which no racing fixture is allowed to clash, is, in
fine weather, enormous; and, although it appears to be impossible to
eliminate the welshing element, Ascot is kept tolerably free as yet,
notwithstanding its proximity to London, from the rowdy element.

During the lifetime of Prince Albert, Her Majesty frequently patronised
the meeting, riding up the course with a numerous suite in what was
called "Ascot State." The Prince and Princess of Wales now take Her
Majesty's place in this ceremonial, and as they come upon the scene
receive a most cordial welcome from the assembled thousands. The
fashionable day _par excellence_ is "the Cup day," a day on which
the upper ten assemble on the Royal heath in their greatest numbers,
"the ladies ablaze with dresses of gorgeous hues, tempered with
trimmings of taste." This racing trophy--the Cup--which many owners
of race-horses would rather win than any other race however richly it
might be endowed, was founded, in 1771, by the Duke of Cumberland, the
subscription being limited to 5 gs. each.


The rise and progress of the Goodwood Meeting may be briefly recorded.
Like Ascot, it is one of the fashionable gatherings of the season.
The Duke of Richmond and Gordon, on hospitable thoughts intent, opens
wide the doors of his commodious mansion; but as he can only entertain
a limited number of his own personal friends, the wonder is that the
stands are so crowded with spectators. The distance of Goodwood Park
from London is more than twice the distance of Ascot, and yet as many
persons seem to frequent the one meeting as the other; hundreds are
contributed from Brighton, Portsmouth, and other towns, and hundreds go
from and return to London every day of the meeting. All the towns and
villages in the vicinity of Goodwood Park are crowded by the strangers
who have come to assist at the meeting, Chichester, in particular,
being the abiding-place of a host of visitors. The houses and cottages
round about fill with lodgers, and country seats are crowded with
guests, all eager to take part in the brilliant scene which, in fine
weather, is worth making a day's journey to see.

The annual meeting in the Duke of Richmond's park forms a fine theme
for the pen of the descriptive reporter, and has been "gushed"
over, in certain of the daily newspapers, in "a perfect paroxysm of
word-painting phrases" during the last twenty years on each succeeding
anniversary of the race. Nor is the work of the "Economist," who
translated the silks and satins of the toilettes of "England's fairest
daughters" into vulgar money's worth, to be ignored. His estimate that
the dresses and "other belongings" of the four hundred and fifty most
fashionable women, from their dainty morocco shoes and silken sandals,
up to the wondrous head fabrics which crowned the high-born, delicate
ladies seen at the two great fashionable meetings of the season, would
cost at the least £200 for each person, is, perhaps, even too moderate;
the total cost of the toilettes of that army of the fair would,
perhaps, on the average of the Goodwood season, be full a £100,000. Was
it not, for instance, recorded by the public press in a scandal case,
that the Ascot and Goodwood trousseau of one fair but frail dame, of
twelve dresses and the accordant "other things" of shoes, fans, gloves,
lace and lingerie, had been charged £1,128? The "Economist's" argument
is that horse-racing, despite its evils, must be tolerated for the
good it does to trade, for the crowds it sends over the railways, for
the gospel of eating, drinking, and dressing which it so eloquently
preaches, all employing tradespeople, and, consequently, circulating

Coming to the facts connected with the institution of the Goodwood
Meeting, it has to be stated on the authority of various historians,
that the meeting was founded in a sportive moment by some officers
of the Sussex Militia, in conjunction with the members of a local
hunt club. The races so organised first took place in the course of
the month of April, 1802, a good beginning being made with a purse
of £613, little more than the half of which was public money, the
sweepstakes entered for amounting to £300.

The meeting was in every respect a successful one, and was continued in
1803 and 1804, but with less popularity, the subscription having fallen
off to a very serious extent. In 1810, there were but two days of
sport, the money run for being a little over £200. Nor up till the year
1827 was there much improvement; till 1825 the public money subscribed
did not total up to a large sum, it varied from £80 to £300, whilst the
money received as sweepstakes amounted to something between £60 and
£600. Two years later, as has been stated, a great improvement began in
the financial resources of the meeting, as was obvious enough from the
amount of money which was run for, the total sum in that year exceeding
£2,000. In 1829 the racecourse was altered and improved, and the amount
of cash expended in the shape of stakes was £3,285. The year following
the new grand stand was opened; and in 1831 the Royal purse of 100 gs.
was procured to be annually run for.

From this period Goodwood races made great progress; and between the
years 1832 and 1835, the average annual amount of the stakes contested
for was £6,000. In 1837 the amount had increased to £11,145; and what
with the large sum of money spent upon improvements by the Duke of
Richmond, and the personal exertions and good management of the late
Lord George Bentinck, this meeting made such wonderful progress, that
in time it not only rivalled, but even eclipsed many of the other
principal meetings.

In 1845, the value of the stakes run for amounted to the large sum
of £24,909, a substantial proof that the title of Princely Goodwood
was not misapplied. These races, however, fell off somewhat after Lord
George Bentinck's death, but yet rank in the first class.

Ascot and Goodwood have been dwelt upon at some length, when compared
with the few pages devoted to Epsom and Doncaster; but in the case of
these meetings, a considerable portion of space has of necessity been
devoted to the Derby and St. Leger, which helps to make an even balance.


I do not intend at present to say much about gate-money meetings.
The premier position must undoubtedly be accorded to that held at
Manchester. The best proof of the success which has attended the
company carrying on business at New Barnes is, that it has been able to
pay enormous dividends to its shareholders, and that its hundred-pound
shares, when any are offered for sale, command six or seven times the
original price. The Whitsuntide meeting at Manchester, when the weather
is favourable for such out-door sports, is attended by hundreds of
thousands of persons, all of whom have to pay for their admission to
the race-ground at the rate of one shilling or sixpence a head--those
desirous of making use of the grand stand, the paddock, and other
accommodations, pay for these at the usual rate. It is but fair to say
that the vast assemblage of spectators at Manchester conduct themselves
wonderfully well. When anything exciting occurs--when a giant roar is
set up, it is of course "the voice of the people" that is heard--it
is the horny handed "sons of toil" chiefly who rush to New Barnes on
the great racing days, and in every respect the scene presented is
a contrast to the shows of Ascot and Goodwood, where the "silks and
satins" of the upper ten outshine the cottons of Lancashire. But the
aim of its promoters is achieved, inasmuch as it brings plenty of grist
to their mill, ten thousand shillings counts as five hundred pounds,
and ten times that amount is "money," even in "brass-loving" Lancashire.

There is abundance of racing at Manchester, many of the handicaps being
enriched by the addition of munificent sums of money. But in respect to
the "added money," is it all gold that glitters even at Manchester? It
has been complained at any rate that, when the management seem to give
a pound, they in reality only give half of that sum; they get back,
such is the accusation made, a moiety of what they give in entrance
fees or in shares of surplus money from the disposal of winners of
selling races. In this matter of what is called "added money," a
writer, who comments on the subject, explains that such sums must be
taken with the proverbial pinch of salt. For instance, in the matter of
a Nursery plate in which a hundred pounds is given from the race fund,
it must be taken into account that thirty-two subscribers pay three
sovereigns each, so that in such case all that is really given is four
pounds, the subscribers running their horses for ninety-six pounds
of their own money. There is no charge of any kind made for admission
to the heath during the four days of Ascot, and yet the value of the
stakes run for there in 1881, as has been stated, amounted to more than
thirty-two thousand pounds.

The principal shareholders of the Manchester racing company are reputed
to be bookmakers, and if the meeting did not pay as a meeting, there
is such a plethora of gambling, of laying and backing, as, in the four
days at Whitsuntide alone, will be represented in hundreds of thousands
of pounds. It is quite certain, in regard to this racecourse, that
the amount of money taken at the gates, no matter what may be said,
is really enormous; on the Cup day, the mere shillings of head money,
not taking into account the receipts of the stands, will be over five
thousand pounds.

The controversy which has raged at intervals over the establishment
of what have in a somewhat contemptuous spirit been called "gate
meetings," has not ceased. "Prejudice," say they who approve of this
system of racing, is "ill to kill"; but it is far better that a
race meeting should be made self-supporting than that all kinds of
contemptible begging should be resorted to to keep up the pastime in
the half-hearted way that it used to be kept up in many localities,
by appeals to the lord of the manor and other country gentlemen, by
donations from licensed victuallers and miscellaneous shopkeepers who
are supposed to reap pecuniary benefit from the bringing together of
crowds of people to witness the sport, or by doles from interested
railway companies.

It would be easy to prove that all the successful race meetings of the
period are, in a certain sense, "gate-money meetings--Epsom, Ascot,
Doncaster, York, Goodwood, and Liverpool, as well as some others." The
charges made for the accommodation of the patrons of these meetings are
so high that they produce a large profit. The promoters of the sport
can therefore well afford to allow all who cannot afford three or four
guineas for the privileges of their stands and paddocks to see what
they can of the sport for nothing, and thousands upon thousands avail
themselves of the chances offered. To say that many hundred thousand
persons obtain a gratuitous view of the Derby, Oaks, and St. Leger, is
only to tell the truth.

As an argument, say some of the writers on this subject, what more
would you have than the crowds which patronise the meetings of
Manchester and Derby? They are four or five times larger than the
crowds that assemble at Newmarket even to witness the Cesarewitch or
Cambridgeshire. That is so, doubtless; but in reply it may be asked,
what of the contributing area of population as between the two places?
Newmarket has only a few thousand residents, but the Manchester
racecourse, with its yearly half-dozen meetings, draws the spectators
of racing from an immediate population of more than a million persons.

It is difficult to say how a race meeting should be constituted; it is
a matter in which there is room for argument, and on which much may
be said on both sides of the question; and as nothing succeeds like
success, why should there not be gate-money meetings, if the people are
willing to support them? So far as the writer knows, it is not the
duty of any particular body of persons to provide gratuitous pastimes
of any kind for the people, especially horse-racing, which is a sport
of a very expensive description. The fact that the "gate meetings"
recently opened "pay," settles the question, and renders any defence
of the policy which has resulted in their establishment unnecessary.
That they afford opportunity for a still greater amount of gambling,
and that at some of them the "sport" is exceedingly poor, is only what,
under such circumstances, is to be expected; still, as all familiar
with the turf and its surroundings very well know, it is as easy,
nay, easier, to institute a big gamble on a contemptible race as on a
contest for a St. Leger.

The author has no intention of saying anything in the meantime about
the modern meetings instituted during recent years, as for instance,
those charming reunions held at Kempton and Sandown Parks. Some old
race meetings, too, are also passed over without notice, such as that
held at Stockbridge; a time may come, however, when it will be apropos
to run over the racing records of such institutions, as also to furnish
a brief record of several meetings that have been long since relegated
to the domains of past history.



The question of greatest importance in connection with horse-racing
is--does it pay? Does it pay to breed horses or buy expensive
yearlings, and run them merely for the stakes which can be won?
Certainly not! The race-horses of the period are mostly used for
gambling with, and, on the average, do not earn in stakes enough money
to pay trainers' bills and miscellaneous expenses. It is chiefly as
factors in the "great game" that "yearlings" bring those extraordinary
prices so often chronicled. Horses of utility do not fetch sensational
sums as yearlings. Some of the animals, however, which bring small
prices at the yearling sales may, if thought suitable, be bought for
hunters, or for the use of ladies. Messrs. Sangers, of Astley's, have
before now bought horses of choice strains of blood to perform in their

How can horses which cost two thousand pounds and upwards be made to
pay, except by betting? When an animal is not quite good enough to
figure as a Derby or Cup horse, he may, as the phrase goes, be "bottled
up" and kept to win a large sum of money in a big handicap. That is
the way some men manage to make their horses pay; but even that plan is
precarious, so many are playing the same game. As to winning money on
the turf without betting, it has been shown that, with the aggregate
expenses at double the sum which can be won, it is, as a rule,
impossible. The majority of those now running horses on the turf are
simply gamblers, many of them having gone into the business on a large

A round dozen of the most enthusiastic supporters of racing, it is
said, do not bet, but are said to breed and run horses for their
own pleasure; but among the many who have registered their colours
will there be a dozen? Mr. Houldsworth is one, and Lord Falmouth was
another. His lordship is reputed to have once betted with and lost a
sixpence to a lady--the wife of his trainer, in fact--to whom the coin
was in due time presented, set in a brooch, and surrounded with costly

It has often been observed, as a curious feature of the racing world,
that the horses of gentlemen who do not themselves bet become at times
more prominent in the turf market than the animals of those who bet
heavily themselves, either _in propriâ personâ_, or by the aid of a
commissioner! How comes that? It is probably because the owner does
not bet that the public, believing in his _bona fides_, and that
his horses will run on their merits, and independent of all betting
considerations, rush into the market, and by largely supporting them,
bring them to what is called a short price. Still the horses of some
reputed non-bettors often figure in the quotations of the turf market
in a rather suspicious way, just as if they had been given over to
a clique of bookmakers to do with them whatever they pleased. That
most of the gentlemen who keep race-horses use them as instruments of
gambling, has been often made manifest to those who can read the signs
of the times. Instances of such being the case are daily thrust upon us.

It is somewhat difficult to make up an accurate account of the finance
incidental to horse-racing; but by way of providing means of argument
and illustration in that department of turf economy, we can take
stock--it can only, however, be done in a rough-and-ready way--of the
number and value of horses at present used in breeding and racing. The
cost of maintaining and running these animals may then be estimated,
and the interest on the money paid for them can be calculated, and the
figures then obtained will give the best idea that can be formulated of
the cost of the sport. Stakes run for and won can be subtracted, and
the balance exhibited will form profit or loss, as the case may be.

According to "Ruff's Guide to the Turf," the money won by horses
running under Newmarket rules, in 1889, amounted to £480,889 18s.,
and if for illustrative purposes the sum won by steeple-chasing and
hurdle-racing be set down at the modest amount of £20,000, we thus
obtain a grand total of half a million sterling. As a rule, the money
won in racing is that of the gentlemen whose horses run for it. With
the bright exception of Ascot, can a meeting be named that gives
twenty-five or thirty per cent. of its drawings to the men who supply
the horses? Who finds all, or, at all events, say seven-eighths of the
money for the leviathan stakes now becoming so marked a feature of the
racing of the period? The gentlemen, of course! As a matter of fact, it
may be said that a hundred or two hundred gentlemen place a large sum
of money in a pool, that one of their number may win it in a race which
tens of thousands of people pay money to see run. In plain language,
these gentlemen contribute say £10,000 to a particular race, in order
that speculators, who have formed a racecourse and erected a grand
stand and numerous refreshment bars, may make as much as the winner;
the rent of the racecourse and the wages of the _employés_ being
deducted, the profit derived from the venture must still be enormous,
and might as well find its way into the pockets of those who supply the
horses and the stakes.

"Owners," as is well known, provide in reality most of the so-called
"added money," while in the classic races, namely, the Two Thousand
Guineas, the Oaks, Derby, and St. Leger, it is simply their own money
which the patrons of these stakes run for. In such contests as the
Derby and St. Leger, as many as one hundred and eighty or two hundred
horses may be entered. As only one animal can win, the owner of the
horse which accomplishes the feat is paid by the gentlemen whose
horses prove unsuccessful; and were it not that so much gambling can
be accomplished by making the matter dependent on a race between a
few horses, the persons interested might, as has been said, toss up a
copper to determine the result! Of the horses entered as yearlings for
the classic events, how many will be found at the starting-post on the
day of the race? Probably nine or ten on the average, or, at the most,

Yearlings? These baby horses often turn out dire failures! An animal
costing £2,000 may never win a race! One or two horses, which cost
large sums of money, are at this moment probably travelling the country
as "sires" at merely nominal fees. On the other hand, a horse which
proves successful on the turf attains greater value with each new
success it achieves, and at length, like Doncaster and Springfield, it
may come to be "worth its weight in gold." "Yearlings" said the late
Mr. Merry when he purchased All Heart and No Peel, afterwards known as
Doncaster, "are a fearful lottery." He was right in saying so, although
at the time he was drawing a prize and didn't know it--he was, in fact,
for a sum of 950 gs., purchasing the Derby winner of 1873.

The following anecdote related in Parliament by Mr. Gerard Sturt is
apropos: In 1825, there was a little mare which belonged to a country
apothecary at Newcastle, and her vocation was to go up one street and
down, whilst pills and what not were being delivered; well, this little
mare of nominal value produced, in as many consecutive years, three of
the best animals of their periods, namely, Rubens, Selim, and Castrel.
The Deformed was purchased as a filly for £15 with her engagements in
four large stakes, all of which she won! She was afterwards sold to a
Captain Salt for 1,500 gs., was repurchased for a brood mare at 300 gs.
and sold again for 600 gs. to the Marquis of Waterford, at whose sale
she was purchased for Her Majesty's breeding stud.


There are not less, so it has been computed--counting mere foals,
yearlings, two, three, four, and five-year-olds, as well as sires and
dams--than 10,000 horses devoted to the service of the turf. The brood
mares at the stud number, on an average, 3,000, and the number of sires
may be estimated at say 350; the net produce of the stud, deducting
casualties of many kinds, such as barren mares, slipped foals,
deaths, and exportation, may be taken as being 2,000 foals--colts and
fillies--per annum. Of that number a considerable percentage never
comes upon the racing scene; unfitness for the work of the turf,
accidents, and death, being constant factors in determining the L.
S. D. of racing. It would be curious to trace the many calamities
that occur to prevent horses distinguishing themselves. Two hundred
horses may be entered as yearlings for the Derby, but only about five
per cent. of the number may contest a given race. Say that there are
fourteen or even sixteen runners; what has become of the others?
Several will have died; many after being trained will be found to have
no chance; and not unlikely several of those entered may be found
in the shafts of a cab. Some foals of last year, for instance, may
ultimately be trained as horses for ladies; others may be drafted to
the hunting-field or to the circus, whilst not a few may ultimately
find their way to tramway stables. Many a time and oft has a high-bred
horse changed hands for a twenty-pound note.

In forming an estimate of the value of the racing stock of the period,
the price paid for the yearlings which change hands at the public
sales must first of all be noted. In 1889, according to "Ruff," 851
of these baby horses were purchased at prices varying from 4,000 gs.
to 8 gs. During the last twenty years large numbers of yearlings have
changed hands at big prices, one, two, and three thousand guineas
being often paid in the course of a sale for animals that purchasers
fancy, colts or fillies, that look as if they would, when properly
trained, "make race-horses," and probably in time reward their owners
by winning a few of the great prizes of the turf. Other horses,
mature animals, ready-made racers, that is to say, or those suited
for breeding, occasionally fetch very high prices; but it is possible
for illustrative purposes to strike an average as between those which
sell for thousands and those which only bring tens. It should not be
an over estimate to fix upon a sum of £300 each as being the value of
the 10,000 animals of all ages, from colts to matrons of mature years,
which would represent a total sum of £3,000,000, the interest on which,
calculated at the rate of five per cent., would amount to £150,000 per

There then comes the question of the annual expenditure incurred in
keeping up the various racing studs of the country. The board and
lodging of a race-horse varies, according to the stable in which he
is kept and the status of the trainer, from two pounds or two guineas
a week to a half more than that. Of horses told off for breeding
purposes, no note need be taken, as breeding is a business that is
at least self-supporting, and sometimes, as in the case of Hermit,
immensely profitable; nor shall foals be considered. It will be about
correct to consider half of the 10,000 as being in racing trim,
horses ranging from two years of age to six, and 5,000 at £156 per
annum for board and lodging--including various extras, in some of the
stables--represents a total sum of £780,000.

In addition to the amount paid for board and lodging, the expenses
attendant on the entering of a race-horse for the different events
in which its owner may desire to see it run, are very heavy. These
vary exceedingly. Some proprietors are in the habit of entering their
animals in from half-a-dozen to twenty races, the forfeits in which
for non-runners range from perhaps five to twenty-five pounds. It
is not an easy matter to fix upon a figure that may be taken fairly
as representative of these forfeits; but if ten pounds per horse be
fixed upon for the whole 5,000, it will be much within, certainly not
over the mark. A sum of £50,000 would thus be added to the account of

The travelling expenses of trainers and stable attendants when in
charge of horses, and the fees paid to the boys who ride them, form an
important item in the cost of a racing stud. Many horses in the course
of a season will be taken to eight or ten meetings, some of which are
situated a few hundred miles from the training quarters of the horses.
The only mode by which an illustrative sum can be arrived at, is by
adopting an average; some horses will cost over a hundred pounds a year
for railway travelling and other expenses, including the fees paid to
the jockeys who ride them in their races, and if a sum of £25 per annum
be placed against each of the 5,000 horses assumed to be taking, at
present, an active part in the sport of kings, in name of travelling
and miscellaneous expenses, it gives a total of £125,000.

A recapitulation of these figures gives the following result:

    Interest on capital sunk in race-horses   £150,000
    Cost of keeping horses                     780,000
    Amounts paid in entries and forfeits        50,000
    Travelling and other expenses              125,000
         Making a grand total of            £1,105,000

It becomes apparent, then, that the sum of £1,105,000 ought to be
obtained every year in stakes, to recoup gentlemen and others engaged
in the pastime of horse-racing for the outlays they make. But no such
sum has ever been realised, and, in consequence, gambling has to be
resorted to to provide the difference; hence that extensive betting,
which is the most remarkable feature of the turf. The preceding
figures are given with the view of illustrating the proposition that
horse-racing, except in rare cases, cannot be made to pay. It happens
every season, that one or two owners are so fortunate as to win from
£10,000 to £20,000 in stakes--they may even experience a run of good
fortune during three or four consecutive years, and, after all, the
game may not have paid them, or done more than make ends meet. No
matter the good fortune that may attend individuals, it is, as has
been demonstrated, an undoubted fact that the cost of racing in any one
year is far beyond the total amount which can be won.

The foregoing facts and figures must not be taken for more than they
are worth, they are simply offered as being more or less illustrative
of the L. S. D. of horse-racing, and the simplest methods of
illustration have been resorted to. Columns of figures on the subject
might have been given for the inspection of the reader; but probably
the mode adopted will give a better idea of the L. S. D. of the turf
(betting excepted), and the facts briefly stated may make a more
lasting impression than a more formal statement would do.

What must be kept well in mind in connection with racing finance, is
the great fact that the money expended is not hid away in a napkin, but
is circulated. Stables and stores have to be built or extended, hay and
corn has to be provided for the horses, the lads who groom them and
ride them at exercise have to be paid, so have the fees of the jockeys
who ride them; travelling expenses of horses, trainers, and jockeys
help to swell railway receipts, and to augment the dividends of not
a few who look with horror on the turf and the ways of life of those
connected with it.

It has been calculated, for instance, that no less than £120,000
will be expended on the Derby Day by visitors to London and Epsom in
travelling and personal expenses (_i.e._, eating and drinking), and
there are at least 250 days in every year on which large sums are
spent in the same direction. Travelling, hotel expenses, and entrance
to race grounds soon take the corners off a ten-pound note, and there
are thousands at that kind of work nearly all the year round. It has
also been "calculated" that, in all probability, ten thousand persons
are employed in various capacities in direct connection with racing,
in stables, on stud farms, etc.; and if men and boys be set down as
earning over-head, including board and lodging, £1 a week all the year
round, the sum so expended will exceed half a million sterling.


The following brief _résumé_ of the yearling sales of 1889-90 will give
readers a good illustration of the prices referred to in the preceding

Recent sales almost indicate a return of the sensational prices which
were the rule a good many years ago, when baby blood stock seemed to
many buyers worth "thousands upon thousands"; very fair averages have
at all events been obtained, and in one or two individual cases, big
prices were the order of the day. The number of yearlings of both
sexes which changed hands throughout the season of 1889, ending about
the middle of October, was 662, the produce of 189 different sires.
The average reached was, as near as possible, 300 gs., the total sum
realised, by public sales in that year being 195,358 gs.

The figures which follow will afford a means of comparing the average
prices obtained for yearlings sold during the seven years ending with

    1884  544 Yearlings  Average of  268 gs.
    1885  524     "          "       257 "
    1886  521     "          "       215 "
    1887  639     "          "       200 "
    1888  592     "          "       151 "
    1889  662     "          "       300 "
    1890  454     "          "       362 "

_The_ price of 1889, it may be mentioned before going further, was
4,000 gs., paid by Colonel North for a colt by St. Simon, out of
Garonne. Four colts by St. Simon changed hands at the very excellent
average of 2,150 gs., but the distinction of yielding the highest
average belongs to Isonomy, five colts of that celebrated sire fetching
the splendid total of 11,880 gs.

Giving precedence to "Her Majesty's yearlings," we find that a lot of
twenty-seven came to the hammer, three of which changed hands for 5,000
gs., one of the number, according to "Ruff," passing to Colonel North
at a cost of 3,000 gs., a brown colt by Hampton, out of Landend. In the
same lot was a chestnut colt by Bend Or, which brought only a hundred
short of these figures, and there was a Springfield, which brought 50
gs. more than the Bend Or yearling; other four passed out of the Royal
paddocks at Bushey Park for 1,640 gs., so that Her Majesty's breeding
establishment must, in 1889, have earned such a handsome profit, as may
help to reconcile Parliamentary economists to the continuance of the
Royal Stud.

Coming now to individual sires, the figures show that Hermit, or, at
all events, Blankney, maintained a good place, although his average
exhibited a great falling-off when compared with some former years. It,
however, reached 921 gs. for each of six yearlings, which is better
than the return shown in the previous year, which gave an average of
700 gs. for five. One yearling, by Hermit or Galopin, is put down in
the list of sales as having brought a sum of 1,950 gs. sterling. One
prolific sire is credited with an average of 464 gs., for sixteen
yearlings: St. Gatien, the property of Mr. John Hammond, contributed
two of his "get" to the year's sales, at the price of 910 gs., a
fair commencement. The Springfields (seven) changed hands at good
quotations, making an average of 443 gs. Zenophon has five yearlings to
his credit, and Wisdom double that number. The average of the latter
horse's yearlings was 801 gs., and of those of the former 504 gs.

The highest price obtained has been stated above, 4,000 gs., the lowest
may now be chronicled; it was 8 gs. for a foal by Savoyard out of
Bohemian Girl. The heaviest individual buyer of yearlings throughout
the season, and other blood stock, was Colonel North, who would require
to write a big cheque in order to square his account. As is shown by
the table, the sales have been very good both as regards individual
prices, and the average, which as can be seen is more than double
that of the year 1888, and considerably above that of 1884, which was
thought excellent at the time. Six of the lots brought to the hammer
in 1890 realised averages of from £445 to £928. Mr. Snarry's three
produced the splendid return of £3,771; one of his, indeed, topped the
list in 1888, and fetched the very handsome figure of £2,800, whilst
three others which changed hands, did so to the tune of £2,600 each; in
1887, the big figure of 3,000 gs. was obtained for one colt, whilst a
series of good prices were got for a few of the other yearlings.

Some excellent prices were made during the yearling sales of 1890. The
Royal foals in particular were in great demand. The twenty colts which
changed hands produced the handsome total of about 13,820 gs., which
represents a high average; one of the number alone, however, fetched
5,500 gs. Others also brought good prices; large sums for individual
yearlings was the rule, close upon sixty animals being knocked down
at prices ranging from 1,000 to 3,000 gs., which must have recalled
old times and prices to the memories of many racing men, whilst the
names of the buyers would probably bring back to very many now on the
turf recollections of the Hastings' era and the brave days of the
Middle Park sales. The filly by St. Simon, which cost Baron Hirsch
5,500 gs. at the Queen's sale, represents in interest alone for the
money expended, an annual sum at five per cent. of pretty nearly
£300. A chestnut colt, by Sterling, cost Mr. D. Baird 2,000 gs. Lord
Dudley, among his other purchases, gave 3,000 gs. for a colt and filly
respectively; at another sale the same nobleman paid 2,100 gs. for a
brown filly by Paradox, out of Wheatsheaf.

It would take up too much space to enumerate all the individual sales
of the season at big prices; but it may be mentioned that one of the
yearlings bought by Mr. Maple cost that gentleman the sum of 4,000 gs.
Another big price was 3,100 gs. paid by Mr. Daly for a Springfield
colt, which is 100 gs. less than was given by Colonel North for a St.
Simon filly. Mr. H. Bass also figured among the buyers of high-priced
yearlings, one of which, a Sterling filly, cost him 3,000 gs.; and,
summing up these figures, we find that seven of the yearlings which
changed hands at the summer sales, realised a total of 24,000 gs.

Some excellent averages were obtained at Bushey Park, for instance
(Her Majesty's), where three yearlings only made less than 100 gs. The
Yardley Stud yearlings (first lot) were sold at good figures; only one
of the fifteen made less than a hundred, whilst one animal brought
as much as 2,000 gs. In the second lot of fourteen was included Mr.
Bass's cheque of 3,000 gs. The figures realised by the Park Paddock
animals were as follows: 120, 730, 1,050, 300, 3,000, 1,050, and 2,100
gs. Other sales might be pointed to at which fine averages were also
obtained, such as that of the Leybourne Grange yearlings, at which the
lowest price realised was 120 gs., the highest sum obtained being 700
gs., the total amount given for the twelve lots being 4,460 gs. The
lots put up by the Waresley Stud, as also by Mr. Beddington and Mr.
Hoole, also brought good figures.

It would serve no good purpose to continue the analysis, but it may be
stated that, in the course of 1890, 654 yearlings of both sexes were
exposed for sale at the average price of about 362 gs., the total sum
realised for the season's sales being 236,608 gs. The two sires which
stand out with prominence are St. Simon, with an average for nine of
2,150 gs., and Ormonde, for two, with an average of 2,000 gs. The
highest price obtained for any one of the yearlings has already been
chronicled; the lowest sum realised, it may be stated, was 11 gs.

The foregoing statistics will serve to show that the breeding of blood
stock is profitable, and that there is still a demand for good strains
of blood, for which big sums of money are never grudged, although it
is exceedingly rare to find the more expensive purchases showing to
advantage on the racecourses of the kingdom.

It is somewhat pitiful, or, it may be said, painful, to find men--and
among them members of Parliament--crying, more or less loudly, "down
with sport." Such persons assuredly know not what they say, seeing
that "sport" provides thousands of families every year with food,
raiment, and habitation; the money usually expended on the up-keep of
race-horses and hunters being largely distributed among those who are
generally termed the "working classes." With regard to the cost of
sport on the turf, it must be kept in view that the interest accruing
on the prices paid for the animals amounts in itself to a large sum

Take, by way of example, the sums expended by one gentleman in the
purchase of blood stock, and let us call the amount £10,000; that of
itself means £500 per annum, for which it is just possible he may
never see any return, and have the keep of the horses, the entries,
travelling expenses for trainer and grooms, and jockeys' fees to pay,
a class of expenditure that may certainly be averaged at not less than
£300 per annum for each animal.

As to the cry, which has been already referred to, of "down with
sport," it is most unjust, and is probably seen to be so, even by
the more ignorant of those to whom it was first addressed. "Down
with sport," would mean the loss of daily bread to thousands who are
employed in stables and in agriculture. Training stables cannot be
built without masons, carpenters, and other workmen. Horse clothes
employ our weavers, and harness-making gives remunerative employment
to hundreds. The farrier in his forge feels all the better for there
being 10,000 race-horses in the country, helpers in stables do not go
without clothes, and racing grooms and jockeys will annually require,
at least, 15,000 suits. Horses are fed on the best of oats and hay, and
to provide this forage, two or three thousand persons will contribute
a share of their labour. Important race meetings attract myriads of
spectators, and so our railways flourish, and our hotel-keepers and
their servants thrive. Over one million sterling is earned every year
by servants and others who are dependent on the great national pastime
of horse-racing. I am taking, in the foregoing remarks, sport as I find
it. Some people will say that the oats eaten by horses would be better
if given to men as food; but that mode of argument can be made to go
in a circle. Men must have recreation, and nothing will prevent them
picking out the pastime they like best. So much for the cry of "down
with sport."




Very few of the many thousands who annually assemble on the breezy
downs of Epsom to gaze upon the fierce contest which takes place for
the "Blue Ribbon" of the turf, or who witness the Cup races at Ascot,
have even a rudimentary idea of the "business," the real "work," in
fact, which is incidental to horse-racing. They have never been behind
the scenes, and have had no opportunity of becoming acquainted with the
economy of a racing stable, or the labour and anxiety which pertain
to training race-horses; nor do they care anything about strains of
racing blood, they know nothing whatever about the sires or dams of
the animals which win or lose the races on which they gaze with such

The spectacle of the Derby or the Royal Hunt Cup, although brilliant
and exciting in the extreme, is but the work of a minute or two and
is soon forgotten, and so far as many who witness them are concerned,
the whole affair might be an accident. The ordinary spectator of a
great race is much in the position of a child at a theatre during
the Christmas holidays, for all that master or missy cares or knows,
the wonderful fairy pantomime may have dropped ready made from the
clouds; children are concerned only about the sight as they see it,
they think not of the brain-work it has cost, or the toil which has
been endured in its preparation, or the outlay of money necessitated by
its production. The business of the turf--before such a spectacle as
"the Derby" can be shown on Epsom Downs--may be likened to the labour
undergone in the production of a dramatic piece. Those who train our
race-horses and arrange our sport upon the turf, find their work to be
of a very onerous nature, it is much divided and much of it unknown to
the general public.

The business matters pertaining to horse-racing are, as a rule,
arranged by persons licensed by the Jockey Club--judges, clerks of
courses, jockeys, all require the authority of the Club before they
can act. Horse-racing has so long figured in the eyes of the unlearned
in turf matters as a "pastime," that the idea of there being any
"business" to transact in connection with it has often drawn from
persons, who know no better, an expression of surprise; but before any
race meeting can be advertised, or any race be run, much work of a
thorough kind has to be got through, the whole machinery of racing has,
in fact, to be evoked.

In the event of the meeting being a new one, which, for the purpose
of illustration, the writer assumes, the whole machinery requires to
be organised. A site for the meeting has to be selected, and then a
racecourse has to be constructed. Commodious stables, either at the
place of meeting, or near it, must be provided, as well as offices for
the various officials, likewise accommodation for the public, in the
form of a grand stand having galleries from which the different races
may be witnessed. For the officials, and jockeys, and reporters of the
press, rooms must be provided, as well as those bars and dining-places
for the sale of viands, which are a prominent feature of our racing
paddocks. The administrative officers of the meeting have to be
appointed, either before or after the course has been laid down; they
are, as a rule, selected before the affair is planned. There is also
required a body of gentlemen to act as stewards, who, when necessary,
form a court to which disputes arising in the course of a meeting can
be referred for immediate settlement. Before a meeting can begin, the
course must be approved and have its racing time fixed by the Jockey

The principal officials required for the conduct of a race meeting are
a clerk of the course, a handicapper, a starter, and a judge.

The clerk of the course receives--it is his chief duty--the entries
for the different races, and also takes charge of the correspondence
and general clerical business which pertains to a race meeting. This
functionary is usually the mainspring of the meeting, he may, however,
be "the hired servant" of the proprietors of the racecourse; in reality
his position is dependent on how meetings he is connected with may be
constituted. In addition to a clerk of the course, there may also be a
"clerk of the scales": that is, a person entrusted with the important
duty of weighing out and weighing in the jockeys, before and after
riding, and seeing that each rider carries the exact weight apportioned
to him.

The handicapper is an important functionary. Clerks of the course often
officiate in the capacity of handicappers, or adjusters of the weights;
sometimes, too, the office of handicapper and judge are combined;
indeed, at some race meetings, the whole three offices are occasionally
conjoined in one person; in theatrical parlance, the clerk of the
course very often "doubles" the office of judge and handicapper. During
a race meeting lasting over three or four days, the handicapper finds
plenty of work, as, in addition to having apportioned weights to all
the horses engaged in the larger handicaps, nurseries, and sweepstakes,
many days, in some cases months, before the date of the meeting, he has
to adjust the weights for those races which are run from day to day,
for which horses are not entered till the evening before the day on
which they are to run.

A handicapper must be resourceful and ever on the alert, ready on
every opportunity to display, in practical fashion, his abounding
knowledge of the qualities and previous achievements of horses, so as
to be able to place the various animals on an equality in an overnight
handicap. Race meetings are largely dependent on "the go" and ability
of the person engaged as handicapper, because owners and trainers are a
rather jealous class, and quite able to detect at once, and resent, by
withdrawal of their horses for the race, and their non-entry in future
contests, any flagrant instance of favouritism. At some race meetings,
perhaps, as many as fifty separate weights will have to be adjusted,
from day to day, during the progress of sport, besides those assigned
to horses in standing events before racing began.

No meeting is perfect without the assistance of the "starter," an
official whose business it is to start the competing horses. The duty
of the starter, more particularly when there is a large field of
young horses (two-year-olds), is difficult to perform satisfactorily,
especially when the short distance to be run (say five furlongs) is
taken into account; it is of the utmost importance, therefore, that
each horse shall start on equal terms. A starter must possess firmness
and decision of character in no ordinary measure, as he may have at
times as many as forty jockeys under command, several of the boys being
mounted on very unruly animals, while others may be wilfully goading
their horses into unruliness on purpose to delay the start, thereby
so fatiguing the younger riders as to make them lose command of their
horses, and thus lose their chance of winning.

Starters have necessarily much in their power; and instances are known
of such officials having occasionally favoured a particular horse, by
allowing it to obtain what is called, in racing parlance, a "flying
start," or some other advantage. Disobedient jockeys may be complained
against by the starter to the stewards, who will reprimand them for
trivial offences, or perhaps suspend them from riding during the
continuance of the meeting for grave faults; or remand consideration of
the case to the higher tribunal of the Jockey Club, as may be deemed

The starter officiates at one end of the course, the judge at the other.

A judge on a racecourse is entrusted with very onerous duties, and,
seeing the value of the interests with which he is entrusted, ought to
be a man of rare integrity; and so far as can be known, racing judges
to-day are men of honour in their calling. Not only the integrity of
the judge, but his powers of observation are of the utmost importance,
when it is considered that hundreds of thousands of pounds sometimes
change hands on his fiat--a fiat, be it understood, from which, as
a rule, there is no appeal. A race is sometimes so nearly what is
known as a "dead heat," that persons express dissatisfaction with the
decision of the judge and assert that the second horse undoubtedly
earned the verdict of victor. So close upon some occasions is the
contest, that the leading jockeys themselves are unable to say which
animal has won till its number has been hoisted on the indication
board. Where a numerous field of horses compete in a short race,
half-a-dozen of the number may gallop so evenly that it is sometimes
very difficult for the judge to say which of them has arrived first
at the winning-post. A novice in the judge's box during an important
race would be a misfortune, the verdict of that official being, in
almost every instance, final, even in the case, upon occasion, of an
obvious blunder; and, as is well known, blunders have more than once
been made by racing judges; because of the winning horse having escaped
his notice, the race has in consequence been awarded to a horse which
ought to have been placed second.

In addition to the important officials whose duties have been briefly
indicated, there are one or two others employed in various capacities,
as money and check takers, door keepers, course clearers, etc. One
official must be briefly alluded to, he is a self-appointed one, who
is not in receipt of any salary, but gets his "chance"; that official
is "All right," a man who attends in the weighing room, and who, when
the contending jockeys have been weighed in after the race, and it is
ascertained that no objection of any kind has been offered against the
winning horse, comes into the paddock and shouts out the welcome words
"All right," to signify that those who have been betting may proceed
to settle accounts. This most useful functionary is paid at the end of
each meeting by a voluntary subscription from bookmakers and others
interested in the good news which he disseminates.

The racing officials mentioned hold their offices on good behaviour.
No starter, judge, or other functionary can afford, by an exhibition
of delinquency, to brave the wrath of the Jockey Club. To be "warned
off" Newmarket Heath and all other places where the stewards of the
Club have power, implies professional extinction. No functionary of
the turf under the ban of the Jockey Club would find employment. What
being "warned off" Newmarket Heath means to an owner of horses may be
quoted: "When a person is warned off Newmarket Heath under these rules
(the rules of racing), and so long as his exclusion continues, he shall
not be qualified to subscribe for, or to enter or run any horse for
any race either in his own name or in that of any other person, and any
horse of which he is part owner shall be disqualified."


Having recited the duties of the chief officials connected with the
business department of horse-racing, it becomes necessary to proceed
a stage further and explain the constitution of one or two of our
principal race meetings, of which only those immediately interested in
the sport know very much. The constitution of several of these events
is, however, somewhat obscure, inasmuch as the details are not known
to the public. At Newmarket it is the Jockey Club which profits or
loses by the racing which takes place on the classic heath. At Royal
Ascot the handicappers are only the servants of higher powers; at
Goodwood the moneys derived from the annual meeting, whatever they
may amount to, are placed to the credit of the noble Duke on whose
estate the races are run. The revenue from the race meeting annually
held in Goodwood Park is reputed to be large, and as in a comparative
sense little addition is made to the stakes, the profits are probably
considerable. About Epsom and its grand stand, information of an
interesting kind has been frequently published. At Doncaster, the
various meetings are in the hands of the corporation, the profits
derived going to benefit the town. Gate-money meetings are promoted
by joint-stock companies, and several of them have become profitable
institutions. It has been computed that on some race days at
Manchester, as many as eighty thousand persons have paid for admission
to the ground in sums varying from sixpence to a guinea.

New sources of revenue are frequently devised. Tattersall rings,
not known of old, yield a handsome sum, and are supposed to be used
only by the _crème de la crème_ of the sporting fraternity; charges
are also made for admission to the saddling paddock; at every turn,
indeed, there is something to pay, either legitimately, or by way of
_backsheesh_. The various refreshment stations, in the shape of rooms
and tents, and often multiplied "bars," likewise yield a considerable

Newmarket is the capital of the turf in England. It is known as
"head-quarters," and is the nominal seat of the turf legislature, which
is represented by the Jockey Club. There are thirty-one different
racecourses at Newmarket, ranging from a little over a furlong, to the
Beacon course of four miles, while, during the year, seven meetings
take place at which about two hundred and fifty races are decided.
Newmarket, as well as being head-quarters of the turf, so far as sport
is concerned, is also a resort of many trainers: several stables of
importance being located at that place. The Jockey Club being eminently
conservative, none beyond the stewards and its principal servants know
anything about its financial position; but it is supposed to be growing
wealthy. The numerous racecourses at Newmarket form a puzzle to the
uninitiated, and, conservative as the Jockey Club is known to be, the
time is not far distant when it will require to remodel its racing
ground; race grounds might be named, which, although less classic, are
more convenient.

Before racing can be entered upon, the horses must, as a matter of
course, be in a fitting state of preparation to run for them. Trainers
to prepare those animals for their work, as also jockeys to ride them
in their various contests, is a matter of necessity. Race-horses are
very expensive to keep; but it is questionable if more than twenty-five
per cent. of the animals in training ever earn for their owners much
more than a clear £1,000 per annum. Horses which prove successful in
the Two Thousand or One Thousand Guineas Stakes, the Oaks, the Derby,
the St. Leger, and the more important handicaps, earn large amounts
for those to whom they belong. These, however, are exceptional horses;
generally speaking, they are _the_ horses of their year. Owners of
one or two animals who lay themselves out to win an occasional big
handicap, occasionally bag a large sum of money, chiefly in bets,

Investing money in blood stock for racing purposes is much like
purchasing a lottery ticket. It is the breeders, we suspect, who make
most money out of "blood stock." There are, at least, a dozen famous
breeding studs in England, kept up at great expense, and introducing
to the turf, year by year, many highly bred horses, the greater number
of which are sold by auction; two breeders of renown, out of their
profits, were enabled to found races of value which are annually
decided at Newmarket.

The "business" of racing includes the breaking-in and training of the
horses, and on the skill with which this is accomplished, depends much
of the success or non-success which attends the animals during their
racing career. Some trainers are particularly fortunate with yearlings
entrusted to their care, and are able to bring them to various race
meetings trained to perfection. Others, again, less able in their
profession, or less fortunate in the ability or stamina of the animals
entrusted to their care, do not make so good a show with their horses,
and are consequently not looked upon with the same favour by the
racing community. It is seldom difficult, however, to win a race with
a good horse (or even a bad one) properly prepared for the struggle.
Many capable judges of horse-flesh think that horses are occasionally
"overtrained," and that, in consequence, when the hour of contest
arrives, they are compelled to succumb to some more robust rival. Some
trainers have acquired fame in their business from their ability to
train a horse to win the Derby; others devote their time and attention
to the preparation of horses for long or short distance races, whilst
a third class look chiefly to steeple-chasing, and delight to train
horses to jump.


It is no part of the writer's intention to describe the economy of a
training stable; but the business of a trainer of race-horses is one
which is fraught with anxiety; a sudden change of the atmosphere may
ruin his prospects of winning an important race, or a horse ridden at
exercise by a careless boy may be brought back to the stable so lame
that it can hardly ever again be depended on to run. The modern trainer
is usually a man of some education and intelligence, a contrast to his
predecessor of sixty years since, who was simply a groom and little
more; he knows the anatomy and constitution of the horses placed under
his care, and is familiar with them in health and disease. He has also
to administer his establishment with care and economy, and has to keep
up the discipline of his place; he may be the master probably of thirty
or forty lads, whom it is not easy to keep in order.

A trainer who may, in the course of the winter, find he has the
favourite for the Derby, or some other great race, in his stable,
passes an anxious time, more especially when those who own the animal
are addicted to heavy betting, and "the horse has been backed to win
a fortune" in bets. To keep a horse in health demands the unceasing
attention of its trainer and his servants: to see that its food and
drink are of the best quality, that its gallops are properly regulated,
that it is carefully housed, and that no improper person obtains access
to it, are duties that must be performed with unceasing watchfulness.
Sometimes, though a trainer be ever so lynx-eyed and careful, he will
be baffled, and will awake to the sad consciousness, some fine morning
about the time fixed for a race, that the horse has been "got at" by
some interested party, and rendered useless for the coming event.

Derby favourites have occasionally been "nobbled," no one being able at
the time to say how. The blacksmith may have pricked it in shoeing, its
water may have been poisoned, some deleterious substance may have been
given to it in its daily food, it may have injured its leg in some trap
set for it on the racing ground, or its stable attendant may have been
bribed to injure it, or a dozen other plans of a like kind may have
been devised to place the high-mettled steed _hors de combat_. Day and
night the trainer requires to be on the watch: in day-time his eye must
be on the training ground watching the boys, and many a sleepless night
must he pass in feverish anxiety as to the fate of the favourite, for
of such is the business of horse-racing.

Owners and trainers of race-horses occasionally have fortune in their
grasp without knowing it; in other words, they may possess an animal
capable of winning a Derby, and yet be ignorant of the fact. Horses
upon which, at first, very little store may be set, frequently prove of
great value, able to win important stakes, and afterwards bring large
sums of money for use at the stud. To be in a position to inform his
employer how best to "place" his horses, forms one of the chief merits
of a trainer. It is useless to enter slow, plodding horse to take part
in a short-distance race where speed is the chief quality required,
nor on the other hand is it worth while to enter a horse suitable
to a five-furlong course, in the Great Metropolitan or Cesarewitch
Handicaps, which can only be won by horses of staying powers.

There are a few owners and trainers of race-horses who possess the
happy knack of so placing them, that they win the majority of the races
for which they are entered. The Swan, I remember, was a horse which
was always so happily placed that it won a large number of races for
its owner, Mr. John Martin; other race-horses of greater celebrity,
such as Lilian, might be mentioned as having been equally useful during
their career on the turf. A gentleman possessing a stud of perhaps
half-a-dozen or eight animals will frequently have a larger winning
account at the end of the year than an owner of perhaps three times
the number, just because he knows better what to do with them, or how
to "place" them, so that he may, by winning a few races, earn their
keep and pay for the entries made on their behalf. To be able to do
so--to "place" one's horses, so that each may be able to win a couple
of races in the course of the season--implies a good knowledge of the
business of racing. Men with big studs usually strive to win the larger
stakes, but as these stakes are fewer in number and have more numerous
competitors, so their chances of success are proportionately lessened;
but when a Cesarewitch, Cambridgeshire, or Manchester Autumn Cup is
won, the money gained even in stakes is worth adding to the owner's
bank account.

As has been stated, no race-meeting takes place by accident; for the
so-called "classic races," the entries--an important feature of racing
business--have to be made while the animals are yearlings. In numerous
contests, the horses appointed to compete must be named long before the
time advertised for bringing off the meeting, so that both owners and
trainers require to keep their eyes open and have their wits about them
to be able to do the right work at the right time. In several important
training stables, there is so much correspondence to be got through,
and so much book-keeping to be done, so many accounts to check and
settle, as to render it necessary that the trainer should keep a
clerk or secretary, an office filled in some cases by a member of the
trainer's own family, perhaps his wife, or a daughter. It would never
answer to allow a stranger to become familiar with the secrets of the

It will be gathered from the foregoing summary, brief as it may be
thought, that horse-racing to those engaged in it is somewhat of a
serious pastime. "It takes a bit out of a jockey" to ride two or
three races per diem, whilst trainers as a meeting progresses have
much to do; owners also, with "thousands" invested in entry moneys
and bets, have anxious moments to endure. In short, without devoted,
never-ceasing attention to the business incidental to the turf,
horse-racing as a pastime for the people would speedily come to an end.


The foregoing observations on the "business" of horse-racing may be
fitly supplemented by a few additional remarks about the officers of
the turf--chiefly with regard to former doings by these gentlemen,
whose positions to-day are less "picturesque" than they were half a
century ago.

Various meetings are becoming nowadays hard to sustain, and there is,
in some instances, it is generally believed, a good deal of begging on
the part of the clerk of the course to get the requisite funds; in such
cases that gentleman performs, or used to perform, a liberal share of
the work. It may be mentioned here that when on a particular occasion
a Queen's Plate, usually run for at the popular Scottish Musselburgh
meeting, was disallowed by Parliament, at the instigation of a Radical
member of the House of Commons, the clerk of the course, Mr. James
Turner, along with some friends, conceived the idea of replacing the
disallowed trophy by a "People's Plate" of the same value, £100; a
subscription was suggested, and the requisite sum of money was obtained
in the course of a day or two, mostly in pence.

In a work published forty years ago, which probably few readers of
these pages have had an opportunity of perusing--"Turf Characters" is
its title--the following summary is given of the higher duties of a
clerk of the course:

"The clerk of the course has many obligations to fulfil, the due
execution of which requires almost incessant attention throughout
the whole period of the year, apart from the race-week itself. For
the efficient performance of those obligations, he must bring into
full exercise not only appropriate capabilities in his own part, but
their judicious application with regard to others. He is an important
connecting link; and upon himself depends, in a considerable degree,
the success and popularity of the meetings with which he is immediately
connected, as well as the maintenance of his own reputation. He should
not only be well acquainted with the laws of racing, but with all the
matters and propositions--with, in short, the prevailing state of the
turf; and, although it may not be needful that he should be, as it
were, a walking calendar with regard to past decisions generally, or
to pedigrees in particular, he should arm himself with every needful
information to strengthen his energies and aid his success. He should
be accurately acquainted with the several studs of horses in training,
what has been accomplished hitherto, and what is in anticipation. He
should be known to the respectable owners as well as to the trainers
themselves. To the former his deportment should be respectful,
without subserviency; zealous without intrusion; ready to give every
information as to added money on the one hand, and as to weights,
distances, penalties, and forfeits, on the other. With the latter, he
should be on comparatively familiar terms; as ready to communicate
propositions as to listen to suggestions; commanding respect by a
uniform civility, and assuring confidence by faithfulness and integrity.

"He should attend all the race-meetings throughout the country, not
only for the purpose of obtaining information as to the proposals
emanating from other great and competing race-meetings, but for
securing additional subscriptions or nominations contained in his own
red book, which, at the suitable opportunity, should be submitted to
the noblemen and gentlemen then present, although, perhaps, he may have
previously communicated with them by circulars through the post.

"By adopting this course, he places himself in the focus of turf
intelligence, from which radiates the information which he should turn
to the best account. While he thus becomes well known to all parties,
and esteemed for the propriety of his deportment on all occasions,
perhaps lauded for his praiseworthy zeal and assiduity, he becomes also
the best means of communication with all the owners of horses, and is
thus fully enabled to carry out the views of the race-meeting of his
own locality, city, or burgh, the most judicious appropriation of the
grants of the municipal body, or the subscriptions of the inhabitants,
and ensure the success and popularity which in racing matters are the
life-blood of the meeting."


Many curious anecdotes have, from time to time, been circulated about
the doings of various officers of the turf, not a few of them, perhaps,
of a rather imaginative kind. In one or two instances where the clerk
of the course acted also as handicapper, as well as being lessee of the
grand stand, it is said that it was his custom to "retain" all the big
stakes; in plain language, it has been more than once implied that some
handicappers were allowed, by certain owners, to keep the stake-money,
on condition of the horses entered by them being favoured in the
apportioning of the weights. "If my horse wins," would say an owner,
"the bets I make will pay me; therefore I shall not trouble myself
about the stakes." Such stories must be taken with the usual grain of
salt. A story, however, was recently circulated by a well-known turf
writer about a small owner, who, having won an important handicap,
called on the clerk of the course to lift the stakes; he was received
with a most incredulous stare, but after a brief pause, the official
wrote out and signed the necessary cheque. "There," said he, "but learn
your business better; don't let this occur again."

This official requires to "look sharp," and he must keep his eyes wide
open while engaged in the performance of his duties, otherwise he may
become the victim of a tricky jockey or owner, who has an object to
gain by perpetrating a fraud. It has more than once occurred that the
scales have been tampered with by a piece of lead being fastened to
them in a hidden place, in some cases before the boys were weighed, in
some cases after that process had been performed, the object being to
have the rider of the winning horse disqualified for carrying more or
less than the stipulated weight.

The success of race-meetings is greatly dependent on the knowledge
and talent of the handicapper, owners and trainers being, as has been
said, jealous and exacting. Of late years, increased sums of money have
been added by the managers or lessees of certain race-meetings to the
races announced, but in several instances without having the desired
effect of swelling the acceptances or the field. No handicapper is
thought to be successful unless the owners of more than half of the
horses entered are pleased to cry content with the weights allotted to
them. It occasionally happens, however, that although a handicap may be
remarkably well constructed, and every horse be allotted a fair weight,
the acceptances for various reasons may be small--so small on occasion,
as to render the race to all intents and purposes a failure. He would,
indeed, be a clever handicapper if he could please all who enter their
horses in any given race; consequently, when a handicap is published
there is very often a loud chorus of disappointment. One owner compares
the heavy weight assigned to his horse with the light weight bestowed
on some other animal which has beaten it. Owners, dissatisfied with the
work of this official, sometimes strike their horses out of the race,
without waiting till the date when the acceptances have to be declared,
which is altogether a mistaken policy. It very often happens that the
views of the handicapper are triumphantly endorsed by the result of the
race, when two or three of the horses carrying the heaviest imposts of
the handicap will make a bolder bid for victory than any of the other
animals, the honours of the race falling, perhaps, to the horse which
carries the top weight. Handicappers, "it is said," are occasionally
"got at," with the result that some well-planned _coup_ is brought off,
in which a horse carrying a light impost, by favour of the official in
question, is declared the winner.

Persons who have long been behind the scenes of the racing arena
could doubtless relate many stories of the kind indicated, and as
handicappers, like other men, are bung-full of human nature, it is not
to be wondered at if, being sorely tempted, they sometimes fall. But
at the present time the official in question is more often a victim of
some other man's crime than a criminal himself. Handicappers are born
to be deceived. They form a target for owners to shoot their arrows at,
if such a simile is applicable; horses are run in all fashions in order
to deceive them, and frequently with success.

It has hitherto been a fashion to hold up Admiral Rous to the
admiration of the turf world as the greatest artist in the "putting
together" of horses that has ever been known, but statements to that
effect must be taken only for what they are worth. Such a man as "the
Admiral" was not, of course, open to accept any vulgar bribe; no
person would have had the hardihood to offer him a "monkey," or even
a pipe of fine old port, to be allowed to place his own weight on his
own horse. But the Admiral was quite as easily deceived as many other
handicappers, with the result of being occasionally remorselessly
"sold" in the same way by a well-devised "plant," of which some
carefully-kept horse which had been ridden out of its distance at petty
meetings was the hero. It is impossible, with the fierce light which
now beats on his work, for a handicapper, unless he has been deceived
himself, to go far wrong; he does his duty, as may be said, in a glass
house, under the eye of all interested, and dare not therefore, if
he would, commit any serious _faux pas_, however great might be the
temptation held out to him.

The work of the starter is occasionally most onerous and difficult to
perform satisfactorily. Firmness and decision of character ought to
be the chief characteristic of this officer of the turf. At times as
many as thirty, and even on occasion forty horses will assemble to
compete in some popular handicap, each jockey being eager to secure an
advantage over his neighbour at the start. Many of the lads are mounted
on animals difficult to govern, whilst others of the jockeys will,
of set purpose, do their best to goad their horses into a state of
unrest, for the sake of delaying the start, until some tiny boy mounted
on a favourite is beaten with cold and fatigue before the race is even
begun to be run. Such tactics have been often resorted to; they seem to
form a feature of "jockeyship." As all who frequent race-meetings know,
the starter has a great deal in his power.

That the gentlemen who officiate as starters at the present time are
honest in their vocation, men whom no bribe would tempt to go wrong,
however large it might be, may be taken for granted. But it was not
always so; there was a time in the history of the turf, when the duties
of starter were entrusted to any Tom, Dick, or Harry, with the result
that they were carelessly, if not dishonestly performed. Nothing is
more annoying to an owner of a valuable horse than to see the animal
distressed by a number of false starts--especially when it has been
heavily backed and is thought to possess a great chance of securing a
victory. On such occasions the power of a horse is frittered before
racing begins, and its winning chance lessened thereby. At one period
of turf history, according to an authority already mentioned, the
duties of starter were so inefficiently performed that Lord George
Bentinck, who reformed many of the abuses incidental to the sport of
kings, used himself voluntarily to undertake the task of starting
the horses whenever a great event was about to be decided. From his
high position in the turf world, his experience acquired as an active
steward of the Jockey Club, and the fact of his being the proprietor
of many valuable horses, as well as of an immense breeding stud, Lord
George was well able to keep the most refractory jockeys in order, and
so ensure a fair start.


"It was a glorious sight," says a racing enthusiast, writing under
the signature of "Martingale," "to see Lord George Bentinck, flag in
hand, walking at the head of a field of horses, and conducting them
to the starting-point in as compact a body as possible, every eye
pointed in one direction, every elevated position occupied from which
a view could be obtained, the course perfectly clear, the sun lighting
up the brilliant colours of the jockeys' dresses, gleaming with more
hues than the rainbow, the reins handled, the spirit manifested by the
equine competitors, the result doubtful, victory or defeat hanging in
the balance. The word 'go' was given by the noble starter, and the
flag dropped, and away rushed the mighty host with terrific speed,
presenting a spectacle so imposing and so exciting as never to be
obliterated from the minds of those who had the high gratification of
beholding it."

There are votaries of the turf who prefer to see the start rather than
the finish of a race; but at some meetings, as at Doncaster, both the
beginning and the conclusion of the more exciting contests can be seen.

A race terminates at the winning-post, where sits the judge to
determine which of the runners is to be declared victor, and which two
horses are to have the honour of being placed.

On rare occasions, in two or three instances only, has it happened of
late that a judge has been required to revise his judgment and alter
his verdict; as a rule his decree is final, although, in the opinion
of thousands who have witnessed the contest, it may be an erroneous
verdict. In the race for the Derby Stakes of 1869, when Pero Gomez and
Pretender ran so close together, it was generally considered, till the
numbers went up, that Pero Gomez had beaten Pretender, and many who
saw the race insist it was so, and that the judge on that occasion
committed an error in awarding the Blue Ribbon to the northern-trained

Long ago, say sixty years since, complaints against judges were much
oftener indulged in than they are at present. A writer on turf matters,
in speaking of the judging of the period (1829), says:

"I have frequently known much dissatisfaction to arise from the manner
in which the judge has placed the horses; for instance, at the last
Epsom Races (1829), the first race, the first day, was very closely
contested by Conrad and Fleur de lis. I was nearly opposite the
winning-post, and felt no hesitation in supposing Conrad the winner; I
heard great numbers express their opinion to the same effect. The judge
decided otherwise. At the Liverpool Meeting in July, 1829, the Gold
Cup was decided in favour of Velocipede, though many persons insisted
that Dr. Faustus was the winner. Templeman, who rode Dr. Faustus,
unhesitatingly declared his unqualified conviction that he won the
race. Now, since no person can tell so exactly which wins as the judge,
from the situation in which he is placed, I am very willing to suppose
that, in both cases, the decision was correct. Many other instances
might be adduced, but as they merely form a catalogue of unmeaning
repetition, I shall not state them. However, a judge, in order to be
master of his business, or qualified for the important office which
he undertakes, should be generally acquainted with the jockeys, the
colours, and also the horses; he should observe the running of the
horses, particularly when they come within distance, or he will find
it a difficult matter, should the race be finely contested, to give
a correct decision--a decision satisfactory to his own mind. A judge
should abstain from betting, if he wish to avoid suspicion."

The judge occupies, as he ought to do, the best position for witnessing
the finish of a race, and of all the hundreds standing near him not
one can view the finale from the same standpoint; they are all more
or less "angled," and see with a squint, hence the varied opinions
which prevail after a close finish. Another point in judging, not
generally known, is, that every race terminates _at_ the winning-post,
and that it is not the horse which is first past the post which
gains the victory, but the animal which is first _at_ it. This great
fact in racing arrangements has led thousands into error, and into
asserting that a horse had won when in reality it had not. The judge
of an important race, therefore, must be a man of nerve, with a clear
head and a cool brain, ready to take in the whole position in half a
second--a consummation which is not easy when there is a very close
finish with a field of perhaps, say, thirty horses, the first three or
four of which, as they rush past the winning-chair, are as nearly as
possible locked together. Other races in which the competitors are much
fewer, are quite as difficult to judge; races, for instance, in which
the first three horses are running widely apart from each other, on
a very broad racecourse. In such instances no one but the recognised
authority can tell which is first, the guesses of lookers-on during the
decision of such events being often wide of the mark.

Curious instances have frequently been related of hats being thrown
up by enthusiastic bettors as a token of rejoicing before the winning
number has been officially signalled, and great has been the chagrin of
these enthusiasts when they saw the number of their horse placed second
or third. Upon one occasion a gentleman who had backed a high-mettled
steed belonging to a friend of his to win him a sum of about £15,000,
watched the race with intense anxiety, and saw, as he thought, his
friend's horse just beaten on the post. Imagine his joy, therefore,
when the numbers went up, when he found that instead of being just
beaten he had just won. Many an opposite tale could be told of men
who, before the winning number was hoisted, felt certain they had won
a fortune, when alas! their horse was only awarded the second or third
place. Still, the judge maintains his high position; he may make an
occasional blunder in his award, but his honesty of purpose remains
unquestioned, although on some of his judgments are dependent large
amounts of money.

On the determination of a race there may be hundreds of thousands of
pounds at stake, and the winning some day of thirty, forty, or fifty
thousand may only be accomplished by a couple of inches--a nose, in the
slang of the turf; indeed, a horse is sometimes said, when the contest
is a notably close one, to win by the skin of its teeth. Under such
circumstances, it is consoling to those interested to know that "the
man in the box" is above suspicion.



Certain races are now designated by common consent "classic." These,
in the order of their occurrence, are the Two Thousand Guineas, One
Thousand, and the Derby, Oaks, and St. Leger, but why they should
be "classic" more than some other events of the turf I am unable
to explain; they have, at any rate, become standing dishes of our
racing bills of fare. In point of origin, the St. Leger is entitled
to precedence as premier of "the classics." Much controversy has
taken place about the exact date of the first of the great Town Moor
struggles, caused, no doubt, by the fact that no name had been bestowed
upon it when it was instituted. The race in reality should date from
the year 1788, when Hollandaise won, but it was first run two years
earlier, when Allabaculia, ridden by J. Singleton, proved victorious.

The name was fixed upon, as has been often narrated, at a dinner held
in the "Red Lion Inn," in Doncaster. At that dinner the Marquis of
Rockingham proposed that "the sweepstakes," first run for in 1776,
should be named the "St. Leger," in compliment to Lieutenant-General
Anthony St. Leger, of Park Hill, and the proposition was unanimously
adopted. After a time, the Doncaster race became as famous as the
Derby, and its celebration during the last sixty years has, in some
degree, become an event of national significance.

The names and performances of the winning horses and successful jockeys
of the St. Leger have been sedulously chronicled for many years past,
and it may be said that, for good horses and exciting incidents, as
well as for the value of the stakes and the betting that takes place
upon it, the great Doncaster race is not behind the Derby, which is
indebted for much of its success to the fact of its taking place within
twenty miles of the populous city of London. Doncaster, where the race
for the St. Leger is run, is not so easy of access to large numbers
of spectators as the far-famed downs of Epsom; still, on the eventful
day, the Town Moor becomes crowded by thousands, chiefly enthusiastic
Yorkshiremen, eager to witness the grand spectacle.

The St. Leger, then, originated as a sweepstake of 25 gs. each for
three-year-old horses. The days of running have been changed two or
three times. The race was originally run on a Tuesday, then Wednesday
became for a couple of years the St. Leger day, when it again became
Tuesday, and continued to be celebrated on that day for twenty-five
years afterwards, after which it was run for a time on Monday, then
changed again to Tuesday. Since the year 1845, however, the St. Leger
day has been Wednesday. The distance run in the earlier races for
the great Doncaster prize was two miles, and the horses, instead of
running as at present, went the other way of the course. In 1812 the
race is described as being run "over the St. Leger course," which, in
the Calendar of the period, is stated to be 1 mile, 7 furlongs, and 20
yards, and 1 mile, 6 furlongs, and 100 yards on the inside; now the St.
Leger distance is given in Weatherby's Calendar as 1 mile, 6 furlongs,
132 yards.

In the early years of the race the stakes were counted in guineas, the
weights, 8 st. 2 lb. for colts, fillies carrying 2 lb. less. Since its
institution many horses have competed, the highest number started in
any year being thirty, when the winner was Mr. Watts's Memnon (1825).
As few as four horses, however, have gone to the starting-post, namely
in 1783 and 1785, when Phenomenon and Cowslip won. During the last
quarter of a century fair fields have competed for the St. Leger
Stakes. As many as nineteen horses went to the post in 1870, when
victory was awarded to Hawthornden; only seven horses were selected,
however, to oppose Mr. Merry's heroine, Marie Stuart. In the five years
ending with 1890 fifty-nine horses faced the starter. Taking a rough
average, thirteen horses made up the field for the "Sellinger," and as
the public form of the year is pretty well exposed by the middle of
September, many more competitors could scarcely be expected.

Glancing over the roll of victories as recorded in "Ruff," and other
"guides," we see that Lord A. Hamilton, one of the most successful of
the earlier aspirants for St. Leger honours, won the race in three
successive years with Paragon, Spadille, and Young Flora, and again,
after a lapse of three years, with Tartar, and on each occasion Mangle
was "up." Mr. Petre scored three consecutive St. Leger successes by
means of Matilda, The Colonel, and Rowton, 1827-8-9, previous to which
Mr. Mellish, the Duke of Hamilton, and Mr. Pierse had each taken the
race in two successive years, a feat which was afterwards followed up
by Lords Westminster and Falmouth. Several Scottish sportsmen have also
gained the coveted prize, notably the Duke of Hamilton (thrice), Lord
Eglinton (thrice), Mr. James Merry (twice), Mr. Ianson (twice), and Mr.
Stirling Crawford. In its earlier years few of the Dukes and Lords of
the turf won the St. Leger, but since 1876 the Peerage have been more
fortunate, only three Commoners having been credited with the race
during the last fourteen years, Lord Falmouth having proved successful
on three occasions. In 1889-90 St. Leger honours fell to the Duke of
Portland, by the aid of Donovan and Memoir.

The winning of the Derby and St. Leger by the same horse has been
accomplished in thirteen different years, commencing with Champion in
the first year of the century, 1800. For the long period of forty-eight
years no horse was able to emulate the great feat of Champion, but just
as owners and trainers were despairing, and people were beginning to
prophesy that the double event would never more take place. Surplice
came upon the scene and solved the problem. In the following year the
feat was again accomplished, when Lord Eglinton's Flying Dutchman
proved successful, whilst Lord Zetland's Voltigeur won the double
event in 1850. West Australian accomplished the same feat in 1853,
and, curiously enough, in the years 1864-5-6 the feat was successively
performed by Blair Athol, Gladiateur, and Lord Lyon. Silvio, a horse
belonging to Lord Falmouth, won both Derby and St. Leger in 1877,
while the dual victory of the American horse Iroquois is doubtless
green in the memory of all who take an interest in the turf. Since
Iroquois proved so fortunate, Melton, Ormonde, and Donovan have also
achieved double event honours (1885, 1886, and 1889). The annals of
the St. Leger have also been signalised by a series of triple events,
West Australian, Gladiateur, Lord Lyon, and Ormonde having won the Two
Thousand Guineas as well as the Derby and St. Leger.

It will not be out of place to devote a few lines to the famous
horsemen of the St. Leger, the jockeys who have won the Blue Ribbon of
the North. The rider of the first winner of the race was J. Singleton,
who steered Allabaculia to victory in 1766. The five successes of
Mangle took place on Ruler in 1780, and on Lord A. Hamilton's three in
1786-7-8, as also on the same nobleman's Tartar in 1792. Among horsemen
who flourished on the Town Moor of Doncaster at an early date was B.
Smith, who proved victorious on six occasions; but W. Scott was more
successful in the great race than any other jockey, as he secured the
St. Leger nine times, four of his wins being in consecutive years.
Many celebrated English horsemen have ridden in the St. Leger. Jackson
won the prize on eight occasions, and Buckle twice. Job Marson was
thrice victorious in the struggle; the latter on Voltigeur ran a dead
heat with Russborough, an Irish horse, but in the run-off, Voltigeur,
again ridden by Job, proved the better animal, winning the deciding
heat with great ease, although the jockey confessed to being a little
nervous. Flatman, too, made his mark on the Town Moor by winning two
consecutive St. Legers, namely, in 1856 with Warlock, and in 1857 with
Imperieuse. Another jockey who earned great distinction on the St.
Leger course was T. Chaloner, who gained the prize on five different
horses. Maidment won the stakes in 1871 for Baron Rothschild on Hannah,
and in the following year won again on Wenlock. The chief jockey of his
period, Frederick Archer, also earned his share of Doncaster honours,
having thrice won the race for his chief patron, Lord Falmouth, and
three times for other owners. Of living jockeys who have taken St.
Leger decorations it would be unfair not to chronicle the name of John
Osborne, who secured honours by a wonderful effort on Lord Clifden,
and who rode "the parson's cripple mare," Apology. Grimshaw, Custance,
Wells, and Goater have all in their time ridden St. Leger victors. T.
Cannon and J. Watts also deserve mention; the latter has ridden the
winner on three occasions.

The history of the St. Leger is distinguished by many curious events
and circumstances, one or two of which may be alluded to. Yorkshiremen
of all grades have recollections, pleasant or otherwise, of the annual
race for the Blue Ribbon of the North, and of the curious characters
who appeared at Doncaster to assist at its celebration, such as the
eccentric James Hurst, who came to the paddock dressed from head to
foot in sheepskin garments and drawn in a carriage of his own make by
his tame dogs, or occasionally by an ass, and sometimes attended by
a few tame foxes! On one occasion ten false starts took place before
the genuine race was run; that was in Altissidora's year (1813), when
seventeen horses came under the charge of the starter. A speculative
occupant of the grand stand, after the eighth false start had taken
place, laid 100 to 20 against the next attempt being successful and
also 100 to 30 against the tenth, and won his money. In the year
1819 the great Doncaster event was run twice! Two years afterwards,
Gustavus, which had won the Derby, was expected to win the St. Leger
also, but he was defeated by Jack Spigot, a northern horse. This was
the first great struggle between the southern and northern trainers,
and the latter, who entertained a profound contempt for Newmarket men
and their modes of training, prophesied that they could never win a
St. Leger--a prophecy that was speedily shown to be erroneous--and the
race is now seldom won by a horse trained in the northern stables, the
latest Yorkshire-trained winner, if I am not mistaken, being Apology.

Large amounts of money usually change hands over the race for the
St. Leger, the horse-loving Yorkshiremen being fond of making a bet;
many sums of considerable amount are risked by persons who habitually
speculate on the race. It was recently calculated by a gentleman
well versed in such matters that during the St. Leger week, over
fifty thousand individual bets would be made in Doncaster alone, the
amount standing to be won on the various horses in a good year for
betting--when, for instance, there is a strong run on five or six
animals--being not far short of a quarter of a million sterling, the
stake ranging from a shilling to five hundred, or even a thousand

The "form" of the horses which compete is generally so well known as
to prevent the odds offered against those supposed to have any chance
of winning from being high. Upon one occasion, however, "any odds"
might in reality have been obtained against the horse which won; as
a matter of fact, one bet of a hundred pounds to a walking stick was
laid. During these latter years the highest rate of odds laid against
a winner at the start for the St. Leger was 40 to 1, the horse being
Dutch Oven. About Hawthornden (an outsider) an Edinburgh gentleman
obtained early in the year the extraordinary bet of £500 to £1, but
the layer, once well known as a big betting man, ultimately proved a
defaulter; the taker of the bet, however, was paid in the course of
time about a fourth of the sum.

Space cannot be afforded to record the early struggles for the St.
Leger. The progress of the race was slow and the stakes nothing to
speak of; indeed, it was not till the century had well advanced
that subscribers became numerous. In 1804 the nominators amounted
to a couple of dozen, five years later the entries exceeded fifty
horses by one. In 1839 107 became the figure; in 1864 that number was
doubled, 217 having been entered; and in 1879, when Rayon d'Or proved
victorious, 274 horses had been nominated for the race.

"Descriptions" of the St. Leger, as we know them, were not written
in its earlier years. In 1784, when Omphale won, it is stated by an
authority of the time that the filly had been amiss for twelve months
preceding, and had only been nine weeks in training, yet won easily.
After 1786 the betting about the first three horses seems to have been
recorded, and a "place" is about that time apportioned to every horse
that took part in the struggle, which was not a difficult matter,
seeing that the fields, till 1803, seldom exceeded eight horses. In
1789 a horse named Zanga came in first (it belonged to the Duke of
Hamilton), but the rider having been proved guilty of "jostling," the
race was awarded to Pewet, the favourite. Champion, which also won
the Derby, was victor in the St. Leger of 1800, ridden by Buckle. The
betting was 2 to 1 against the son of Pot8os. The St. Leger of 1801
is characterised as "a good race, and much betting," and next year,
when Orville won, the legend of the event is extended a little, and is
as follows: "Orville took the lead (in a field of seven), was never
headed, and won easy." The odds were 8 to 1 against the winner, the
favourite being Young Eclipse, which was priced at 5 to 4 _on_. Next
year the same story is told of Remembrancer. In 1804 quite a chapter
of accidents occurred in the race; several of the horses fell, their
jockeys being much hurt.

The following lines convey a description of the race for the St. Leger
of 1806, for which fourteen horses faced the starter, the winner being
Fyldener by Sir Peter, out of Fanny by Diomed: "They all went off at
very little better than a canter rate, and were nearly together at the
distance post, except Mr. Harrison's colt (by Harrison's Trumpator, out
of Bonnyface), who was beat several lengths; after which some smart
running took place; but Fyldener appeared to win easy at the end of a
clear length. On the whole it was a very indifferent race, and they
were a long time in running it."

The St. Leger began to be "timed" in the year 1810, when it occupied
three and a half minutes. In the year of the ten false starts a note
was not kept, but in the following years, with a few breaks, the time
was regularly noted, a practice which does not seem to have been
followed in regard to the Derby till the year 1846. In 1822 the winner
was Theodore, and the race is rendered memorable from the fact that
the odds against that horse were 200 to 1, about which circumstance
many good stories could be told. In 1823 the race for the St. Leger
was actually run twice over. To begin with, twenty-seven horses were
saddled and mounted and assembled at the post, three false starts then
took place, when twenty-three of the horses again faced the starter,
who also officiated as clerk of the course. These horses ran the entire
distance, and the first three were placed in the usual way by the
judge: Carnival 1, Barefoot 2, Comte d'Artois 3. But to the surprise
of all it was pronounced "no race," as the horses had started without
the word being given by the starter. There was nothing for it but to
run the race over again, which was done, the struggle resulting very
much as in the first trial, except that Barefoot gained the place
of honour, Comte d'Artois being again third, to Mr. Houldsworth's
Sherwood, which attained second honours, Barefoot winning easily by two

The annals of the St. Leger are not free from stain. Many a time
and oft have whispers gone abroad of "foul play" and fraudulent
practices. A calendar of all the suspicious doings which have been
incidental to the great race would fill many pages. One or two of
them may be referred to. As has been told, the race was won in 1822
by a rank outsider (Theodore). The favourite that year was a colt
named Swap, belonging to, or at least nominated by, M. T. O. Powlett.
It was ridden by W. Scott, and started at odds of 7 to 4 against it,
and finished nowhere. Previous to the race being run there had been
displayed a great amount of excitement and temper with reference to
the doings in the various betting centres of the time. Ugly rumours
were in circulation regarding the favourite; those in "the know" were
so anxious to lay against the horse that suspicion was excited of all
not being as it ought to be with Swap. And so it proved. "The legs"
became jubilant after the race, some of them having netted large sums
of money. The betting had been very heavy, and backers of Swap lost
considerable amounts. Afterwards, in the Gascoigne Stakes, Swap beat
Theodore easily.

In the sporting circles of the period this particular St. Leger long
formed a theme of gossip, and the men who managed "the affair" were
well known, but no steps could be taken against them for lack of proof.
Ten years after the Swap business there fell out another St. Leger
scandal, when a horse entered for the race was purchased by the Bonds,
the keepers of a gambling house in St. James's Street. Ludlow, the
horse in question, was likely to start a great favourite when it passed
into the possession of the Bonds, as was asserted, to be "milked" for
the race; at all events, the sporting public became possessed of that
idea, which, in some degree, put a stop to speculation. Bond wrote
a letter to one of the newspapers in which he maintained that he
meant to run the horse on his merits, and mentioning the bets he had
taken, and naming the parties he had backed the horse with; but Ludlow
was the absolute last in the race, which Mr. Gully carried off with
Margrave. It was in connection with this race--in consequence of some
dispute--that Gully and Mr. Osbaldeston fought a duel, in which the
former had a narrow escape of losing his life.

At Doncaster no individual or private company reaps the benefit of
the moneys paid for admission to the stands and rings; the sums
drawn, it is understood, go to benefit the town. As regards the exact
mode of benefit, or the degree in which the people are benefited, no
particulars are published; judging, however, from the greed of those
who let their houses during the St. Leger week, the benefits derived
cannot be very great, the charges being always exorbitant, ranging from
£4 to £7 for apartments that at any other period of the year would be
dear at as many shillings. We do not speak of houses for which four
and five times the above sums are charged, but they are equally dear.
It has been stated that in consequence of the income derived from the
races the inhabitants pay no taxes; if that be really so, lodgings
ought to be cheaper at Doncaster than they are at present. One really
ought to be able to command a bedroom and breakfast-parlour for not
more than ten shillings a night, or two guineas for the four days.
Exorbitant prices have led those having racing business to attend to to
live for the four or five days of the meeting in the neighbouring towns
and villages, from which they can arrive at the Town Moor in good time
for business, and depart in ample time for dinner.

With reference to the sum paid as entry money for the race, namely,
£25, it is in reality much the same as for the Derby, with the
exception that, in the case of the great Epsom event, each runner is
mulcted in the full sum of 50 gs., but taking an average of twelve
runners, that number would only add £300 to the stakes of the winning
horse. Handsome additions ought therefore to be made. That the
Doncaster authorities should supplement the St. Leger Stakes with a
liberal hand is all the more necessary, seeing that the form of the
horses has before September become so exposed as to make it impossible
to back them, except at an unremunerative price. An addition of £1,000
to the second horse, and a sum of £500 to the one which runs third,
should at once be demanded by those gentlemen who are in the custom
year after year of nominating their yearlings for the Blue Ribbon
of the North; the subscriptions in their entirety should go to the
winner, and a given amount ought to be fixed for the first horse--say


If dukes are conspicuous by their absence from the fame-roll of the St.
Leger, they figure liberally enough in the list of Oaks winners, the
"Garter of the Turf" on sixteen anniversaries of the race having fallen
to ducal subscribers. As for lords--"mere lords" as these members
of the Peerage were once upon a time designated by William Cobbett
(and later by Thomas Carlyle)--they would almost appear to farm the
race, especially if the baronets, who have been equally fortunate, be
included. On no less than sixty-four occasions has the heroine of the
Oaks been the property of a titled personage.

The Oaks takes precedence of the Derby by a year. Only fillies run
in the race. The origin of the stakes has been often told. The first
struggle for the ladies' prize took place in the year 1779. An Earl
of Derby of the period originated the race and conferred a title upon
it, and his horse Bridget, ridden by J. Goodison, won the first Oaks.
The race derived its name from an alehouse which existed at one time
on Banstead Downs. This homely haunt of humble wayfarers was purchased
by General Burgoyne, who, by the expenditure of a few hundred pounds,
managed to convert the public-house into an elegant hunting-seat. "The
Oaks" afterwards became the property of Lord Derby, who enlarged and
beautified the house, adding also to the extent of the grounds by
which it was surrounded.

The initial contest took place on Friday, May 14th, 1779. The terms on
which the race was run at the date of its institution were as follows:
"The Oaks Stakes of 50 gs. each, for three-year-old fillies, 8 st. 4
lb., one mile and a half." Seventeen subscriptions were taken for the
race, and twelve of the fillies came to the starting-post, those placed

    Lord Derby's b. Bridget by Herod, out of Jemima      1
    Mr. Vernon's b. Fame by Pantaloon                    2
    Sir J. Shelly's b. Lavinia by Eclipse, out of Hyrmn  3

The winning jockey was J. Goodison, and the odds laid against the
winner at the start 5 to 2. The value of the stake would be 850 gs.

For the Oaks of 1782 the terms of competition were altered to 50 gs.
for each filly, with 40 gs. forfeit; the owner of the second received
100 gs. out of the stakes, which would leave very little for the
winner. The twelve starters would yield 600 gs., and the non-starters
would just add to the account the amount to be given to the owner of
the animal which ran second. In 1786 the rubric of the race underwent
another change; the following is a copy: "The Oaks Stakes of 50 gs.
each, 8 ft., for three-year-old fillies, 8 st. 4 lb., one mile and a
half." As will be seen, nothing is said regarding any provision for the
second horse, and whether or not the 100 gs. was continued the writer
is not able to say; in 1796, however, that sum was again bestowed on
the filly to which the judge allocated the second position. In the year
1787 the weight to be carried in the race was reduced to 8 st., at
which it remained till 1808, when it was restored to the former figure
of 8 st. 4 lb.; in 1842 the weight to be carried by fillies competing
in the race was increased to 8 st. 7 lb.

The progress of the Oaks towards its present condition of prosperity
was slow, but, it may be added, sure. It began, as has been said, with
seventeen subscribers, and once only fell below that number, namely,
in 1781, when there was one less; in 1795-6 42 fillies were entered,
but the numbers again fell off, and it was not till 1825 the entries
reached so many as 50, whilst fourteen years elapsed before the 100 was
topped. It was in 1868, when Formosa won the Garter for Mr. Graham,
that the highest number of entries was recorded, namely, 215; in two
other years the figures exceeded 200, namely, in 1867, when the race
fell to Baron Rothschild by the aid of Hippia (206 entries), and eleven
years afterwards when Lord Falmouth's Janette proved victorious, upon
which occasion 212 fillies were named. Since that time the entries have
been on the decline, as the following figures will show, namely: 189,
187, 182, 182, 145, 148, 144, 138, 142, 133, 112, from 1879 to 1889
inclusive, respectively.

The following averages afford a good idea of the value of the
Oaks Stakes: During the first twenty years, the average number of
subscribers was twenty-six, the average number of horses competing
being 9. In the second period of twenty years these averages increased
to thirty-three subscribers, but the field of runners underwent no
alteration. In the third twenty years the subscribers had more than
doubled, whilst the competing fields had risen to an average of 13.

The Duke of Bedford, who during the active period of his life was a
well-known _habitué_ of the turf, won the Oaks in the consecutive years
of 1790-1 by the aid of Hyppolita and Portia, while in 1793 his filly
Coelia proved successful in beating the nine competitors which started
against her. The next duke who comes upon the scene is "the Oaks Duke,"
_par excellence_, the Duke of Grafton. With Remnant in 1801, and with
Parasol in 1803, his grace had proved unsuccessful; but in 1804 his
filly Pelisse, beating seven opponents, won the Duke his first Oaks; in
1808, Morel brought him another victory. Music, Minuet, Pastille, Zinc,
Turquoise, and Oxygen followed in the footsteps of Morel in the years
1813, 1815, 1822, 1823, 1828, and 1831, respectively, giving his grace
eight winners in all.

On two occasions the Garter of the Turf was awarded to the Duke of
Rutland, who won in 1811 by the aid of Sorcery, and in 1814 his
grace's filly Medora took the prize. The Duke of Richmond comes next
in the list of ducal winners; in 1827 his filly Gulnare won the Oaks,
and again in 1845 his grace's filly Refraction credited him with the
stakes. In what may be called modern times (1886-7) the Dukes of
Hamilton and Beaufort have each scored a victory.

Coming now to "the lords," it has first of all to be chronicled that
the founder of the race was twice successful in his attempts to win;
first with Bridget in 1779--the year of its institution--and again in
1794, when Hermione won. Lord Grosvenor's Faith, Ceres, and Maid of
the Oaks gave that nobleman three consecutive victories in the years
1781-2-3, and in 1797 and 1799 his lordship proved again successful,
the winners being Nike and Bellina, followed by Meteora in 1805, making
a series of six victories. Lord Clermont was so fortunate as twice to
capture the Garter, namely, in 1785 by the aid of Trifle, and seven
years afterwards by Volante. Two of Lord Egremont's fillies proved
victorious in consecutive years, Nightshade in 1788, and Tag in 1789.
Other wins were scored by his lordship in 1795, when Platina proved
victorious, and in 1808 by means of Ephemera, whilst Carolina scored
for him in 1820, making five successes in all for Lord Egremont. Lord
Exeter's successes, three in all, were attained by the aid of Augusta
in 1821, Green Mantle in 1829, Galata in 1832. Lord Chesterfield
(twice), Lord George Bentinck, Lord Westminster, Lord Stanley, and Lord
Londesborough also secured the Garter of the Turf between the years
1838 and 1859. The late Lord Falmouth was fortunate enough to win the
Oaks on four occasions. Queen Bertha, 1863; Spinaway, 1875; Janette and
Wheel of Fortune in 1878 and 1879, were his lordship's winners. Lords
Stamford, Roseberry, Cadogan, Calthorpe, and R. Churchill have each
taken the Garter; likewise Count de Lagrange and Baron Rothschild, who
twice proved successful.

Only two fillies have scored the double event of Oaks and Derby,
namely, Eleanor in 1801, and Blinkbonny in 1857. It is not often the
case that mares are entered for the "Blue Ribbon," May being a bad
season in which to expect them to perform well along with the colts.
Winners of the Oaks, however, have several times proved victorious
in the St. Leger. Queen of Trumps, 1835; Formosa, 1868; Hannah, 1871;
Marie Stuart, 1873; Apology, 1874; Janette, 1878; and Sea Breeze in the
year 1888, were all credited with the double event.

Of jockeys who had mounts in the Oaks, the Chifneys may be mentioned
as having won the race on nine occasions, victory falling to the elder
Chifney four times. Buckle, however, the greatest horseman of his
time, takes precedence as having been nine times victorious in the
ladies' battle; Frank Butler six times landed his horse at the head of
the field, four of the races which fell to his prowess being run in
successive years, namely in 1849, 1850, 1851, and 1852, Lady Evelyn,
Rhidycina, Iris, and Songstress being the names of the fillies ridden
by him on these four occasions; their owners were Lord Chesterfield,
Mr. Hobson, Lord Stanley, and Mr. J. Scott. John Day rode five Oaks
winners; Scott rode the winner on three occasions; Lye also scored
three victories, as did Templeman.

Coming to what by comparison may be called modern times, we have to
credit that able horseman, George Fordham, with five victories; F.
Archer won the Oaks on four occasions, three of the wins being for Lord
Falmouth; T. Cannon has been twice successful in the race; that careful
horseman, John Osborne, has one Oaks win to his credit; Wood, Woodburn,
and Robinson have each had one turn.

For the long period of one hundred and eleven years the subscribers
to the Oaks ran for their own money only the Epsom authorities never
having contributed a shilling to the stakes; the winner at one time,
indeed, was charged £100 as a contribution to the police expenses!

It is really surprising that owners of horses should have submitted for
over a hundred years to contribute thousands of pounds to the exchequer
of a public company, who have never till lately offered one farthing
by way of _quid pro quo_. There can be no doubt, although the Oaks
does not draw so great a crowd to Epsom as the Derby, that the race is
highly profitable to the parties who work "the oracle." How the new
arrangement begun in 1890 will turn out remains to be determined, but
in the past history of the race, as can be seen from a perusal of some
of the old Calendars, many gentlemen have, year by year, entered from
two to nine of their fillies, and have in consequence incurred forfeits
to the extent of from fifty to two hundred and twenty-five pounds,
with no other result than that of enriching the Grand Stand Company
of Epsom, who, it is said, derive a profit of several thousand pounds
from the two great races which are run at their Epsom Summer Meeting.
A time is undoubtedly coming when it will be necessary for lessees of
racecourses to hand over to the men who supply the competing horses a
considerable share of the gains which accrue from the popularity of
the meeting; otherwise owners will take the matter more into their own
hands, and run their horses for their own profit.

Taken from beginning to end, the progress of the Oaks has probably
been less marked by chicanery than the other classic races. As was
said by one of the late Mr. Merry's grooms, a sedate old Scotsman,
"fillies are such kittle cattle that it does na dae to trust them ower
far," and the man was not far wrong in offering such an opinion. It is
a characteristic of their sex to be fickle, and the Oaks is run at a
period of the year when such horses may prove most unreliable; hence it
is that there is less gambling on the race than takes place on other
equine competitions. If a man thinks his filly good enough to win, and
is desirous of backing her, he delays his investment till he sees her
at the post.

Whispers of occasional frauds in connection with the Garter of the
Turf have, however, been heard, and every now and again it has been
held "as curious, to say the least of it, that fillies which ran badly
in the One Thousand Guineas should alter their form so much in the
Oaks," and _vice versâ_. Once or twice ugly tales have been told about
owners who were "open to conviction"; in particular, it was said a
few years ago, regarding a gentleman who "stood" to win, and did win,
a very large stake over a horse which he had entered for the Derby,
that in order to make sure of his being paid his winnings over that
race, he would "require" (so he was told by his commissioner, if we
may credit the story) to give up his chance of winning the Oaks, which
race seemed to be as like a gift to him as the race for the Blue Ribbon
proved to be. "Well," said an experienced racing man, "the story may
be quite true; one never can tell exactly how the undercurrents of the
turf are running, but you may be quite sure of one thing, and that is,
that no one connected with the little arrangement would ever open his
mouth about it to an outsider. Such doings can, at the best, be only
a matter of guess work, and, on the principle that a man may do as he
likes with his own, it is nobody's business."

That is one way of putting the case, and that "a man's horse is his
own and he can do with it as he pleases," has often figured as an
excuse for very flagrant instances of turf immorality; but, it has been
suggested that the Oaks has been less marked by chicanery than other


One hundred and ten years have elapsed since Diomed won the first race
for what has since been called the "Blue Ribbon of the Turf," and
to-day the Derby is as much in favour as it has been in any previous
year. Countless thousands assemble on Epsom Downs to witness each
recurring anniversary. During the first thirty years of its existence
the race was of slow growth so far as the subscribers and the number
of horses running was concerned, but its popularity was soon to grow,
and considering the difficulties of locomotion on bad roads and other
obstructions, the attendance on the Downs on the day set for the
great struggle became very considerable, although nothing like what
it was destined to become when railways had made travelling easy and

It was propounded as a question in the columns of one of the sporting
journals some years ago that it would be interesting to know how many
men were alive who had seen the race run about the year 1820, or even
a year or two later; but I do not know if any, or how many answers
were returned. In Bluegown's year, however, I conversed at a wayside
tavern with an old man who was making his way to Epsom Downs on foot,
who had, as a child, seen Eleanor win the Derby of 1801. Among the
horse-racing men of Yorkshire there are three or four reputed to be
alive who have witnessed more than fifty consecutive races for the St.
Leger, and there may, perhaps, be people yet living who have as many
times witnessed the struggle for the Derby. Curiously enough, when I
ventured in my history of the "Blue Ribbon of the Turf" to renew this
question, which is, I think, neither frivolous nor devoid of interest,
I was "heavily sneered at" by one of the cocksure critics of the period
who thought the matter unworthy of consideration.

The race at the date of Eleanor's victory was twenty-two years old,
having been instituted in 1780. During the first ten years of the
Derby the accumulated stakes amounted to 11,005 gs. When the race
was inaugurated the number of subscribers was thirty-six, and the
following is a list of the horses which formed the field: Sir Charles
Bunbury's Diomed, Major O'Kelly's Bowdrow, Mr. Walker's Spitfire, Sir
F. Evelyn's Wotton, Mr. Panton's colt by Herod, Duke of Cumberland's
colt by Eclipse, Mr. Dulsh's colt by Cardinal Puff, Mr. Delme's colt by
Gimcrack, and the Duke of Bolton's Bay Bolton.

As regards the number of subscriptions to the race in its earlier days,
it may be here recorded that up to and including 1800 the following
figures denote the entries: 36, 35, 35, 34, 30, 29, 29, 33, 30, 30,
32, 32, 32, 50, 49, 45, 45, 37, 37, 33, and 33, respectively.

Nothing of much interest can be written regarding the earlier years of
the Derby. As is well known to persons versed in the history of the
turf, the race was instituted by, or at any rate was named after the
twelfth Earl of Derby, who was also, as has been already mentioned,
sponsor for the Oaks. Could the future celebrity of the great event
have been foreseen, we should not be without full particulars of the
earlier struggles for victory; but a hundred years ago the sporting
reporter was evidently not of much account; at any rate, the newspapers
of the time (1780 to 1800) do little more than record that the race
was run. Brief comments began to be offered upon the Derby in 1802 and
following years; these, however, were exceedingly curt, consisting
usually of such observations as "Won easy," or "Won very easy." The
race of 1805, won by Lord Egremont's Cardinal Beaufort, was commented
on in the following fashion: "Won by a neck. There was much betting
on this race. Mr. Best's colt was thrown down by some horsemen
imprudently crossing the course before all the race-horses had passed,
and his rider, B. Norton, was bruised by the fall." In the following
year, 1806, when Lord Foley's Paris won the Derby, we obtain a better
account of the race: "At half-past one they started, and went at a good
speed to Tattenham Corner, on which it was observed that Shepherd,
who rode Paris, rather pulled, whilst Trafalgar was making play;
notwithstanding, Lord Egremont was backed to win. Upon coming to the
distance point, Trafalgar ran neck and neck, in which situation they
continued till within a few yards of the winning-post, when Shepherd
made a desperate push and won the race by about half a head."

In 1813, when Sir Charles Bunbury's Smolensko was declared the winner,
having beaten eleven opponents, there were, as in the three succeeding
years, 51 entries for the Derby, a number, however, which pretty
soon began to be exceeded. In 1827, the year in which Lord Jersey's
Mameluke landed the prize from twenty-two competitors, 89 horses had
been entered for the race, the same number curiously enough being set
forth in the three succeeding years. In 1831 (Spaniel's year) the 100
had been topped, and the fields of runners, as was to be expected, had
also considerably increased. In Priam's year, for instance (1830), 28
horses were found at the starting-post. That number was not, however,
maintained; but from that year to 1841, 23, 22, 25, 23, 14, 21, 17,
23, 21, 17, and 19, respectively, faced the starter, while in 1851
the field of competitors numbered 33 animals. As a corollary of the
big entries and increasing fields, the money to be run for increased
so that the stakes became of importance and worth winning, especially
in 1848, when the number of horses entered for the race had reached
the handsome total of 215 different animals, a number which in after
years was occasionally exceeded, as for instance in 1879, when Sir
Bevys was hailed as victor, the horses entered for that year's Blue
Ribbon numbered no less than 278. Since then the largest entries have
occurred in 1880 (257) and 1890 (233), when Bend Or and Sainfoin won

The terms on which the Derby was first run for were 50 gs. for each
horse taking part in the race, non-starters paying half that amount;
the distance run during the first three years was one mile, and the
weights carried were respectively 8 st. for colts, and 7 st. 11 lb. for
fillies; the weights were altered in the year 1784, and again in the
years 1801, 1803, 1807, as also in 1865.

In 1782 the second horse began to be paid £100 out of the stakes; in
1869 the sums given to the runners-up were respectively £300 and £150
for first and second. At a previous date sums were deducted from the
stakes for police expenses and the judge! The stake run for by Diomed,
the first winner of the Derby, would amount to 1,125 gs., and for the
next ten or twelve years the sum raced for was seldom under 1,000 gs. A
good many years elapsed before the 2,000 gs. was topped, but a time was
coming when even double that amount was thought a small sum with which
to reward the owner of a Derby winner. In Lord Lyons' year (1866) the
stakes reached £7,350, and again in 1879 when Fordham won on Sir Bevys,
the sum of the stakes amounted to over £7,000, whilst £5,000 and even
£6,000 were on several occasions placed to the credit of the owner of
the winning horse.

On the day that Pyrrhus the First won the Derby, which was in the
year 1846, the "time" taken to run the race was for the first time
ascertained--it was two minutes and fifty-five seconds; but on two
or three occasions two minutes and forty-three seconds was the time
indicated; whilst on three anniversaries the running of the race has
exceeded three minutes, the distance being one mile and a half. Many
racing men do not believe in the time test, thinking it impossible to
ascertain with the necessary precision the precise moment of the start
and finish.

Not till the advent of a sporting newspaper--now dead, but famous in
its day, _Bell's Life in London_--did the Derby become popular with
the people. It has been said that "Bell made the race," and the saying
is undoubtedly to some extent true, as in the course of time that
journal began to devote special attention to the Derby, giving a minute
history of the breeding and performances of those horses likely to
take part in the struggle. A feature of the work undertaken by "Bell"
was greatly relished, namely, a very full description of the Sunday
gallops of the various competitors on Epsom Downs, a special edition
of the paper being issued with the information, containing also the
latest quotations of "the odds." As time went on these features of
_Bell's Life_ were eagerly looked for and enjoyed, the circulation of
the journal being considerably increased by the pains taken to give
accurate reports. Then the day of the race came in for an immense
amount of journalistic attention, the struggle itself and all its
incidents being minutely described, the throng of people on the routes
to and from Epsom, and all the varied occurrences which characterised
the journey, being graphically described.

Nowadays the "form" of the horses which compete in the Derby is so well
known as time progresses that no special efforts of the kind alluded to
are made; moreover, nearly every newspaper devotes so much attention
to "sport" that no person need be ignorant of any matter connected with
the turf, and particularly the great race for the Blue Ribbon.

Railways to-day give such ready access to even distant seats of racing
sport that men are enabled to witness every year as many races as they
please, at a moderate cost in the way of expenditure. But for all that,
Epsom on each recurring Derby Day becomes a focus of attraction, being
annually visited by tens of thousands of persons, "the masses," of
course, predominating; "the classes," however, being always largely
represented, members of the Peerage having usually a personal interest
in the race as owners, perhaps, of some of the competitors, or are
found attending in the hope of seeing the horse of a friend prove

"The classes," indeed, have always been liberal supporters of the Epsom
Derby; the patrician element was wont, indeed, to predominate in the
list of nominators. In the year of the centenary of the race no less
than eighty-four of the horses nominated had been entered by princes
and peers, one of the number standing in the name of the nobleman who
in that year had been appointed Lord High Commissioner to the General
Assembly of the Church of Scotland. Upwards of a century ago the race
was won by the then Prince of Wales; but before that day, and often
since, the luck of the lords and other titled gentlemen in gaining
Derby honours has been conspicuous. From 1787, when Lord Derby won with
Sir Peter Teazle, the race fell in eleven consecutive years to titled
gentlemen, and from 1801 there came another series of eleven years in
which titled owners came to the front; whilst ever since, the dukes,
lords, and baronets have had a fair share of the honours of both the
Derby and the Oaks. On thirty-two occasions the Blue Ribbon has fallen
to a duke.

Although "nomination" to run in the race requires to be made when the
animals are yearlings--long before it can be known whether or not they
will be able to compete with advantage to their owners--large numbers
of horses are annually entered for it. At one time the value of a
race-horse was greatly increased by its being entered for the Derby;
so much so, indeed, that breeders and other owners would frequently
enter as many as half-a-dozen animals, in the hope that one of them
might win. Now, however, so many more richly endowed races are run
in the course of the year that in time the Derby may come to be less
cared about by owners of blood stock. Races are at present run of the
value of £10,000, which largely exceeds the value of the Derby stake.
Gentlemen go to great expense in the purchase of yearlings which they
think likely to shape into winners of the classic races. One nobleman
is known to have expended many thousand pounds in the course of his
life in the hope of being at last placed in possession of a horse good
enough to prove victorious. On some occasions the Blue Ribbon has
been won by animals that cost a comparatively small sum, and several
gentlemen have taken the prize by aid of a horse bred by themselves.
Again, animals which have won have been sold at a very high figure;
two of these may be named--Blair Athol, which once changed hands for
£10,000; and Doncaster, which was said to have been sold for £14,000.

Jockeys, we believe, still look upon the winning of a Derby as being
the highest honour they can attain, although they sometimes earn more
money by winning a good handicap on which there is heavy betting.
Large sums are reputed to have occasionally been paid to the rider of
a Derby winner--over £5,000 on one occasion, that being the amount of
the stakes won by one of Sir Joseph Hawley's horses, and given by that
gentleman to its rider. A thousand pounds for riding a Derby winner
has come to be looked upon as quite a common fee; but in the earlier
days of the great Epsom event no such figures were heard of, and upon
one occasion, when a boy was paid £20 by the greatly gratified owner
of a Derby winner, the circumstance was remarked upon as being without
precedent, and an act of munificence. The big sums paid of late may be
said to be in the nature of insurance, as jockeys before now have been
known to be offered large sums not to win, and it has been said that
such bribes have oftener than once proved effective.

The "superb groan" of Lord George Bentinck has become historical.
Lord George, whose chief ambition as a sportsman was to win a Derby,
had parted with his stud of horses in order that he might devote his
whole attention to politics, and among the animals disposed of was
Surplice, winner of the Derby of 1848. As may be supposed, the noble
lord was deeply chagrined to find that he had parted with a horse that
won a trophy of which he had long been in search. On the day after the
race, Lord Beaconsfield tells us that he found Lord George in the
library of the House of Commons with a book in his hand, but "looking
disturbed." His resolutions in favour of the colonial interest, after
all his labours, had been negatived by the committee on the 22nd, and
on the 24th his horse, Surplice, which he had parted with among the
rest of his stud solely that he might pursue, without distraction, his
work on behalf of the great interests of the country, had won that
paramount and Olympian stake to gain which had been the object of his
life. He had nothing to console him and nothing to sustain him, except
his pride. Even that deserted him before a heart which he knew at least
would yield him sympathy. He gave a sort of superb groan: "All my life
I have been trying for this, and for what have I sacrificed it?" he
murmured. It was in vain to offer solace. "You do not know what the
Derby is," he moaned out. "Yes, I do, it is the Blue Ribbon of the

In London Derby Day is in many respects a holiday; thousands of even
the most industrious men of business journey to Epsom to obtain a peep
at the chief event of the racing year. Even the House of Commons either
contrives to adjourn expressly for the day, or so manages that it is
not sitting on that particular occasion.

The Derby Day, with its attendant incidents, has been so often
described that there is little or nothing left to say which can be
endowed with the form of novelty. Writers, grave and gay, have written
accounts of the great race and its surroundings from many points of
view. What has been seen on the way to Epsom Downs has been over and
over again described in graphic language. To the Derby, by road or
rail, has afforded the industrious descriptive reporter yards of
"copy"; incidents, comic and pathetic, have been seen or invented by
"our own"; and the suggestion of a London pressman to hark back on the
old accounts and republish them with a little "dressing up" was not a
bad one. An industrious penman might find in some of the descriptions
written twenty years ago matter that, judiciously recompiled, would not
be without a considerable thread of interest.

The number of persons who annually witness the running for the Derby
Stakes has been variously stated by statisticians, and has been guessed
at half a million; but other writers do not think the attendance ever
exceeded two hundred and fifty thousand individuals; and one or two
well-informed persons who have ventured to take a census of the number
present on the Downs on the Derby Day, do not venture to say that
it exceeds a hundred thousand, all told; but even that figure would
represent a vast multitude of people.

The Derby is no longer the great betting race it was at one time.
Sixty years since, hundreds of thousands of pounds in big sums, it
was thought, would change hands, the bulk of the money going into the
pockets of a few persons, and these generally being in connection with
"the stable." In some years very good prices have been obtained against
the winning horse just previous to the start, and it is a mistake to
suppose, as many people who know no better often do, that "the winner
of the Derby always starts favourite." That is not so.

The "favourite" from Diomed (1780) to Donovan (1889) has won the great
race on thirty-nine occasions, both of the horses named being in
that proud position. In twenty-three of the races for the Derby the
favourite has required to put up with second place, and on fifteen
occasions with third honours only; so that from the beginning, in
1780, to the year in which Donovan was first the favourite has won or
been placed as many as seventy-seven times, leaving victory or place
honours to be attained by outsiders, or at any rate, non-favourites, in
thirty-two different years. In some years the winner of the race has
started at what may be termed a remunerative price. The starting price
of Hermit, as all the world knows, has been quoted at 100 to 1, but
very likely 50 or at most 66 to 1 would more correctly represent the
rate of the odds; two horses which started at 50 to 1 were Azor (1817)
and Spaniel (1831); Phosphorus (1837), Caractacus (1862), and Doncaster
(1873), were each priced at 40 to 1, at the start. Merry Monarch (1845)
is the only Derby winner which started at 33 to 1; Noble (1786), Lapdog
(1826), Amato, and Bloomsbury (1838-9) were all 30 to 1 chances, and on
ten different occasions the winner of the Derby has figured at 20 to 1
as the field was taken in hand by the starter. Seven times have odds
been laid "on" the winner, whilst "evens" have four times been recorded.

As all interested in horse-racing know, the Derby, till within the
last three years, has been a self-supporting race, and even now it is
only, if at all, a little less so. Harking back, and looking over
Blue Ribbon history, we find that those running horses in the great
Epsom event required to pay for the privilege of doing so a sum of
£50. Gentlemen who entered their horses, but for some reason or other
did not run them, had, according to the conditions, to pouch out £25,
and in the earlier years of the Derby "guineas" were exacted. In the
rubric of the first race no sum is allotted to the second or third
horses, but in 1782 it is mentioned that "the second received 100 gs.
out of the stakes." No allowance would appear, in the earlier years of
the Blue Ribbon, to have been assigned to the other placed horse, but
in the course of time there appeared a clause in the conditions to the
effect that the winner would have to pay £100 towards the expenses of
additional police officers, and some years afterwards another exaction
was made in the form of a fee of £50 to the judge; so that the very
earliest traditions of the race point in the direction of meanness.

How the race for the Derby Stakes was originally organised is not very
well known, but that machinery of some kind existed for collecting
the stakes, and handing the amounts won to the winners of them, may
be taken for granted; indeed, we know that it was so, but, for lack
of authentic information on the subject, it is better not to risk the
publication of merely hearsay statements. For more than a century
British sportsmen have quietly allowed themselves to be, as may be
said, "victims" of a confederacy that "grabbed" all and gave nothing.
Year after year owners of Derby horses generously (perhaps "stupidly"
would be the better word) continued to run against each other simply
for their own money, much to the profit of the money-seeking Company
which leases the racecourse and grand stand on Epsom Downs. Not
till within the last six or seven years has there arisen a serious
demand for the augmentation of the money run for, and, curiously
enough, in most of the schemes which have been ventilated, the Epsom
administration seemed alone to be thought of, even by men whom one
would have expected to be in sympathy rather with those who provided
the means of sport than those who make an inordinate profit out of it.

The concessions made by those who "boss" the Epsom show may be held
to be the outcome of the more profitable stakes which have come into
vogue of late years. The conditions of the race now read as follows:
"The Derby Stakes of 5,000 sovs. for the winner, 500 sovs. for the
nominator of the winner, 300 sovs. for the owner of the second, and 200
sovs. for the owner of the third; colts 9 st.; fillies 8 st. 9 lb., by
subscription of 50 sovs. each, h. ft. if declared by the first Tuesday
in January, 1891, and 10 sovs. only if declared by the first Tuesday in
January, 1890; any surplus to be paid to the winner. About a mile and
a half, starting at the High Level Starting-post. 206 subs., 41 pd. 10
sovs. ft. Closed July 16, 1889."

The above copy of the rubric shows what the movements made to reform
the Derby Stakes have resulted in--namely, the ensuring of a fixed sum
to the owner of the winner, as also a gratuity to the breeder of the
victorious horse, but no increased allowance is to be given to the
animal which comes in second; the third horse, however, will now get
£200 instead of £150. The "proprietors of the race" will probably never
require to afflict their souls by putting their hands in their pockets,
but to change the old time condition at all must have sadly disturbed
their serenity. But that which is demanded of the Epsom magnates is
not what has so tardily been given. Owners of race-horses would most
assuredly have logic on their side if they were to say to the powers
that reign over Epsom heath, "You must do as much for us as we do for
you." The case may be put in a nutshell in this way, namely, that the
two great races run there--Oaks and Derby--bring to the Grand Stand
exchequer a sum of at least £20,000, not one penny of which could
be otherwise pocketed. Say that £5,000 will be required to defray
expenses, and let a similar sum be allocated for division among the
shareholders, and there would still remain £10,000 for division among
those chivalrous sportsmen who enter their horses, and to these men
might well be left the task of organising the division.

The most curious feature of Derby history is undoubtedly how the race
came to be the property of any person or body of persons. It was named
after the Earl of Derby when it was instituted in 1780, but, as has
been mentioned, a long time elapsed before the afterwards great Epsom
event became the popular meeting which it now is. Not till 1831 did the
entry in any year exceed one hundred horses; so that up to that date,
if all the subscribers paid their money, the value of the Derby--the
figure was greatly dependent, of course, on the number of horses that
came to the starting-post--would very seldom reach a sum of £3,000.
Not till George Fordham steered Mr. Acton's Sir Bevys to victory in
1879 did the stake reach its highest value, when, with 278 entries and
22 runners, the sum must have amounted to £7,500, if all who entered
their colts paid their stakes. But long before that son of Favonius
had placed the Blue Ribbon of the Turf to the credit of his owner, the
Epsom Summer Meeting had been placed on a thoroughly business footing,
such a footing as has secured for many years a magnificent dividend to
the proprietors of the grand stand, who are lessees of the course on
which the Derby, Oaks, and other races have for so many years been run;
but it has been said that so far as the gentlemen of England--who run
colts in the Derby or fillies in the Oaks--and their foreign friends
are concerned, they might as well write the names of their horses on
pieces of paper, and shaking them together in a hat, select at random
the first three and divide the money in accordance with the result
of the draw. Minus the excitement attending the race, such a mode of
procedure would be better than allowing their costly horses, provided
at great expense, to run for the benefit of a body of persons who
have a greater love--in all probability a far greater love--for a big
dividend than for sport.

No more curious feature of our present-day civilisation exists than
that a large body of gentlemen (and ladies as well) should enter a
couple of hundreds of the finest horses bred in the kingdom to take
part in a race for the benefit of a joint stock company!

As was recently said by a popular writer, the race for the Derby still
attracts tens of thousands of people to Epsom to see it decided; but
for all that it is thought by persons well qualified to offer an
opinion that the great race has begun to decline, and that, unless
those most interested in its popularity--namely, the lessees of the
racecourse--take immediate steps to increase the value of the stake run
for to a still greater extent than has been yet done the entries will

Gentlemen up till 1890 have run for their own money only, but as there
are now several races where the stakes total up to a much higher sum
than in the Derby, it stands to reason that owners of likely horses
will prefer to run them for the races of greater value. The Company
which claims to have a vested interest in the "Blue Ribbon of the
Turf" will require to supplement the value of the race by adding a few
more thousands to the stake. They have made a beginning, but they will
require to do more in the way of money-giving if they are to keep pace
with the big sums now offered as an inducement for men to enter horses
in other stakes.


"The titles make a big mark in the annals of the Two Thousand," wrote,
a few years since, a well-known sporting journalist. And so they do, as
a glance at the list of winning names will show.

The race was established in 1809, when it was won by Mr. Wilson's
Wizard; and in the year following Lord Grosvenor captured the
prize, beating eight competitors, with Hephestion by Alexander.
Lord Darlington with Cwrw proved successful in 1812, whilst Sir C.
Bunbury's Smolensko won in 1813. Lord Rous with Tigris followed in
1815, Lord G. Cavendish landed the stakes with Nectar in 1816. In
two succeeding years, 1818-9, Lord Folley and Sir John Shelly gained
Two Thousand honours with Interpreter and Antar respectively. Then
come the three consecutive wins of the Duke of Grafton by the aid of
Pindarrie, Reginald, and Pastile. Two Commoners follow, Mr. Rogers and
Mr. Haffenden, their winners being Nicolo and Schahriar. Lord Exeter
follows with Enamel, after which (1826-7) the Duke of Grafton adds two
wins to the three he had previously achieved, the names of his winners
being Dervise and Turcoman. After his Grace of Grafton comes the Duke
of Rutland with Cadland. Lord Exeter is next enrolled on the Two
Thousand scroll of honour, Patron and Augustus crediting him with the
stakes in 1829-30. In 1831 Riddlesworth gave the prize to Lord Jersey.
Wins by horses belonging to Colonel Peel and Lord Orford follow, and
then Lord Jersey throws in for four consecutive triumphs, Glencoe,
Ibrahim, Bay Middleton, and Achmet being the names of the victorious
horses. Lords George Bentinck (twice) and Albemarle take the trophy
in 1838-9-40-1. Lords Stradbroke, Enfield, Exeter, Derby, Zetland,
Stamford, and Glasgow follow up. Then in 1874 comes the name of Lord
Falmouth, and before his death it is twice repeated in the annals of
the Two Thousand. Lords Dupplin and Lonsdale also win the race, as do
the Dukes of Beaufort, Westminster, and Portland. Among the racing
Commoners who have been credited with the Two Thousand Guineas we find
the names of Mr. Bowes, who twice took the prize, and Mr. Merry, who
won it on two occasions. The well-known names of Mr. Gully and Mr.
Sutton, as also Count La Grange, Sir Joseph Hawley, and Mr. D. Baird,
are likewise enrolled on the scroll of fame.

Horses which win or run prominently for the Guineas are not always
entered for the Derby or St. Leger, but it happens that the double
event of Two Thousand and Derby has fallen to the same horse on twelve
occasions, the successful animals being:

1813. Smolensko.
1828. Cadland.
1836. Bay Middleton.
1853. West Australian.
1863. Macaroni.
1865. Gladiateur.
1866. Lord Lyon.
1869. Pretender.
1882. Shotover.
1886. Ormonde.
1888. Ayrshire.
1891. Common.

Four times the Two Thousand winner has also taken the St. Leger as well
as the Derby: West Australian in 1853, Gladiateur in 1865, Lord Lyon
in 1866, and Ormonde in 1886. The Two Thousand and Oaks were captured
by Crucifix in 1840, and by Formosa in 1868. The double event of Two
Thousand and St. Leger has been achieved by Sir Tatton Sykes, 1840,
Stockwell, 1862, West Australian, 1853, The Marquis, 1862, Gladiateur,
1865, Lord Lyon, 1866, Formosa, 1868, Petrarch, 1876, and Ormonde,

Here is a little statement regarding the Two Thousand I have "rescued"
from the sporting journals, in the columns of some of which it was
recently "going the rounds." As will be seen, it is not without
interest, showing as it does the relative performances of Two Thousand
and Derby winners in each of those races for the past thirty-one years:

"The Two Thousand winner has started twenty-six times in that period
for the Derby. He has won the latter race seven times, ran second six
times, third four times, and unplaced nine. The Derby winner, in the
same space, has competed seventeen times in the Two Thousand--seven
times as a winner, four times second, four times third, and twice
unplaced. It is interesting to note that the winner of the Two Thousand
has succumbed in the Derby to a horse he had beaten in the Two Thousand
on eight occasions, viz.: in 1861, 1870, 1872, 1873, 1877, 1881, 1883,
and 1889."

As has been often said, the race for the Guineas greatly discounts
the Derby. So it does. In some years indeed, as in 1891, it is in the
nature of a rehearsal for the great event which takes place on Epsom
Downs, just in the same way as the One Thousand frequently proves a
preliminary canter for the Oaks, these two races having been taken on
thirteen occasions by the same filly. Both sexes may try conclusions
in the Two Thousand, but in the One Thousand and Oaks only fillies are
eligible to compete.

It is a notable circumstance that, beginning in 1814, the first race
for the One Thousand fell to Mr. Wilson, the same gentleman who was
credited with the premier of the Two Thousand nine years previously.

One name makes a big mark in the annals of the One Thousand; it is
that of the Duke of Grafton, who won the race five consecutive times,
1819-20-1-2-3, and then missing a year, came again to the front with
three winners in the three years of 1825-6-7. The race has in its
course fallen to many other distinguished members of the Peerage, the
latest recipient of the prize being the Duke of Portland, who in 1890
landed the stakes by the aid of Semolina. Upon three occasions the
triple event of One Thousand, Oaks, and St. Leger has been secured
by the prowess of the same animal--Formosa, Hannah, and Apology,
1868, 1871, and 1874 respectively, Maidment and John Osborne being
jockeys who were credited with the triple ride. The double event of
One Thousand and St. Leger has fallen on five occasions to the same
filly--Imperieuse, 1857, Achievement, 1867, Formosa, 1868, Hannah,
1871, and Apology, 1874.

It is not a little remarkable that, whilst the names of all the jockeys
who have ridden winners of the St. Leger, Oaks, and Derby have been
ascertained and preserved, no record has apparently been kept of the
riders who won the Two Thousand during the first thirteen years, or
of the jockeys who were so fortunate as to ride the winners of the
One Thousand in the first eight years of its existence. The most
fortunate horseman in connection with the Two Thousand seems to have
been Robinson, who on nine several occasions was credited with the
_dux prize_; he also on five occasions won the One Thousand. Most of
the chief horsemen of the period have had successful mounts in these
races; the veteran John Osborne, who is now retiring, has had a share
of Guineas honours.

During many of the earlier years of the Two Thousand (notably from
1817 to 1846) the fields competing in the race seldom exceeded double
figures; on two occasions only a couple faced the starter, the
fortunate owner of the winner in both these years (1829-30) being Lord
Exeter, with Patron and Augustus. During the last six years the number
of horses starting for the Two Thousand have been 7, 6, 8, 6, 9, 9,
respectively. In the case of the One Thousand the fields were much
better, averaging over twelve; in no year have the entries for this
race exceeded ninety, whilst the largest number of starters has been
nineteen, and curiously enough nineteen formed the biggest field that
has yet competed in the Two Thousand.

A series of interesting notes might be compiled about the Two Thousand
and the horses which proved victorious in the race, as well as the men
who owned and the jockeys who rode them to victory, but the larger
portion of all that could be said has, I fear, been said already, and
that more than once. The Duke of Grafton, Lord Jersey, Lord George
Bentinck, Sir Joseph Hawley, Lord Falmouth, and other noble sportsmen
have frequently been made the subject of eulogy. Of the victorious
horses much has also been written; the praises of the never-defeated
Bay Middleton, of West Australian, Galopin, Macaroni, and Gladiateur
have been sung to a universal chorus of approbation ever since the
record of their victories was written in the annals of the race.


At every recurring race for the Chester Cup the decadence which has
overtaken that celebrated event is usually adverted to by the sporting
writers of the period, its past glories being at the same time painted
by regretful pens. But times change, and though the competitors at
Chester have dwindled from thirty and forty to less than a dozen,
let it not be forgotten that other contests have arisen of greater
interest, although the races which are popular to-day are not those
which were popular thirty-five or forty years since. Handicaps which in
times past were thought "great" are now looked upon as "small," and are
being displaced in the _Calendar_ by more important events.

Space need not be occupied in even briefly narrating the history of
our handicaps; two of them, however, may be referred to in order to
indicate the fluctuating fashions of the turf: these are the races for
the Tradesmen's Plate at Chester, or "Chester Cup" as it is familiarly
called, and the Great Metropolitan Stakes, run at Epsom Spring Meeting,
both of which look almost at death's door when viewed in the light of
their early history. It is curious, however, to note that what seems
to be most regretted in connection with these races is the falling
off in the betting; that is not a fiftieth part of what it used to
be--hence the regrets. To ensure good racing a field of forty horses
is not requisite, either at Chester or anywhere else; excellent sport
may result when not a fourth of that number may be running. It is
different as regards the betting element. A very large entry and a
good acceptance promotes speculation, and when the field of horses
competing is a big one, the odds ought of course to be good and betting
brisk. But at the present time, when a week seldom elapses without the
decision of a big race of some kind, betting such as took place on the
Chester Cup thirty years since need not be looked for.

It was in the year 1824 the race for the Chester Cup was instituted,
and in the course of a few seasons it blossomed into an event of
importance, so far as regards the betting of which it was made the
medium. Speculation on the Cup commenced at one time before Christmas,
and horses could be and were backed to win large amounts before New
Year's Day. A favourite form of betting was in "sweepstakes," which
were numerous and of large amount. Horses were kept specially to be
"readied" for the Cup, and from the day on which it was won by King
Cole to that year in which Tim Whiffler proved successful (1838 to
1862), there were big entries, large fields, and lots of gambling.
Stories are frequently retailed as to how such and such a winner of the
Chester Cup was "managed" and how much was bagged over his success.

Turfites are living to-day who love to dwell on the early days of the
Rood Dee, and who describe the winter betting over the great race
as being really marvellous in amount. At the period referred to the
doings of horses in training were not made public in the fashion which
now prevails. Bettors long ago were kept ignorant of the condition of
the horses, and animals which had no chance to win were backed long
before the entries for the race were due. "A hundred to one against
anything" was in many instances a common offer for next Cup early in
the preceding December, whilst some list-keepers (they were numerous
in those days) offered double these odds. Betting went on with great
vigour till the fall of the flag, and as large fields were competing
for the Cup, there was no lack of a choice of investments. For this
popular trophy as many as forty-three horses started in 1852, but now,
so greatly has the interest in the race fallen off, there are not
usually many more horses in the list of entries.

In former days a horse entered for the Chester Cup might easily have
been backed to win in one hand from £30,000 to £50,000 at a fair price
in the way of odds. At the present time if a horse were backed to win
£10,000, it would probably start at something like 5 to 2 _on_ it.

The Great Metropolitan Stakes, run for at Epsom, was at one period
a very heavy medium of turf speculation, but is now at a low ebb.
For this race about thirty-five years ago there was wont to be from
fifteen to twenty-nine runners--a number that admitted of much betting.
Handicaps that aforetime were "great" are now small affairs; indeed
the new races which have lately been instituted claim popularity
in a greater degree, and now more interest is taken by bettors in
the Lincolnshire Handicap than in the so-called "great" races. As a
medium of betting the race run at Lincoln affords an opportunity to
all classes, there being usually a numerous entry and a fairly large
field of competing horses. Several other large betting races, such as
the City and Suburban, the handicaps at the Leicester Meetings, and
the Manchester Cup in the first half of the year, provide plenty of
work for the bookmakers, and relieve bettors of superfluous funds;
no wonder, therefore, that many of the old mediums of speculation
are being "knocked out of time." As betting races the short-distance
handicaps carry the day. The Ascot Stakes even, and the Goodwood Stakes
as well--both at one time of importance--have fallen from their former
estimate, and no longer attract the attention of the great body of
betting men.

The Cesarewitch, which is without doubt the greatest of our handicaps,
may be referred to at some length as a typical handicap. Instituted
in 1839, it is among handicaps what the Derby is among so-called
"classic" races. The great Newmarket event was named in honour of
the Grand Duke of Russia, whose title in the Muscovite tongue is the
"Cesarewitch," and who, on the first occasion of its being run, gave a
prize of £300 in commemoration of his visit to this country along with
his father, the Emperor Nicholas--the founder of the Emperor's Plate
at Royal Ascot. It is now over fifty years since the race was first
run, on which occasion there were twenty-six subscribers of £25 each,
and as ten runners came to the post, the value of the stakes to the
winner, including the sum given by the Cesarewitch, was £715. The first
winner of the event was Cruiskeen. In course of time the Cesarewitch
became the greatest of our English handicaps, over two hundred horses
having in some years entered to take part in the struggle. As may be
supposed good fields are usually the result of large entries, as many
as thirty-seven horses having, in 1862, been sent to the post, and on
another anniversary of the race thirty-six tried conclusions.

The Cesarewitch cannot be said to be "famous" for its surroundings;
on the contrary, the struggle has often enough been accompanied by an
evil odour of finesse and chicanery, consequent on repeated attempts to
throw dust in the eyes of the handicapper, or, to state more plainly
what is meant, to "cheat" that important functionary. To non-racing
people such a statement will doubtless require explanation. All
handicaps are more or less a "game of weights," and that may be more
particularly affirmed of the Cesarewitch. In such races as the Derby
and St. Leger, the horses which contest the prize run on uniform terms,
the weights of all being equal, mares being allowed a deduction; but
in the Cesarewitch, Cambridgeshire, and similar contests, the horses
are all "handicapped," in other words they are allotted to be ridden at
weights which will represent their merits, or supposed merits; for, as
has been hinted elsewhere, much pains is often taken to hoodwink the
person whose duty it is to adjust the weights carried by the competing

The reason why such practices are resorted to is not because the
stake which can be won is a valuable one, as the total amount of the
Cesarewitch Stakes seldom reaches £2,000, but because the race in
question affords a medium of wagering on such a gigantic scale that
horses entered for the contest may, with caution, be backed to win
even as much as £100,000. There are one or two instances of such a
sum having been obtained by means of the Cesarewitch, notably when
Roseberry won the race. For the owner of a Cesarewitch to bag from
£20,000 to £50,000 was, some twelve or fifteen years since, a matter of
common occurrence. It is a race which the general public bet upon with
avidity, and for betting upon it great facilities are afforded, seeing
that speculation begins on the Cesarewitch as early as May or June,
when it cannot possibly be known what horses will be entered for it.

Remarkable stories have occasionally been told of fortunes won by
means of the Cesarewitch; big prices being obtainable at an early
date, persons who know of a "good thing" for this race are able to
back it to win a considerable sum at little risk. Mr. Parr, the owner
of Weathergage, who won in 1852, sacked many thousands, it is said, by
the victory of his horse. That animal proved a fortunate purchase to
Mr. Parr. Bought out of a Newmarket stable for a comparatively trifling
sum, and having been well tried with a horse called Clothworker, he
was entered for the Goodwood Stakes. The trial horse having been sold
for £400, that sum was invested in backing Weathergage for the ducal
struggle, which the horse won, and a sum of £16,000 in addition for his
far-seeing owner. Weathergage was then entered for the Cesarewitch, for
which he started first favourite at 4 to 1; but long previous to the
day of the race Mr. Parr had backed him to win a great stake at odds of
50 to 1, by which transaction his owner was said to have won £40,000.
He then sold the horse for £2,500. Lecturer, who won the Cesarewitch
in 1866, was the means of putting about £80,000 in the pocket of the
unfortunate Marquis of Hastings, and a very large stake is reputed to
have been won by Mr. Naylor with Jester, in 1878.

The incidents of the Cesarewitch outside racing circles are not of
very great interest; many of the animals which have proved successful
have never again been heard of as being of any value on the turf. The
distance run is a little over two miles and a quarter, and as the
pace is usually a rapid one, it takes a very good horse to win when
the animal is really weighted according to its merits. As has been
indicated, the race on some occasions falls to a very mediocre horse,
who has been got into the handicap by trickery, at almost a nominal
weight, for the purpose of enabling the owner and his friends to win
a series of big bets. The Cesarewitch does not often result in the
first favourite proving successful, having been often won by horses
which, in a comparative sense, may be called outsiders. The honours of
favouritism are of course determined by the price of the horse in the
betting; if it is at 4 to 1, whilst the others are at such prices as 7,
10, or 14, then the "first" favourite is the horse which is at 4 to 1.

The Cambridgeshire is looked upon as the twin race of the Cesarewitch;
both are run at Newmarket within about a fortnight of each other.
The distance of the Cambridgeshire course is a little over a mile,
so that the race is of the short-cut kind; although to get a mile
at the terrific pace which is set in this handicap, takes something
serious out of the competing horses. The Cambridgeshire, like the
Cesarewitch, was instituted in 1839, and the race is a favourite medium
of speculation, large sums being now and then won by a well-planned
_coup_. The first winner of the race was Mr. Ramsay, of Barnton, whose
horse, Lanercost, beating eleven others, credited him with the prize.
In some years forty horses have run in the Cambridgeshire. It was often
prophesied that the same animal would in one year win both races; but
the double event was never compassed till 1876, when Roseberry, a horse
belonging to Mr. James Smith, the well-known proprietor of the _Bon
Marché_, proved successful, and again in 1881, "the American year,"
the double event was accomplished by Mr. Keene's horse, Foxhall, an
animal that had previously credited his owner with the lucrative Grand
Prize of Paris. As year after year passed over, and the double event
never came off, it began to be thought that such an occurrence would
prove to be an impossibility in consequence of the disparity of the
distances over which the horses had to run, and over which of course
they required to be trained; but in 1885 the feat was once more
accomplished, this time by the French horse, Plaisanterie.

The Cesarewitch and Cambridgeshire, as has been stated, are big betting
races, more money being wagered over these events in the present day
than over any other handicaps of the year. The two find favour in the
eyes of double event bettors; the foreign bookmakers in particular
laid themselves out to accommodate the betting public to any extent.
Two thousand pounds to twenty shillings is the limit fixed for such
bets, and every now and then the feat of combining in one bet the names
of the winning horses of both events is accomplished. In the year
Cardinal York won the one race and Adonis the other the success of
several double event bettors was recorded by the press. One gentleman,
a stockbroker, was named as being the winner of twelve thousand pounds,
the risk he ran in obtaining that sum being nine pounds ten shillings
only. As may be supposed, where one is successful thousands fail. A
bookmaker doing only a small business informed the writer that of
sixteen hundred and seventy-two double event bets which he laid against
the chances of naming the two winners, only thirteen persons were
successful in coupling the first winner with a horse for the second
event, and none of those who tried succeeded in the feat of naming both
winners. An Edinburgh bookmaker who at one time accommodated small
bettors with double event bets on the same races, never once required
to pay, although thousands tried their luck.

Those persons who bet on the results of the race for the
Cambridgeshire, when they are so fortunate as to name the winner,
occasionally obtain wonderfully good odds. Since 1875 only five
favourites have won the race. On the other hand, what are called "long
prices" have been laid against horses that have won in recent years,
as, for instance, 33 to 1, Jongleur (1877); 40 to 1, Jester (1878);
30 to 1, La Merveille (1879); 50 to 1, Bendigo (1883); and 40 to 1,
Gloriation (1887). Several other Cambridgeshire horses might be quoted
at 20 to 1, and at figures a little below 20. Such prices do not often
attend the race for the Cesarewitch, but then the winner in 1890
started at the odds of 28 to 1; and Stoneclink (1885) was quoted while
at the starting-post at 100 to 3--an excellent price, as all who had
the good fortune to back the horse willingly acknowledged.

As has been hinted, the Cesarewitch has been notorious for the thousand
and one plots that have been laid to obtain a victory; the same may be
said of the Cambridgeshire. Many hopes and fears have been centred on
the chance of winning one or both of these races. Clever turfites have
again and again planned and schemed, only, however, to incur defeat.
Honest owners, running on the square with an honestly handicapped
horse, have been "done" in the end by the machinations of some
syndicate possessed of an animal kept for the purpose.

The Northumberland Plate, still run for at Gosforth Park, the Great
Ebor Handicap, and the Liverpool Cups, as also the Cumberland Plate,
were all of them some twenty-five years ago favourite betting races.
They are no longer, however, what they were; but bettors have the
Jubilee Stakes at their service, as also such events as the Royal
Hunt Cup, run at Ascot, and the Stewards' Cup, decided at the Goodwood
Meeting. These are races on which plenty of speculation takes place,
so that the loss of the "great" handicaps is not of much moment, there
being so many other outlets for the gambling instinct of the nation,
which was never so strong as it now is. The races for the Ascot Stakes
and the Goodwood Stakes do not give rise to betting of any consequence
till the days set for their decision; nor does speculation, as of old,
begin on the Portland Plate, decided at Doncaster, till the names of
the runners are known. The big handicaps brought off at Manchester
during the Whitsuntide holidays, and at a later period, give rise to an
immense amount of betting, especially among the masses.

These handicap notes might be considerably extended. Some of the
recently introduced races represent big stakes, ranging from one to six
thousand pounds, so that they are worth winning. The race for the City
and Suburban has even of late years been improved, and is now worth a
thousand pounds to the owner of the winning horse. A glance at any of
the turf guides will show that there is almost a plethora of racing;
but betting men, be they ever so industrious, cannot go on day after
day figuring the odds against everything. Racing fashions are bound to
change. It is of little use, therefore, mourning over the decadence of
the Chester Cup, or any of the other "great" handicaps of "auld lang
syne," when there are so many events which afford better opportunities
to the horse and greater scope to those who care nothing for the
animal, except as an instrument of gambling.


Match-making, and the running-off of matches, was in the beginning
of racing, and in later times as well, a favourite mode of sport; a
volume, indeed, and an interesting one, might be written on that branch
of the history of horse-racing, which is still to some extent carried
on, matches being occasionally resorted to as one means of settling
which of two is the better horse. It is not my purpose to do more at
present than chronicle, by way of "sample," half-a-dozen of the more
memorable matches, two or three of which may be said to have become

Matches, as they were made some hundred years ago, or in earlier times,
were always arranged to be run over a distance of ground, the courses
never as a rule being shorter than four miles, and sometimes extending
far beyond that distance. In the years 1718-9-20-1, to go no further
back, upwards of eighty such contests took place--that is to say,
races between horse and horse. In those days, and for long afterwards,
other kinds of matches were made, which do not, however, concern this
history; and at one time it was a fashion to arrange different exploits
as matches. Many such might be referred to--shooting matches, cocking
matches, racket matches, and sometimes even mail coaches were matched
to run one against the other. A contest of this description may just
be mentioned in passing, as an example of what was called sport ninety
years ago. In the year 1802 the London and Plymouth mails raced for
a sum of 500 gs. from St. Sydwells to Honiton, a distance of sixteen
miles, when the London coach, driven by Mr. Browne, won the race, doing
the distance in one hour and fourteen minutes.

Fifty-two years previous to the decision of that match, a still more
curious event of the kind occurred at Newmarket, when a wager of 100
gs. was made that a carriage with four running wheels, to be drawn by
four horses and driven by a man, would run nineteen miles on Newmarket
Heath within one hour. A vehicle was made expressly for the occasion
by a London coachmaker of celebrity, and when all was ready this race
against time began at seven o'clock in the morning, and finished in
fifty-three minutes and twenty-seven seconds, so that backers of the
horses won their money.

Captain Newland's wager to ride one hundred and forty miles in eight
successive hours on hack horses excited much attention. The event took
place on the 2nd of April, 1801. The captain won, as he performed the
distance in seven hours and thirty-four minutes. Many matches, or
rather wagers to ride horses against time, might be recorded of even
earlier date, as for instance one which took place in the year 1606,
when "John Lepton, Esq., of York, for a considerable sum, engaged to
ride six days in succession between York and London, and he won his

The walking matches of Captain Barclay have been so often described
that no reference need be here made to them--they were marvels of
pluck and endurance. Another of the many curious matches which took
place during the last century was that of Miss Pond, brought off at
Newmarket in the months of April and May, 1758. That lady's wager
was to ride, mounted always on the same horse, a thousand miles in a
thousand successive hours. The stake involved was only 200 gs., and she
won it easily enough. Miss Pond was the daughter of the compiler and
publisher of the _Racing Calendar_, and some doubts have been expressed
as to whether or not she used the same horse throughout. It is worth
mentioning that Dr. Johnson wrote a satirical essay on this affair in
the sixth number of _The Idler_ (May, 1775), his contention being that
_profit_ was the sole end in acquiring honour and distinction, and that
such events as that in which Miss Pond took part were estimated only by
the money gained or lost.

A Mr. Jenison Shafto, in accordance with a wager of 2,000 gs. between
himself and Hugo Maynell, found a person to ride one hundred miles a
day "on any one horse each day for twenty-nine successive days, to
have any number of horses not exceeding twenty-nine." John Woodcock
was selected to perform this feat, and beginning his arduous task on
Newmarket Heath on May 4th, 1761, brought it to a successful conclusion
on the 1st of June about six o'clock in the evening, having used
fourteen horses only.

Coming now to matches more suitable to be recorded in this work,
one affair of the kind run at Newmarket between two horses deserves
notice. It was that of Mr. Blake's Firetail and Mr. Foley's Pumpkin,
"the hardest race almost ever known," and remarkable for the wonderful
time in which it was run; the horses, it is said, did the Rowley
mile (one mile and thirty yards) in one minute and four seconds! An
interesting match was run in the year 1773, the course being from York
to London; the one horse was a hackney gelding, the other a road mare.
The distance was done in forty hours and thirty-five minutes, and the
winning mare, it is related, drank twelve bottles of wine during her
journey, for which she was nothing the worse; the beaten horse died the
day after the contest was finished.

The great struggle between Hambletonian and Diamond, which took place
at the Newmarket Craven Meeting of 1799, is well worthy of notice; it
was regarded by sportsmen of the time as a race to determine which
was the better sire, Eclipse or Herod. The match is recorded in
_Baily's Register_ in the following bald way: "Sir H. T. Vane's b. h.
Hambletonian, by King Fergus, 8st. 3 lb., beat Mr. Cookson's br. h.
Diamond, 8st., B.C., 3,000 gs. h. ft." A more detailed account has,
however, been preserved and is given in Whyte's "History of the Turf,"
from which the following narrative has been taken: Previous to the
time fixed for the match, which was run between one and two o'clock on
Monday, 25th March, 1799, a great crowd of persons had assembled--"one
of the greatest crowds ever witnessed at Newmarket"--to see the race.
Hambletonian, it is related, started with the lead and maintained it
till the last half-mile of the course was entered upon, when Diamond,
stealing up, challenged. The struggle for victory was a keen one; each
jockey rode his very best, Hambletonian being ridden by the famous
Buckle, while Dennis Fitzpatrick had charge of the other horse. As the
animals neared the winning-post it looked all over as if the contest
would end in a dead heat, but almost in the last stride Buckle nerved
himself for a great and final effort, and won the race by little more
than a head. According to the best authorities, the four miles were run
in about eight minutes and a half.

Large sums fell to be paid and received over this event, the betting
having ruled high, Yorkshire to a man supporting Hambletonian, and the
Newmarket people backing Diamond. When the horses started the state of
the odds was about "even money," either you liked. Hambletonian was
foaled in 1792, and won almost every race for which he was entered,
including the St. Leger and the Gold Cup at Doncaster; indeed, he was
only beaten upon one occasion when he unfortunately ran out of the
course at York August Meeting, 1797, when running against Deserter and
Spread Eagle. This famous animal, after a fairly successful time at the
stud, died on March 28th, 1818, in the twenty-seventh year of his age,
having begot Norval, Camillus, Joan of Arc, and many other high-mettled
steeds that have figured in turf history.

Another match that excited almost as much attention as the struggle
between Hambletonian and Diamond, was arranged between Sir H. Vane's
Cockfighter and Mr. Johnson's Sir Solomon for 500 guineas, which took
place at Doncaster on the 19th September, 1801. The horses ran the
Doncaster course twice, and the first two miles were said to have
been covered in three minutes, whilst the four miles were done in
seven minutes and ten seconds: the distance run was three miles, six
furlongs, and thirty-two yards. The betting at starting was 6 to 4 and
11 to 8 on Cockfighter, and a sum of £50,000 is said to have changed
hands on the occasion. Sir Solomon took the lead at the start and,
never being headed, won by about a length and a half. The winner was
got by Sir Peter Teazle; Cockfighter was got by Overton, and was thus
descended from the Godolphin barb.

The most noteworthy match--"the most interesting race ever run upon
Knavesmire"--recorded in the annals of the turf is that in which Mrs.
Colonel Thornton and Mr. Flint took part. The excitement which attended
this affair may be guessed from the fact that upwards of £200,000
was depending in wagers on the event--the betting at the start being
at the rate of 5 to 4 and 6 to 4 on the lady, who, however, lost the
day. The affair was fully recorded in the sporting periodicals of the
period, from which the following particulars have been gleaned. The
match originated quite in a friendly spirit; the parties being out for
a ride discussed and, of course, praised the merits of their respective
horses, and on the spur of the moment indulged in a trial gallop, the
lady being at once victorious. A formal challenge was the result of
this extempore gallop, which ended in a match for 1,000 gs. This event
was brought to a consummation on the 25th of August, 1804, and for some
weeks before that date nothing else was talked about; over sporting
Yorkshire it was a common topic of conversation, all sorts of notions
being entertained as to how the lady would ride and how she would be
dressed, and as the time drew near it became quite evident that Mrs.
Thornton possessed the entire sympathies of the horse-loving people of
the greatest county of England.

On the appointed day the horses were duly prepared for the struggle.
Mrs. Thornton's horse was Vingarillo and Mr. Flint's was Thornville; in
accordance with the conditions of the match the lady was to ride her
weight against the weight of Mr. Flint. According to the newspapers of
the day such an assemblage of the people on a racecourse had never been
seen as on the occasion of riding this match; it was estimated that
at least a hundred thousand persons were present on the Knavesmire,
expectation being raised to the highest pitch from the exceeding
novelty of the event.

The story of the race was told in _The York Herald_: "About four
o'clock Mrs. Thornton appeared on the ground, full of spirits, her
horse led by Colonel Thornton, and followed by Mr. Baker and Mr. H.
Boynton; afterwards appeared Mr. Flint. They started a little past four
o'clock. The lady took the lead for upwards of three miles in most
capital style. Her horse, however, had much the shorter stroke of the
two. When within a mile of being home Mr. Flint pushed forward and got
the lead, which he kept. Mrs. Thornton used every exertion, but finding
it impossible to win the race, she drew up in sportsman-like style,
when within about two distances. The course was four miles."

The riding of the lady excited admiration, and it was difficult to say
whether her horsemanship, her dress, or her beauty was most admired,
the _tout ensemble_ being considered unique. The sympathy extended to
Mrs. Thornton because of her defeat was universal, and there seemed to
be a feeling on the part of all that Mr. Flint acted most ungallantly
in not allowing her to take the honours of the race; in plainer
language, he should have made her a present of the stake--£1,000!
That some bad blood resulted over the affair was soon known. The lady
herself, who is reputed to have been as clever at her desk as she was
in the saddle, wrote a letter on the subject complaining of having
been ungallantly used in various ways on the course, and concluding by
challenging Mr. Flint to ride the same match in all its terms over the
same course next year.

The appetite of Mrs. Colonel Thornton appears to have been whetted by
what had taken place for further exploits of a similar kind; at all
events, in the next year, 1805, her name crops up in two matches, one
for 2,000 gs. and four hogsheads of Cote Roti, as also a bet of 600 gs.
p.p. Mr. Bromford, her opponent, however, declined to ride, and Mrs.
Thornton, after doing the usual perfunctory walk over, bagged £1,000
of forfeit, the bet of 600 gs. p.p., and presumably contributed to her
stock of wine half of the supply of the Cote Roti. No sooner had the
walk, or rather canter over taken place, than the lady, "dressed in a
purple cap and waistcoat, nankeen-coloured skirts, purple shoes, and
embroidered stockings," appeared to ride against Buckle, the famous
jockey, a match of two miles. The start for this contest was made at
half-past three o'clock, when the lady went off with the lead and
managed to keep in front for some distance, when Buckle forged to the
front and kept there for a dozen paces, "when Mrs. Thornton, by the
most excellent, we may truly say horsemanship, pushed forward and came
in in a style far superior to anything of the kind we have witnessed,
gaining the race by half a neck; her bold and steady jockeyship,
indeed, amazed one of the most crowded courses ever witnessed.
On her winning she was hailed with the most reiterated shouts of

It has been hinted, with regard to this race, that the lady owed her
victory to the gallantry of the professional horseman, Buckle. The
match is thus given in the "Annals of the Turf":


    Colonel Thornton's br. m. Louisa, by Pegasus,
      6 years old, 9 st. 6 lb.                Mrs. Thornton  1
    Mr. Bloomfield's ch. m. Allegro, by Pegasus,
      6 years old, 13 st. 6 lb.               Francis Buckle 2

The pleasures of victory were greatly marred by an incident
which occurred in the course of the afternoon, and that was the
horse-whipping of Colonel Thornton by Mr. Flint, who had never
received payment of the stakes lost by the lady in her first match.
Law proceedings ensued, but these need not be detailed here; there
can be no doubt Flint was rather ill-used throughout, and that Mrs.
Colonel Thornton's views were entirely mercenary. And who was the
lady who thus made herself so notorious? Orton, in the work already
referred to, says she was not the wife but only the _chère amie_ of
Colonel Thornton, her real name being Alicia Meynell, the daughter of
a respectable watchmaker of the city of Norwich, and was then about
twenty-two years of age, very handsome, and of fascinating manners,
with fair complexion, light hair, and blue eyes. Captain Flint was a
well-known sportsman of those days, and well known as the author of "A
Treatise on the Management of the Horse." He died from an over-dose of
prussic acid, which he was in the habit of taking in order to relieve
the attacks of asthma from which he often suffered.

Next in interest to the great match between Hambletonian and Diamond,
a giant struggle of modern times may be referred to. It took place on
the Knavesmire at the York Spring Meeting, May 13th, 1851; the names of
the two horses which gave renown to the match were Flying Dutchman and
Voltigeur, and there are many alive who looked on at the race, and talk
of it as the one sight of their lives.

The following description, written immediately after its occurrence,
will afford readers all necessary information: "And now we have arrived
at the race of the meeting--if not indeed of the century. As we have
no means of measuring the properties of race-horses--at least none
that are put into effect worthy of acceptance as authority on point
of speed--we must take it for granted that the Flying Dutchman and
Voltigeur are about the best horses that the modern turf has seen.
Upon this conventional estimate, the contest, the issue of which is
about to be disposed of, created more interest than any match between
horses within my memory. The weighing had been adjusted to a grain; and
thus the runners were set down: Match for £1,000, half forfeit, two
miles over the whole course; Lord Eglinton's The Flying Dutchman, by
Bay Middleton out of Barbelle, 5 yrs., 8 st. 8½ lb.; Lord Zetland's
Voltigeur, by Voltaire out of Martha Lynn. The pair were at even
betting almost from the period when the race was publicly announced
up to the day on which it was run, and as they went to the post. When
the flag fell, Voltigeur went off with the running at the top of his
pace, taking a lead of at least three lengths, and making very severe
play, the heavy state of the ground being taken into account. In this
way they rounded the last turn, when Marlow, the rider of the Dutchman,
called upon his horse with a request very pointedly urged. As they
passed the stand it was stride for stride, and a struggle of desperate
effort. It was too much, however, for the young one--he tired the
sooner, and the Flying Dutchman passed the winning-chair first by a
short length. Both horses showed marks of the keenness of the contest."

After winning the match, Lord Eglinton announced that his career on the
turf had ceased.

It would not be difficult to fill a few pages of this work with
accounts of several other matches of more or less interest, but those
already given are sufficient to give the reader a fair idea of that
description of racing, which, except in particular instances, is not of
great interest. One other match, however, is worth referring to--the
match between Lady Elizabeth and Julius, both in their day horses
of celebrity. The death of Julius, whose career was terminated by a
friendly bullet, was the means of directing public attention to the
feats and failures of that excellent horse.

The sporting papers of the day contained the following obituary
paragraph: "The son of St. Albans and Julie was bred at Her Majesty's
stud at Hampton Court, and became the property of the late Duke of
Newcastle, in whose colours in 1866 he won a couple of races as a
two-year-old. The following year he won several races, but was defeated
in the celebrated match with Lady Elizabeth, the latter (then a
two-year-old), in receipt of 9 lb., only winning by a short head. The
match was for 1,000 sovs., run over the Bretby Stakes Course, Fordham
riding the victress, and Daley Julius. The Duke of Newcastle's colt
ran third to Achievement and Hermit for the Doncaster St. Leger, but
perhaps his most notable performance was winning the Cesarewitch in
the same season with 8 st. on his back--an impost that had not been
carried first past the post in the race since Faugh-a-Ballagh's victory
in 1844. In 1868 the Duke of Newcastle's colt beat both his St. Leger
conquerors. Hermit went down before him in the Newmarket Biennial
Stakes in the Craven Meeting, and the pair were subsequently matched
for 1,000 sovs. over the Two Middle Miles. The event came off at the
first Spring gathering, and Julius (8 st. 10 lb.), in the hands of
Daley, beat his opponent by a couple of lengths, Hermit's weight being
8 st. 9 lb. The Beaufort Cup (about two miles and a half) at Bath he
won by fifteen lengths from Achievement, the latter presenting him with
6 lb., Gomera and Goodwood finishing behind the pair. Julius afterwards
won the Warwick Cup, but in the Doncaster Cup he met his conqueror in
Mandrake, who defeated him by a length. The son of St. Albans did not
run afterwards, and was relegated to the stud."

In taking leave of the subject this much may be said, that matches
were the means of evincing men's love of the sport for its own sake.
There was a stake of money in risk, of course--it is the fashion--but
some years ago, in the days of Lord Glasgow, George Payne, and "the
Admiral," matches were not so much ventures in gambling as tests to
find out the better horse. Speaking generally, matches are not popular
with the general body of race-goers, who delight more in those contests
which are competed for by a crowd of horses, and where fair odds can be
had about any particular animal. Laying odds on or taking even money
is unpalatable work to the great majority of those who attend race
meetings, and, moreover, in few instances--not ten times in twelve--do
we see the real merit of a race-horse when it runs in a match. Very
often the jockeys have a private understanding with each other that
they will only race for a given portion of the distance, and often
enough the struggle is won by the finesse of the rider, and the victory
won or the defeat sustained has no bearing on the merits of the horse.


"The ingenuity and industry expended on what is called 'tipping' in
connection with horse-racing ought to bring good fortune in no halting
measure to the professors of the art, who appear to spend their lives
in trying to enrich everybody but themselves."

So wrote, some four or five years ago, an essayist in the pages of one
of the "superior" magazines.

That the business of tipping goes on as briskly as ever, the experts in
that line of turf illusion being still busily occupied in benevolent
endeavours to confer benefit on their fellow-men, can be ascertained by
all who will take the trouble to glance over the advertising columns of
the numerous sporting journals of the time.

A point worthy of notice in connection with these announcements is
the style now adopted in fashioning them. New and improved methods of
communicating with the public are constantly being devised. Tipping
nowadays is a "business" of importance requiring large dealings with
the telegraph; but long ago--say about the close of the "thirties,"
and in the "forties" of the present century, when the writer became
interested in horse-racing, consequent on having won a few sovereigns
by the victory of Merry Monarch in the Derby--tipping was much less
obtrusive than it is to-day, and was carried on chiefly by means
of what may be called "disguises." Such announcements as were made
public usually bore that the advertiser was in exclusive possession
of information about a horse which was certain to win the Derby or
some other important race; but, as a rule, the great event decided at
Epsom was, in the beginning of tipping, the race most favoured, and the
person advertising not seldom posed as "a gentleman's valet out of a
place," or as "a stableman dying of consumption," or "an old military
man," or as some person very remote from the being he really was.

"Who, then," it will be asked, "were those persons?" Well, as there
were not so many of them as there are to-day, when "tipping," as was
said a few months ago to a magistrate, is a "profession," it will not
prove a difficult task to give information about their ways of working,
as I happen to be able to speak with some degree of knowledge of two
or three of the number who were among the first to advertise in days
when the mediums for such announcements were anything but numerous,
and advertising was somewhat costly, there being then an advertisement
duty of one shilling and sixpence exigible on each announcement, whilst
postage was also expensive.

In the beginning of race tipping the Queen's head had not been
invented. The outside prophets had at first only a local audience, but
even during the "thirties" London was occupied by a vast population,
and there was always a sufficient percentage of its inhabitants so
interested in racing as to find employment for half-a-dozen tipsters,
in addition to those engaged on such newspapers of the time as kept
prophets, some of whom were "verse-jinglers" of no mean capacity,
as a selection from their poetic prognostications would prove, were
a collection of the best of them to be made and published with the
necessary notes of explanation.

The first of the prophets to whom I will refer were a man and a woman,
both persons of ability, able to assume a variety of characters, and
by doing so carry on their little game industriously from season to
season. There was no collusion between them, however; they were in no
way connected.

The man, before he began work as a tipster, had been for several years
under butler in one of the big Pall Mall clubs, and having drawn the
winner of the Chester Cup in a plethoric "sweep"--many of which used
to be, and I believe still are, organised in London in connection with
the more important races--he found himself in possession of sufficient
funds, including the money he had saved in service, to become lessee of
a public-house in a little street off Fetter Lane, in which for a time
he did well, so well that he took courage and married, his wife being
able to assist him in his business.

It is almost needless to say, with a landlord possessed of a taste for
the turf, his house came in time to be much frequented by the smaller
fry of sporting men having tastes in common and being fond of betting,
although the sums risked seldom exceeded half-a-crown, or at most
double that amount.

One evil day a constant frequenter of the house introduced a friend
of his, who was anxious to start a betting list, and as Wingrave, the
landlord, thought a list in the house would improve his business, he
gave consent, and Bill Holmes commenced business at the "Caxton Arms."
For a period of a little over twelve months all went well, customers
increased, money was made, and claims punctually met.

At length there came a frowning of Fortune. The list-keeper was himself
a keen bettor, and more than once "perilled his purse" by having all
his money on an animal he thought "sure to win." Having backed a horse
on his own account to win a particular Chester Cup--in those days the
"Tradesmen's Plate" was a most pronounced betting race--and the animal
having failed to do what was expected. Holmes was unfortunately unable
to come to "the scratch" over the animal which did win, and knowing he
could not meet the claims which would be made against him on behalf
of the winner, which had been heavily backed at his list, he at once
left London, to the great consternation of Wingrave, who dreaded he
would in some way be held responsible for the misdeeds of the runaway
list-keeper. His foreboding was more than realised; an incensed mob of
the creditors of Holmes, taking the law into their own hands, all but
wrecked the house. It was in vain the landlord told the crowd he had no
concern with the defalcations of the list-keeper; the people would not
be pacified. Out of the affair there arose a police case, and although
Wingrave was able to convince the magistrate that he had himself been a
victim, and had been more sinned against than sinning, he was deprived
of his license at the first opportunity, and was unable to obtain
possession of another house. Luckily, although two days' drawings had
been confiscated by the enraged punters, the ill-used landlord, after
paying all claims, had still a few pounds at his banker's, when he was
compelled to shut shop.

Nothing in the public-house line of business being likely to turn
up, Wingrave, by the advice of his shrewd wife (her father had been
a pugilist, and afterwards lessee of a gin-shop in the region of
Lambeth), turned tipster, and under the designation of "a retired club
steward," offered to give all who pleased to forward half-a-crown
to his house in Pemberton Row the name of a horse which would win
the Derby; or to those who entrusted him with double that amount, he
promised, in addition, to give the name of a filly that would be first
in the Oaks, and so ensure a remunerative double event. His Derby
prophecy proved a true one, the horse he gave being Voltigeur. The
filly prophesied for the Oaks, however, only attained the rather barren
honour of a place; still, the tip was considered a good one, fair odds
being attainable, which led to much business being done in respect of
the next two or three tips. Voltigeurs, however, do not run and win
every day, and in time Wingrave came to know by the falling off which
took place in the remittances that he would require to make a new
departure, which he at once did.

His next move was made in the disguise of "Henry Buckstone, late
valet to a sporting nobleman, who, being in possession of several
important racing secrets, will send the winners of Two Thousand
Guineas and Chester Cup to a select number of gentlemen on receiving
a remittance of five shillings." Communications were to be addressed
to a stationer's shop in Holborn, and for a time letters came in
abundance, as many on some days as fifteen. Once again, as may be said,
the ex-publican "struck ile," and a flow of fortune resulted which,
happily for Wingrave, was kept up by the consecutive selection of some
six or eight good winners. But in time this tipster, like others before
and after him, dropped out of notice, although it is certain that he
flourished, like the proverbial green bay-tree, for several years.

During the period which Wingrave carried on business, tipsters had much
in their favour, the big events of the season being betted upon for
months before the day set for their decision.

Fifty years ago, for instance, quotations on the Chester Cup were
numerous in the December of the year previous to its being run. Such
arrangements, of course, helped the tipsters of the outer school, as
people were early in the field to back their fancies or the selections
of the adventurers who sent prophecies. For these men the fact of
being occasionally successful in naming the winner of a great race,
at what was thought a "long price," was just so much capital gained.
Two or three successful tips enabled a man to play "the game" to a
remunerative tune for at east six months; every time he advertised he
obtained numerous replies on the strength of his previous successes.

Before the advent of the "retired club steward" there was a person at
work whose success as a tipster was the subject of much gossip among
needy bettors; this was the lady tipster already referred to. Yes, a
veritable woman, and clever at the work! I first heard about her in
"Jessop's," a night house in Catherine Street, among the frequenters
of which her tips seemed to have made an impression. The little
badly-printed circular containing her prophecies was signed "A. M.
Weather." The name of this female foreteller of turf events was said
to be Adelaide Merryweather; she was, so I was told by some of the
"knowing ones" who frequented "Jessop's," the widow of an actor who
had been engaged for a time in one of the then transpontine theatres
as a delineator of small parts. The woman's own name was Weather, her
husband's name being Merry, and the _nom de plume_ she adopted as a
prophetess was a combination of the two; but she traded in tips under
other names as well, one of them being John Screwman. Her house, or at
least one of the places to which her letters were sent, was in Chapel
Street, Soho Square, and, as the postman of the period would have been
able to testify, she carried on a thriving business.

Another of the names assumed by Mrs. Merryweather when she put on
her prophetic mantle was, if my memory is not proving treacherous,
"Arthur Lancefield, late of Middleham." I am writing only what I know,
or what I believe from trustworthy information to be true, and my
belief is that Mrs. Merryweather was, if not the "inventor" of the
method of sending the names of different horses to different batches
of applicants, one of the earliest tipsters to adopt and systematise
the plan. Trading as she did under three or four _noms de plume_, she
speedily accumulated a long list of names of persons who backed horses;
so that when she adopted another name and changed her address, she
could send circulars to former customers stating that, from private
information which she had received, she believed Mr. Brown Jones (or
any other person) was anxious to find out the winner of the Derby
(or whatever race might be on the tapis), and that, on receiving
half-a-crown, a rare double event would be forwarded to his address.

One of this woman's most successful hits was reported to have been made
in the character of an invalid jockey's wife, her circular on that
occasion being worded as follows: "A jockey's wife, her husband being
unable to ride now in consequence of having sustained a paralytic shock
of the lower limbs, does not ask for charity; but being anxious for the
sake of her young children to earn a living, will be glad to hear from
gentlemen who take an interest in racing. Her husband, having been a
noted trial-rider, knows well the form of all the horses now running.
Address, Sarah Chiffman, 94A, Great Pulteney Street, Golden Square."
This advertisement, I was told, was looked upon as being genuine, and
also that half-sovereigns, to cover letters from the date of its issue
to the day of the Cambridgeshire, were liberally contributed to the
wife of the unfortunate horseman; many people connected with racing
affairs fancied by subscribing that they would obtain "something good,"
whilst the fact of three winners of three races, and a second and third
in two more being given to start with, was thought sufficient evidence
of the _bona fides_ of the advertiser.

For three or four years Mrs. Merryweather experienced a prosperous
time, customers being numerous, as, by means of her system of sending
different horses to different persons one or more batches of them were
certain to have had winners sent to them, and these fortunate ones
were not slow to sound the trumpet of her fame among their friends, so
that on some occasions she enjoyed a run of success. How her career
ended I cannot say from personal knowledge. Fred Booth, a frequent
visitor to "Jessop's," and afterwards a bookmaker in a considerable
way of business, used to relate that she married one of her clients, a
wholesale grain merchant in the North of England, who had found his way
to her house intent on giving the prophet a very handsome present in
return for a double event which she had been lucky enough to send him.
The gentleman was greatly surprised on discovering that his tipster
was a woman, and a good-looking one, possessed of refined manners; and
according to Booth, who spoke as if he knew the gentleman, the story
came to a conclusion in the neighbouring church in the most orthodox

I can from personal knowledge describe the doings of one of the tipping
fraternity. About the year 1842 or 1843 (I am not sure which of these
years it was), I went one evening to Sadler's Wells Theatre to witness
the play of _King John_, and after the tragedy I supped with one of the
actors in his lodgings in Arlington Street, near the theatre. We were
joined at table by a fellow-lodger of my friend, who seemed to know
nothing but what savoured of the turf, and he was so complaisant as to
tell me the names of several horses which were pretty certain to win,
and, as I know, did win some of the coming events. Being invited, we
shared a bottle of capital claret along with him in his "den," as he
called his parlour, in which I noted, scattered about, some dozens of
newspapers and especially several copies of _Bell's Life_.

When opportunity offered I asked my friend who his fellow-lodger was.
"Well," he replied, "he is, or rather has been, on the press, having
some three or four years ago been connected with one or other of the
minor weekly publications; but he is now, he tells me, playing a far
more profitable part; he has become a racing tipster and makes a good
income at that business. His plan is to select about ten or a dozen
of the most likely horses and send a different one to win the race
and another, or perhaps two others, to get places, to each of his
customers, taking care, of course, to keep a record of what he does,
and the names and addresses of those who correspond with him.

"Two or three years ago he made quite a hit with a horse called Little
Wonder, which, as I dare say you know, won a Derby. That event, my dear
boy, set him on his legs; the landlord of the big gin-palace not far
from here, who won a good round sum by means of his tip, gave him a
present of fifty pounds, and judging from his correspondence and the
many persons who evidently call to consult him he must be making money,
but whether or not he may be taking care of it is another matter. I
suspect, however, it is with him as it often is with others similarly
circumstanced, a case of 'lightly come, lightly go.'"

This plan, often since adopted, of sending different horses for wins
and places to the different applicants for tips, was in my opinion
quite a stroke of genius; the "fine art" of tipping indeed.

Such reminiscences might be multiplied. I was at one time brought
into contact with several adventurers of similar kidney to those
described, and there are no doubt aged turfites who could supplement
what I have said. Previous even to the period I have been attempting
to illustrate there was being published a regular racing circular, the
precursor of the _Lockets, Judexes, and Walmsleys_ of a later period,
whilst newspaper tipping, especially in the columns of certain of the
London weekly newspapers, was greatly extended; in not a few of them a
"real poet" gushed forth his prophetic lore, and, as has been stated
already, not a few of the poetic predictions perpetrated some fifty
years ago were exceedingly felicitous in their diction, considering
the sometimes very uncouth matter that had of necessity to be dealt
with. I remember reading upon one occasion a collection of such poems
in a Bow Street tavern (it was kept, I think, by Baron Nicholson), and
of being struck with the halting lines and bald phraseology of three
or four of the Seven Dials sort, that used at one time to be hawked
round the public-houses at which sporting men were wont to congregate.
One sample of the doggerel--I am not speaking now of the graceful
contributions published by _Bell's Life_ or _The Sunday Times_, but of
the Cattnach kind, written for recital in public-houses, one of which I
well remember--proved a fortunate tip, as it wound up with an excellent

    All who desire to quench their very great thirst
    Must back my bright fancy, brave Pyrrhus the First.

Another of the kind, after dealing with all the animals likely to start
for the race (more than a dozen), pronounced boldly in favour of the
horse that won, winding up his narrative with the following rather
clumsy lines:

    Now this fair chance is given, play you your cards right well,
    Take my advice--down with your dibs on the bold Dayrell.

I am quoting these lines from memory, and another concluding couplet
dwells in my remembrance:

    Coldrenick! Coldrenick! the crowd loudly cry,
    But Attila's the animal that wins, in my eye.

afterwards altered by "the poet" to:

    Coldrenick! Coldrenick! the crowd loudly shout,
    But to-day I set down as Attila's day out.

In respect of the art of really "poetical" tipping, there are few who
know how very difficult it is to render the matter presentable; the
names to be introduced are sometimes not amenable to the treatment
of the poet, no matter how heartily he enters on his task. As one
gentleman said to the writer, "to work all these probable starters into
readable rhymes, far less to clothe them with some degree of poetic
fancy, would need a couple of Tennysons, four Brownings, and half a
score each of Swinburnes and Buchanans rolled into one, and even then
the product of the lot united might not seem to the editor all it ought
to be."

Nowadays every newspaper of importance has to furnish a daily modicum
of sporting intelligence, which proprietors find to be a costly item in
the ever increasing sum of their expenditure. But it is a circumstance
that cannot be helped; there is in reality more interest taken in the
handicaps for the Cesarewitch and Cambridgeshire by five-sixths of
the readers of the daily papers than there is in all the other items
of news added together; indeed, it is not going too far to affirm
that two or three of the daily newspapers are indebted for the larger
portion of their sales to the fact of their giving every morning a
detailed programme for the races of the day, as well as other sporting
intelligence. Excellent information of its kind is purveyed by the
members of the sporting press, who contribute to these journals; but
the tips given are, except to the merest novices, of little use, as
veteran bettors can, by the aid of their _Ruff_ or _McCall_, select
horses for themselves.

In addition to the racing news contained in the ordinary run of
newspapers, there are three daily journals published all the year round
which are solely devoted to sporting news, and these papers deal of
course in "tips," and some of them afford a place in their columns to
a full score of the daily increasing army of vaticinators; and yet,
as must be patent to those who devote time and attention to the study
of such matters, no betting man could possibly make a fortune, or
even earn a living, by abjectly following either or all of the honest
newspaper tipsters referred to.

It is amusing to note how some of the more "screeching" of the
newspapers comport themselves. When one of them, for instance, after
a period of six or seven weeks, becomes some day so fortunate as to
select three or four horses that win as many races, it shouts out
next day in loud tones so that all may have news of its prescience--a
supremely Irish mode of telling readers that to follow its tips would
be ruinous. One day's luck out of twenty or thirty simply means to
backers "fell despair," and much of it. There is (or was lately) a
tipster who is never done sounding his own praises; "as I predicted,
_Chance_ did the trick easily," "my selection _Accident_ in a
walk," "I gave two for such and such a race, and my first selection
_Happy-go-lucky_ literally romped in."

But what of that, when backers of the two lost their money, the romping
in horse starting at odds of 3 to 1 on him! Let us suppose that some
sanguine speculator had risked a five-pound note on each selection
(because when two horses are selected it is necessary to back both in
case of missing the winner), the result would have been a loss of £5 on
No. 2 and a gain of £1 13_s._ on No. 1, showing a balance to the bad
of £3 7_s._ But, notwithstanding, the tipster in question crowed over
this feat of tipping, just as a bantam cock does when he is surveying
the half-dozen inmates of his harem.

These details will not probably be pleasant to the gentlemen of the
sporting press; but there are among them several who have no occasion
to assume that my remarks are personal, because they are persons
possessed of knowledge, who announce their selections in a modest
manner, and give good reasons for their faith; but for the kind of
tipster who told his readers not only that Pioneer would win the
race for the City and Suburban Handicap, but would do easily, I have
but scanty respect. That tipster must surely be a green hand at the
business! Why did he not add that if the horse did not win easily
he would eat him? "Will win," instead of "may win," is a mistake in
tipping often committed by some even of the veteran press tipsters.

Pressmen who review past races and prophesy on future events are
compelled, like jockeys, "to ride to order"; in plain language, they
must found their tips on the public form of the horses commented upon.
It is not any part of their work to "guess" that any particular horse
will win a race; hence it is that the professional prophets are now and
again completely "floored" by the victory of an animal they dared not
even assume to have been possessed of a chance. It is always on the
cards that an outsider may win.

There are every day busily at work at the present time an army of over
two hundred and fifty advertising tipsters--pure adventurers, recruited
from all sorts and conditions of men. The writer took pains, three or
four years ago, to ascertain, by personally interviewing a number of
them, what manner of men they were. His idea of the kind of persons
he had supposed them to be was at once corroborated, as the first of
them with whom he could obtain an interview he immediately recognised
as a bookmaker who had welshed him at Ascot two years before; another
of the fraternity was identified by a friend as a "swell cabman," who
used to have a lucrative connection in the City, his customers being
chiefly stockbrokers and bankers' clerks; but more surprising than
either of these was the discovery that among the motley crowd, and
evidently, from the fact of two clerks in an outer office being busily
engaged in filling up telegraphic forms, doing a roaring trade, there
was a younger son of a very well known and wealthy London citizen, who,
having failed at the University, and "gone to the bad" in business, had
taken to tipping.

Well do I remember reading one morning in _The Standard_ that Bill
Jones, one of "the ruins" bookmakers, had been sent for ten days to
prison as a rogue and vagabond for betting, the alderman who passed the
sentence being the uncle of the tipster to whom I have been alluding!

Could a census be taken of these prophets, embracing their antecedents,
it would be found that not a few of them were persons who had lost
money in backing horses or in laying the odds against their chances,
reminding us of the celebrated definition of the critics being "men who
have failed in literature and art."

As has been remarked in the course of the foregoing observations, the
art of tipping is now a business over which no disguise is thrown,
although an occasional advertisement still crops up in the old style.
One or two of the present-day tipsters correspond with "gentlemen
only," but on being communicated with, these persons do not seem
particularly anxious to restrict the number of their clients; what they
really want is "a remittance." At the present time there are tipsters
who carry on business in different fashions; some ask for a fee that
will cover a week's work, others seek an all-day remittance, whilst not
a few deal in single-horse wires or "paddock snips," as they designate
their information. There are also tipsters who ask only to be paid by
results. "Put one shilling on each of the horses I select for you to
back, and if one wins, remit me the odds obtained," indicates the mode
of doing business adopted by such prophets.

As a matter of course, the tipsters of the time are ever varying
their names and addresses. When they make a series of hits under one
designation they trade on that as long as they can, but when business
begins to decrease because their tips fail to disclose winners, then
a change of locality and another name gives chances of renewed good
fortune. Thus the man who was "A. 1." a month ago is now figuring as
"X. Y. 3.," whose tips, "privately given," made the fortunes of several
gentlemen two years ago, "so that I" (that is "X. Y. 3.") "am induced
to allow the general public to participate in my information." About
the period of the Derby in each year I take stock of the tipsters'
advertisements, and have found, as a general rule, that only about
thirty per cent. of those who advertised in the previous year remain
in the field--the others having either retired or changed their names
and addresses.

The class of tipsters of whom I have been writing earn a great deal of
money, but many of them spend it recklessly, never thinking that they
may be overtaken by the proverbial rainy day. Judging from the vast
number of telegrams which are despatched on busy race-days, two or
three thousand pounds a week must reach these tipsters, the majority
of whom make it a rule, I fancy, to incur no expense for information,
although some among them are always boasting of their staff of
highly-paid assistants. These men take the tips given in the morning
newspapers and retail them to the fools who trust them for a shilling,
or perhaps half-a-crown, whilst the simpletons who purchase the
information could obtain it for one penny, and all the news, political
and social, as well!

Of the fools who are born in every minute of the day and night, a very
great number deal with the advertising tipsters to their ultimate
loss. It is only right, however, to let it be known that there are a
few honourable men among the blacklegs who take much personal trouble
and incur considerable expense in obtaining information of a reliable
kind for those who trust them. But these men fail to make backing pay;
they no doubt experience runs of luck, but even with runs of luck the
balance at the close of the year is sure to be on the wrong side of the

The proprietors of several weekly racing periodicals at present
published, not satisfied seemingly with the sales of fifty or sixty
thousand copies which they say their papers attain, send out daily
tips by telegraph, or pen nightly letters to all who will pay the
requisite fee, and according to their own accounts of what they achieve
their success as tipsters is enormous; but it may be fairly stated on
behalf of the gentlemen who cater sporting news for the daily press,
that considering the difficulties incidental to the formulating of
their prophetic work, they do wonderfully well, although it has been
often stated against them, as a matter of reproach, that they "follow
the money"--in other words, tip those horses which are being or are
likely to be heavily backed.



Having received the selection of his tipster, or having become
enamoured of a horse selected by himself, the bettor proceeds to his
club or other rendezvous where he knows he will find a bookmaker ready
to lay the odds against the horse of his choice.

In this he finds no difficulty. In large towns and cities, and in
smaller seats of population also, there are persons whose business it
is to accommodate such customers. Bookmakers and backers have many ways
of coming together; they meet at divers times and seasons and in divers
places as a matter of course, and during those months when there is
little or no horse-racing they keep up acquaintance with each other at
billiard matches and in their clubs; indeed, sporting events of some
kind on which "a nice little bit of betting" may crop up are always on
the tapis, whilst during the winter season there are usually a score or
so of steeple-chase meetings which are provocative of speculation in
bookmaking and betting circles. The great coursing meetings which take
place in the season when racing is pretty much at a standstill also
give rise to a vast amount of betting, of which very little is known,
because it is not published from day to day.

The enormous extent to which betting on horse-racing goes on all the
year round is known to those only who make the matter a special study.
It has been computed by persons who should know that not less than five
thousand bookmakers are daily engaged throughout the United Kingdom
in laying the odds against horses to stakes ranging from sixpence to
perhaps, on some occasions, as much as five hundred or even a thousand
pounds. Taking it, for illustrative purposes, that each layer of the
odds deals only with a hundred customers, it becomes obvious that there
must be at least five hundred thousand persons engaged in betting. The
exact number, however, could it be ascertained, would doubtless prove
much in excess of these figures. Were it said that at present there are
over a million persons who take an interest in horse-racing or in some
of the other sports and pastimes of the period to the extent of backing
their opinions by a bet, it would not probably be an exaggeration.

In one Scottish city there is, it has been calculated, a hundred
bookmakers at work every day on the streets or in clubs or offices,
doing business with all comers at market rates, and to stakes varying
in amount from shillings and half-crowns to "tenners and ponies" (£25).
As that city contains a population of over half a million individuals,
it affords data for calculating that there may be two hundred
bookmakers for each million of the population congregated in the great
cities and larger towns of the kingdom, which for London alone would
give more than one thousand layers of the odds, whilst Manchester,
Liverpool, Bradford, Leeds, and Birmingham, will undoubtedly have a
number correspondent to their population. "Here, every one bets,"
said a London club steward one evening to the writer, whilst busy
entering names for the annual Derby sweep, "every one from the City
to the West End; the cabman who brought you from the railway station,
the porter who took your hat, the man who sold you that copy of the
special _Standard_, all bet, and in hundreds of our public-houses and
tobacconists' shops you can find a bookmaker if you want him."

A glance at what takes place in large cities and big provincial towns
every day, but more particularly on days set apart for the decision of
important races, shows hundreds of people rushing about to interchange
their tips and opinions and to learn what is being done. On such days
telegraphic messages rain into the more important clubs, of which there
are from six to twenty in each of the towns named, and in these places
from three to thirty bookmakers will be found ready to bet with all

In these clubs may be seen groups of bettors each with an eye on "the
tape," which winds out its automatic lists of the running horses,
their jockeys, and the odds at which they are being backed in the
ring, followed in due course by the name of the winning and placed
horses and that important item of information, the "starting price,"
so much valued by bettors. As race follows race the same routine is
repeated, so that a flutter of excitement is kept up till the programme
is exhausted. Winners over the first race take heart and go on
speculating, while men who have lost make an effort to retrieve their
bad fortune by extending their investments, and thus the game continues
till the last race of the day has been decided.

There are men constantly engaged in betting who in their own circles
are not suspected of doing so. Some of them do so by the aid of
friends who possess a knowledge of the business, others steal into the
bookmakers' offices, and looking about them fearful of being observed,
whisper their business to the layer of the odds or his clerk. The
lame and halt, the blind and dumb, the rich and the ragged, daily
rub shoulders in quest of fortune in the betting arena. Men with
well-ventilated boots and guiltless of linen under-garments pass their
shillings or half-crowns into the jewelled hand of the bookmaker,
who at once rattles off an entry to his clerk: "6 to 1 Gold for the
Fortunatus Stakes."

A score, perhaps, of such poverty-stricken gamblers could not among
them muster clothes of the value of the albert chain and pendant hung
from the watch of the bookmaker's penciller.

Racing to-day spreads itself over a wide field, and to witness the
decision of such races as the Derby or St. Leger Stakes, the Chester
Cup, the City and Suburban Handicap, or the Royal Hunt Cup at Ascot,
tens of thousands will assemble between the classes and the masses,
each person seemingly more interested than the other. Some are on the
scene from pure love of sport, others from their desire to bet, and
when a race is decided, especially one of the great handicaps which
give rise to so much betting, tens, nay, hundreds of thousands of
pounds will have been lost and won, the sum total being of course made
up by a vast number of small and many large transactions.

Varied estimates have been formed of the amount annually expended in
betting or horse-racing. At the Doncaster St. Leger Meeting, which
lasts four days, there will probably be thirty races run, from four to
fifteen horses competing in each. To accommodate the persons who bet on
these races there will be on the ground not less, all told, than five
hundred bookmakers, and assuming that only £20 are drawn by each of
them over every race, that would represent a total amount of £300,000
risked on the thirty races run during the four days. An exponent of
racing finance said some years ago, in an article contributed to _The
Edinburgh Review_: "Taking it for granted that £1,500 only is risked
by bettors on each of the small races run during the season, and that
there are say 2,600 such contests, the total will amount to nearly four
millions sterling! To that sum must be added the money risked on the
larger races. On the popular betting handicaps, such as that run at
Lincoln, the City and Suburban, the Royal Hunt Cup, the Northumberland
Plate, and several other important racing events, not forgetting the
two great Newmarket handicaps of October, quite a million sterling will
be represented."

To affirm that a sum of from four to five million pounds is annually
risked in bets on horse-races looks like wishing to play on the
credulity of the public, but good reasons exist for believing that
the amount named is about right, and under rather than over the real
total, could it be ascertained. It is still possible to back a horse
running in a big handicap to win from twenty to fifty thousand pounds.
Roseberry, the property of Mr. James Smith, won both the Cesarewitch
and Cambridgeshire in the same year; Mr. Smith taking, it was stated
at the time, a sum of over a hundred thousand pounds out of the ring
by the victory of his horse. The event was remarkable as being the
first occasion on which these two races were won by the same animal.
The public benefited largely by the victory of Roseberry; it would
be no exaggeration perhaps to say that two hundred thousand pounds
would fall to be paid in all, but the bookmakers had of course the
sums betted against all the other horses that ran to pay with. There
were twenty-nine running in that year's Cesarewitch, all of which were
backed at some price or other, the favourite, Woodlands, which started
at the odds of 4½ to 1 against its chance, being heavily supported.

There are writers on turf matters who maintain that there is not now so
much betting as there used to be, but that contention can only apply
to particular races; for, as a matter of fact, there is in reality
five times the amount of turf speculation to-day that there was forty
or fifty years since. Take Scotland as an example; half a century ago
there was no person earning a living by "bookmaking" alone. True, the
"lists" have been "put down," but clubs have arisen, where betting, as
has been stated, is going on every day and all day long. Races to which
the lists applied were, comparatively speaking, seldom on the tapis,
although betting on them, it is right to say, began long before the day
fixed for the event to be decided, so that bettors were afforded ample
opportunities to "back their fancy." Even at present there are books
open on the Cesarewitch and the Cambridgeshire months before the horses
are entered for them.

The English betting men lately carrying on business in the French towns
of Boulogne and Calais betted on these handicaps, as may be said, all
the year round. These bookmakers betted with all comers chiefly for
ready money, and have been known to lay from five to fifteen thousand
pounds against each of two or three of the horses engaged in a popular
race. With the daily betting now prevalent, and the occasional spurts
which take place over important races held at Manchester, Derby,
Leicester, Sandown and Kempton Parks, it may be taken for granted that
the amounts involved, so far as totals are concerned, are greatly in
excess of what they have ever previously been estimated as being.

Those who maintain that "the betting of to-day is nothing to that of
forty years ago," usually cite in proof of their assertion the large
sums which were wont to change hands over the Derby, such as the
£50,000 won over St. Giles, or the £150,000 that Teddington's victory
cost the ring, one of the members of which paid one of his customers
a sum of £15,000 the morning after the race. Many reminiscences of
big sums lost and won over the Blue Ribbon of the Turf have appeared
in print, and also of the amounts won at the lists. These were large,
no doubt, but the money as a rule went into few hands. When the big
bettors, who had the _entrée_ of Tattersall's, were paid their twos and
threes or ten thousand pounds the money was exhausted; but not fewer
than twelve or fifteen thousand individuals would probably draw from
five to fifty pounds each over Bluegown's victory in London, whilst
quite as many persons scattered over the United Kingdom would pocket
lesser sums.

That the "small money" expended to-day in betting soon accumulates
can be easily proved. Here is one way, for instance, of arriving at
an illustration: there are at the present time about twelve thousand
public-houses in London, nearly all the frequenters of which take some
degree of interest in the Derby or other race, and assuming that each
house on the average has two hundred and fifty regular customers, of
which one hundred will have a bet on some race of the season, that
gives a big figure. Should each person back a horse by even the outlay
of a modest half-crown, the total money so invested would sum up to the
very handsome amount of something like £150,000, and certainly quite as
much would be risked by more daring backers.

In this view of the case it is in vain to tell us that betting is
declining, either on the Derby or any other event of turf speculation.
The great obstacle to big bets being made is the miserly rate of odds
now offered by bookmakers. In the case of Surefoot, that did not win
the Derby of 1890, the odds laid on that horse at the start required
the investment of £90 to win £40, a luxury that only people with more
money than brains were able to afford.

In the turf market the bettors--the backers are here meant--have, of
course, the worst of the deal throughout, the money risked finding
its way into a very few hands at the end of the chapter. Backers come
and backers go day by day, but the bookmaker, who plays a prudent
part, holds his place and strengthens his position more and more.
Those familiar with the incidents of betting know full well that not
one backer of horses in every hundred can live at "the game." Most
bookmakers see ninety-nine of their clients go down, many of them with
great rapidity, the kind, for example, that come on Tuesday morning and
are squeezed out by Friday afternoon. Others prolong the struggle for
a time by being able to fight a stronger battle, being, perhaps, more
prudent or better provided with capital. Few of those who in any one
year begin to back horses with the running of the Lincolnshire Handicap
are able to live at the business to the date of the Cambridgeshire,
which is the last "great" race of the season.

Every now and again "plungers," as they are called in the slang of the
period, make their appearance in the betting rings and carry on their
betting with an enormous flourish of trumpets. The financial feats
which they perform in backing horses are frequently chronicled by the
sporting press, and thus it is we learn that "Mr. Blank" ("the famous
plunger" of the period) "had another series of fortune-yielding innings
yesterday, having landed over sixteen hundred pounds on the day's

Such good fortune is, however, phenomenal and seldom lasts long;
besides, no one takes the trouble to chronicle the many bad days which
Mr. Blank is fated to encounter, the outcome of which leads, as a
matter of course, to the usual finale. Beginning on the plan of dealing
for ready money dealings only, the plunger ultimately does a large
business on the usual credit terms of settlement every Monday, and in
the course of a few months the racing public learn that the great man
has come to grief, and is offering a composition of five shillings in
the pound, in order to lighten his liabilities. So it is in time with
all who tread the same path, even with those of them who come from the
other side of the Atlantic to break the English betting ring, and who
for a season look as if they would prove successful.

Many schemes are resorted to by the bigger class of betting men to
obtain information. Jockeys are pumped, trainers are interviewed,
stablemen are bribed with the view of enabling the plunger to land a
big bet or two at every meeting. There are men, of course, who would
scorn to take a vulgar money bribe, but who do not scruple to receive
a case or two of champagne, or a ten-gallon cask of whisky, nor are
they very angry when some energetic person sends their wife a diamond
ring or their daughter a gold watch. Upon one occasion while visiting
a training establishment, the writer was struck with the display
of jewellery which adorned the person of a trainer's wife; probably
enough, none of the ladies of those owners who had horses in that man's
stables possessed such a valuable collection of gems as she wore on her
fingers and bosom, nor did the lady evince much reluctance about giving
their history--she was not reticent.

It has from time to time been hinted that the money lost by backers
of horses finds its way to a good amount into the coffers of a few
turf sharks who are banded together in "a ring," and who have dealings
with not a few of the training fraternity as well as with a number of
the jockeys. There may be a degree of truth in what has been said by
certain newspapers with regard to this mode of conspiracy, but much of
this kind of gossip which percolates through the columns of the press
is only gossip--not gospel. Even if it were founded on fact it would be
difficult to find proof of such misdeeds. Those persons who have the
best chances of making money by means of horse-racing are the men who
act as go-betweens for jockeys, or for trainers, or for such owners of
horses as are also keen betting men. Of late years one or two of this
fraternity have come to the front, having proved wonderfully successful
at the business and put money in their purses, honestly it is to be
hoped. At any rate they have become wealthy, and from being helpers or
touts on the training-grounds have "risen," as one gushing writer said
about them. In other words, they have now a bank account and enjoy the
luxury of clean linen and water-tight boots, which hundreds of men who
back their "fancy" cannot hope for.

When the tide of "luck" favours those men who court the smiles of
Fortune in racing circles, she seems to lavish her treasures on them
with an unsparing hand. There are men now living at Newmarket worth
thousands of pounds that ten or twelve years since would have found it
difficult to scrape together ten shillings. These are among the men
who have "risen," and so dazzled the eyes of some of the gentlemen of
the sporting press. When they own a horse or two, as several now do,
and one of their animals proves successful in winning a race, they
are at once elevated another step, and spoken of by some writers as
"the astute Mr. So-and-So," or as Mr. This-and-That, "the clever and
intelligent owner" of Cheek and other well-known horses.

During recent years much has been written and said against the system
of betting for ready money. Of all the "fads" (the reader is asked to
excuse this vulgarism) connected with gambling on the turf that have
become prominent during recent years the denunciation of ready money
betting is certainly the most extraordinary--the most abused of them
all. Ready money betting has been declared illegal. But why should
betting in ready money be wrong if betting on credit be right? If any
kind of betting be proper it most assuredly should be betting for ready
money, than which there ought to be no other kind of betting. The
rules of logic were never surely so much set at naught as when it was
decreed that betting by means of the payment of ready money--that is
to say the depositing of the stakes--should be stigmatised as being
illegal. Probably by an interpretation of the law there is no such
thing as legal betting; it has hitherto been held that betting of any
kind is illegal. Bets are not recoverable at law; but bets made by one
party who acts as agent for another party can be sued for, and may
be recovered; at any rate the person who instructs an agent to make
a bet on his behalf can be sued in a court of law for the amount of
the stake. It surely is reasonable to argue that if betting for ready
money be bad, betting on credit is worse. Everything points to the
probability of betting when it began being for ready money only, and
that as a rule stakes on both sides were deposited pending the event to
be decided. Why should it not be so to-day?

With the advent of credit betting began the reign of the "blacklegs,"
the nefarious frauds and swindles, the poisonings and pullings, the
watering and watching of horses, with which men who interest themselves
in the sport of kings are now so familiar. Judging from the tone of
recent legislation, what our parliamentarians are wroth about is,
that betting has become a business requiring the intervention of that
middle man, the obnoxious "bookmaker," but it is really better that
it should be so, if betting on horse-racing is to be allowed to be
continued in any shape. Why should men who will never cease to bet so
long as horse-racing goes on be driven to bet one with another, which
is the worst form of speculation? Who can mention any more humiliating
spectacle than that furnished by a "noble" sportsman "doing" his friend
over the Derby, or some other race? In reality that is the kind of
betting pointed at by some of our turf big-wigs as being the best form
of speculation of the kind; to these men the bookmaker is a disgust.

It is earnestly to be hoped, if horse-racing is to endure, in which
event there must be betting, that the bookmaker will be permitted to
ply his pencil, as also that he will be licensed by the Jockey Club and
be authorised to bet for ready money only. The writer of the article in
_The Edinburgh Review_, already referred to, puts the case in favour
of ready money in a forcible fashion: "If a man were compelled to
deposit his stake every time he made a bet, he would be more cautious
in betting. Put me down the odds to a monkey is easy to say, but the
monkey (£500) is not so easy to pay if the bet is lost, and were it to
pay at the moment the chances are that no monkey would be put down."

Betting between private friends is a horror of the worst description.
Think of Major Bobadil laying Ensign Simple 100 to 25 against a horse
which he _knows_ will never be started for the race it is being backed
to win. In such circumstances what would be a proper designation for
Major Bobadil, blackguard or blackleg? It will of course be said, if
you go to a bookmaker he possesses the same knowledge, and so he may;
but then the bookmaker is neither your mess-fellow nor your private
friend. Persons who are determined to bet ought never to bet with a
friend, but should invariably resort to the professional bookmaker.

It is not necessary to say much more about this phase of betting,
because the arguments against credit and in favour of ready money are
so obvious and so strong as not to require voluminous illustration. It
is quite certain that if a man were required to table his five, ten,
or twenty sovereigns every time he made a bet, betting would speedily
diminish, and far less would then be heard of "turf iniquities" and
crimes of the turf. When, for instance, a man has betted for a week at
Epsom, Ascot, or Newmarket, and fortune has gone against him, he will
stick at nothing in order to be able to settle his account, as he may
have interests at stake which demand imperatively that Monday shall
see his account in process of liquidation. A man would not perhaps
deliberately forge or steal to obtain a sum with which to make a ready
money bet, but there are circumstances in which he would do so in order
to settle his account when he has been betting on what is called "the
nod" (credit).

The following is a case in point. A few years ago a man lost a heavy
sum. He knew well that on the following Monday he _must_ pay or a fine
bet he had of £5,000 to £50 would be at once scratched; the horse
backed having in the interval become a great favourite for the race. In
such case to settle was imperative, and a settlement was accomplished;
how the sum necessary to pay what was due was obtained was never made
public, but it became known to several persons that a robbery of
jewels, of a suspicious kind, took place at that gentleman's residence
on the Saturday night following the decision of the race. A footman
was apprehended on suspicion, but his master, saying it could not
possibly be he who stole the jewels, declined to prosecute. Happily for
the lady whose gems had been purloined, her husband won his big bet,
and she was able to shine in a newly bought suite of diamonds.

A history of the rise and progress of betting would be full of
interest. It takes two, and occasionally more than two, persons to make
a bet, and, as has been indicated in a previous page, in the earlier
days of horse-racing the amounts betted on both sides were usually
deposited, or in racing _argot_ the money in dispute was "staked,"
in the hands of a third party till the event betted upon could be
decided. No data exists to show when the professional bookmaker as we
know him came upon the scene; but it may be taken for granted that the
"penciller" was not evolved at once, but that the system grew by means
of what it fed on, originating, doubtless, in the practice adopted
by certain gentlemen who, having made a series of bets, were anxious
in consequence to get "round," as the process of hedging is called,
or, in other words, to be in a position not to lose their money, or,
to put the matter still more explicitly, to possess a fair chance of
winning something and losing nothing. At the beginning of racing, and
for a considerable time thereafter, what little betting occurred took
place chiefly on the racecourses; but as time elapsed several men
distinguished themselves, or, at least, became notorious, as "betting
men," both giving and taking the odds all round, and accepting the
odium of sometimes being called "legs" (blacklegs) by such persons as
only made single bets, and objected to the wholesale modes of betting
which were coming into fashion. Before Tattersall's was established as
a betting centre, many gentlemen made their bets in the way indicated,
namely, among themselves and with one another on the racecourse, or
at their clubs and in their houses, and in the more primitive days of
sport nearly always staking the amounts betted with a third party. As
betting on horse-racing increased in magnitude, both in the number
of bets made and the amounts betted, the bookmaker, or professional
betting man, became a necessity, and, as usual, demand soon created

Since it originated, the incidence of betting has undergone several
changes. About the end of last century it was greatly the fashion to
bet on one horse against the field, and that mode of turf speculation
was long prevalent, and did not change into the present more extended
way of doing business till the present century was well begun. Such
betting was indulged in by the owners of race-horses, their humour
finding a vent chiefly in arranging matches between their respective
animals for sums of money, ranging perhaps from £50 to £5,000 as might
be arranged.

The professional bookmakers who first took the field in opposition
to the "gentlemen legs," as a few of the layers of the odds were
designated, were not, so far as education and manners were concerned,
particularly bright; but in consideration of their being prompt to
pay when they lost, their defective education and lack of manners
were overlooked. Several of the gentlemen who owned race-horses soon
discovered that the mere winning of a stake by means of any particular
race, however large the sum run for might be, did not reimburse them
for the outlays which they had to make by keeping a stud of horses;
hence the horse became an instrument of gambling, and remains so at the
present time.


Betting on greyhound coursing, especially in connection with the
struggle for the Waterloo Cup, run for amid the distraction and ditches
of Altcar, is assumed to be gambling _in excelsis_. When a person backs
a horse for a race, the event is decided, so to speak, in an instant;
there may of course be a dead heat, but dead heats are sufficiently
rare, and need not be calculated upon. When a man bets on the Derby, he
is delivered from all suspense within three or four minutes after the
fall of the starter's flag. But it is not so in the case of the dogs.
On the average of the courses decided at Altcar, a brace of greyhounds
will keep the bettor in suspense for six minutes or so, and when it
is considered, in the case of a stake in which sixty-four dogs take
part, six races must be run before the backer of a dog to win the Cup
can receive his money, it will be sufficiently obvious that very long
odds ought to be obtained against those dogs which take part in the
struggle. Such, however, as a rule, is not the case, and sanguine men
have been known to accept odds against a dog which had six races to
run, which they would have indignantly refused against a horse which
had only to run once to win or lose them their money. In the case of
one Waterloo Cup the winning dog actually ran eight times before it was
declared to be entitled to the Blue Ribbon of the leash. What, then,
it will be asked, by those who are unfamiliar with the incidents of
coursing, are the rate of odds given and taken on such occasions? And
if the odds offered are false, what are the figures which would really
represent the true chances of the animals competing in a Waterloo Cup

Some questions, as all the world is aware, are much easier to ask than
to answer, and the question just formulated is one of them. If the
_form_ of the sixty-four dogs which are nominated for the Waterloo
Cup was utterly unknown, the price of each could only, of course, be
represented at what may be called a very long figure--say, for the sake
of even counting, 100 to 1--and when the first round of the struggle
was finished, and thirty-two of the dogs defeated, the odds, even in
that case, against the thirty-two survivors of the first act of the
battle should still be considerable, five rounds of the battle having
yet to be contested. But as the form of the dogs had become known from
what they had accomplished in the first course, it is vain to expect
that 40 to 1 will be offered by any of the bookmakers--although it is
fully that sum, and much more, against half the number--because as the
event proceeds sixteen of the dogs must be beaten, and so on to the end
of the stake; the sixteen victors will in time be reduced to eight,
four, two, and one. The task which is originally set before the bettor
on the Waterloo Cup is, as a matter of fact, to select out of a pack
of sixty-four dogs that one which will in the end be declared victor,
and it is assuredly no easy task even to persons who are familiar with
the previous performances of the animals. In dog races as in horse
races, the favourite sometimes wins--and the Waterloo Cup has been
taken more than once by the same animal--the winner on the second
occasion starting at pretty short odds. Master McGrath, a dog belonging
to the late Lord Lurgan, won the Cup three times, whilst the successes
of Fullerton have been recently chronicled.

It is impossible to tell what may happen to dogs in such a struggle as
the Waterloo Cup. Some which have previously shown good form in other
coursing matches, even on the same ground, prove worthless while the
battle of Waterloo is being fought, going down before, perhaps, a foe
of no fame in the very first round. Even the very best greyhound must
have good fortune on its side to achieve such a victory; it must, too,
be in the best of health, it must get well away from slips, and be
slipped against a lively hare, and then it must do all it knows to beat
its opponent. A judge is appointed at all coursing meetings in order to
decide which is the best dog in every pair that is slipped. He judges
after a given fashion by awarding to the runners the "points" which
they make, the dog which makes the greatest number being declared the
winner of the course.

To those who are not "up" in the mysteries of coursing a brief
explanation of the mode of judging may be given. Great powers are
invested in the judge; what he says is law, and from his decision
there is no appeal. The brace of dogs being in the slips are let loose
by the slipper "at" a hare, which he runs them on to, so that they
may see it. The speediest dog from the slips will receive one, two,
or three marks, as the judge may determine, the number given being
dependent on the opinion he may form of the race. For a "go-bye,"
the judge may award two or even three points. A "go-bye" is when a
greyhound starts a clear length behind his companion, then passes him
and gets a length in front. For turning the hare one point is given;
for a "wrench," which means diverting the hare from its course at less
than a right angle, half a point is awarded. For a "trip"--a trip is an
unsuccessful effort to kill the hare on the part of the dog--one point
is given by the judge. The killing of the hare obtains two points if
it prove a very meritorious one. To the dog which, in its course, is
awarded a majority of these marks the victory is given.

Critics and tipsters who attempt a week or ten days before the battle
begins to point out the victor have a rather hard task set them, but
on some occasions the winner is "spotted" with wonderful precision.
As a matter of course, in dog prophecy as in predicting winners of
horse-races, the tipsters either "follow the money" or depend on
"public form" to pull them through.

Great complaints have been made in various quarters about the chicanery
which in some years has been associated with the Waterloo Cup. Certain
members of the committee are very jealous of the honour of this great
coursing match being kept as free from any stain as possible; but
those who have carefully studied the incidents of the great Altcar
gathering are perfectly convinced that there is in connection with
it, to designate it mildly, a good deal of "finessing": and a large
amount of the gambling element has long been a most prominent feature
of the meeting. In some years plenty of wagering takes place. The
Waterloo Cup being set for decision at a season of the year when much
horse-racing cannot take place, and when betting on horse-racing is not
at all brisk, commands the speculation of the moment, and gives rise in
consequence to a vast amount of gambling. As a popular writer on the
turf says, the dogs give occasion for "one of the biggest gambles of
the season."

So long as the Cup is constituted as at present, this game of
speculation will continue. The gentlemen who have subscribed to the
stake do not require to nominate the dog they intend to run till the
evening preceding the first day of contest. It is obvious, therefore,
that by this plan of procedure there is room for any amount of
"manœuvring," and that a nomination may be backed to win perhaps
£20,000 at pretty long odds, while in the end a dog may be named
to fill it which, had its name been known, would have caused the
nomination in which it was to run to become first favourite. This will
be better explained by imagining that the present year's winner will
be able to run again next year; if so, and the nomination in which it
is to run be made public, it will assuredly be backed at a very short
price, say 7 or 8 to 1, long before the night of the draw; indeed, the
moment betting begins, which is usually about the middle of January
or earlier, it will figure in all the lists as "first favourite." But
supposing the dog were next year to belong to a gambling owner, he
would never be a party to its running at any such odds as has been
indicated; he would want most likely, for the benefit of himself and
friends, to back the animal to win some £20,000, and the longer the
odds he could obtain the less risk he would have of losing money;
therefore, he looks about him to find some gentleman possessed of a
nomination but without a dog good enough to run in such an important
stake as the Waterloo Cup. That gentleman's nomination may be quoted in
the public betting at 50 or 66 to 1, so that if it can be arranged that
he shall run the dog, a large sum of money may be won (in the event of
victory) at excellent odds as prices are now arranged.

This sort of thing has occasionally taken place, some of the tactics
employed being scandalous enough; but where there is gambling there
must in time be scandal. Large sums change hands over this great dog
contest, because, in addition to the "long odds" against a dog winning
the stake right out, there is an immensity of speculation on every
separate course, when the "short odds" are taken against one dog
beating the one which goes to slips with it. Probably there will be
five or six thousand persons present at the contest busy betting on
every course, and in this way, in the course of the three days during
which the battle wages, many thousand pounds will certainly change

Prizes are provided for the thirty-two dogs which are beaten in the
first round of the Cup; these are the Purse and Plate, on which
(locally) a vast amount of betting also takes place. No calculation
of the amount of money which changes hands or is betted on the great
Altcar contest has ever been made. It has, however, been more than once
publicly stated that a Waterloo dog can be, and has been, backed to win
a sum of £40,000 for behoof of its owner and his friends and followers,
while it is often enough the case that dogs hailing from some populous
locality, dogs which have a name, are entrusted with the sovereigns
of four or five thousand persons. It would be no exaggeration to
say, generally, of the Waterloo Cup that probably a dozen out of the
sixty-four dogs nominated will be backed on the average to win (at
the long odds) £25,000 each, whilst ten may be entrusted with the
odds to win some £10,000, making for these dogs a sum of £400,000,
which has been laid at various rates of odds, and it may be taken that
the other forty-two dogs will be backed before the contest is over
to win £100,000. Only one dog, of course, can win, so that as a rule
bookmakers should be largely in pocket, especially when most of the
favourites are beaten in the first round--no improbable event; other
animals then come into prominence and are heavily backed. A provincial
bookmaker, who never betted to more than pound stakes, told the writer
that on the first two days of Snowflight's year (1882) he gained a
clear profit of £279, and being quite pleased, stopped business and
contented himself the last day with looking on at the gambling of
others, and so making his visit to Altcar a profitable and pleasant

Two thousand people, it is averred, will each bet, on the average,
£1 over every course which is run at Altcar, which, on the Cup
alone, would represent in stakes alone a sum of over £125,000. These
figures--they are but rough calculations at their best--may be taken
for what they are worth, as affording an index of the gambling which is
incidental to the modern "Battle of Waterloo."

Apropos to the name "Waterloo" Cup, it may be mentioned that it is not
at all of heroic origin; as a matter of fact, the stake originated in
the Waterloo Hotel, at Liverpool, which has long since disappeared, its
site being included in the buildings of the central station. This hotel
was in its day a hostelry of some degree of fame and a choice resort
of the coursing fraternity. In that house, then, in the year 1835 the
stake was originated, and run for in the following spring for the first
time, eight dogs only taking part in the contest, the winner being
Melanie, a dog belonging to Mr. Lynn, the landlord of the house. Such
was the origin of the present great Altcar contest. At first an eight
dog stake, it speedily became one for sixteen and then for thirty-two
greyhounds. In 1857 the Waterloo Cup reached its present dimensions,
and has ever since continued a sixty-four dog stake.


Many who desire to become rich with rapidity think the turf a smooth
road to fortune. Every few weeks an appetising paragraph "goes the
round," telling the world that another fortune has been won on the
racecourse, that Mr. So-and-So has "landed" £25,000 by the victory of
a horse in one of the popular handicaps! Such an announcement excites
the cupidity of hundreds, and so a rush takes place to back many horses
for the next important struggle. Very few who try succeed; fortunes,
they soon find out, come only to the fortunate, and in time many of
the eager fighters for the favour of the blind goddess find themselves
_hors de combat_, and then retire disgusted from the arena. A few
doughty combatants fight on in the hope of ultimate success, one of
them, perhaps, to find, after many days, that he has become enriched
during the struggle.

Some who think themselves wiser than their fellows come early to the
conclusion that the indiscriminate backing of horses, or even tipsters,
or newspaper selections is a blunder, and so resolve to try a "system,"
feeling sure that by speculating on a well-defined principle they must
make money. In due time the cleverest think out for themselves or
are put on a plan by some friend, which is morally certain to prove
successful. It may be one of the many systems known in connection with
turf speculation, "following the favourites," or backing one's own
fancies, or it may be the following of jockeys.

To back the horses ridden by certain jockeys has for years past been
one mode of speculation on the turf. It was first brought to the notice
of the public by a Mr. John Denman, who acted for a time as a racing
commissioner, and who maintained (he published an elaborate essay on
the subject) that it would prove profitable to back horses ridden by
men who were always winning.

In persistently following Barrett, Watts, Woodburn, Canon, or Loates,
or any other jockey, the plan of putting down a given sum on each
mount, win or lose, may be adopted, or a particular jockey may be
followed in sequences of six or seven trials, or even a lesser number
at pleasure, the stake being doubled on each occasion of a loss, till
the end of the sequence, and in cases--no uncommon occurrence--of
a sequence running out before a win has been secured, beginning
again. There are many, some even well versed in turf affairs, who
probably think it almost impossible that Loates, Canon, or Barrett
or some equally clever horseman, could be unsuccessful for seven
consecutive turns; but should the jockey selected prove unsuccessful
even four times running, and then at the fifth trial score a win, the
very meagre price usually offered against a popular rider proving
victorious--indeed, the horse entrusted to him very often starts with
odds betted _on_ it--renders the winning account, on most occasions,
anything but profitable. It is not sometimes a very easy matter to
invest a large sum on a comparatively small race, and in connection
with the mounts of the more popular jockeys the investment of £320
would not often cover previous losses; it might happen on occasion that
£100 would require to be risked to win £30, so that in the event cited
a loss of over £224 would be sustained on the run of six non-successful
mounts in the sequence, and it is needless to say that a series of such
misfortunes would speedily exhaust a pretty well-filled bank.

To the uninitiated in turf mysteries, for whom this book is more
immediately intended, it may be necessary to explain that a "sequence"
may be arranged to extend over any number of mounts from two to twelve,
or even a greater number if that were practical, which it is not,
because in such case the sum to be invested could not be "got on,"
it would have become so large. The sum fixed upon as a stake may be
for any reasonable amount from £1 to £20, only it is not desirable
to fix it at a very large amount for the reason just given--it would
swell to an unmanageable size. Taking £5 as a representative sum, it
will be seen that before the seventh trial, should the six previous
efforts have failed, a smart sum of money will have been expended--the
following amounts, in fact: £5, £10, £20, £40, £80, £160, or a total of
£315. The next stake invested, in the event of none of the six having
proved fruitful, would amount to £630, and if that also should be lost,
it would, of course, swell the total. On the other hand, £630 invested
on a race at 2 to 1, would yield a return of £1,260, and thus, after
deducting the money lost, yield a capital profit.

The vicissitudes experienced from time to time by backers of horses
would, if related at length, fill a volume. Many anecdotes are in
circulation of men who have been ruined by backing horses, as well as
of others to whom the turf has proved a stepping-stone to fortune.
I remember when there used frequently to be recorded a suicide over
the Derby, which was said to be the result of losses sustained over
that highly popular race, but such narratives were usually taken _cum
grano salis_. It is not over such races as the Derby that the common
run of backers come to grief, because that race does not present such
favourable opportunities to speculators as the popular handicaps.

The Derby is a race for which the general public evince much
partiality, and on which a large number of persons who never bet on
any other race risk a sovereign. Professional bettors, of course, bet
on the result of the Derby as they do on all other contests; but the
"form" of the horses which take part in the struggle having generally
become well known, there is not the same temptation presented to
speculators as in some other events where the odds obtained are more
liberal. On the other hand, some men prefer to back the favourites for
such races as the Derby and Oaks, being contented with the twos to
one and sevens to four which can be procured from the bookmaker; but
persons who like the twenties, thirty-threes, and forties, which can
often be obtained against handicap winners at some period before the
race, do not readily accommodate themselves to the large expenditure
involved in accepting small odds. I remember a well-known betting man
who is a keen hand and speculates in large amounts, taking £2,000 to
£1,000 that Bend Or would win the Derby, and every person knows what
a very narrow squeak he had for his money. The same person, incited
by his success in backing the winner of the Blue Ribbon of the Turf,
backed Versigny to win him £2,000, and by doing so required to risk
about £1,200, so that he had only £800 of his Derby gains left, a
portion of which was lost over Master Kildare in the Gold Cup.

The person here alluded to, who is well known by his nickname of
"Public Form,"[4] is a very heavy bettor, putting down at three out of
every four of the race meetings which are held stakes of from £50 to
£200 on even the smaller races, whenever in fact he thinks he has got
hold of what is called "a good thing." In some seasons "Public Form"
has been very successful, although from the state of the odds against
the horses which he backs he seldom "lands" a big win; but if he thinks
the chance an extra good one he will not scruple to give odds, but
will put down £700 to win £400, or he will take even money against the

It will be obvious enough that a person betting such large sums runs
heavy risks, more especially as he so seldom goes for big odds. Risks,
however, are comparative, and it should be easier, therefore, to
realise a 7 to 4 chance than to obtain a win when the odds are at the
rate of 66 to 1; in the latter case the bettor only requires to risk
£15 to win £1,000, while in the former case to win a similar amount a
sum of nearly £600 will require to be risked. Some bold spirits on
the turf, when they think the opportunity has befallen them, "down
the pieces" in the most fearless manner, or rather they go in for big
money at the risk of those who will give them credit. On some occasions
a lucky coup will be made that may prove to be the precursor of good
fortune. A man may bring off a double event or may win a few hundred
pounds over a handicap, and so be able to inaugurate a successful
career on the turf. On the other hand, a person may bet for a season
with all his might, and with fair knowledge and experience, and lose
more than another man may pocket. Numerous instances of such being
the case might be cited. It is not long since the sporting journals
related the downfall of a backer who in one season made a tolerably
nice little fortune by backing the mounts of the chief jockey. In a
few months the thousands which that person had realised had taken unto
themselves wings and flown away, and so he became "broke," like similar

There are, however, men on the turf at the present moment who are worth
money, and who earned what they possess by betting. The persons here
alluded to have proceeded on the lines that "small fish are sweet," and
have been contented with modest profits, taking care to keep carefully
what they gain. "Old Thatchem,"[5] who is the happy possessor of a
whole village in a well-known racing county, made all the money with
which he bought or built his houses at the race-meetings held in his
own shire. His first bit of luck--he was then a day labourer--was
in realising a bet of £10 to 10_s._ on Princess for the Two-year-old
Stakes at Doncaster, in 1843. A sum of £10, forty years ago was thought
by a labouring man to be "money," and such was the opinion of "old
Thatchem." Not a penny of the £10 was parted with till next year, when
a sovereign invested on Kedge for the Champagne Stakes doubled the
sum, whilst £2 invested on Bee's Wing for the Gold Cup added £16 to
the hoard. In three years the old man was worth a cool hundred, which
he invested in the purchase of a house. His ambition being stirred, he
continued his careful and successful career, and soon became an adept
at his business; not that he was always successful; oh, no, many a time
he felt the frost of speculation; on such occasions, like a prudent
general, he wisely desisted from business for a brief period that his
_luck_ might have room, as he was wont to say, to turn itself round.

By way of contrast to this prudent Yorkshireman, take the case of a
young fellow who a good many years ago flashed upon the turf like a
meteor. Winning £300 when Caractacus won the Derby, he followed up his
success at Epsom by bagging a large amount at Ascot, and the like good
fortune attending his efforts at Goodwood, at the end of the year he
left off with an addition to his bank account of £2,700. Extraordinary
to relate, he was equally successful in the following year, but a
change of fortune overtook him at last, and from being a swell of the
first water, constantly in luck, always feasting on fat things, he
gradually fell and fell till, in a few years, he was glad to earn a
shilling or two at race meetings by acting as a peripatetic tipster.
Many stories of a like kind are doubtless known to persons who are
acquainted with the ever-changing incidents of our race meetings.

Apropos to betting for cash, one of the most singular utterances
that has ever appeared against the "principle" of betting for ready
money is that of Mr. William Day, published in one of the monthly
miscellanies, and in which he describes that mode of betting as a
"pernicious system," as "the greatest pest of society, the current evil
of the day." Further, Mr. Day says the practice of ready money betting
is "a blot on the nationality of every Englishman!" Unfortunately for
himself, Mr. Day stultifies his own arguments against ready money
betting by his advocacy of the Pari-mutuel plan of backing horses,
which is a ready money system of betting _par excellence_, the adoption
of which Mr. Day thinks would put a stop to reckless speculation, as,
indeed, would ready money betting conducted through the medium of the
bookmakers (who ought to be licensed).

The writer of these pages, as is obvious enough, is quite of the same
opinion as Mr. Day, that "so long as a man can go into the ring and
bet his untold thousands upon race after race, not having as many
hundreds to pay his losses with, so long as he can find usurers to
supply him with the needful to be paid on the Monday after, then so
long, too, will he continue to bet, little caring what he pays for the
convenience; as things are he is compelled to raise funds to save his
credit and his respect among his aristocratic associates, but in the
other case (of Pari-mutuel betting) there would not be such pressing
necessity for him to have the money."

A very excellent reason was recently given for the adoption of a ready
money system of betting by one of the "big bookmakers" of the day; it
was pithily expressed to a gentleman who was complaining of the small
odds now laid to bettors. "Look you," said the layer of the odds, "I
have thirty-three per cent. of bad debts to contend with every season,
and so have some of my friends. When we have ready money betting there
will be no bad debts, and the odds will then extend by twenty or thirty
per cent." An extension of the odds, say all backers of horses, is
certainly much needed; of late years prices have been growing small by
degrees and beautifully less.


[4] "Public Form," I regret to learn, died in the autumn of 1891, at
his residence near Glasgow.

[5] This note and the preceding are abridged from a magazine sketch
about "Public Form."


It is not the writer's intention to venture on a full gallery of racing
adventurers, but to present three or four portraits only by way of
sample of the fifty or sixty which might be painted by the pen in black
and white, and he has selected Messrs. Crockford, Gully, Ridsdale,
Swindell, and Davis "the Leviathan" as being typical of the whole body.


Among the racing adventurers who flourished sixty years since, the
names of Davis, Crockford, Gully, and Ridsdale were prominent in turf
affairs; these men and others like them were much trusted and betted
to win or lose large amounts; "their mere word," as a certain noble
baronet who did business with them said, "is better than other men's
bonds." They paid sums of five, ten, or twenty thousand pounds when
they lost them without the slightest hesitation, not infrequently
indeed before they were due according to betting etiquette. Sixty
years ago, racing adventurers began to come to the front and some of
them soon acquired fortunes; several of the number who did so had not
the wit, however, to keep the money they earned, and so fell back to
their original condition. Such was the fate of Ridsdale, at one time
racing partner with John Gully and a man of wealth. Crockford, as
shall presently be narrated, began life as a fishmonger, and in the
course of his career became a millionaire. In his young days Gully was
a butcher and afterwards a professional pugilist; Davis again was a
carpenter by trade, and flourished every day after becoming a betting
man, the excitement of which career suited his temperament. Others of
the bookmaking and betting fraternity had beginnings equally humble:
some of them had been helpers in stables; one prominent man in turf
affairs had driven a hackney coach; another had been footman at one
time in a gentleman's family, but by the aid of turf chicanery became
wealthy, and able himself in time to keep a couple of footmen. It is
not possible within the limits of the present volume, to include more
than three or four brief biographical sketches of the more prominent of
the racing adventurers who have earned notoriety on the turf.

Davis, "the Leviathan," as he was called in racing circles, possessing
a genius for the manipulation of figures, ultimately became one of
the most successful bookmakers of his time, betting to thousands in
the ring and to the silver or gold offered at his lists. As has been
more than once related, the future "Leviathan's" first bet involved no
greater risk than half-a-crown; but that sum, small as it was, turned
out a prolific parent, he who risked it being found ten years later in
the foremost ranks of the betting ring. Davis speedily discovered in
his own case that "backing" horses, unless in exceptional instances,
could never be profitable, no matter how generally fortunate he might
be in selecting winners; he therefore speedily forsook that mode of
betting and began "making a book," laying at first the odds to small
money only to his fellow workmen. At the time indicated he was in the
service of Cubitt & Co., the great builders, as a journeyman carpenter.

The "Leviathan's" plans received a fillip from the fact of his being
engaged in the erection of the subscription rooms at Newmarket. Cubitt
& Co., his employers, being contractors for the job, he had therefore
congenial surroundings, which confirmed him in his resolve to make
money by means of horse-racing. The chief meetings held at the turf
metropolis took place while the rooms were being built, and as Davis
had taken lodgings in the house of a stable helper, he was thus enabled
to obtain more reliable information of the doings on Newmarket Heath
than he might otherwise have been in a position to get. This enabled
him to lay the odds and back horses with a greater certainty of winning
both ways, a plan he adopted with considerable success. As he said to
a friend, "when I got to know, which I often did, that a horse was not
doing the right sort of work for a particular race, I tried all the
more to lay the odds against it; on the other hand, I backed any horse
that I was told was taking proper exercise. It is a fine thing for a
small betting man as I was then to be able to handle the stick at both
ends; by doing that I made a bit, and so was all ready when bigger
chances came to hand to make the most of them."

When the job he was engaged on at Newmarket was finished, Davis came
back to London with what he called a tidy pocketful of money, as much
as fifty-seven pounds, the fruit of his economy and industry. Having
thrown up his work at Cubitt's, he with the sum named began business
as a bookmaker, and succeeded from the beginning. His first great
hit was made on the "Two Thousand Guineas." Having obtained reliable
information about the chance of Sir Tatton Sykes for the race in
question, he backed that horse to win, taking care at the same time to
lay against as many of the other horses engaged in the contest as his
customers would back. The money he made on this occasion amounted to
a considerable sum, the possession of which enabled him to extend his
business and also to bet in bigger sums. Hitherto he had very rarely
laid the odds to half-a-sovereign, but after Sir Tatton's victory he
ventured to bet sovereigns, and by doing so increased his store not
rapidly but steadily.

A friend of Davis' was wont to relate that it was in consequence of a
dream he backed Sir Tatton. Falling asleep one Sunday afternoon, he
fancied he was reading a newspaper, and that its tip for the Guineas,
in large letters, was "Sir Tatton Sykes first"; that he read quite
plain, but the names of the placed horses being blurred he could not
make them out. Thinking little of his vision, he went about his work on
Monday as usual, but, singularly enough, on Monday night the vision
was repeated, with the words added, "this will come right." Davis
was staggered by the circumstance, and being in possession of other
information resolved to have "a bit extra" on, and so landed a good
stake for his then position in the betting arena. Many curious dreams
connected with horse-racing have from time to time been told, and the
above story, now first related, may be added to the number.

Visiting, day by day, all the well-known sporting public-houses in
London, picking up a little information here and making a few bets
there, and always paying punctually when he lost, Davis speedily made a
connection, and in a short time attracted a large number of customers.
Being modest of manner and invariably civil, good fortune attended
most of his efforts. Another feature in his favour was that he was
liberal in offering odds, generally naming a point more than any of his
competitors, so that he soon became "first favourite" among the betting
men who were fond of backing their "fancy." Davis, in those days,
betted for ready money only, and it was a maxim of his that "if you
can lay all the horses, a point of additional odds is of no moment."
"The horse which wins," he was wont to say, "brings you nothing, all
the others do." In the beginning of his career, slow and sure was his
motto; "ten pounds gained on each of five small races makes fifty."
Passing on to a later period of his career, when his betting relations
had extended to the patricians of the turf, Davis occasionally laid the
odds to an almost incredible amount against all the horses entered in
a race, and the greater favourite a horse became, the more willing was
the "Leviathan" to bet against it; on many occasions the sums he stood
to lose were really enormous in their amount.

Davis, like other bookmakers, had his fortunate and his unfortunate
races. The Derby, for instance, was one of the latter class of events;
he was never fortunate in transactions entered into in connection with
that race. Upon the occasion of Voltigeur winning the Blue Ribbon he
stood to lose nearly £40,000 on his list accounts, as well as having to
meet many liabilities for large sums in the ring and at Tattersall's
consequent on the victory of that horse. The non-success of Hotspur
in the great Epsom event cost him, he was wont to say, £50,000, while
the failure of Barbarian involved the disbursement of about a plum;
and in the year which was sacred to the victory of Teddington he
dropped a mint of money; one cheque alone written out and paid away on
the morning after the race was filled up for three times "five thou"
(£15,000). Again, the Derby victory of Daniel O'Rourke necessitated his
parting with £30,000, whilst one of Davis' bets on West Australian was
paid to Mr. Bowes, the owner of that horse, in the shape of a draft on
the London and Westminster Bank for the full amount.

These big sums, however, were not all loss; he had the amounts he
won over the other runners to aid him in paying them, and as was to
be expected, he came every now and then into the possession of great
gains; on one or two occasions he bagged £40,000 over a race; had that
not been so, he would have been unable to battle with the wholesale
losses he had sometimes to encounter. His business at one time was
quite remarkable in its extent; often in the ring he was mobbed by
people desirous of betting with him, from whom, on the days of popular
races, he received hatfuls of money. No matter what race-meeting he
might be attending, if the place where it was held was within a few
hours' reach of London, he made it his business to return, to ascertain
what was doing at his various lists, and to draw a cheque for the next
day's settlement; punctual payment was with him a rule from which he
never deviated.

As to the betting lists which were ultimately put down by the strong
hand of Parliament, Davis was not, as many have supposed, the
originator of them. They were "invented," if such a word may be used,
by Messrs. Drummond and Greville, who took care to let it be known they
kept a big balance at their bankers'. By the persistent display of "the
lists" (which were exhibited by many licensed victuallers in their
houses), betting, especially in London, extended among all classes,
as at some of the lists as little as sixpence was accepted. For the
benefit of those who do not know any better, it may be as well to
explain here that a "list" was a written or printed document containing
the names of the horses engaged in the particular race to be betted
upon, with a price affixed against the chance possessed by each animal.
Previous to the institution of the lists, the great body of the people
were pretty well contented with a ticket in a Derby or some other
sweepstake, of which a great number, at prices ranging from pence to
pounds, were drawn in London and the provinces, but more especially in
London, where there were then thousands organised, embracing most of
the popular handicaps, as well as the classic races--so called.

It was calculated that at one time more than seven hundred lists were
open in the great metropolis, most of them being "placed" in the
public-houses of the period. Betting on horse-racing by means of lists
became in time so popular and extensive as to attract the indignant
attention of many people, who conceived it to be a cause of degradation
and deep demoralisation. Lotteries of all kinds, big and little, had
been effectually suppressed by the strong arm of the law, but list
betting took the place of the lottery tickets with a vengeance.

The "Leviathan," although not himself the originator of the list system
of betting, was not long in seeing--being a ready money system--that
good fortune awaited that plan of turf speculation, and he accordingly
commenced business at a public-house in Serle Street, in the Strand,
known as the "Durham Arms," at which in the course of time so great a
trade was done (in liquor) as to enable the landlady to retire from
business within the course of two or three years. Davis was proprietor
of two or three lists, as also the originator of three or four for
which other persons ultimately became responsible. Publicans were well
pleased to allow betting lists to be shown in their houses--it was a
source of revenue to them, as few bets were made over which a pint
or two of beer was not consumed, so that landlords "made money," as
the saying goes, in the days of the lists, a list being an excellent
advertisement for every house in which it was hung up. The chief centre
of list betting was Long Acre, and in that street was to be found one
of the "Leviathan's" lists, and so great was the business done, that
not only was his own supervision necessary, but the aid of two or three
clerks became essential. Other "list masters" carried on a roaring
trade as well as Davis, but he was undoubtedly the leader in that
feature of the betting business of his time; "punctual payment with a
pleasant courtesy of words," was his motto, and that way of doing his
work soon made him king of the list men. No man engaged in betting was
ever more punctual in his payments than Davis. On various occasions
when he had lost big sums to gentlemen, he did not delay his payments
till the orthodox settling day, but would hand over a cheque for the
amount he had lost immediately after the race had been decided.

As was to be expected in such a money-making avocation as list betting
seemed to be, scores of the merest fortune hunters speedily entered
into the business, many of whom were utterly dishonest scoundrels who
pocketed all the money they could collect, and then on the decision of
some important race on which they had received large deposits, closed
their offices and were no more seen in their accustomed haunts.

Davis in time retired from business and lived for some years at
Brighton, where he died, leaving a sum of about £150,000 behind him.


Had Mr. F. Swindell chosen to take pen in hand in order to narrate
his experiences of racing, and to indite notices of the turf men with
whom he had business or other relations, he might have produced a book
of more than ordinary interest. Although six years have elapsed since
the death of this "Napoleon of the turf," as he was called by some of
his admirers, his memory is kept green in racing circles by frequent
references to his achievements in connection with many of the turf
transactions of his day. As Mr. Swindell had moved in sporting circles
for a period of half a century, evidence of his sayings and doings is
by no means scarce. In his time he had a finger in many pies, and as
he left personal estate at the date of his death to the value of over
£140,000, it may be taken for granted that the transactions he managed
or took part in were somewhat profitable.

In his earlier days Mr. Swindell, as he used often enough to tell in
his own racy way and in good honest "Lancashire lingo," experienced a
good deal of rough weather. "It's a pretty bad case, lad, when thou
wants a shilling and doesn't know where to look for it." Frederick
Swindell was born in the town of Derby, and learned his father's craft
of bell-hanging, by which he made a living for some time in Manchester,
in which city he speedily acquired a taste for cock-fighting and other
sports, particularly horse-racing, by which in after years he was
destined to court fortune both as bookmaker and commissioner, and also
as an owner of horses on his own account. It was chiefly in his early
Manchester days that he came "through the hard," as he designated his
then condition, and felt the lack of money so much; like many other
turf adventurers in their beginning, he was poor one day and rich
another; "just as luck fell, lad." On one occasion he became bankrupt
over a cock-fight at Liverpool--so impoverished, in fact, as to be left
without a coin to pay for either supper or bed, and with the certainty
that no breakfast would await him in the morning; but next day he was
rolling in what, in the circumstances, may be called riches. Having
previously backed a horse to win him a hundred pounds--the animal was
Charles XII., which, in winning the Liverpool Cup, won for Swindell
the amount named--he enjoyed his first taste of fortune in what he
then "thowt big money." A different fate befell him on one occasion
at Newcastle-on-Tyne while looking on the race for the Northumberland
Plate. For that race he had made two wrong moves which told heavily
against his pocket; he laid to lose a good "bit of brass" over the
horse that won, thinking it a "stiff one," and also backed one that, as
it appeared in the sequel, had no pretensions to win; "and lads," he
used to say, in telling the story, "a fellow that was on the winning
nag and were standing at my back, smashed in my hat. Oh, it were cruel,
but that chap had backed the winner."

In time, after experiencing many of the bitters, and also a few of
the sweets that are incidental to the "great game," Swindell resolved
to make London his place of residence; and having experienced a run
of luck at one or two meetings, found himself in possession of as
much money as enabled him to begin business as landlord of a West End
public-house. It was situated near Mount Street, Grosvenor Square, and
was a favourite resort of the gentlemen's servants of that aristocratic
district of London. The business flourished exceedingly. Many of those
who frequented the house were men endowed with sporting tastes, and
most of them keen bettors. Swindell laid liberal odds to his customers,
and as a few of them were in the service of gentlemen who owned a
horse or two, the landlord not infrequently, by carefully noting
the investments of these men, was able to do a remunerative stroke
of business on his own account. On the occasion of the visit of a
celebrated owner of blood stock to Newmarket to witness a trial for an
important event, Swindell came to know the result from that gentleman's
butler, who obtained particulars of the trial from the lady's-maid, who
had read the letter sent to the gentleman's wife, giving full details
of what the horse had accomplished.

Many similar circumstances occurred from time to time. The information
just referred to was the means of Swindell adding nearly a thousand
pounds to his bank account; the butler also made a satisfactory amount,
while the lady's-maid was rewarded by having presented to her a
valuable diamond and emerald ring. The reputation acquired by Swindell
as a prompt payer speedily gained him the patronage of some of the West
End betting tradesmen, and in time of the gentlemen whose servants
he had hitherto done business with. Accurate accounts and punctual
settlements helped to increase business, so that the bookmaker obtained
permission to call at some of the clubs in order to do a little betting
with "the swells," and to several of these gentlemen Swindell never
hesitated to reveal any really good thing he knew; but not, of course,
till he had served himself. This practice gained him many friends,
and was the means of greatly improving his business by increasing his
connection, one gentleman recommending him to another, and all who did
business with him were pleased with his quiet, staid, respectful, but
never servile manner. Mr. Swindell knew his place and kept it, which
some of his contemporaries and many of his successors failed in doing.

With increasing experience of racing matters, and having a clear
head, and being of sober habits, Mr. Swindell was not long in finding
his services in demand as an adviser in some of the momentous turf
affairs of the time. Crockford, with whom at times he used when he
was making a book to cover his liabilities in the case of horses that
he had overlaid, or backed one or two that he thought likely to win,
gave him a word or two of recommendation, which resulted in his being
occasionally employed to execute commissions on behalf of owners of
horses who for good reasons did not wish to appear as backers of
their own animals. Among the many who ultimately took him into their
confidence were Mr. Merry, of Thormanby and Doncaster celebrity, and
Sir Joseph Hawley. Success usually rewarded the efforts of Mr. Swindell
when he undertook to carry through the kind of work which has been
indicated. Having a very large connection among bookmakers, he was
enabled to work the commissions he was entrusted with to the best
advantage, and when the time came that those laying the odds became
alarmed at being "had," he was able to obtain a choice of men to work
for him, so that he could remain in the background and pull the strings
quite as effectively as if he were acting openly in his own person.

This is how he "worked the oracle" when he was entrusted by an owner
with a big job in the handicap line--and that was the line he liked
best, as it was in that description of race there was most room to do
such an amount of business as would result in the winning of a large
sum of money. As soon as he knew the name of the horse and the race for
which it was to be backed, he would enter into consultation with one
or other of his bookmaking acquaintances in order to devise a plan of
campaign. The arrangement usually made was that the more responsible
country bookmakers, _i.e._, those in the larger provincial towns and
cities, should be communicated with, and be asked to lay the odds
against "so and so" to a specific amount and at a given price, or no
limit might be given in the matter of price; but a particular hour was
generally named at which the commission was desired to be executed by
the bookmaker or other appointed agent, so that all the money required
was usually obtained by this plan of doing the work. In the course of a
day it would become known that a very heavy commission had been worked
on behalf of "so and so," for the "such and such" handicap, and in
consequence the odds against that horse would be quoted at a rapidly
lessening figure, much to the chagrin of those who had laid the larger
or longer rates of odds, and who, awakening to what had happened, were
desirous themselves of backing the horse so as to lessen the sum they
would require to pay in the event of its winning the race it had been
backed for. Persons who are employed to do commissions get, as a matter
of course, to know "the strength of them," and if they fancy the horse
has a good chance they help themselves pretty liberally to a share of
the money at the highest rate of odds.

Fortune seemed on occasion to play into the hands of Mr. Swindell as if
no one else deserved a turn. He was the first to learn from Sir Joseph
Hawley that Beadsman would be his best horse for the Derby, that colt
having beaten Fitzroland, who had become a prime favourite for the
Blue Ribbon from having won the Two Thousand Guineas. "Put me £1,000
on Beadsman at the best odds you can obtain," said Sir Joseph, and
Swindell was able the next day to tell the lucky baronet that he had
obtained £18,000 to the stake authorised. "All right," was the reply;
"now help yourself, it is a good thing." And so it proved, as Beadsman,
beating twenty-two competitors, won the Derby of 1858, and that horse
was the sire of Blue Gown, which ten years later placed another big
stake to the credit of the noble baronet.

The turf transaction which gave Mr. Swindell his first good "lift"
as a manager of racing events was his manipulation of Chanticleer, a
horse that won the Goodwood Stakes in 1848, a race on which there
was at one period a great deal of betting. That being so, a heavy
commission was executed at the request of Mr. Merry, and so much was
the horse's chance esteemed both by owner and commissioner, despite
the heavy weight he had to carry, that still more money was put on
his chance; but in spite of the well-known fact that Mr. Merry had
backed Chanticleer to win a big sum, his price in the market never
"shortened," which being contrary to the usual state of affairs, caused
Mr. Swindell a great deal of uneasiness. After thinking the matter over
for a few days, he came to the conclusion that the jockey who had been
engaged to ride the horse had been tampered with, and having stated
the grounds of his suspicion to Mr. Merry, that gentleman assented to
the changing of the jockey at the last minute. Then it became patent,
from the frantic efforts of certain bookmakers to back the horse, that
the suspicions of the commissioner were well founded, for ridden by C.
Marlow, who had been quietly engaged by Swindell, Chanticleer won the
race as had been expected by those interested he would do.

When, at the ripe old age of seventy-four years, Mr. Swindell died,
worth, as was carefully chronicled at the time, £146,057, there began
to percolate through the columns of the sporting journals a series
of anecdotes illustrative of his career. But these cannot be drawn
upon here; in fact, many of the circumstances attending his work are
embodied in the foregoing slight narrative.

Although on the whole fortunate in his speculations, Mr. Swindell
received, as he himself was wont to tell, "many a facer"; and had the
misfortune oftener than once to see a good thing that would have been
worth thousands to him vanish just as he was about to realise it. He
took such reverses with his wonted equanimity, having the comfort of
knowing that his bank account was still in a good condition, and no one
could determine from his manner how he was affected; Swindell was not
in the habit of wearing his heart on his sleeve.

One of the many stories that went the round was the following: "Mr. J.
M. Stanley had arranged with Swindell to back Porto Rica for the Two
Thousand Guineas, supposing that horse's trial proved satisfactory.
Wright, at that time a well-known betting agent, used to publish
a little book of forthcoming events. Swindell was on a racecourse
when he received a telegram instructing him to back a certain number
in Wright's guide for the Guineas. He looked at the little book,
but mistook his instructions, thinking they were intended for Lord
Stanley's colt by Orlando-Canezou. The two colts, one belonging to Lord
Stanley, and the other to Mr. J. M. Stanley, were entered one after
the other in Wright's book, and Swindell mistaking one for the other,
sent his commissioner to back Lord Stanley's horse. Now this colt was
a dark one, had not been mentioned in the betting quotations, and had
never yet run in public. With a puzzled expression on his face, the
commissioner came back to Swindell, and inquired if any mistake had
been made, as the bookmakers seemed over-anxious to lay against the
Canezou colt. Master Frederick, on again consulting Wright's book, at
once saw he had made an error; but the mischief being done, could
not be undone, and the confederates agreed to share the loss between
them. They had got on about £500 at the respectable odds of 25 and 30
to 1. Shortly after this apparently dismal blunder, Lord Stanley's
colt won a first-rate trial, and eventually, when named Fazzoletto,
proved victorious in the race; so that Swindell and Robinson had the
satisfaction of putting several thousands of pounds in their pockets
through backing a horse by mistake."

Other anecdotes of a like kind have, as has been said, gone the round
of the press, in one or other of the numerous sketches written about
Mr. Swindell after his death, most of which were of the most laudatory


"Ah, sir, you should 'ave been a-going racing when John Gully and his
pal Ridsdale was a-carrying all before 'em; them was the days for
sensations and excitements. There's not the same go about the business
now as there used to was. Bless you, sir, I can mind when pails of
champagne wine was stood by winners, and stable-lads turned up their
noses at it. I was in a racing stable in them days, where some of the
gents as had 'osses in it thought nothing of giving me a sov. for
a-holding of their 'acks for ten minutes. Ah, sir, them were the days
for stablemen."

So said to me an ancient horsey-like man in "Hannah's year" at
Doncaster. I had seen him in the morning as "the Baron's" filly was
led on to the course to do a little exercise, when, touching his cap
politely, he said: "I seen you here last year, sir, when you got the
big hodds agin 'Awthornden. I hope as you'll back the mare, sir, she'll
win easy enough; but you won't get no twenty-fives about her, sir,
ten to three is the biggest offer; my 'umble advice to you, sir, is
to take it; she'll win, sir, as easy as easy." And so she did. After
the race was over and I was drawing the pony I had backed her to win,
there stood the retired stableman eagerly looking on. "It's come off,
sir, as I said; she's a fine mare. Thank you, sir, you're very polite;
half sovs. are scarce with me now, sir; but in the days when Gully and
Ridsdale were a-flourishing at Newmarket, I've seen when I had plenty
of 'em. Take my 'umble advice again, sir, and put all your winnings on
Corisandy for the big 'andicap; she's another certainty, she is, sir."

And that is my preface to the following little sketch of Gully and
Ridsdale, who were among the chief racing adventurers of their time.
Both men were of humble origin. Ridsdale was born in York, and earned a
small wage in his early days as helper in a livery stable, from which
he was promoted to be a groom to the first Earl of Durham, then Mr.
Lambton. Robert Ridsdale after a time, having given up service, made
his appearance on the turf as an adventurer, and from the first success
appears to have attended his efforts. He had formed an extensive and
profitable acquaintance with many of the northern trainers and jockeys,
who at the period, say from 1815 onwards, were busy in the racing
world; the sport of kings at the time indicated being in a flourishing
condition in the North, where the training stables were crowded with
famous horses, the riders of which had earned reputations on the turf.
Ridsdale was fortunate, as the saying goes, to get into many of the
"good things" of those days, and, judging by the fine establishment
he was speedily enabled to set up in the neighbourhood of York, he
must, almost at the outset of his turf career, have discovered a way
of "making" large sums of money. Among his patrons was the Honourable
Edward Petre, who for some years, "in the days when George the Fourth
was king," enjoyed the favours of fortune on the racecourse, having won
the St. Leger on four different occasions, three of his wins being in
consecutive years.

John Gully was a racing man of great notoriety, and became a Member
of Parliament. In his earlier years he is known to have played the
parts of butcher, prize-fighter, publican, hell-keeper, and bookmaker,
carrying on at one time a gigantic business in the latter capacity.
Gully was a pugilist in those days when boxing was most thought
of, and when fighting men were patronised by persons of honour and
respectability. As a boxer, Gully was a man of indomitable courage,
as plucky in the roped arena as his partner Ridsdale was in the
hunting-field. It was while carrying on business as a publican that
Gully saw his way to fortune in the betting ring; like some other
shrewd persons, he early discovered that "backing" horses was an
unprofitable avocation, having come to the conclusion that the chief
gains of the turf remained in the hands of the men who laid the odds.
"Backers," as they are called, go down before the bookmakers like so
many ninepins, whilst the layers of the odds to all comers continue to
stand up and grow rich.

Impressed with that view of the situation, Gully speedily became a
professional betting man, or "leg," as such persons were then termed,
and, by paying intelligent attention to business, met with prompt and
extraordinary success. He commenced at a fortunate time--just, indeed,
as betting was beginning to be recognised as a business, and when men
were awakening more and more to the fact that it was better for them
to deal with a professional layer of the odds all round than to make
bets with each other. Gully speedily attracted attention in the ring.
Gentlemen who had taken notice of his native shrewdness and capacity
for figures entrusted him with commissions to back their horses, so
that, in a manner, fortune was thrust upon him, the many secrets he
became possessed of in this line of business enabling him to work in a
powerful light, whilst his less fortunate brethren of the ring had to
carry on their betting work pretty much in the dark.

The commissions with which he was so frequently entrusted showed Gully
what were the expectations of owners, and not only which horses might
win, but also some as well which were sure to be beaten; because on the
turf there was then, as there is now, two kinds of "commissions"--one
to back a given horse, or it might be two or three horses, for the
same event, the other to lay against animals meant to lose. With
"such dispositions of things" in his favour, he is a poor hand at
the business who cannot, when the struggle is over, show a winning
balance. The days of Gully were those of heavy betting, so far as
individual speculation was concerned; that is to say, there might
then be a hundred men on the turf who betted to stakes of hundreds or
thousands; but at the present time, although individual bets are not
perhaps made to such large amounts, the number of persons who bet is as
hundreds to one to what the number was when John Gully was a prominent
person in the ring.

At the "period" referred to, say from about 1818 to 1840, race-horses
were less numerous than they are at present, and bookmakers, moreover,
were not so plentiful as now; but most of them managed to do a
good business and to put money in their purses. Gully, gathering
experience day by day, was soon able to play a prominent part in
the heavy speculations which formed a feature of the turf in those
times; and whenever he thought any commission entrusted to him was
a really good one--that is to say, as denoting the chance of the
horse to win--he followed the lead of his employer, and by doing so
often won considerable sums; whilst if he knew, as he frequently did,
that a horse was sure to be beaten, he would spiritedly lay the odds
against its chance of winning. It is recorded that on one occasion he
was engaged to back two horses in a race to win, and, along with a
confederate, he had five to lay against; the two which he backed to win
ran first and second, the others, as had been "arranged," came in a
long way behind the winner. A few chances of that kind soon bring grist
to a betting man's mill.

By the year 1827 Gully's business had so flourished that he was able to
purchase for £4,200 (then a large sum to pay for a horse) the winner
of that year's Blue Ribbon of the turf--Mameluke, the property of Lord
Jersey. The horse was bought with a view to winning the St. Leger,
and the transactions made by Gully on behalf of his purchase afford a
glimpse of the betting figures of that period. As soon as the bargain
had been effected between Lord Jersey and himself, Gully requested that
it should not be made known till he had obtained a good opportunity
of backing the horse for the great race of September (the St. Leger),
which he was enabled to do at Ascot. At that famous race meeting he
accepted the odds of 10 to 1 against his horse to the tune of £1,000,
thus standing to win £10,000 if his horse should prove victorious at
Doncaster. Not contented, however, with that considerable speculation,
Mr. Gully made several other bets, as, for instance, one that Mameluke
would beat ten horses (in the St. Leger), which horses he at once
named; likewise that his colt would beat a lot of nine horses in the
same race--these he also, of course, named. All three bets were made
for the same amounts, namely, £10,000 to £1,000, and in the end they
had to be paid by Mr. Gully, as, unfortunately for him, the name of
Matilda, the horse which won the St. Leger of 1827, was written in both
lists, so that after the St. Leger had been run he found he had a sum
of £3,000 to pay, every penny of which was duly handed over--two-thirds
of it to Crockford--on the day of reckoning.

The struggle for that year's St. Leger was no sooner over than it was
alleged there had been foul play in connection with the race, and there
is great probability that the allegation was not unfounded, and that
Mameluke was "prevented" from winning the race--a species of "turf
tactics" not unknown even at present, and occasionally resorted to when
other modes of "getting at" a horse, or his trainer, or jockey, do not
prove successful. The chicanery of the turf is varied in its action:
when the animal itself can be "doctored," that of course makes certain
the "nobbled" horse will lose; a pail of water--"just a real hearty
drink" (as a well-known northern trainer used to say)--given to the
animal a little time before the race falls to be run, generally, but
not always, ensures defeat. Other means of "doctoring" a racehorse are
sometimes resorted to, it being always a safer plan to make the horse
"right" than to depend upon a jockey to "pull it," as riders whose evil
intention has been suspected have been changed at the last moment, and
the horse, being entrusted to the guidance of an honest jockey, may win
instead of losing the race. In the case of Matilda, it has been stated
that the starter was the guilty party--that, in fact, he had been
bribed to give his signal to "go" when it would be least advantageous
to Mr. Gully's horse, which, being a restless, irritable animal,
contributed much to the tactics of the opposition by its fractiousness
at the starting-post.

The winner of the race was the property of Mr. Petre, who has been
mentioned as being a patron of Robert Ridsdale, and in all probability
that person was the engineer of the opposition to Gully's horse. The
two ultimately became partners, or "confederates," in a good many of
the turf events of their day; but it is quite clear they were not
acting in concert at Doncaster on the occasion of the St. Leger of
1827. At what date a formal partnership--if any such ever existed--was
entered upon by Ridsdale and Gully is not known, but it is more than
likely they had on some occasions "worked the oracle" together for
their mutual advantage before the period of their partnership. Ridsdale
had become a man of means, lived in good style, and was at one time
possessed of a hundred horses, keeping up a liberal establishment.
Considering his beginnings, he was apparently a man of considerable
culture; he possessed some of the best books of the period, and also
read, or at any rate purchased, all the popular magazines of his day,
his living-rooms being usually littered with newspapers and ephemeral
prints and pamphlets of the period. Well-trained servants waited on
his guests; the productions of his cook attracted the attention of his
brethren of the hunt; his claret was of the best, so was his port;
whilst his conversation was always attractive, and his tongue fluent
and persuasive. He rode, of course, to hounds--indeed, hunting was a
passion with him; he had a string of well-bred hunters from which he
derived by occasional sales a handsome profit; he bred and trained at
his place other horses as well, and was never without a hundred or
two with which to accommodate any of his friends who had run short of

There can be no question but that Robert Ridsdale had a finger in
several of the dirty pies that were cooked when he was active on the
turf. Many a well-planned victory (and even better-managed loss)
is said to have been due to his busy brain. His machinations were
far-reaching, some of them taking a long time to mature; but when such
events came off they generally resulted in the right way for Ridsdale,
who was reputed at the time (1824) to have planned a way of winning a
very large sum of money over the race for the St. Leger of that year.

The story of "Jerry's victory" has been often told in turf circles
and sporting journals. I shall, however, give it here in few words,
as an example of racing fraud which unfortunately has, over and over
again, proved successful. Jerry, the winner of the St. Leger of 1824,
was the property of a Mr. Gascoigne, a well-known sportsman of his
day; and the horse, ridden by Benjamin Smith, a famous jockey of his
era, beat twenty-two competitors in the great struggle for the Blue
Ribbon of the North. Jerry was to have been piloted in the race by one
Edwards, a horseman of that time, but for good and sufficient reasons
he was at the eleventh hour superseded in the saddle by Benjamin
Smith, as will presently be shown. Croft, the trainer of the horse,
was exceedingly confident of the ability of Jerry to win the St.
Leger, and did not keep his opinion a secret; but, whilst the animal
was being wound up for the occasion and was known to be doing all that
was required of him on his training ground, pleasing both the owner
and his friends by the style in which he did his morning gallops, he
was apparently an undoubted victim of the "legs," who never tired of
betting the odds against his chance of winning the race. All comers
were readily accommodated, so that in the course of a few weeks, to the
great astonishment of his trainer and owner, tens of thousands were
industriously laid against Jerry's chance of winning.

That Ridsdale was the undoubted engineer of the opposition was in
due time discovered; and that he had found out, as he thought, a way
of making Mr. Gascoigne's colt a "safe one" came to be known. The
trainer of the horse, as the fierce market opposition to it progressed,
naturally enough became suspicious of foul play, and in consequence
watched the course of the betting with feverish anxiety, but only
to find, as the day for the decision of the race waxed nearer, that
this colt was being more and more "peppered" by a certain clique of
betting men. Croft could discover nothing wrong at home--all his people
appeared to be acting an honest part. The anxiety of the perplexed
trainer was all the greater, because by his recommendation the owner of
Jerry and many of his friends had backed the horse to win big stakes.
The opposition to a horse's chance of winning an important race which
finds voice in the betting ring is usually of great significance,
because shrewd men do not bet against a horse to lose thousands without
knowing what they are about.

In the case of the opposition to the St. Leger hero of 1824, the
trainer of Jerry was happily able, almost at the eleventh hour, to
solve the vexatious problem. Having visited the subscription rooms
on the Monday before the race, and listened once more to the babble
of opposition to his colt, Croft was proceeding after a long walk to
his quarters, when, as he passed a toll on his road, he witnessed the
arrival of a carriage drawn by four horses, and while the vehicle was
pulled up for a moment he recognised its occupants. They were Ridsdale
and Edwards the jockey, the latter being engaged to ride the St. Leger
candidate of Mr. Gascoigne. The sight of these two persons arriving
at Doncaster in the same post-chaise acted as a revelation to the
trainer. In one moment he saw in his mind's eye the source of all the
monetary opposition to the horse. The jockey, it was obvious enough,
had been "got at," and the animal was destined to be "pulled," whilst
the mechanism of the robbery was undoubtedly planned by the man in the
post-chaise, Robert Ridsdale.

Croft acted with decision. Next morning at breakfast time he waited
on his employer, in order to tell him what he had witnessed and what
his suspicions were. Mr. Gascoigne at once agreed to his trainer's
proposition to put up another jockey than Edwards on the horse, and
Benjamin Smith was very quietly engaged for the duty. This matter
was well managed, and till Jerry was saddled for the contest no one
expected that the jockey would be changed, as Edwards had been dressed
for his work an hour before the time set for the race. When Benjamin
Smith was seen on the back of Mr. Gascoigne's colt consternation seized
the betting men; those of them who a few minutes previously had been
loudest in their offers against Jerry now turned round and began to
back the horse with all their might, so as to be able, in the event
of its success, to lighten their load of liabilities. Jerry won the
race by a distance of two lengths, thus bearing out his trainer's high
opinion of his ability. The horse which started favourite (in the
betting) for the St. Leger of 1824 was Streatham, the odds offered
against it being about 4½ to 1. Brutandorf was second favourite in
the betting at 6 to 1; the price of Jerry, at the start for the race,
is given as being 9 to 1; but before it became known that Smith would
ride, 16 to 1 had been vigorously shouted in the betting ring; 7½ to 1,
however, was the real starting price. It is believed that Gully laid a
large amount of money against the winner, probably, therefore, he was
in the secret of the opposition to Jerry, whether he was at that time
acting as the "pal" of Ridsdale or not.

The partnership between them was not formed, it is believed, till about
the year 1829-30. The two men were at all events intimately associated
in the winning of the Derby of 1832 by St. Giles, and the winning of
the St. Leger of the same year by Margrave. Curious tales have been
told regarding the victory of St. Giles; twenty-two horses contested
the race, in which Margrave (winner of the St. Leger) was a competitor,
whilst Ridsdale also had a colt running in the race; but St. Giles,
which started first favourite, won very easily. The winner was bred by
Ridsdale at Merton, his place at York, and it was whispered at the time
that the horse was a year older than it should have been as a Derby
winner; in other words, that it was four, instead of three years old.
But, to use the words of an outspoken turfite, "That would have been
nothing for such men to do: Ridsdale could have managed such a bit
of turf business easily, being a perfect master of the art of racing
roguery." No objection was, however, made to St. Giles on the ground of
fraud, but a caveat was lodged on the ground of wrongful description
in the entering of the horse for the race, which in the Derby and some
other classic events, as is well known, takes place when the colt is a
yearling. On the case of misdescription being referred for decision to
three gentlemen of turf celebrity and honour, their verdict was given
in favour of Ridsdale; it was in the name of the latter that the horse
had been entered for the Derby.

Extraordinary revelations have occasionally been made of the amounts
won by the confederates by means of St. Giles' victory; both of them,
it is certain, were large gainers by the success of their horse, in
favour of which the "oracle" is stated to have been so industriously
"worked" that not more than three of the horses running in that year's
Derby were really trying to win; the horse placed third was Trustee,
the property of Ridsdale; Margrave, the fourth in the struggle,
belonged to Gully, and afterwards won the St. Leger. The winnings
of the partners on the Derby were at one time computed at £100,000,
£40,000 being Ridsdale's share, the rest falling to Gully. Some aver
that the partners quarrelled over the division of the spoil, but that
was not the case, as the partnership certainly lasted till after the
Doncaster meeting.

Ridsdale was undoubtedly an adept in such arrangements as have been
hinted at with reference to the clearing of the path for his horse.
In that year's Derby there would probably be half-a-dozen horses which
might have proved more or less dangerous to St. Giles; but by some
means or other--money, in fact--the owners of these animals, or their
trainers or jockeys, would be gained over by the confederacy, at a
cost, perhaps, for the half-dozen, of some twenty or five-and-twenty
thousand pounds. As a matter of course, St. Giles had been used simply
as an instrument of gambling; as a two-year-old, his quality as a
race-horse had been hidden by his having undoubtedly been "pulled" in
his earlier races, so that when the day of his victory arrived, the
odds against his chance might be large enough to make it worth the
while of his owner to let him run.

Margrave, the St. Leger winner, as has been stated, ran fourth in the
Derby; but probably that horse was good enough to have won the Epsom
trophy, had St. Giles not been on duty; but, had it done so, the
odds against its winning the St. Leger would not have been anything
like 8 to 1, the price quoted at the start for the great Doncaster
trophy. By the success of Margrave another large stake was won by the
confederates; the amount has been variously estimated at from forty to
ninety thousand pounds. Some time after the decision of this event, a
quarrel ensued between the partners, which brought their connection
with each other to an end.

The affair was somewhat of a _cause célèbre_ in its day, but may be
dismissed in a few words. It would appear, from what was made public at
the time, that Ridsdale had insinuated he had not received his fair
share of the cash won over Margrave, stating that Gully had obtained
£12,000 more than he had. Gully, resenting this statement, struck
Ridsdale in the hunting-field in a brutal way with his whip; a trial
took place at York Assizes, when damages to the extent of £500 were
awarded to Ridsdale, who had a large number of sympathisers on his side.

The two men, while their association lasted, effected some bold
transactions on what may be called the smaller races of the time,
putting large sums in their purses by the exercise of their cunning,
or, as it would now be termed, "astuteness." The monetary details
of those transactions have never been made public in detail, but
were estimated at the time from the extent of the settlements of the
partners at Tattersall's, where both men, so far as their credit was
concerned, were held in high esteem. One of their intended "good
things," which did not come off, was Little Red Rover's attempt to win
the Derby of 1830, which was won by a celebrated racer called Priam.
Had Red Rover won, the confederates would have pocketed between them
the better part of £80,000.

Mr. Gully won the Derby in 1846 with his horse Pyrrhus I., a victory
which enabled him to add largely to his bank account. In the same year
he was also so fortunate as to win the Oaks with his mare Mendicant,
afterwards purchased by the well-known Sir Joseph Hawley, to whom she
proved a veritable gold mine, being the dam of a horse which brought to
the exchequer of that sporting baronet a sum of £80,000; that animal
was Beadsman, who became the sire of Bluegown, another Derby winner,
which also brought a large sum--£100,000 it is said--to the coffers
of Sir Joseph. Pyrrhus I. was a cheap horse compared with the cost
of such cattle at the present time; he was bought by John Day, the
well-known trainer, at Doncaster as a yearling, who shared his purchase
with Mr. Gully. The Member for Pontefract was lucky in other than turf
speculations, by which it has been said he cleared a quarter of a
million sterling; he speculated largely in coal-fields, all of which
are represented to have proved remunerative.

As time went on the ex-pugilist acquired good manners, and became
somewhat more courtly than when he was lessee of a public-house. Gully
was hospitable, and although his style was less refined than that of
Ridsdale, who "took on no end of polish," his rooms at Newmarket were
frequented by the best men on the turf. His dinners were admirably
cooked and served; his wines could not be excelled; and he was able to
offer all the delicacies of the season to his friends in the same style
as if he had been to the manner born. At the ripe age of eighty Gully
died, his death taking place at his luxurious seat of Corkin Hall,
near Durham. An immense concourse of people attended his funeral, many
present being of the rank and fashion of the period.

Ridsdale, after the trial at York, and the severance of his partnership
with Gully, began gradually to fall from his high estate. His star
had begun to set. His hand, to use a common simile, lost its cunning,
and although his journey downhill was once or twice arrested in a
pleasant sort of way, the stable loft in which he died was reached
at last. Ridsdale's downfall began with the defeat of a horse called
Hornsea for the St. Leger of 1835. On the success of this animal he
had, so to speak, thrown his last throw--a big stake--and he lost
it; Queen of Trumps being first for the St. Leger of that year, the
horse supported by Ridsdale only getting second. When the settling day
arrived Ridsdale could not "show"--in plain language, he was unable to
pay--notwithstanding all the thousands he had won over the victories
of St. Giles and Margrave, not less, when bad debts were deducted,
probably than £70,000. In order to do his best for his creditors,
Ridsdale ordered all his possessions to the hammer; his horses and
oxen, his plate and pictures, his furniture and wines, were all offered
to the highest bidders.

Fortune, however, had still a smile or two in store for him, one of
which may here be noticed. At the Merton sale there was offered a
mean-looking foal which no one would look at, but in due time that
same animal, then known as Bloomsbury, won the Derby of 1839, for
which he had been entered and trained under the superintendence of
William, a brother of Robert Ridsdale. Again the breath of rumour got
to work; the winner of the race, it was asserted, was not the horse
which it was represented to be, but another animal a year older. An
objection lodged against the horse, not on that ground, but because of
misdescription, was overruled by the stewards; but Mr. Fulwar Craven,
owner of the second horse, claimed the stakes and raised an action
for payment, in which, however, he was defeated. Bloomsbury never
ran as a two-year-old, the Derby being his first race. As "Wildrake"
says, in his "Pictorial Gallery of English Race-horses": "He was
a most fortunate horse--though most unfortunate to his owners and
backers. He won the Derby and a lawsuit. He caused the non-settlement
of a settlement. He embroiled Lords and Commons, enriched poor men,
impoverished wealth, and made all the world stare when their eyes were

Ridsdale, as has been indicated, lost his nerve; with confidence in
himself gone, he forsook the old haunts where he had been so well
received, he shunned his former intimates, and gradually became so
reduced in purse as to be without a lodging. In the end he was found
dead in a stable loft at Newmarket, with three-halfpence in his pocket.


There is a story relating to the life of Crockford, or rather to his
death, which has been so often told that it has come to be accepted
as true. I have never myself, however, given credence to it, inquiry
having satisfied me that the narrative is simply in the nature of a
fable; but for all that it is worth repeating as being in some degree
illustrative of the more "hectic" features of sport as it was carried
on fifty or sixty years ago.

As all versed in our racing records already know, the race for the
Oaks in the year 1844 was won by Princess, an animal which had been
very heavily backed by William Crockford, both on his own account and
for the benefit of a band of followers who "stood in" with him; but as
on the previous night the mighty gambler was seized with an attack of
paralysis which resulted in his sudden demise, there was consternation
among the clique. It being an understood law of the turf that death
cancels all bets, those interested in the victory of Princess (should
the filly win) saw at once they would lose their money, unless by the
adoption of a stratagem of some kind they could avert that misfortune;
the cry among them, therefore, was, "What can we do to get our money?"
As the sum at issue was rather a large one, it was resolved that an
effort should be made to obtain it, and the gruesome plan was hit upon
of exhibiting the dead man in his habit as he lived at one of the
windows of his club. Only two or three persons knew of Crockford's
death, and as they were interested in the Princess affair, they might
be depended on to hold their tongues. It was therefore arranged that
the sportsmen, as they returned from Epsom, should be shown the corpse;
and, by various little stratagems, be made to believe the man was alive.

The matter was managed in the following way: persons were sent to Epsom
to see the race, and note the result; the moment the winning-post was
reached by the winner, they were told at once to despatch pigeons with
the fateful news; the confederates were also instructed to say, to all
whom they spoke to, that Mr. Crockford was waiting anxiously at the
club, in the hope of hearing that Princess had proved victorious. In
due time the anxiously expected bird arrived at its loft, the despatch
it carried bore only the brief legend "Princess." So far all had gone
as well as could be wished: the right horse had won the race. Then
came the second part of the ghastly drama. The corpse, dressed in the
clothes which the living body wore, being placed on a chair in front
of the window, was made, by various arts, to look as life-like as
possible; and many of the gentlemen as they passed on their coaches saw
the old man quite plainly, and looking, as some of them said, "rather

In beginning this brief sketch by recording the death of Crockford, it
may be said I have begun at the wrong end of my story; but as I do not
aim at making a story, it is not of great consequence how what I have
to say about that once notorious person is arranged. The prosperous
"hell-keeper" died in the sixty-ninth year of his age; his birth having
taken place in 1775, five years before the first race for the Derby
took place. As a child he might have witnessed the beginning of that
great series of turf events, with some of which in after years it was
his fate to be connected. Not very much is known regarding the early
life of Crockford, nor in what year he saw his first Derby. In the days
of his youth he had been a fishmonger, and was well versed in the ways
of London's great piscatorial bourse, where at one time he was known as
a successful trader.

Like many of his fellows at "the gate," Crockford acquired that
taste for gambling which, like the ancient and fish-like smell that
dominates Lower Thames Street, has long been a characteristic of the
locality, and fortune is reported to have favoured him in his little
ventures from the beginning. In his business most of his deals proved
successful, as he was possessed of the happy knack of knowing what to
do and the right time to do it. Finding out what kind of fish were
likely to prove scarce, he used to buy up all that came to hand, and
then by dealing them out to other buyers, secure a good profit without
much trouble. Twenty years ago there were men in Billingsgate who had
known Crockford. One of the number was a porter who used to carry fish
to a shop he had taken close to Temple Bar, and was paid with a liberal
hand as being an old friend, and always with forcible injunctions not
to spend the money in beer or gin. This person had many stories to tell
about his "old pal," as he designated Crockford, both as to his doings
at "the gate" and after he became more celebrated or, as may be said,
more notorious. The following is one of them: a Billingsgate salesman
with whom Crockford had often done business fell into misfortune,
having become security for the sum of a thousand pounds on behalf of
a near relative of his wife. One morning he found himself called on
to pay, but unfortunately, with several bad debts of magnitude in
his books, he had no alternative but to cry peccavi; to crown the
poor man's distress, as one of his children lay on her death-bed, his
furniture was seized, and, but for Crockford, would have been sold.
He it was who came to the rescue, and brought comfort to the parents
in their day of misfortune; he purchased not only the furniture, but
the lease of the man's house as well, paid the funeral expenses of the
child also; and after doing all that, lent the salesman a couple of
hundred to be going on with, and was never the man to say he had done
it. Many other good actions of a similar kind might, were the details
known, be placed to the credit side of Crockford's account.

There is no doubt that Crockford did many kind acts in his day which
never could be chronicled, because none but he knew of them. When a boy
I was taken once or twice to see "Crockford's," and on many occasions
I heard of his doings. He had one virtue--"for days and days," I was
told, "he never drank liquor stronger than water." Abstinence from
intoxicants was one of the aids by which he made the half-million with
which at one time he might have retired into private life, and been
free of gambling evermore.

There is, I think, as much gambling of all kinds to-day as there was
during the days of the great hell in St. James's Street. There is this
difference, however: we hear less about it, even though we have ten
times the number of newspapers telling us of our sins. To-day gambling
goes on everywhere. There may be no hells in London at the present time
to compare in splendour and luxury with that kept by William Crockford,
but there is hardly a club in the mighty town in which speculation of
some kind is not constantly carried on. As for betting on horse-racing,
ten times more money, much of it, however, in small amounts, now
changes hands over a big race than changed hands sixty years since.

Summing up the situation as between then and now, the case may be
thus stated: in the days of Crockford there might perhaps be a
thousand persons each betting or gambling their occasional thousand
or two in the course of the season, but at the present time, as has
been already said, there will not be fewer in the United Kingdom than
half a million persons, each betting or gambling to the tune of from
half-a-sovereign to five pounds per diem. These figures do not include,
at either period, the score of big speculators who know no bounds to
their ventures, and are only given by way of illustration; nor do they
include the greatest gamble of all--that which takes place on the Stock
Exchanges of the kingdom, where, speaking in figurative language, tens
of thousands of pounds are passed every hour of the day from account to
account all the year round.

Crockford soon learned the art, and began the business of gambling.
The times favoured him. Gambling in his time--that is, gambling by
means of cards, dice, and more elaborate machinery--was more of an open
practice than it is now. A number of small, or, as they were called,
"silver" hells were in existence in those days, where persons could
risk shillings or half-crowns, and to one or other of these the young
fishmonger was a constant visitor after he had closed his shop. He
became in time a painstaking speculator, and soon began to make money
in steady fashion whilst others were losing it. As a contemporary
remarked, "he was lucky from the first; whatever he tried turned
up trumps." Along with a partner picked up in a gambling-house--he
was a clever person, who seemed to be always fortunate in his
dealings--Crockford made his _début_ on the turf with a roulette-table
constructed after a somewhat rude fashion; it was, in fact, a revolving
handle fixed on a board, which at the end of each revolution pointed
to one or other of several figures painted on a piece of white cloth,
by means of which winnings were determined. Many similar tables were
to be found on the racecourses of the period. At Ascot, Epsom, and
Doncaster tents were at one time fitted up in which gambling was
carried on all day long; and there was no concealment, the frequenters
of the racecourse being openly invited to "walk in; roulette," or "walk
in; hazard," as might happen. Cards with addresses upon them were also
distributed at race meetings, so that those inclined to try their
fortunes might know where they could tempt the fickle goddess. To many,
attendance at a race meeting was simply--about the time referred to--an
excuse for a gambling bout, which nearly always resulted in favour of
those who kept the bank.

The methods of gambling in the days of Crockford were ruthlessly
exposed during the trial of the well-known case of Smith _v._ Bond,
then a well-known partner in one of the superior London hells. At the
time indicated (1820 to 1845), the parishes of St. George's and St.
James' swarmed with gambling-houses, where large or small sums of money
could nightly be gained or lost, as might happen, and the play at the
majority of such houses was well known to fall out largely against
the players, as by many well-planned devices the bankers had points
in their favour. The Bonds, who had named their place the Junior St.
James' Club, waxed wealthy and fat over the game which was oftenest
played there, namely, French hazard. In the course of the trial much
interesting information was elicited as to the gambling practices which
then prevailed; in the end a heavy verdict was returned against the
defenders and in favour of the men who had the courage to sue them. The
amount given by the jury was £3,508, being treble the sum which Smith
had lost. If it had pleased some of the noblemen and gentlemen who gave
evidence to play the part of plaintiff, the amount of the verdict might
easily have been quintupled, so high and extensive did play run in the
house of the Bonds--"a place of bondage," as one of the counsel wittily
described it as being.

Coming back to the doings of my hero, it has to be stated with regard
to Crockford that, although at one period he was in possession of a
stud of race-horses, among the lot being Sultan, which made some mark
on the turf, he never took a great amount of interest in the noble
animal, preferring to regard it, like many other men, as an instrument
of gambling; but the owner of the St. James' gambling-house was well
versed in turf chicanery of all kinds, and knew in his day most of the
prominent spirits of the racing world. The year in which Crockford
saw his first Derby is not known, but in the course of his lifetime
it is said he saw the race run on thirty-five consecutive occasions.
Whether that be correct or not, it is certain that the Derby was a
race in which he evinced great interest, and he was reputed to have
landed more than one large stake on the winner of the Blue Ribbon. One
year Crockford was the owner of a Derby favourite in Ratan, a horse
which had made its mark as a two-year-old. Although the horse was
very carefully watched, seeing that its owner had backed it to win an
enormous sum of money, it was "got at," and it is supposed poisoned by
means of arsenic introduced into its drinking trough.

Crockford started a house at Newmarket, which became an agreeable
resort to those visitors to whom he offered hospitality, and he was
no niggard in dispensing the good things of life at his table. Nor
did he invite persons to his house so that, when heated with liquor,
he might rob them at cards or dice. Crockford was then a betting
man and bookmaker, laying or backing as he thought best for his own
interest; and his visitors, to use a slang phrase, were "as fly as he
was." They were not all spiders who walked into his Newmarket parlour,
his visitors were known to have, on many occasions, their pockets
well stuffed with crisp Bank of England notes. Another feature of
Crockford's behaviour helped him to connection and wealth; when he
lost he never required to be asked for money, he was a prompt payer;
nor did he, when he was reputed to be rolling in wealth, ever forget
himself, he was invariably polite and courteous. The devil, indeed,
never was so black as he has been painted, and Crockford, gambler
though he was, was not the fiend that some writers described him
as being. As well as being a betting man and the keeper of a hell,
Crockford was also a keen operator on the Stock Exchange; but on that
stage of speculation he generally came to grief, and much of the cash
made in St. James's Street was paid away to the stockbrokers. Another
branch of turf business which Crockford conducted at one time was that
of "squaring" the books of smaller betting men than himself; he could
always be relied upon, even at the last moment--that is, immediately
before a race--to lay the odds against such horses as a bookmaker
was "bad" against, and required therefore to back back again, so as
not to run greater risk than was compatible with an honest desire to
meet engagements, and pay what was seen to be due after the race was

The palatial gaming club erected by Crockford was at one time looked
upon as one of the wonders of London; two or three houses had been
knocked down to provide a site for it, and no expense was spared to
render it commodious and luxurious, and make it attractive to visitors,
who were waited upon by footmen in gorgeous liveries, and had their
palates tickled by the gastronomic delicacies of Monsieur Ude. There
were over eight hundred members, and the house was placed under the
management of a committee, to whom Crockford conceded all they asked.
Gambling, as a matter of course, was the business or recreation of
all who came to the place; figuratively speaking, the rattle of the
dice was heard morning, noon, and night, thousands of pounds changing
hands as if they were so many halfpence. "Crockford's" cost an enormous
sum of money; the building of it, I have been told, was carried on
regardless of expense by night as well as by day. All its appointments
were sumptuous, the cellars were filled with the finest of wines, and
the culinary arrangements were for months the talk of the town.

Much capital has from time to time been drawn by philanthropic
gentlemen out of what took place at "Crockford's," when the amounts
at stake were practically unlimited, a bank of £10,000 being put down
every evening at about eleven o'clock, the chief game of the house
being French hazard. Play of some kind was always, however, going
forward in every room of the large establishment, which was lit by
hundreds of wax candles all night long. Sad pictures have been painted
of the ruin that overtook men in the St. James' club-house; but many
of these men who went there were simply fools who brought on their own
fate, and who, had they not been ruined at Crockford's, would have
been ruined in some other hell. There were plenty of such places, and
although public gambling-houses are now not tolerated, it is quite
certain that card-playing goes on nightly in all the clubs in London,
and that in several of them large sums of money are lost and won.
Crockford was not in any degree worse than his neighbours, and no one
has ventured to say that undue advantage of any kind was ever taken of
the persons who frequented his house by the proprietor or his servants.
It should be kept in mind as well that visitors to Crockford's went
there to try and obtain his money, and if in doing so they lost their
own, they scarcely require to be sympathised with.

It is not my intention to defend gambling, or to become the apologist
of Crockford, but such matters should be looked straight in the
face, because, if there be sin in the matter, it is unfortunately of
universal occurrence and among all classes of society; but surely it
is not more sinful to stake one's sovereign on the turning up of a
particular card than it is to do so on the rise or fall of the stock of
a particular railway, or the loan bonds of some foreign country.



"The turf is so beset with knaves that when you go racing you are
robbed when you least expect to be robbed, and that too by men whom you
would least expect to rob you."

So wrote a racing commentator sixty years since, and the same sentence
might be written to-day, with a still greater chance of hitting the
nail on its head. When, half a century ago, some isolated case of
turf fraud of a high degree of enormity became public, a prodigious
outcry was raised regarding the circumstance--as would doubtless be
done to-day--by a section of turfites, much indignation being usually
expressed, especially by those not "in the swim"; but to-day racing
rogueries are too numerous, too varied, too much a matter of course
to attract much attention, and for this among other reasons, namely,
that "they all do it." It may well be said as regards the turf and its
surroundings, "Let him who is among you without sin cast the first

Happily, there almost never falls nowadays to be chronicled any vulgar
or pronounced frauds--these seldom become public. He would prove
himself but a poor hand in turf chicanery who would so act as to be
"found out," who would venture, for instance, to instruct a jockey
to "pull" his horse, when the animal could be so "doctored" before
leaving the stable as to render its chance hopeless. As a general
rule, a pailful of water will "do the trick," although, as a once
popular trainer, now deceased, was heard to say at Newcastle-on-Tyne,
"sometimes even two pails won't stop the beggars from winning." At all
events, when it has been determined by interested parties that a horse
shall run to lose a race it has been entered for--and such arrangements
are common enough--nothing is easier than to make sure that it shall do
so, and that the horse selected, in the event of the public fancying
him, shall be made a market horse, and be "milked" for the benefit of
those interested: the losing of a race may at any time be ensured, and
there are scores of "turf dairymen" who are reputed adepts in the use
of the milking pail.

There is no other business, perhaps, which offers so many opportunities
for successful fraud as horse-racing, and that for the best of all
reasons: the chicanery that is prevalent does not render those who
practise it amenable to the criminal law, turf crimes being without the
pale of legal action. When, therefore, the owner of a horse, looking
ahead, conspires with a bookmaker or other confederate to deceive the
public by entering an animal for a race which it is not intended the
horse shall win, it is not the interest of either to say a word to
outsiders about the arrangement, while those whose bad fortune it is to
be deceived are without legal remedy. Persons foolish enough to make
bets in the hope that a given horse may win a given event must suffer
the consequences if the animal has been all along a market horse:
bettors in such a case have only themselves to blame for getting on
a "wrong one." Happily, no one can be compelled to bet, and if those
who do so miss the mark, one person has cause to rejoice--he is the

These gentlemen (the bookmakers), especially those of them engaged
in extensive ways of business, are, it has been often affirmed, but
such statements must be accepted with reserve, able to manage any
kind of turf chicanery--money on the turf, as everywhere else, being
pretty well omnipotent; and therefore, it has been said, should one of
the fraternity find he is likely to lose £10,000 by the victory of a
particular animal in a given race, he thinks it well worth his while
(and no sin) to part with a few hundred pounds to have the animal
made safe, an operation that, as has been hinted, can be achieved in
various ways. Such turf rogueries are more frequent than is supposed
by the general public. Many a race that, before being run, was deemed
a certainty for a particular animal, has resulted in a surprise that
would not have proved so had the truth been made manifest by a recital
of its private history. At one time it was no unusual circumstance
for an animal which had become favourite for a particular race to
be prevented from winning by violent means. It was what is called
"nobbled" or "got at" by some person hired for the purpose, or it might
be lamed by the farrier, or perhaps poisoned by a stable attendant, or
in other ways rendered _hors de combat_, to the deep chagrin in many
instances of owner and trainer.

Such modes of dealing with race-horses are now seldom resorted to, but
frauds of a more subtle kind are common enough. "Nobbling" of a rude
description is a very dangerous game, which requires confederates to
ensure a successful issue; and a first-rate training stable is usually
subjected to such careful watching, especially when it contains a
horse of celebrity, that strangers as a rule cannot obtain access to
it, and for a stableman to betray his trust is dangerous--ruin would
assuredly follow the discovery of such a breach of confidence. But, as
an old-time hanger-on of one of the Newmarket hotels was wont to say,
"it's all along o' the money; them tenners and fivers is at the bottom
of all them there swindles; there's men about here as would kill a hoss
right out for a couple o' ponies."

The magnitude of the sums betted against particular horses gives rise
to temptation. Certain bookmakers will lay from ten to twenty-five, or
even forty thousand pounds upon occasion, against each of half-a-dozen
horses entered to run in an important handicap, and if the one or two
of these animals which appear most likely to win the race can--if they
have been well backed--in some way be rendered unfit to run, so much
the better for those who have laid the odds. Under such circumstances,
a horse has sometimes been bought on behalf of a bookmaker and his
confederates, so that its losing the race may be made certain. Backers,
unaware of the sale, continue to "fancy" it, till the transaction
becomes profitable to the purchaser, who keeps the animal well to
the front in the market, and continues personally, and by the aid of
confederates, to bet heavily against its chance. Such transactions
often prove excellent bargains. For a bookmaker, or clique of
bookmakers, to purchase for a thousand or even sixteen hundred pounds
a horse, against the chance of which to win they may have betted as
many thousands, is good business; true, that particular animal might
not have proved the winner, but, being dangerous, his removal out of
the way if possible was deemed prudent. Some may say that the bookmaker
having laid against all or most of the other horses in the race, he
will have plenty of money to clear his liabilities, no matter which
animal may win; but bookmakers, being prudent men, like to make matters
as certain as possible. Men are known who have had a finger in such
pies; names cannot, however, be mentioned here, and there are persons
engaged in laying the odds who would not individually do a very dirty
action, but even the most respectable bookmakers make no bones about
laying a "stiff one."


In such transactions as have been indicated, the _biters_ are sometimes
_bit_. A few years since a clever school of these men agreed to
purchase, for £2,000, a horse which had become a prodigious favourite
for one of the chief handicaps. It was reputed to have won a good
trial, in which it had beaten its stable companions "to blazes," and
was being backed every day at lessening odds. About eight days before
the race it was quoted at 100 to 12, and seemed as if it would be a
dangerous horse. Negotiations for its purchase were entered into by
an agent of the syndicate--and terms being agreed upon, the horse was
quietly transferred to another stable--the dealers having forgotten,
in their anxiety to conclude the business, that the vendor of the
animal had another and, as it proved, a better horse entered for the
same race, quite capable of winning it! As it came out in the sequel,
the gentleman had backed his "lot" to win a considerable sum, whilst
a confederate had taken some "long shots" about the other one, so
that the seller had all the best of the deal, the horse purchased by
the bookmakers proving in the end worthless. In reality the owner was
delighted to sell _number one_, because he had planned to win the race
if he could with _number two_, and that being so, he began business by
backing his "lot."

Instances of another kind of deal might be cited. On one occasion a man
who had been so clever as to back a horse to win him £12,000 before
its owner had backed it for a single sovereign, had the alternatives
placed before him of seeing the animal "scratched," or of buying it, or
of allowing his owner to share his bet. He preferred to purchase, but
before the day of the race the horse had gone off its feed, and when
called upon to make an effort was easily beaten.

Many good and honestly trained horses unexpectedly suffer defeat, a
result which on some occasions is difficult to account for. When such
an event takes place, "would-be wise persons" shake their heads in the
"I told you so" style, and hint at foul play. It frequently happens,
however, that horses which run well at home are unable from some
cause or other to make a successful effort on a racecourse. Horses,
like human beings, it may be taken for granted, are not always "i'
the vein," and so owners and trainers who calculate on success are
often much puzzled by results which they had not the prescience to
anticipate. Many an animal good enough to win a race by twenty lengths
has suffered defeat almost at the outset of the struggle. In such
cases trainers have evil times of it: should the horse run up to the
anticipation founded on the trial, it is spoken of as a great animal;
should it lose, the trainer may be looked upon with suspicion or the
jockey be blamed for losing the race.

"The chicanery of the turf," it has often been said, "is boundless,"
but what is done is being accomplished in a manner so refined, and
at the same time is so quietly done, that the outside public have no
chance of detecting it. Nor does anything accomplished in the way of
"polite fraud" call for the interference of the police; betting is
without the pale of ordinary law, so that all concerned carry on the
game with immunity from consequences. When what is called "a great
handicap _coup_" is achieved, it usually happens that a greater number
of persons will be found to have backed the losers than the winner,
because it does not suit those who are "working the oracle" to allow
the real merits of the horse they have planned to win with to become
known to all and sundry, for the very excellent reason that in such
a case it would come to a short price in the betting, which would be
altogether foreign to the plans of those working the scheme. On the
other hand, it is desirable that as many of the horses in the race
should be heavily backed at a short price as is possible, so that the
bookmakers shall have no scarcity of money with which to pay the sums
they have laid against the winner. As a general rule, in all great
handicap _coups_, it is usual for one or two bookmakers to be in what
is called "the swim," and these are generally selected because of their
prudence; bookmakers do not, as a rule, wear their hearts on their


The planning and working of a handicap _coup_, by which a sum of from
twenty to forty thousand pounds may be netted by a clever clique of
racing experts, may be figuratively described.

The first thing to be observed is that such a matter cannot be
organised in a week or even in a month. The long-headed turf expert
who strikes for fortune at a blow will probably have been at work
upon his scheme for perhaps twelve or eighteen months, or more likely
for double that length of time. He will have commenced proceedings
perhaps by purchasing, for what is called "an old song," some supposed
broken-down and worthless horse, which, however, as his practised eye
has discovered, might, if treated with care and properly trained, win a
race or two. For a time nothing is heard of the purchase: Conspirator
is not entered for any of the passing handicaps and becomes almost
forgotten, although, when a two-year-old, it was more than once
prophesied that it was a horse likely to be heard of as the winner
of some big event. In the course of four or five months it will be
announced in the training reports that "Sweatmore, the trainer, took
his horses to the North-East Division of the Southside Downs, where
Petty Larceny, Burglar, Area Sneak, Impostor, and Conspirator did
good work." That announcement indicates the beginning of the end, and
by-and-by Conspirator is entered for one or two petty races in which he
is supposed to make a fair struggle for victory, carrying a tolerably
liberal weight, but particular care is taken by his trainer that he
shall not attract much attention. In due time the horse makes his
appearance in a struggle of importance, in which he is weighted more
favourably than was expected; but for all that, his time has not yet
come--the astute gentleman who pulls the strings in the stable can wait
a long time should he think a victory can be won in the end. Nothing is
ever gained in horse-racing by being in a great hurry, and the horse
hitherto has been entered simply to find out the handicappers' estimate
of him.

"Seven stone five; not bad that for a five-year-old which three years
ago was thought to have the makings of a fair horse about him," says
the trainer; "but we must get him in at less than that by at least half
a stone."

Just so. Nothing, it has been said, is denied to persons who know
_how_ to wait. "Conspirator ran very badly," is the verdict of the
turf critic, "never once giving his supporters a ray of hope, although
evidently backed to win a considerable sum of money; it is not easy to
understand why such a horse is in training."

For the next two races in which he is entered Conspirator does not
accept, although in one of them he has only the nice weight of 6 st. 10
lb. to carry.

"He could win with that," says his trainer; "but with two or three
pounds less it would be real jam."

"All right," replies the man who is working the oracle; "we must send
him to run for the Great Jericho Stakes in August, and get him well
beaten; in the meantime he has been entered for the Haymarket Handicap,
the weights for which come out two days after the Jericho race has been
decided, and then we can determine what to do, eh?"

The Haymarket Handicap being a first-rate betting race, the publication
of the weights is eagerly expected by Mr. Saltem, who is acting manager
of this little play; and so, on the afternoon of the calendar day, when
old Bob Girths, a waif of the turf, comes rushing into a tavern in
St. Martin's Lane with a copy of the weights, a half-sovereign, and a
quartern of gin besides, is cheerfully bestowed on him by Mr. Saltem.
In a moment, by a glance at the sheet, that gentleman has comprehended
the situation--"Conspirator, 6 st. 5 lb., glorious!" he exclaims _sotto
voce_; "daren't have given him less myself."

A wire in key is at once sent off to Sweatmore, the trainer, and then
the acceptances, which are not due till the following Tuesday, are
impatiently waited for, and when obtained, eagerly scanned. Fifty-nine
out of the ninety-two entered remain in the handicap, Beef Eater is top
weight, and so the original imposts assigned remain unaltered.

A good deal of betting on the "H.H.," as it was called by the turfites,
had taken place, both previous to the entries and while waiting for
the acceptances, and it was known that an occasional 1,000 to 10, and
three or four times 1,000 to 16 had been picked up by some "mugs" about
Conspirator, but the so-called "mugs" were men who had been inspired
by Saltem. No great move, however, was made by that astute person till
the acceptances were declared, and he had seen with whom he had to do

Burglar, a six-year-old, with 7 st. 4 lb. to carry, who won the rich
Covent Garden Cup two years previously and is in the same interest as
Conspirator, is made favourite as soon as the active work of betting
begins, whilst Conspirator is quoted at 40 to 1 offered.

"Just the thing for us," is the opinion of Saltem, "and now for the

Sweatmore runs up from the stable to hold a conference with Saltem.
In his opinion they have only one horse to fear, and that horse is
Diddle-em, an animal not unknown to fame, a five-year-old, weighted at
7 st. "Well, it belongs on the quiet to Job Goodchild, the bookmaker,
Diddle-em does," says Saltem, "and we can easily square Job, I think,
by letting him in the swim."

So they agree to do so, and Goodchild being let into the swim, a plan
of operation is at once arranged for getting on the money.

First of all, by means of a little newspaper strategy, Burglar is
made a "great pot," as it is called, for the handicap; "that horse,"
says one of the sporting prints, "has cleaned out the stable with the
greatest ease, and if he can beat Diddle-em he has the 'H.H.' at his
mercy." Then comes the corollary, _vide_ the market reports: "Burglar
100 to 8 taken freely; Diddle-em 14 to 1 taken and offered; The Beak 16
to 1; The Artful Dodger 20 to 1 offered; Conspirator 33 to 1 offered,
forties wanted."

Such is the state of the odds, when one afternoon at the King's Club,
"I'll lay 1,000 to 20 or any part of it against Conspirator," is
shouted, but no one responds; and as all over the country the horse
is on offer at these odds, a favourable opportunity is presented for
working the commission, 50 to 1 being esteemed a nice price.

At first a very little only is done in a narrow field; by-and-by,
however, operations are extended, and on a given day the whole country
is _worked_--Manchester, Dublin, Liverpool, Edinburgh, Glasgow;
every town, in short, where a few ten-pound notes can be got on is
communicated with through the agents of Job Goodchild, and before
the majority of the bookmakers awake to the fact a heavy commission
has been executed, and the party stand to win, some thirteen days
before the race, a rough sum of over £45,000! On the Saturday previous
to the Wednesday on which the race falls to be run, a second trial
takes place, Diddle-em is borrowed, as well as another horse which
had recently won a biggish handicap; Burglar also takes part in the
trial. It is a near thing, as some would have thought had they seen it.
Conspirator seeming to have quite enough to do to beat Diddle-em; but
then, as Conspirator was carrying an additional 10 lb. of weight, it
really was, as Sweatmore said, a case of "real jam."

"There's nought else in the race, as I'm a living sinner," said the
trainer; "he'll win easy, see if he doesn't."

And so in the end it proves. "Conspirator jumped off with the lead,
made all his own running, and before he had covered a mile had all the
others beaten," so wrote one of the journalists who chronicled the
race ("won by three lengths," was the verdict of the judge); brother
to Agrippa, second; Virginia, third; Burglar broke down, and Diddle-em
walked in with the crowd. Sixteen ran.

So ended this well-planned _coup_.


That is one way of "working the oracle" in order to bring off a
remunerative handicap _coup_, and many lords and gentlemen of the
turf do not disdain to follow so good (or bad) an example. If, for
instance. Sir Richard Strongman, Lord Strapmore, and the Honourable
Thomas Rowbotham have each entered three or four of their horses in an
important handicap, what is more natural, on the turf, than that they
should lay their heads together to "best" the public, and pull off a
good thing at long odds for themselves? The obtaining of "long odds"
has a great fascination for everybody. To win a large sum at little
risk is a grand desideratum in the racing world as elsewhere. It is
difficult nowadays, however, to obtain what are called long odds.
Bookmakers are chary on this point, and the public, who keep no horses
of their own but are quick to back the horses of other people, rush in
when the betting begins on any particular race and secure the cream,
leaving the skimmed milk to those who have to pay the training bills.

In order, then, to do the best they can for themselves, the three
gentlemen named above resolve to call to their aid a well-known turf
commissioner, one Mr. Dudley Smooth. That gentleman, who is the hero of
a hundred "arrangements," takes the case in hand. He is well known on
the turf and hates verbosity, but he thinks a great deal, if he says
little; his leading idea is, "Only one can win, you know; how to get at
it is the problem."

What usually takes place when Mr. Smooth has been prevailed upon to
put a finger in the pie--he is, however, rather chary of doing so--is
first of all a consultation over a chop and a bottle--champagne, of
course. The number of stables represented in the handicap and the
horses entered are considered, and those known or thought to have no
chance are summarily scored out of the list. Each trainer and owner of
the stables containing likely horses are well weighed up, considered,
and intelligently discussed, after which it will probably be found
that, leaving out the owners present and half-a-dozen others they will
be able to influence, four stables would be seen to have a really good
chance, whilst other three might possess something decidedly dangerous.

"What we want, you know, Smooth, is a certainty."

"Quite so, Sir Richard; and as only one, you know, can win, the thing
is to discover it."

What was generally resolved upon to begin with was, that each of those
present should, a month before the race, find out by means of a formal
trial his best horse for the handicap at the published weights; next,
that in a couple of days thereafter the three should be tried together
along with the best public horse they were able to buy or borrow to
take part in the trial at a weight agreed upon.

Smooth, to make sure, invariably superintended such trials himself,
and, being an adept at the business, he could generally foretell the
result as it would be in the race itself to a hair's breadth. Then he
had the "form," as it is called, of such of the other horses as might
compete at his finger ends, or rather, to express it literally, on his
tongue. Smooth's verdict on the trial was anxiously listened to: "It
will do; only one can win the race, and I think it will be Pretty Jane;
she will be about half a stone better than Magician on the day." Then
followed an interesting conversation, in which it was shown by Smooth
that, on public form, there were in addition to the two which had just
finished such a fine gallop, other three, if not four, that might prove
dangerous. One of these, Smooth knew, could be made safe, and if the
owners of the others would swim in with Pretty Jane, all would come
right; they could then go in for a big thing, and very likely bring it

The effort is made.

Smooth's philosophy illustrated in his constant iteration of "only one
can win, you know," ultimately prevails, and the three most dangerous
animals in the race are made safe, although two of the owners insist on
rather stiff terms. _N'importe_, the handicap can be won, and plenty
of money along with it.

In the end its success is ensured, Pretty Jane beating Artful Dodger, a
rod in pickle prepared by a quiet school of turfites for the same race,
by only a head; "too near a thing to be pleasant," as Lord Strapmore
said after the struggle was over, and the confederacy had obtained
breathing time for a glass of champagne and mutual congratulations.
Such schemes, it has to be said, are not always successful; but if a
man can win a couple of big handicaps in twenty years, he requires
nothing more in the way of turf success.

The kind of business indicated in the foregoing remarks is frequently
attempted; there is a gentleman often at work, who is reputed to have
a voice in four or five stables, and that being so he is able to
prearrange, with considerable success, a good deal of the turf work of
the period.

Few persons outside the pale of turf manipulation can possibly be aware
of how much money it is possible to win over a big handicap or other
good betting race--the Cesarewitch, Cambridgeshire, or Royal Hunt
Cup, for example. Over and over again such sums as thirty, fifty, and
even seventy thousand pounds have been "landed," as the phrase goes,
by the winner of a great race. Sometimes a man is fortunate enough to
find himself in possession of a horse entered for one of the popular
handicaps that "cannot lose"; and if the ability of the animal be only
known to himself and the trainer, he may be able, at the risk of a few
hundreds, to back it to win many thousand pounds.


"Working the oracle," with intent to make a grand _coup_, is work which
requires to be gone about with judgment; but in a race where twenty
or more stables are represented it is difficult to ensure success,
there being always somebody interested who _will_ be obstinate, or
who demands too large a share of the spoil, or insists upon some
impossible condition. When the Mr. Smooth of such an enterprise has
made some progress in his negotiations, he often enough finds himself
face to face with the representative of another clique engaged in the
same business; it is not, indeed, the first time that three distinct
syndicates have come into collision, each fancying itself to hold the
winning card. Which is to give way to the other so as to make the race
a certainty for a given horse comes in at the end to be a matter for
much argument and delicate handling. At their respective weights it
may look a very near thing for each of three or four horses, and as an
owner naturally fancies his own horse most, he is usually reluctant to
swim in with any other person or clique, unless he becomes of opinion
that the doing so presents a certainty of the horse winning.

"In the matter of arranging a handicap," said a gentleman of much
experience to the writer, "my arguments are simple enough. I put the
case this way. By agreeing among ourselves we can land a first-rate
stake, say sixty thousand; well, that is twenty thousand for each of us
when so far as I can see we have a certainty. Is it not better, then,
to co-operate? There will be other races, and a horse will keep. Why
oppose each other when, by working as one man, we can land the sum I
have named?"

It has occurred before now that a horse which has been, so to
speak, left out in the cold on the occasion of an "arrangement,"
has ultimately proved the best animal. Such rehearsals as have been
pictured used to be common, and still take place.

"What a splendid field there is!" said one gentleman to another, a year
or two ago, as a start was being effected for the Haymarket Handicap.

"Yes," was the reply, "no less, I see, than fifteen. What a pity that
three only of the lot are trying!"

Great blunders are sometimes made by men who have horses in handicaps.
However good a horse may be, and however long the animal may have been
kept with a view to a grand _coup_ it may be found when the weights
are published that it is not given such a good chance as that supposed
to be conferred on some other animal, the result being that the owner
does not accept, and probably, to his great chagrin, finds his rival
also among the non-contents, his rival having been imbued with similar
fears. At other times a lot of horses do not accept because "something"
has been "thrown in" at a feather weight which everybody thinks cannot
possibly be beaten, although in the end that something runs nearly
last, Ruperra to wit, in the Royal Hunt Cup of 1880. Many a time and
oft a horse not believed to possess any merit wins an important race,
and owners and trainers alike find again and again, to use the words
of the Scottish poet, that "the best laid schemes of mice and men gang
aft agley."

While perusing these remarks it should be kept in mind that there
are not a few gentlemen on the turf who decline to take part in such
schemes as have been indicated, but run their horses fair and square,
so far as they can control them. Their trainers, however, may not
always be quite so scrupulous. The "arrangements" referred to, it ought
to be remembered, involve such an amount of chicanery, that the aid
of one or two bookmakers must be called in, the doing so, of course,
involving the making of certain concessions to these worthies. The
knowledge thus acquired by such persons is at once used against the
public, the betting public, who soon discover that their mission is to
pay the piper. The main object of what is done in the way of planning
and scheming is to secure, at the least possible risk, a large haul of
money over a race, and, to accomplish this, all matters must be gone
about with the utmost care and secrecy. To achieve such a consummation
is the reason why not a few owners of horses place themselves entirely
in the hands of some Dudley Smooth of the turf. The first advice given
by such a person is, "Accept with your whole string of horses, we will
need them all." As the business of arrangement progresses, each of the
unintended animals is made in turn to benefit the bookmaker by being
brought into the betting and quoted in "the market." The gullible
public, unaware of what is being done, back all the horses in turn, so
that those interested obtain a pretty good sum out of the "stiff ones,"
as they are called. When the public at length waken up to the fact
that a commission has been executed for a particular horse, they rush
pell-mell to follow the lead, and in consequence the animal is speedily
quoted at a price that will admit of splendid hedging, and in working a
grand _coup_ it is generally deemed prudent to hedge.

Gentlemen who race from their love of sport, or for the honour of the
turf, do not, as has been hinted, recognise such doings as it is the
mission of Mr. Smooth to carry out. When they find, after a trial with
some horse of their own or one borrowed from a friend, that they have
no chance of winning the race for which the horse has been entered,
they at once strike it out of that race--"scratch it" is the usual
phrase employed--so that the public may not be induced to back it. On
the other hand, there are owners who never scratch their horses unless
they find their intention of backing them anticipated by the public.
In such cases, finding they cannot back the animal at their own price,
they teach indiscriminate backers a lesson by withdrawing it from the
race. It has become a debatable point in the ethics of horse-racing
whether the owner of a horse, having once entered it in a public race,
should withdraw it from participation in that race from not being able
to back it on his own terms, because of Tom, Dick, and Harry having
been more active than he has been in dealing with the bookmakers,
and so forestalling him in the market. There are certain horses in
every race which the public _will_ not be withheld from backing; they
are estimated on a review of their previous form to have such a fine
chance, that no sooner is their weight for any given handicap made
known, than the public are quick to take all the long shots, leaving
the owner--what is left.

It is most provoking, no doubt, for the owner of a likely horse to
find himself compelled to put up with the skimmed milk of the market,
persons utterly unknown to him having secured the cream. No wonder the
owner, on receiving such provocation, works himself into a passion; no
wonder the fiat of "scratch my horse" is at once issued. What though
the act be productive of something like a sensation? A notification
that "the favourite is scratched" brings curses loud and deep on
the head of its owner. But probably he has become callous to public
opinion--his argument is: "The horse is mine own to do with whatever I
please; I bought him; I pay for his corn and hay; I find the fees of
the jockeys by whom he is ridden; I pay all travelling expenses and
entry moneys, and therefore I shall do in the matter as I think proper."

These are strong arguments undoubtedly, and well put, but they all
point in the direction of gambling. And that being so, there arises
another side to the story, which may be placed before the reader in
the following words. In reality it is the general public who provide
the money which the bookmakers lay to owners of horses; as some owners
never bet, whilst others bet only to small sums, it is evident,
therefore, that without the aid of the crowns, half-sovereigns, and
pounds of the small bettors it would be impossible for the bookmakers
to deal in those large sums which gentlemen occasionally back their
horses to win. Were only the value of the stake to be run for at
issue, there would be no occasion for striking a horse out of the race
at the eleventh hour, because of its owner being unable to back it.
It is the large amount which can be won in bets that renders men so

Speaking in a theoretical sense, it is undoubtedly more honourable for
a man to strike his horse out of a race at once than to leave it among
the competitors and arrange that it shall not win, which can always
be made certain. The winning of a race even with the best horse in
the world cannot be made sure, but to lose a race can be accomplished
beyond a doubt, and there are even _gentlemen_ on the turf--the more's
the pity--who have not scrupled to lend themselves to such a fraud. It
will be no exaggeration to say that during the course of the year two
or three hundred horses will run to lose in the races that take place,
and if only an average sum of £100 be got out of each--in some cases
the result will be a gain of thousands--it totals up to a large amount.

Much of what is designated by turf critics the "in and out" running of
handicap horses is no doubt due to such practices. One may often read
in the sporting journals that "the running of Mr. So-and-So's horse was
really too bad to be true; and we believe the animal will speedily see
a better day;" which is just a roundabout way of saying the horse was
"pulled," or that in some other way it was arranged the horse should
not win the race. Such phrases of the sporting press are simply a way
of veiling the fact of a fraud having been committed. Happily there are
both owners and trainers who are far above such practices, but that
men are doing such deeds every day is certain.


Another phase of the chicanery of the turf may be now alluded to,
arising from the mercenary spirit of certain greedy owners--it is the
practice of an owner to take a big bet about one of his horses, and
leave his "lot" in the hands of a bookmaker to "work" in the market
as he pleases. The right of a man to wallop his own nigger has been
asserted; in the same spirit there are men who, having accepted in
a handicap or other race with four or five horses, claim to do with
them as they please, and what this style of doing business leads to
can be gathered from the preceding pages. The mode alluded to is a
contemptible phase of turf action. In plain language, the owner so
acting simply lends himself to a fraud, because the bookmaker, knowing
that only the horse which he has laid against is intended to win, takes
his measures accordingly, and manages so to bring the others before
the public that they will all in turn be well backed by unthinking
backers--the horse which is intended to win the race being kept, when
possible, carefully in the background, stories about its condition
being published which prevent its being noticed. The intended horse may
of course be beaten, but the cunning of the transaction is in no way
lessened by that fact. It remains that the owner, in conjunction with
the bookmaker, tried to do "a bit of thieving," for which, in other
circles, he would be written down a blackguard. On the turf, however,
morals are not quite so severely measured.

Not a few men are unfortunately compelled to the exercise of such
chicanery by the "force of circumstances." There are men now on the
turf who, while they are nominally the owners of a stud of race-horses,
are in reality slaves of bookmakers. They have at some meeting extended
their arm too far, and have been unable in consequence to respond to
the call of time. In other words, in expectation of some of the horses
they had backed winning, they betted to a greater amount than they
found themselves able to pay. In such an ignominious position they
frequently become tools of the bookmakers, and run or do not run their
horses as they are told by their master, who, although imperative
enough in his demands, may be a pleasant fellow withal.

Bookmakers are fond of doing business with those they call "the
swells." Although gentlemen may get into their books, and be due them
considerable sums of money, there is always the chance of some day
being paid, while they are able in the meantime to turn them and their
misfortunes to good account. There are men now on the turf who, it is
said, owe thousands of pounds to bookmakers, and even, it is said, to
their jockeys.

To those to whom the turf and its surroundings are as a sealed book,
such a statement may appear like an outrageous calumny; but it is
true, nevertheless, there are dozens of "swells" at the present moment
who are under the thumbs of the bookmakers. If the Honourable Tom
Twinkleton has a horse good enough to win the Derby, or the Royal Hunt
Cup, or some other important race, big Brassy, the bookmaker, has no
hesitation in laying freely against the "hon. gent's" colt, because
Twinkleton dare not run unless Brassy please; and unless it _suits_
Brassy that it should run and try, Brassy won't please, because the
honourable but impecunious gentleman being due the bookmaker a couple
of thousands, he cannot do as he pleases in the matter of running his
horses under pain of cashing up or being exposed. No wonder, therefore,
that Antelope, the Honourable Tom's horse, is so well beaten in its
trial the week before the race that it is scratched--much to the
consternation of its backers, it being second favourite at 9 to 2. But
big Brassy is not ungenerous, he puts the Honourable Tom on the winner,
and the honourable gent nominally wins a couple of monkeys (£1,000),
one of which is paid to him, the other being placed to his credit.
Your shrewd bookmaker likes to play with his fish, an "honourable"
must be tenderly handled, because he has many friends; and it is to
the interest of a "metallician" to keep sweet with young "swells" even
although they are bad payers.

The "mercenaries of the turf," of whom there are many hundreds, owners
and bettors, do almost anything to obtain money; they will practise
all the tricks which have been described, as well as others of a still
more questionable sort, they will submit to any degradation in order to
earn a few hundred pounds. In conjunction with a dishonourable trainer
they will permit their horses to win or lose false trials, or pull, or
poison, or otherwise stupefy their horses, so that in some future race
they may get their animals apportioned a weight far below what they
ought to carry. To cheat the handicapper is thought to be fair game, to
bring off "certainties" is a matter of weight; horses, therefore, are
run with the view of getting off weight, and at this branch of their
business some owners and trainers exercise great patience, and will
wait year after year in order to pull off a good thing.

There are so-called "gentlemen" on the turf who will bribe a telegraph
clerk in order to obtain news of a trial that may have been sent over
the wires, or suborn a stableman of a popular stable in order to
know what is doing in it; they will even connive with a bookmaker's
assistant in order to get an inkling of his employer's commissions.
Indeed, there are gentlemen now on the turf who do not scruple, when
opportunity offers, to take advantage of their friends and daily
companions by laying odds against horses which they know will not win,
or have no chance to win even if they run; and there are "gentlemen"
who lend themselves to bookmakers to do their commissions, who will
either back or lay a horse at their bidding. These toadies of the
bookmakers, and they are more numerous than is supposed, never question
the morality of what they do, but do as they are bid to do, and ask no
questions. These mercenaries have no scruples against being "put in"
by the bookmakers to lay as much as they can against the chances of
a horse which will not be wanted, or to obtain the longest possible
odds against a horse which it is known will ultimately "come" in the
market, which long, _id est_, liberal odds, the bookmaker might not
obtain if he himself were to ask for them.

Bookmakers are somewhat fond of working their commissions by the aid of
persons who are known as "mugs," that is, persons who are presumably
greenhorns; but the mugs have to be frequently changed, as they are
soon spotted by the shrewd persons they try to "have." No kind of dirty
work is too bad for the mercenaries of the turf, some of whom if the
reward were sufficiently tempting would think nothing of "nobbling" the
finest animal that ever ran. So that he can make money out of his stud,
the mercenary owner will either run or pull. No man knows better than
he does that "losing a race can be made a certainty," and that in many
instances larger sums of money can be made by keeping a horse in the
stable than by running it on the racecourse.

The knavery of the turf is so ramified that it is very difficult to
tell either where it begins or ends. The telegraphic wires, as all
owners of race-horses, bookmakers, and bettors are aware, are now
extensively used for the communication of turf information. In towns
where there is a great deal of betting, and in consequence several
bookmakers, receiving from half-a-dozen to twenty messages every
day, denoting changes in the betting or other occurrences during the
progress of a race meeting, the telegraph clerks have been known to be
so tampered with that information of an important kind meant only for
one person has been made public. It is said that in some of our large
towns the telegraph clerks have become demoralised, and that many of
them bet on the sly, making use of information which has been obtained
in their official capacity, and which they ought not to divulge.
Ingenious plans have been devised by these persons in order to utilise
messages forwarded from one turfite to another, or from a "tout" to his

Say that a message is sent from an agent in London to a bookmaker in
Liverpool, that Judas, an acceptor, is being heavily backed for the
Cesarewitch, and that from being at 50 to 1 the previous night he is
now at 100 to 6; the clerk will delay the message on some pretence or
other for ten or twelve minutes, so that a confederate may have time to
visit one or two bookmakers and obtain the longer odds, well knowing
that the effect of the message will be to make the horse named a prime
favourite in the local betting, so that if 50 to 1 can be obtained, a
profit may be made by retailing the bet at a third of the odds. That
represents one mode of procedure; another plan of petty swindling
which has often been tried with success is for the clerks of one town
to get from those of another town the result of some important race
with great rapidity, and _knowing_ the result, have matters so planned
that a confederate will be able to back or lay against, as the case
may be, the actual winner or some of the losing horses, with persons
who think it too soon for the decision of the race to be known. The
plan of working this kind of fraud is for a series of signals to be
agreed upon in order to denote the winners and losers in a race. The
confederate then proceeds to the Club or bookmakers' chamber, half an
hour or twenty minutes before the time set for the race, and talks
over the chances of the various horses, asking the state of the odds,
etc. By-and-by his "pal" arrives with the news, but he says nothing, he
simply sits down, wiping his forehead or blowing his nose as the case
may be. This is the signal agreed upon, and the confederate in a most
nonchalant manner says: "Very well, then, Bill, I'll just have a couple
of sovs. on Busybee for a win, and a couple on Clarion for a show."
The bookmaker, knowing his client has never quitted the room, suspects
nothing, but takes the money and enters the bet. In ten minutes
afterwards the official message comes in: "Busybee, first; Mussulman,
second; Clarion, third." Such practices, it is said, are common enough.


Turf chicanery finds a wide field in the executing of what are called
"stable commissions," a fact which can be best illustrated by narrating
a typical case.

Mr. Salisbury Moor, having been informed by his trainer that his horse,
Fatcheeks, had won a very excellent trial for an important handicap,
resolved in consequence, in conjunction with Bill Gaiters, his trainer,
to back his animal to win the odds to £300; the odds against the
horse (there being three in the same stable, each thought to have a
better chance than Fatcheeks) being at the time nominally 66 to 1.
Gripely--"Bill Gripely," a well-known and smart "man of affairs" in
racing matters--was duly instructed to invest the money at the best
price at which it could be got on. While that commission was being
executed, the business of the turf money market was not so open to
the light of day as at present, so that a deal could be accomplished
without much publicity. Bill Gripely, the commissioner alluded to, and
his confederates, Warp and Woof, the bookmakers, were at once able
to "tumble" to the situation, namely, that a great trial had been
won, as Mr. Moor seldom put more than £20 on one of his horses. So
thinking, the trio determined upon securing a very profitable slice of
the pudding for themselves. Beginning business at once, the odds of
1,000 to 16 were obtained from four different sources, which bets were
followed in due course by sundry others, till, in the end, a pretty
considerable sum had been secured, probably not less than £30,000.

Of this handsome realisation of the commission it was not deemed
necessary to return the owner more for his £300 than (in the
circumstances) the paltry sum of £6,000. The owner of the horse,
knowing full well that he had been victimised by Gripely and his
coadjutors, resolved to punish the conspirators by striking his horse
out of the race. He found, as he supposed, that his commissioners had
determined to keep some £25,000 to dole out as the horse advanced in
favouritism in the betting. The commission was begun on Monday, and on
Thursday forenoon the result was intimated to Mr. Moor, who, as soon as
he found out what had been done, struck his horse out of the race, much
to the chagrin of the conspirators, who lost a few hundred pounds over
the transaction.

Many similar stories might be related, but one serves to show this
mode of chicanery as well as a dozen. As a matter of fact, turf
frauds of many kinds, but especially those kinds which entail no penal
consequences, are plentiful enough even at the present time. Not
many months ago, a sporting writer in alluding to a popular northern
handicap wrote in the columns of his journal: "It is quite clear the
way to victory is being cleared for the favourite. I question if more
than nine horses will be found at the post, or if more than two of
these will be trying. _Faugh!_ How the dead ones do stink, to be sure."


The sayings and doings of the turf world in connection with "the Lady
Elizabeth Scandal" formed the subject of newspaper comment to such an
extent at the time, that nearly every person in the habit of reading
the public prints must have been somewhat familiar with the unhappy
story, which may be briefly retold in these pages.

Lady Elizabeth belonged to the Marquis of Hastings, and was at one time
first favourite for the Derby won by Bluegown, the property of Sir
Joseph Hawley, in 1868, much to the astonishment of hundreds of persons
who believed the Marquis's filly was "sure to win." Lady Elizabeth,
during her two-year-old career, had never but once known defeat, as
can be seen by referring to the turf chronicles of 1867, in which year
the value of the stakes won by her reached a total of £9,665. The race
which her ladyship failed to win during her two-year-old career was
an important one, namely, the Middle Park Plate, which race fell to
fortunate Sir Joseph by the aid of his horse, Greensleeve; Rosicrucian,
an animal belonging to the same owner, running second. Had the Marquis
won the Middle Park Plate, Lady Elizabeth's total winnings as a
two-year-old would have amounted to a sum of over £14,000.

No sooner had the struggle for the Blue Ribbon of 1868 been decided--in
which Lady Elizabeth was nearer last than first, although she started
the undoubted favourite for the event with odds of 7 to 4 betted
against her chance--than persons began to shake their heads and give
utterance to the usual stereotyped remarks germane to such occasions,
as, "I told you so," "A rank stiff one," "What a scandal," and so forth.

In plain language, it was assumed by a large section of the public that
Lady Elizabeth had never been intended to win the Derby, but that, on
the contrary, the mare had been for months an abject "market horse,"
and that thousands of pounds had been invested on the animal for the
benefit of the Marquis and his aiders and abettors in the fraud; that
all connected with Lady Elizabeth, from her owner down to the boy who
every morning removed the litter from her stall, had made fortunes by
means of the milking pail which had been in such constant requisition!
Moreover it was currently stated among numerous reports circulated that
Admiral Rous had asserted that the mare, just previous to the race,
had been heavily drugged with laudanum; but the Admiral, in a letter
to _The Times_ newspaper under the date of June 15th, 1868, gave an
emphatic contradiction to that report. In continuation, the Admiral
went on to say: "My belief is that Lady Elizabeth had a rough spin with
Athena in March, when the Days discovered she had lost her form--a
very common occurrence with fillies severely trained at two years
old; that when the discovery was made they reversed a commission to
back her for the One Thousand Guineas at Newmarket; and they declared
that Lord Hastings would not bring her out before the Derby, on which
he stood to win a great stake. I am informed that when Lord Hastings
went to Danebury to see her gallop they made excuses for her not to
appear. If he had seen her move, the bubble would have burst. But the
touts reported 'she was going like a bird.' Ten pounds will make any
horse fly if the trainer wishes it to rise in the market. She has never
been able to gallop the whole year. Lord Hastings has been shamefully
deceived; and with respect to the scratching of The Earl, Lord
Westmoreland came up to town early on Tuesday from Epsom to beseech
Lord Hastings not to commit such an act. On his arrival in Grosvenor
Square, he met Mr. Hill going to Weatherby's with the order in his
pocket to scratch The Earl, and found Mr. Padwick closeted with Lord
Hastings. In justice to the Marquis of Hastings, I state that he stood
to win £35,000 by The Earl and did not hedge his stake money. Then you
will ask, 'why did he scratch him?' What can the poor fly demand from
the spider in whose web he is entangled?"

In consequence of such an outspoken expression of his sentiments
by Admiral Rous, there ensued all round a very pretty quarrel. The
Marquis of Hastings replied that the letter of the turf lawgiver was
a tissue of misrepresentation from first to last, and that no single
circumstance mentioned regarding his two horses was correctly stated.
The late Mr. Henry Padwick, who was at once, rightly or wrongly,
"spotted" by the public as "the spider" of the Admiral's letter,
quickly joined in the war of words. "I was desired," he says, "by the
Marquis of Hastings--who did not intend to be at Epsom on the Tuesday
before the Derby--to scratch The Earl for his Derby engagement. Lord
Hastings informed me that he had determined upon that course, as Lady
Elizabeth had arrived safely at Epsom, and was to run in the Derby.
In consequence, however, of a conversation I had had with the Duke of
Beaufort, I did not comply with Lord Hastings' request, but returned
to town for the purpose of representing to him the conversation which
I had had with the Duke of Beaufort. The conversation was to the
effect that his grace wished Lord Hastings to reconsider his intention
of scratching The Earl, as his doing so would be unsatisfactory to
the public. I faithfully represented this to Lord Hastings, who,
notwithstanding, decided upon scratching the horse. This he himself did
by writing a letter to Messrs. Weatherby, which was conveyed to them
by Mr. Hill. Shortly after the letter had been sent, Lord Westmoreland
came into Lord Hastings' room, where there were already Mr. Coventry,
Captain Barlow, and some other gentlemen whose names I do not remember.
Before leaving the room, I mentioned to Lord Westmoreland that I had
reported to Lord Hastings the representation made by the Duke of
Beaufort, but without effect; and I added that Lord Hastings had sent a
letter to Messrs. Weatherby desiring them to scratch The Earl. I had
no control over or interest in the horse, and I was no party to his
being scratched; and Lord Hastings, in the presence of the gentlemen
whose names I have mentioned, accepted the exclusive responsibility of
the act. In conclusion, I beg most unhesitatingly to state that I had
not betted one single shilling either on or against The Earl for his
Derby engagement."

The trainers of Lady Elizabeth felt very much annoyed at the strong
language which had been used by Admiral Rous in his letter to _The
Times_, in which he asserted that Lord Hastings had been shamefully
deceived (presumably by the Days), and that if he had seen the horse
move "the bubble would have burst." An action at law was threatened
by Mr. John Day, of Danebury, against the Admiral, but the threat
never came to anything, as will be seen in the sequel; and here it
may be proper to give Mr. Day's own explanation of the condition of
Lady Elizabeth immediately previous to the date of the Derby. In his
interesting work, "The Racehorse in Training," that gentleman explains
"the mystery," which was, in fact, no mystery at all, the horse having,
like many other horses, exhausted her form in her two-year-old career.
It is only proper, however, that Mr. Day should speak for himself
regarding Lady Elizabeth. He says, pages 156-7: "As a three-year-old
she beat nothing. She ran four times and was never placed. Her first
appearance in that year was for the Derby, her starting price in the
betting being 7 to 4. No sporting man is likely ever to forget the
sensation caused by her ignominious defeat. Nothing like it had been
known for years or has been known since. All kinds of sinister reports
were circulated. She had been poisoned; she had been pulled; she had
been trained to death. Nor were these all, for amongst innumerable
insinuations then in circulation, too base for repetition here, it
was pretty freely said that every man in the stable, as well as every
friend of those in it, had made a munificent fortune by rascality
at the expense of the ever confiding and credulous British public,
which had been unblushingly and grossly victimised, and as usual left
to grumble and bear it. But when we come to the facts of the case
we find that nothing was ever put forward to show that the mare was
either improperly treated or neglected in any way, and I think that we
have a right to assume that there was no ground for the complaints,
but rather that credit should be given to those in charge of her for
assiduity in everything that skill or experience could suggest for her
well-being, and that the whole mystery may be summed up in these few
words: no robbery took place, nor was one ever contemplated; the mare
had simply lost her form--she was not so good as a three as she was as
a two-year-old."

And certainly the man who trained the horse--and no man is more
competent--should know, although it is never easy to knock a foregone
conclusion out of the minds of a racing public very eager in general to
believe the worst.

"But what, after all," continues Mr. Day, "it may be asked, was there
so very different in Lady Elizabeth's running to that of hundreds of
others of which nothing is heard afterwards?"

No doubt the very most that could be made was made by the public
gossip-mongers, out of the "Lady Elizabeth Scandal," as it was
called at the time. It is in some respects greatly to be regretted
that a public investigation, in the interests of turf purity, did not
take place. There can be no doubt that Admiral Rous thought he knew
"something" more than was allowed to appear on the surface. Mr. Padwick
made application to the Jockey Club for an investigation, but his
request was not entertained as no charge had been made affecting his
character. In these circumstances he wrote to the Admiral, asking that
gentleman to reduce to some distinct form the imputations cast on him
by the honourable gentleman's letter, so that he might meet and deal
with him "in a manner which I have every confidence will induce you
to acknowledge the injustice of those imputations, and withdraw the
charges you have made against me."

The Admiral sent a prompt reply. It was in the following terms: "In
answer to your letter, requesting me to reduce to some distinct form
the imputation cast upon you respecting your connivance at scratching
The Earl for the Derby after he was paraded at Epsom, and requiring
me to withdraw the charges I have made against you, I shall be happy
to do so if you will explain why The Earl (by your orders to Messrs.
Weatherby) ran at Newmarket, in your name and colours, in the Biennial,
and received forfeit in the match as 'Mr. Padwick's The Earl' against
See Saw. If you had no interest in the horse, which you stated to me
in your June letter, why were all the winnings, including the three
Ascot Sweepstakes, paid to your account? These facts must be explained
by Lord Hastings and yourself, under oath at the tribunal you have
advised Mr. Day to appeal to; and wishing that you should exculpate
yourself, and that you and Lord Hastings have been made the victims of
a conspiracy, I am," etc.

Before going further, it may be as well to say regarding The Earl that,
on its two-year-old form, according to "The Book," it did not seem to
possess any great chance of winning the Derby; as a two-year-old it ran
twelve races and won four of them. But as a three-year-old the horse
made a better mark, as it won six times out of seven, beating Bluegown
in the Newmarket Biennial referred to.

From the answer returned to the Admiral's letter, it became known that
the Marquis of Hastings being under large pecuniary obligations to Mr.
Padwick, that gentleman held some of the unfortunate nobleman's horses
in his power, The Earl being included in the number--the particular
bond of obligation being a "bill of sale." Mr. Padwick explains that
the money won by The Earl--which it was thought prudent should run in
his colours rather than those of the Marquis--was placed to a separate
account at Weatherby's, "and every shilling appropriated by the Messrs.
Weatherby to the payment of the forfeits and engagements of the
horses sold to various persons by Lord Hastings, under Lord Exeter's
conditions. Even the winnings of the animals I purchased at his public
sale (one-third of which the Marquis became entitled to) were paid over
to Messrs. Weatherby to the private account of the Marquis; and I have
further contributed the sum of £1,400 out of my own pocket, up to this
moment, to enable him to keep faith with the public."

The Admiral did not take the trouble to write a long reply to this
letter; a few curt lines, returning "the enclosures" (letters received
at different times from Messrs. Weatherby on the subject of his own
account), were all that were vouchsafed.

Mr. Padwick, after the lapse of a fortnight, again addressed himself
to Admiral Rous; but the latter gentleman, having evidently conceived
a strong opinion on the case, only wrote in a way to indicate that
to that opinion he was quite determined to adhere, as the following
extract will show: "In your letter of the 30th of September you refer,
among other matters, to a bill of sale from Lord Hastings to yourself.
A copy of this document is now before me, and I am bound to tell you
that, having regard to the terms and other circumstances of the case,
I do not feel justified in saying more at present than that, for the
sake of everybody, it is essential that the facts should be thoroughly
sifted by the examination of all parties before the tribunal to which
you yourself have advised Mr. Day to appeal."

But the facts of the case never were expiscated in any court of
justice; the legal proceedings which Messrs. Vallance & Vallance had
been instructed by Mr. John Day of Danebury to commence were never
instituted, as the following brief letters will show.

From Mr. John Day to the editor of _The Times_:

"On the 16th of June last a letter appeared in your columns from
Admiral Rous, under the title of 'Admiral Rous on the Turf,' containing
reflections on me and my family. I have now to request the favour of
your giving publicity to a letter which has been addressed to me by the
Admiral, withdrawing his former letter, and a copy of which I beg to

The following is a copy of the letter referred to:

"As the legal proceedings pending between us have been stopped by you,
I now withdraw my letter published in _The Times_ newspaper on the
16th of June; and the fact of my having addressed a second letter to
the editor on the same day requesting him not to insert the first, is
a proof that I did not consider myself justified in desiring it to be

These letters reveal a curious ending to what might have proved, had it
been suffered to become public, one of the most remarkable "cases" ever
investigated in a court of law. One of the public journals of the time,
in speaking of the withdrawal of Mr. Day's action, said: "The action
is withdrawn, and the letter is withdrawn, but whether the action is
withdrawn on condition of the letter being also withdrawn, or whether
the letter is withdrawn on condition of the action being withdrawn,
and which withdrawal was first proposed and first accepted, and from
which side the surrender was suggested, we, at any rate, know not." But
it certainly seems, from a passage in the Admiral's letter, that the
trainer had the best of it. "The fact of my having addressed a second
letter to the editor (of _The Times_) on the same day," writes the
Admiral, "requesting him not to insert the first, is a proof that I
did not consider myself justified in desiring it to be published."

The Earl was not only scratched at the eleventh hour for the Derby,
but was also in due time struck out of the St. Leger on the Friday
afternoon before the Doncaster race, a certificate of a veterinary
surgeon, of date, "London, September 5th, 1868," being published as
a reason for the withdrawal of the horse from the great race of the
north. When it became known that The Earl had really broken down, some
little degree of feeling was expressed by the public in regard to this
culminating misfortune which had befallen a broken man. And the reader
may be reminded that at the date of the withdrawal of Mr. Day's action
the Marquis had been dead for some weeks, and it might be that that
fact of itself led to the cessation of proceedings at law.

From the sporting journals of the period a glimpse is obtained of the
dealings of Lord Hastings with "the ring," and of the indignation
of the magnates of the betting world because of his lordship's
disinclination to hedge his "very fine bets." One journal, which
professed to be well informed of the contents of his lordship's
betting-book, said that the ring would have been well pleased to have
given him a sum of £20,000 for his chances of winning the Derby with
Lady Elizabeth, on the condition that he would devote the money so
obtained to part payment of the arrears of his debts of honour--debts
contracted on the turf after his liabilities on Hermit's Derby had
been provided for. At the time of the negotiations referred to, the
price of Lady Elizabeth in the betting market was 3 to 1, so that it
is obvious enough that the ill-starred nobleman would have won a very
large stake if the mare had won the Derby.

His lordship, it should be stated, had made his bets on Lady Elizabeth
through agents, whom the bookmakers, in the event of the horse being
victorious, would have been bound to pay in full, whilst they had
no guarantee that his lordship would devote the money so got to the
payment of his debts, he being at the time due large sums to the men
who had betted the long odds against the chance of his horse to his

This narrative of "the Lady Elizabeth Scandal" has not been penned in
a dogmatic spirit. It could have easily, had the writer so desired,
been highly coloured. It is perhaps not the worse for being somewhat
bald. Sufficient materials have been provided, however, to admit of the
reader forming his own judgment on the whole matter; and one feature of
the case is evident, and it is from what appears on the surface, the
horse (The Earl) should have been eliminated from his Derby engagement
months instead of hours before the time appointed for the race.

The following somewhat extraordinary extract from one of the sporting
journals of the period indicated will fitly conclude this narration of
a rather disagreeable episode of modern horse-racing: "Let it be noted
that it is capable of proof that his lordship has not lost money on
the turf; that, as a matter of fact, he has absolutely won from most
of the bookmakers; that three of his heaviest creditors have assured
me they have on the balance paid him large sums of money; and that one
gentleman, who paid him last year £24,000, is now out of pocket by his
transactions with him to the extent of £4,000, and cannot even get an
offer of settlement. Let it be remembered also that this defaulter
has from the commencement trifled with, laughed at, and now defies
his creditors; that he owes them thousands of pounds, which they have
little hope of ever recovering; and that he has every prospect of
winning from them, which he will put into his pocket and probably keep
there; and the racing world and the general public have some means of
arriving at a true conclusion as to the honour of a nobleman, and the
prospects, under present laws, of the national sport of England."



Within the last twenty years many schemes of turf reform have been
discussed, and it must be admitted that in the matter of the rules
of racing several wholesale changes have already been made. Instead
of entering upon particulars of what has been accomplished by the
Jockey Club, or indulging in speculations as to what that august body
is probably meditating in the way of farther racing reform, it may
probably turn out that aid has come from an unexpected source, so far,
at least, as one phase of reform is concerned.

The growth of "gate-money meetings" points to the solution of one
vexed question of turf economy, namely, an abatement of several petty
meetings which were once a feature of the racing season. Gate-money
meetings, it must be admitted, are proving wonderfully successful. The
effect of establishing these centres of sport (gate-money meetings)
will ultimately limit the seats of racing; indeed, it is now prophesied
that, after a few years, racing will no longer, as in past times, be
"the free sport of a free people." It is being said that the day is
not far distant when Ascot, Goodwood, and Doncaster will remain--if
they do remain--the only meetings in part open to the non-paying
public. Newmarket may be said to be already moving in the direction of

It is perhaps better that such a change should take place, racing
being now more a business than a pastime. It is not an easy task to
disguise the fact that the chief end and aim of the horse-racing of
the period is gambling; the bigger the meeting the greater the gamble,
as those who attend race meetings can discern for themselves. A few
staunch votaries of the turf who do not bet are still left, no doubt,
to indulge in horse-racing for itself, that is to say, for the pleasure
they derive in witnessing the sport, and in some instances because it
affords them an opportunity of trying their hands at breeding; but it
is not too much to affirm that of every hundred persons now "on the
turf," ninety and nine of the number are gamblers.

For twenty years and more the opportunities for gambling by means of
the horse have been multiplying on all sides; at all meetings the
loudest noise emanates from men who are trying to incite other men to
gamble. To-day the horse is our greatest instrument of gambling. A
hundred years ago the public were demoralised by means of lotteries;
but the money then changing hands was assuredly not one-hundredth part
of the amount which changes hands to-day in connection with one or two
of our important races. Next in extent to the speculation of the Stock
Exchange and produce markets comes the gambling which takes place on
such popular handicaps as the Cesarewitch, Cambridgeshire, and other
struggles of the turf.

As has been hinted, the future of horse-racing ("the turf") is in
some degree likely to take shape from the new departure in the form
of gate-money meetings, as developed at Manchester, Kempton, Sandown,
and other places. The joint-stock companies who usually inaugurate
gate-money races can afford to offer immense inducements to the owners
of the best horses to run them on their grounds; when the "added money"
(?) to a handicap amounts to four or five or say even two thousand
pounds, it is only reasonable to suppose that the owners of race-horses
will compete for such prizes. It is shown on another page that to keep
a stud of race-horses is an expensive amusement, and as few men are
able to do so without looking for some return by which to lighten their
heavy training bills, they are more likely to find what they want at
the kind of meetings now so much in favour than at smaller gatherings
held every now and then in different and distant parts of the country,
where, although the stakes are much poorer, the expenses are quite as
high, or even higher, than at Kempton, Sandown, Derby, Manchester, or

It is thought by some persons well versed in turf affairs that the
success attending gate meetings will lead to each company increasing
their number, if they be permitted to do so, in the course of the year.
The Jockey Club can, in some degree (and the greater the degree the
better), regulate the "quality" of sport; but the stewards find it a
work of difficulty to limit the number of meetings. So long as the
public support these meetings in a way that brings profit to their
promoters, just so long will they continue to flourish and no longer.
What the owners of horses who do not gamble desire is to win big
stakes rather than little ones, and owners who keep animals simply for
gambling purposes can, of course, offer no objections to well-attended
centres of sport; it being borne in mind that the sixpences and
shillings paid by the multitude for admission provide the stakes, just
as the "small money" received from little gamblers enables bookmakers
to lay big amounts to "the swells" against their horses.

Looked at in this light, the well-organised gate-money meetings now
held in the vicinity of great seats of population will, in time, absorb
a large portion of the racing capital and enterprise of the country, so
that the small old-fashioned county gatherings will undoubtedly dry up.
The "Innkeepers' Plate" and the "County Members' Cup" will speedily be
no longer heard of; and a time will come when the hat will not be sent
round among the tradespeople of a county for the purpose of providing
a racing trophy for the local meeting. The only county races of the
kind indicated will, there can be little doubt, dwindle ere long into
farmers', hunters', and yeomanry meetings.

In seeking after turf reform, it must be borne in mind that there are
some things which the Jockey Club cannot possibly accomplish; but it
is undoubtedly the province of that body to regulate racing so far as
the ages of horses are concerned; they can determine when two-year-olds
shall first run, and they can fix a limit, as indeed they have already
done, below which the stake to be run for shall not sink. The Jockey
Club did a wise action in licensing jockeys and other racing officials;
that body may judiciously extend its authority so far as to license
bookmakers, and also create a race-going police that shall be a terror
to welshers and racing roughs of all kinds.


Sir Joseph Hawley figured in his time as a racing reformer, and
judging from what he said and did he was thoroughly in earnest. His
propositions may serve as a text for an exposition of what is now held
by some good judges to be most wanted in the shape of "racing reform."

By way of exordium, Sir Joseph laid down as a proposition that racing
was no longer a national sport, but had become a "mere trade," so
far as most of its followers were concerned. "The public are now
convinced," said Sir Joseph, "that the system which has been of late
years rapidly growing up in no way tends to improve the breed of
horses, but is one of simple gambling, and in this state of things the
Jockey Club silently acquiesce. Such an impression, rightly or wrongly
formed, is most dangerous alike to the sport and the reputation of
those who take part in it; but so long as the recognised authorities
remain passive, and make no effort to bring about a better order of
things, it would be impossible to remove it."

The proposals made by Sir Joseph for comparison with racing as it is
to-day may be summarised as follows:

    1. No horse to run in any flat race after November 15th or before
    March 24th, and no two-year-old before September 1st, any horse so
    running to be disqualified from entering or running at any meeting
    where the Jockey Club Rules are in force.

    2. No entries for two-year-old races to be made more than fifteen
    days before the day advertised for running.

    3. No horse under four years old to run in any handicap.

    4. No public money, cup, or other prize to be given in any race to
    which two-year-olds are admitted, or any race under a mile, or to
    any handicap.

    5. All entries to be made in real name of owner or part owner.

The Kingsclere Baronet also indicated some reformation or widening
of the Jockey Club by his proposition "that the basis of the club
be extended, and that not only more gentlemen who are large owners
of race-horses, but those who take interest in racing as a means of
preserving the breed of horses, be invited to become members." Sir
Joseph, in formulating his Turf Reform Bill, undoubtedly indicated some
of the blots incidental to modern horse-racing, as indeed previous
turf reformers had done, and as has in some degree been done since he
died. Under the rules of racing as now administered there can be no
doubt that the gambling element of the turf has far greater scope than
it would be allowed under the stringent regulations formulated by Sir

Whenever any proposals are made for racing reform of a substantial
kind, strenuous opposition at once begins, both within and without the
Jockey Club. The members of that self-constituted body are difficult
to move in such matters, some of them at any rate being pretty staunch
believers in the doctrine of "use and wont." Some critics have asserted
that the gambling element is at times stronger within the club than
out of it; at any rate, it will not soon be forgotten how one of its
members at a prominent meeting created a "scene" in the ring because
he had been anticipated in backing one of his horses--that gentleman's
love of "the noble sport of horse-racing" is easily estimated. Probably
before that time comes--it seems to be at present far distant--when no
person will be eligible for election to the club who bets, much-needed
reforms of various kinds will have been consummated. At some future
date it may probably be enacted by the Jockey Club that two-year-old
horses shall not run at Lincoln, nor at the earlier Newmarket meetings
as at present, but be reserved for a later period of the season; in the
meantime, however, with the sordid spirit of gambling pervading every
nook and corner of the turf, it is vain to hope for much reform of the
kind indicated by Sir Joseph Hawley.

Before leaving this part of the subject it may just be noted that there
was no lack of two-year-old racing at Newmarket in the years (1882-83)
which are selected as being representative. From April 11th to 14th six
races took place in which two-year-olds were the competitors either in
whole or part; for these the fields numbered respectively 6, 8, 3, 10,
8, and 3. From April 25th to 28th ten races were run at head-quarters,
the fields for which averaged 11 horses. At the May Newmarket reunion
(9th to 11th) there were thirteen races in which two-year-olds were
engaged, being an average of say 6 horses for each race. The Newmarket
July Meeting is celebrated for its two-year-old races, two of which
are looked upon with great interest. In 1884 nineteen races for
two-year-olds were run at Newmarket during the first three meetings,
and very fair fields of competitors were seen on the Heath. At the
Newmarket April Meeting of last year (1890) there were seven races on
the programme for two-year-olds.

From these statistics it will at once be apparent that if an abridgment
of two-year-old racing is ever to take place it will have to begin at
home, and the Jockey Club will require to set the example. Owners and
trainers have, however, become so accustomed to the present early and
lavish display of two-year-olds on all the race courses of the kingdom
that it will be difficult to enter even the thin end of the wedge. The
racing public are wedded to things as they are, and yearlings have
become so costly that owners and trainers are glad to see their horses
earning money at an early date.


So long ago as the year 1860 Lord Redesdale introduced a Bill into the
House of Lords, in which it was proposed that, after January 1st, 1861,
no horse should start for any racing prize carrying less than 7 st.,
under a penalty of £200 and forfeiture of the horse so running. The
measure was opposed by Lord Derby, who thought the superior old horses
would be placed at a disadvantage by having to carry 11 and 12 st. But
why not, was asked, seeing that every colt running in the Derby carries
9 st., and every filly only 5 lb. less than that, whilst no horse in
any race, it is now the rule, shall carry less than 6 st.? In favour
of an increase in the scale of weights our two most popular handicaps
may be cited. The Cesarewitch has only been won by horses carrying
less than 6 st. on five occasions since 1860. Two Cambridgeshires only
have been carried off during the last thirty years by animals bearing
weights under 6 st. The City and Suburban Handicap has been won three
times since 1860 by horses weighted under 6 st. The Lincolnshire
Handicap has only been won once since 1860 by a horse under 6 st. Why
a horse of any kind, even a horse of the most mediocre quality, should
ever have been asked to carry the feather weight of 5 st. 7 lb. now
seems preposterous! That a minimum weight of 6 st. 7 lb. should be
fixed upon, with a range of 3 st. 7 lb., or even 4 st., as between
highest and lowest, has been recommended by many who have at heart the
best interests of the turf. No ill would result in consequence to the
noble animal, and the scale would certainly admit of more _men_ being
employed to ride.

Much could be said on both sides of this question, but there are
many engaged in racing who would never at any time have the weights
interfered with--they are such believers in use and wont. This,
therefore, is one of the matters to which the Jockey Club should again
turn their attention; there is more in what is asked for than the
mere fixing of a weight suitable for the competing horses, or for the
bringing together of the sixty or seventy animals entered for some
well-known handicap.

What are called "flattering handicaps" very often result in failure
when the acceptances come to be declared. We read occasionally in the
newspapers that "the Messrs. Asterisk have, as usual, succeeded in
putting together an admirable specimen of their art, the fifty-nine
horses entered being apportioned such weights as makes it difficult to
find a flaw in the handicap," etc. etc.; but despite this flattery and
a liberal bonus of added money, probably not one-third of the horses
entered are found to cry content on the appointed day.

It is long since a professional handicapper was advocated. Admiral
Rous was looked upon by the racing world as being, in his day, an
adept in the art of handicapping; but a flaw was frequently discovered
in some of his indictments, and in the opinion of really good judges
better handicaps than those which, after the Admiral's death, emanated
from the office of the Messrs. Weatherby were never made. Now that
gate-money meetings are coming into vogue, the professional handicapper
is imperatively required. A gentleman who put together the weights for
a big race to be run at one of these gate meetings was heard to say,
when his handicap was published: "By George, sir, I didn't know my own
work"--it had been so mangled to suit particular owners, some of whom
were shareholders in the concern. The appointment by the Jockey Club of
an official handicapper for their own meetings was a move in the proper

Another racing reform which would naturally result from the raising of
the scale of weights would be the abolition of boy jockeys, who are
really a blot on the turf. Many of these spoilt children of fortune
would be better at school than engaged in riding horses which many of
them are quite unable to manage. A lad weighing 6 st. 7 lb. cannot, it
is true, be very much of a man; but an increase of even half a stone on
the present lowest weight would give a wider choice of horsemen than at
present, and as the weights would be increased all round, older jockeys
would more frequently obtain a mount than is now the case. Many of the
liliputian riders are so early spoiled by one or two successes that
it is to be regretted the system which called them into being was not
abolished before it had time to take root. Many gentlemen have long
since seen the evil of entrusting great interests to mere children.
It has been often said of child jockeys when they have been employed
to ride horses pitched upon to carry the fortunes of a stable, but
which have failed to win the race, that "it was not the horse that
was beaten, but the boy." It is earnestly to be desired, then, in the
interests of all concerned that weights should be raised all round to a
standard that will admit of a larger number of horses being ridden by

As to the distances fixed for races, it may be assumed that the Jockey
Club should be able to lay down such rules as would be acceptable to
the majority of owners. And here again the gambling element comes
into notice in relation to the increasing desire that seems to be
entertained for "short spins" for races, that is, of a mile or less.
The horses which can be calculated upon to run for two miles and a half
may almost be enumerated on the ten fingers, so that there is little
room for betting on the result of races in which they take part. The
pronounced "stayers" are easily named, and, as a rule, these only
will be backed in long-distance races. In Cup contests, for instance,
the betting is in many cases nil, or at all events extremely limited,
which renders such struggles distasteful to the betting division
of our turfites. It is not so in the case of other races. There is
abundant scope for betting in connection with the Lincoln Handicap,
the Goodwood Stewards' Cup, and similar fixtures. The Cambridgeshire,
too, is usually a good betting race for the bookmakers! In the fast
run scrambles over six or seven furlongs, it is, in most cases, very
difficult to pick the winner when from eight to fourteen horses are
contending, hence a great amount of betting becomes incident to such
races, and it is the betting element which plays the chief part in
modern horse-racing; but, as it may be taken for granted that most of
the members of the Jockey Club are themselves betting men, any reform
of the kind indicated will be slow to make its appearance.

Of "added money" and other details of Jockey Club legislation it is not
necessary to say more than that a better definition of added money than
that in use would be a benefit to all concerned. The Club has the power
to decree what it pleases, and the sooner it exercises still greater
authority in all such matters the better. It may be found in the end
that it will be desirable to classify meetings and grade the stakes

With respect to the amounts of money run for, some reforms have already
been established, and it may prove that by lessening the number
of races and doubling the stakes, some three-day meetings may be
advantageously compressed into two days, which would be a gain to all
concerned, except, perhaps, the bookmakers, for there is occasionally
more betting over a small stake than there is upon one of three times
the amount where the competing horses are, it may be, of a higher
class. Another phase of racing economy may be here alluded to, and
that is the propriety of peremptorily limiting the sport, so that
it may not occupy more than four days of the week. There is not now
any Saturday racing at Newmarket, and it would be well if none were
permitted elsewhere; there should also be, as a general rule, no racing
on Mondays. The tendency of late has been to increase the number of
Saturday meetings, and in all likelihood ere many years are past we
may have in England racing on Sundays! When it is considered that many
seats of sport are far distant from Newmarket, from whence a large
number of the competitors are brought, it is early enough to begin
racing on the Tuesday, and Saturday should be left a clear day for
going home.

The comfort of all engaged in the business of the turf would be greatly
enhanced were the racing limited to four days; even the bookmakers, it
is believed, would be glad to acquiesce in such an arrangement.

As is well known, the death of the nominator of a horse for a race
renders the nomination void--a hard case in some instances, but for
which no remedy has yet been devised. Much controversy has been
expended from time to time on this feature of turf economy, and in
all probability a solution of the various problems involved when the
death of a nominator takes place may some day be arrived at, when the
proposal of "deposit your nomination money" may after all be found to
be the best way out of the difficulty. With the payment of such large
sums of ready money as would be involved, there would undoubtedly
be a considerable falling off in the entries of certain classes of
races--which many turf men think would prove an advantage.

Other disturbing matters which require to be dealt with by the Jockey
Club are as pressing as these which have just been noticed. The "rough"
and "welshing" element was never so rampant on some of our racecourses
as it is at present, and the turf of late, even at Newmarket, has been
invaded by brigades of blackguards, who, by means of the numerous lines
of railways, find easy access to scenes from which they were excluded
in former years by distance and cost of transport. The presence
of numberless bands of insolent roughs, some of them in intimate
confederacy, it is said, with the lower class of bookmakers, has not
tended to the elevation of horse-racing, nor does it add to the good
name of its votaries.

The complaints that find utterance as to the blackguardism which takes
place on some racecourses are painful to contemplate. The welsher,
in many places, seems not only to be tolerated, but encouraged. If a
complaint be made of the most barefaced robbery by these persons, there
is, at some meetings, no redress. The welsher is to all intents and
purposes a thief under another name, and on various racecourses is
allowed to rob all and sundry with immunity from all consequences. As
to the racecourse rough, he, too, is allowed to do pretty much as he
pleases, and the members of the brigade to which he belongs have the
resources of civilisation at their command. At one Epsom Summer Meeting
a party of these bullies attacked a foreign gentleman, denounced him as
a welsher, and robbed and maltreated him at the very entrance of the
Grand Stand! Every person who has heard the cry of "welsher" uttered
at a race gathering knows that it is the precursor to a scene of cruel
violence and positive outrage.

No one can accord sympathy to the professional welsher; but bad
as he is, he must be protected from lynch law. There ought to be
some properly constituted tribunal to which he should be held
responsible--his offence is the obtaining of money by false pretences,
and it is incumbent on the Jockey Club to devise machinery for the
trial and punishment of these pests of the turf. And care must be
taken that the racecourse roughs are not allowed to devise plots with
the object of having respectable persons attacked and robbed under
the false plea of their being welshers. These are matters of police,
on which the Jockey Club may, in all fairness, be asked to legislate.
It has already done a little something in that way, but it ought to
organise a band of special constables to assist in the regulation
of the ring. Habit and repute welshers are as well known and as
easily identified as the popular jockeys. They should be prevented
from entering any of the rings where betting is carried on, and if
found betting "outside" should be promptly handed over to the police
to be punished as rogues and vagabonds. A few sentences of sixty
days with hard labour would very speedily diminish the regiment of
welshers; as for the unmitigated rough, his fate should be that of
the garroters--twenty lashes! It is somewhat remarkable that in some
districts welshers are promptly dealt with by the authorities, while at
other seats of sport they escape all consequences!

In the interests of law and order on the turf, the honest bookmaker
should be licensed by the Jockey Club, and by the exhibition of a blue
ribbon in his buttonhole, or some other mark of identification, be
able to present himself to those desirous of betting as a person who
would at once pay whatever amount he bargained to lose. These modes
of dealing with the honest and dishonest betting men are obviously
logical; at any rate, the hints given afford a foundation for action of
the kind indicated, that it is surprising they have not already been
acted upon.

The Jockey Club at the present time takes no official cognisance of
disputed bets, that part of the business of racing being left to a
committee of Tattersall's; but this inaction on the part of the Club
is a blunder. It will be well for them to form a tribunal to deal with
all disputes about bets--a tribunal which would give a prompt and,
above all things, a logical decision, and so carry on from precedent to
precedent. The present laws of betting are much in need of overhauling;
indeed, to use an old phrase, they require "a new stock, lock, and


Whether or not assumed names should be permitted in racing has been
more than once submitted to the consideration of the Jockey Club.
Persons, it is said, who are ashamed to run horses in their own name
ought not to be "on the turf." The admission of assumed names is,
however, a feature of turf economy which carries its own condemnation,
and need not be wrangled over. In reality the bearers of such names are
known to their turf contemporaries, and as assumed names do not save
them from being liable to the pains and penalties of wrongdoing, should
they do wrong, why they should wear a mask is difficult to understand.

Some little inquiry into this matter was at one time made by the writer.

"Why is it," he asked a famous racing critic, "that Brown does not race
under his own name?"

"Oh, don't you know? His father is old Vellum, the dissenting
bookseller of Ave Marie Street, and it would never do to let it be
known that his son is on the turf."

"And Jones; how comes he to sail under false colours?"

"Well, you see, his father is an ecclesiastical tailor, a purveyor of
robes to the clergy, and likes the sport; but for obvious reasons does
not appear himself as a racing man, and so young Mr. Chasuble is 'on
the turf' as Mr. Harry Jones."

"Just so. And Robinson--who is he?"

"Robinson is said to be a wholesale dealer in decayed horses."

There are, it may go without saying, many persons engaged in racing
whom the turf would be better without, and it has been hinted "that
in times past" a few of these gentry could ring the changes of racing
in such a way as to render the game highly profitable. But it is not
"times past" that have to be dealt with, although there is no security
that the malpractices of former periods are not features of the racing
of to-day. With one class of persons who assume names the turf could
well dispense. It is not a little remarkable that the Jockey Club
tolerate men on the turf who try to conceal their identity under
assumed names.

A matter of turf reform that may be commented upon here is the
irritating delay which occasionally takes place, especially at
Tattersall's, before judgments can be obtained in affairs which are
in dispute. The Maskelyne case may be cited as an example, not on its
merits, however, but because of the fact that although the St. Leger
was run in September, the decision against the backers of the horse
was not given until the month of February, after a period of five
months had elapsed. Such decisions ought to emanate from the Jockey
Club; it is remarkable that it should be possible to accept an entry
for an important race about which there should be any dubiety.

The question as to whether jockeys should be allowed, either directly
or indirectly, to keep race-horses of their own ought to be seriously
grappled with by the only tribunal which can competently discuss the
question; although the Jockey Club has decreed that, with one or two
exceptions, no jockey shall be an owner of race-horses, it is well
enough known that ways and means are found to evade the law. That there
are jockeys on the turf who are quite beyond suspicion in all their
actions is certain, but for many reasons jockeys should be prohibited
from keeping race-horses. It is anything but pleasant for a gentleman
who employs a jockey to ride his horse in an important race to find
that he is just beaten by an animal said to belong to the jockey. The
lad may have ridden an honest race, but will hardly be credited with
having done so. When gentlemen hear the whisper, "Will he _try_ to
win for his employer, or will his own horse win?" they can scarcely
feel comfortable. One honest meaning jockey, it is known, never takes
a mount when one of his own horses is to run. It has been said that a
jockey has as good a right to have horses of his own in training as
a trainer, and so he undoubtedly has. But it falls to be considered
whether or not it is politic that trainers should run horses of their
own. In such cases, however, the men who require the services of
trainers and jockeys have the remedy in their own hands--they should
make it a rule not to train in a stable in which the trainer keeps
race-horses of his own, nor should they employ upon any occasion a
jockey to ride who is an owner of race-horses. There would be no
hardship in such prohibition. Jockeys and trainers rich enough to keep
race-horses ought to retire from business.

Another nuisance of the turf which is attracting much attention at the
present time, and which imperatively demands investigation and reform,
is the heavy transactions reputed to be made on behalf of jockeys in
the betting rings. "Will Integrity win, think you?" asks one turfite
of another. "Well, on public form he ought to do so; but his jockey,
I know, has backed Malpractice," and so a doubt is raised as to the
honesty of the rider of Integrity. Men, too, are now pointed out in
the ring as "So and So Bunkum's" (the jockey's) "commissioner," or as
Grabmore, who executes the behests of Tom Strappem, the trainer, and it
is a fact that many jockeys have heavy "settlings" at the clubs every
Monday in the course of the racing season.

_Apropos._ Some three years ago a gentleman who had a colt running at a
fashionable racing centre in an important race, for whom he had engaged
one of the best jockeys of the day, meeting an intimate friend in the
paddock, asked him if he had backed The Chanter, his horse.

"No," was the reply, "not yet. I am hanging on here till I know what
Billy Mitchell does. What Billy Mitchell does I shall do."

"And who the deuce is Billy Mitchell, may I ask?"

"Oh, Billy is your jockey's commissioner, don't you know."

The commissioner, on the occasion referred to, did not back The
Chanter, which only came in third; his orders were to back Billy
Purves, which proved to be the winner. Was the owner of The Chanter
victimised by his jockey on the occasion, or was the information
simply withheld that there was a better horse than his colt among the
starters? Numerous incidents of a similar kind might be related, and
it has been said again and again that there are even men of position
on the racecourses of the kingdom who delight in doing commissions
for jockeys. Said one of these gentlemen one day to a prominent
owner sportsman: "Well, your horse won't win; your jockey has backed
The Starling," and so it happened. No positive accusations are here
made against individuals; but a turf system which admits of jockeys
riding one horse and backing another animal in the same race to win
them a large stake, is, to say the least of it, susceptible of some
improvement; but where all, with but few exceptions, are preaching a
gospel of gambling, reform seems, at the present time, to be far off.

Three or four trainers are also known as heavy "speculators," and of
some stables, of which it is said the principal patron does not bet,
the same cannot be said of the trainer, who is likely enough a very
heavy betting man, all the more because his chief employer does not
himself bet. It has been sometimes said, indeed, of such stables, that
the chief is but a cipher, and that the trainer rules the roost.

Some trainers, it is well known, bet only with the cognisance of those
for whom they train, that is to say, if they think the horse has a good
chance of winning the race he has been entered for. Other trainers bet
on their own behalf, either personally or by the aid of a friend or a
commissioner. The trainer of a horse which won the Derby a few years
ago was said to have risked on his chance the enormous stake of £7,000.
The case of Bob Leathers was much talked about a few years since. He
had two horses in training for a big handicap for one owner. One, the
worse of the two, as Leathers well knew, was at a short price, the
other was at 20 to 1. The trainer piled the money on the non-favourite,
but the fact coming at length to the knowledge of the owner, he quietly
scratched both horses a few days before the race, and Leathers and his
pals were left lamenting; as all who knew the particulars said, "It
served them right."

It is not the first occasion on which it has been asked: "How curious
it is that Mr. Bloom's horses are always so unsteady in the market,
seeing that he never bets!" The reply to such a remark is likely to be:
"Oh, but his trainer does, and you know he and Binks, the bookmaker,
are almost always together." The inference is obvious. Again, Mr.
Trumper keeps a very large stud, and pays his training bills with
exemplary punctuality; but for all that Mr. Trumper is only the nominal
possessor of so many race-horses. Ted Rubyman, the well-known turf
commissioner, keeps the key of the stable, and Mr. Trumper's horses
only "spin" when Rubyman finds it to his advantage that they should do
so, and at all times the commissioner has the best of it. If Trumper's
horses are not trying, it is certain that they have been well milked
for behoof of trainer and commissioner. In consequence, old Robert
Girth, Trumper's trainer, is a rich man, who could at any moment throw
up training and live upon his means. _Verb. sap._ In such matters a
strong arm is required to wield the besom of turf reform.

One other subject may be now discussed. Gentlemen are known to give
heavy presents to jockeys riding in a race in which they themselves
have a competing animal. Surely that practice is indefensible--in the
opinion of the writer it is very reprehensible, and ought to be sternly
put down. For one owner of a horse riding in a race to say to a boy who
is piloting another gentleman's animal in the same contest, "I have put
you on a hundred to nothing, my lad, if I win," is little less than

The rumours, too, which during late years have been prevalent of "a
ring," of which certain trainers and jockeys reap the benefit, have
yet to be effectually sifted; where there is smoke there is sure to be
fire. The difficulty of obtaining reliable evidence as to such goings
on is no doubt great, but not insurmountable; at any rate, an effort
should be made to trace some of the rumours to their fountain-head, and
if there be guilt, no punishment which may be meted to the offenders
will be thought too severe.

The Jockey Club has, it is known, taken action of a kind in the matter
of the scandals referred to, particularly as regards the immoderate
betting of three or four of the horsemen of the period, and the men
who act for them and serve themselves at the same time. Particulars
of what has been "discovered" have not been permitted to transpire,
but at the time these remarks are penned (May, 1891) the licenses of
two or three jockeys have not yet been renewed, and some persons have
been "warned off." The chief difficulty which the Jockey Club has to
encounter is lack of direct proof of any evil having been committed;
the stewards cannot take action on the mere breath of rumour, and turf
evil-doers knowing that, are sufficiently cautious in their operations
to render proof difficult; but it is stated the stewards have at length
so closed in their nets as to have "bagged" some of the transgressors,
or, at any rate, have placed them in such a position as to be able to
demand that they shall "prove their innocence" of the charges made
against them, some of which, it has been rumoured, are of a serious
kind, many persons being implicated. The call for an examination of
the bank-books of some of the accused must have startled them not a
little, and the demand of whence came this "monkey," or from whom did
you receive that "thou" has had to be answered.

"Turf vitality" is a question that has of late years more or less
exercised the pens of some keen critics of horse-racing; but the
vitality of the turf may be taken for granted even by those who are
despondent in consequence of the increase of short-distance races, and
the consequent degeneration of our breeds of horses with "stamina."
There is nothing to be despondent over or to grumble about, and there
is at the present time a plethora of sport. More horses are now
being bred for racing purposes than were ever bred before; our public
stables are everywhere full of high-mettled steeds. Many farmers find
a business in supplying hay and corn for the stables of Newmarket;
trainers' bills become yearly more and more onerous; but for all that,
constant accessions to those who carry on the sport of kings are being
recorded. The value of the money stakes and trophies of the pastime,
which are now being run for, goes on increasing; twenty years ago, a
matter of £200 was thought to be a stake worth winning, now £2,000
may be added to a handicap without exciting any sense of wonder. Who,
then, dare say, in the face of such facts, that the decadence of the
"national pastime" has begun? Clerks of courses, during the last ten
years, have experienced a flourishing time, the public attend on our
racecourses in increasing numbers, every newspaper of importance
devotes a large portion of its space to the news of the turf, whilst
three daily papers cater specially for the sporting public, and it
is no exaggeration to say that the wires of the telegraphic system
are largely employed in distributing news of all kinds respecting the
horse-racing of the period. The messages incident to the conduct of
"sport" at Epsom and Ascot, as also at Goodwood and Doncaster, are
marvellously numerous. To conclude, it has to be said of "the sport
of kings" that, so long as it is surrounded by that army of gamblers,
which now so flatly flourishes on all our racecourses, it will continue
to be what it has long since become, a monstrous game of speculation.


In Newmarket and other racing stables there are a very large number of
boys employed--one for each horse--most of whom are apprenticed while
very young to the trainers, to be taught the business of a groom. Only
a small number of these boys develop, however, into passable jockeys,
and fewer still into what may be termed great horsemen. Many of the
lads grow so rapidly that they soon become useless in the racing
saddle. Every now and again, however, a lad of merit and mettle emerges
from the crowd of his fellows and earns a reputation as a consummate
horseman; but as there are more than a thousand stable-boys, and
only, perhaps, some twenty jockeys of repute, it is obvious that the
prizes, as in other professions, are few, and the blanks many. These
stable-lads are taught their business with much care, and in every
respect are well looked after. They are taken to church every Sunday,
and in some training establishments there is Sabbath school and other
teaching as well. One trainer, a remarkable man in his calling, not
satisfied with two visits to church for his lads, invariably read
to them at night one of Blair's sermons. If one of the boys was so
unlucky as to fall asleep, he was at once brought to a sense of his
iniquity by a touch or two from a long whip, which his master kept
beside him ready for use.

Discipline must be observed in a racing stable, but, as a rule, the
lads are humanely treated, corporal punishment not being resorted
to now, as it used to be in the days of old. As an illustration of
jockey life half a century ago, it may be mentioned that a Yorkshire
trainer, named Smith, was invariably severe with his lads, but "was
cruel only to be kind." When administering a round of the cane, he
used to utter a kind of apology. His usual homily to his victim was:
"Thou'lt come to me in ten years' time, my lad, and thank me on thy
knees for saving thee from the gallows." The race of old physical
force trainers is nearly extinct, and their successors of to-day are
generally well-educated men, learned in the character and structure of
the animal they train. At many of the racing stables the wives of the
trainers take a warm interest in the morals of the boys, and look after
them with motherly regard. On some training grounds no work is done on
Sundays, on that day the horses are merely exercised.

In course of time, one of the many lads engaged in the stables shows
himself to be of the stuff of which successful jockeys are made, and
that being so, makes his way to the front, and after a few trials finds
himself elevated to the proud position of premier horseman, with every
prospect, if he be careful of his earnings, of making, in the course of
a few years, a splendid fortune. But he must "keep his head" and not
forget himself, as many a jockey before him has done. "The evolution
of the jockey" has, in one instance, been described by "Borderer," a
well-known contributor to the literature of the turf.

It was "Borderer's" lot to see a little dark-eyed boy amongst a lot
riding at exercise for an Epsom trainer some thirty years ago, and to
ask the trainer about him.

"Yes, sir," replied the trainer, "that little chap has not been with me
long; he is the son of a man who drives a mail-cart about London for
the General Post Office. He gets kicked off twice a week, but is a nice

"Let him ride in that trial to-morrow," replied I, "that we are
arranging to have."

"He's hardly strong enough, sir; he only scales 4 st. 7 lb. That boy
next him is much better."

Like a wilful fellow, however, "Borderer" would have his way, and the
little dark-eyed boy, that looked as keen as a hawk, rode in and won
the trial cleverly. "From this circumstance began my acquaintance with
Constable, the jockey, for he was no other than my dark-eyed _protégé_.
For me he won his first races, and in his earlier years I taught him to
have money in the Savings Bank, and he seldom failed to come to me for
advice, some of which, I trust, was for his good. A straighter lad than
Constable never strode a horse. He promised me when he was free from
his articles not to ride for a bookmaker and never to pull a horse,
and I believe he religiously kept his promises. It sounds egotistical
to tell these stories, where the author is himself concerned, but my
readers will, I hope, forgive me. Pope is not far from the mark when he
says, 'Just as the twig is bent the tree inclineth,' and so it is with
jockeys as with other mortals."

The chief jockey is petted like a prima donna, and made a companion by
sporting lords. His movements are chronicled as carefully as those of a
Prince of the Royal blood. His cartes-de-visite are in constant demand.
He is surrounded by a host of parasites; his "mounts" are backed till
they are quoted at the shortest odds; his opinion of the animal he
rides is anxiously asked for by owner and trainer; while the ragged
regiment of gamblers who pin their faith to his horse are pleased with
a smile even from his valet. Sporting journals publish his portrait,
and garnish their columns with criticisms of his riding and anecdotes
of his career; his bon-mots are circulated as good things, and his
clothes are imitated by the vulgar. Moreover, he earns a larger income
than a Prime Minister, his services being intrigued and paid for with
a power of diplomacy and at a rate of remuneration only known "on the

To readers not versed in the ways of racing it may be explained that
when a jockey is so fortunate as to win a race he receives a fee of
five guineas, but when not successful in achieving the first place
he receives only three guineas. He is paid two guineas for riding in
trials on occasions when it is desirable to ascertain the power of
some horse to win a particular race. A few jockeys, seldom heard of
as winners of races, earn a considerable amount of money by riding in
trials. Payment for trials is sometimes, however, included in the
retainer a jockey gets from his master. Jockeys of celebrity are often
retained by noblemen and gentlemen specially to ride their horses in
preference to those of other competitors, for which they receive a
handsome wage or retaining fee in addition to the usual payments for
their services in the saddle, win or lose. They may thus be engaged by
several masters during the same season, having first, second, and third
calls, according to priority of engagement; so that a retained jockey
has not the power to ride for casual fees, unless when his services are
not required by one or other of his regular employers, and it rarely
happens that one or other of a jockey's masters has not a horse for him
to ride in all the classic races.

Pre-engagements, then, although remunerative, are not always
advantageous. A jockey who might have ridden a Derby winner has often
been compelled to mount in that race, in the vain hope of victory, an
inferior horse, because of having to obey the call of one or other of
those who had retained his services.

The fees earned by a successful jockey, speaking roundly, form the
least portion of his income, as the presents given him by owners of
horses and numerous "admirers," in the shape of bettors who have backed
his mounts, are frequent and valuable. Gold watches, diamond rings,
and breast-pins set with rubies; riding horses, dog-carts, and yachts;
as well as suits of clothes, new hats, boxes of cigars, and cases of
champagne, fall to the lot of fortunate jockeys who win important
races. A noted professional horseman a few years ago received, it was
said, in two seasons as many boxes of cigars as would have stocked
a modest shop. The same lad was also presented, in the course of his
career, with seven gold watches (he always used a silver one) and seven
finger-rings set with diamonds, as well as with other valuable jewels.
Money gifts to successful jockeys are now, however, the order of the
day, and that such gifts are often of great magnitude there is abundant
evidence to show. It is well known, for instance, in turf circles
that the jockey who rode Roseberry, the winner of the Cesarewitch at
Newmarket, was presented by the owner of that horse with a cheque for
£1,000; a similar sum being given to the jockey who rode the winner of
the Cambridgeshire, also won by Roseberry. Such sums, large as they
undoubtedly are, extravagant as they may indeed appear in the eyes of
non-racing people, have been more than once bestowed for work well
done on the racecourse. So far back as the year 1824, Benjamin Smith
was presented with a testimonial of nearly £1,000, subscribed for by a
number of persons, on the occasion of his admirable riding of Jerry in
the great St. Leger Stakes at Doncaster. The jockey who rode the winner
of a sensational Derby was presented by the owner of the winning horse,
Hermit, with a sum of £3,000. Another gentleman gave him what in racing
parlance is called a "monkey," which is £500; whilst a present of £100
was bestowed by a third person. Numerous offerings of lesser value, as
also some gifts of jewellery, were likewise sent to the hero of the
race, who is said to have netted over £4,000 by his exertions on that
one occasion, which is about double the sum paid to Sir Walter Scott
for writing his celebrated poem, "The Lady of the Lake."

These princely gifts, as they may be called, contrast with those modest
presents which were given to jockeys by their masters and patrons at
an earlier time. After John Day, who was one of the chief jockeys of
his time, had in one week achieved victory in two of the classic races
for his master, the Duke of Grafton, his grace sent for him and said:
"John Day, I am going to make you a present for the manner in which
you have ridden my horses this week; I am about to give you £20 in
bank-notes of Messrs. ----'s bank at Bury St. Edmund's, most highly
respectable bankers." That sum was considered a handsome present in
those days, when a successful jockey, if a married man, was generally
rewarded with a side of bacon, a cheese, a bag of potatoes, or a
barrel of home-brewed ale, in addition to his wages, for at the time
indicated horse-riders were grooms rather than jockeys. Persons who
"back," as it is called in racing argot, successful horses to win them
large sums of money, are generally, in the exultation of the moment,
very open-handed, and think it right to give a winning jockey a ten
or twenty pound note, or even a larger sum, according to the scale of
their luck. Upon a recent occasion, bank-notes of the value of £500
were anonymously sent to a jockey at Newmarket who won a race on a
horse the victory of which at the time was most unexpected. The animal
in question, during the winter preceding the race, had been made
favourite, but latterly--that is, before the day fixed for the decision
of the contest--the horse was represented to be out of condition and
not likely to prove successful; but the horse came to the post, started
for, and won the race. The money given to the jockey by the gentleman
was most likely a thank-offering for a windfall. Many a jockey has
received in the same way an unexpected douceur, although not perhaps
of so large a sum. Single sovereigns are often presented to jockeys
by small gamblers. It is related of a successful light-weight jockey,
well known on the turf a few years ago, but who, alas, poor lad, now
lies under it, that he accumulated in a money-box, during one season,
all the single sovereigns which he received as presents from gratified
although humble patrons, and presented them to his sister, the sum
so given amounting to a little over £300. Occasionally a jockey is
presented with the horse he has ridden when it proves unsuccessful, and
in some instances the animal has afterwards proved to be more valuable
than was supposed when given away.

The policy of paying large sums to jockeys has frequently been
discussed, and those in the habit of giving valuable gifts in money
have been well abused for inconsiderate liberality. The interests at
stake, however, since the horse became the instrument of gambling
it now is, are so gigantic as to render it imperative that jockeys
be placed beyond temptation. The total value of the stakes which
were contested during last year (1890) amounted to considerably over
£446,000, not to speak of the sums dependent on wagers, which were
probably ten times that amount. Whether, therefore, in the face of such
risks, £1,000 is too little, or too much, or just the right sum to be
given with a view to secure a rider's honesty, who shall determine
if not the man who is the proprietor of the animal, and who has very
probably backed his horse to win him twenty or thirty thousand pounds?
It may appear to many an exaggeration that such amounts are made to
stand the hazard of a race, but it is nevertheless true. Race-horses
are frequently "backed" to win sums of from £1,000 to £100,000. The
horse called Hermit, which was victorious in the sensational Derby
already referred to, won for his owner £100,000; and the same sum was
"landed"--the reader must excuse the slang--when Lecturer won the
Cesarewitch in the year 1866. In important handicaps it is possible to
back each of twelve of the horses entered to win from twenty to fifty
thousand pounds.

The L. S. D. of modern jockeyship can be expiscated by taking a glance
at the number of mounts obtained by three or four of the leading
horsemen engaged during the racing season of 1890. In that year the
chief jockey earned by his public riding alone the handsome amount of
2,271 gs.; the horseman who was second, earned 1,877 gs.; whilst there
fell to the lot of number three in merit (or in success), 1,317 gs.
These sums represent only the bare riding fees--there would in addition
in each case be "retainers" two or three deep, as also presents in
plenty, so that the gross amount stated, 5,465 gs., would in all
probability be more than trebled in the course of the season. "I don't
value my fees so very much, although they ain't to be despised," said,
two years ago, a well-employed jockey, "it's the retainers I get and
the presents sent to me that bring up my income to the mark I like."
Said another jockey: "My riding fees alone amount to a thousand a year,
and I am satisfied; I earn a hundred or two by riding in trials as
well, and I pick up an occasional pony by buying hunters for gentlemen
who employ me to do so. A few presents also come my way; one foolish
gentleman who won £3,000 over a mount of mine sent quite a lot of
jewels to my wife and children."

With reference to the remuneration of jockeys there is this much to be
said--they must make hay whilst the sun shines; youth very soon fades
into old age, and gifts of horsemanship suitable for light-weight
riding are not continued to jockeys for ever. Out of the hundreds
of boys who annually join the racing stables, perhaps not ten will
have sufficient nerve and ability combined to ride successfully in
one of the great races of the season, even after they have undergone
a lengthened novitiate. At the present time there are not more than
twenty jockeys who have a claim to be considered first rate in their

So far as income is concerned, even a fourth-rate jockey may be a
gentleman; he may at any rate earn a thousand a year. The expert
horsemen of the period enjoy a total immunity from all the coarser
labour of the stable. The fashionable, or, as he is called in the
slang of the turf, the "crack" jockey, as soon as his indentures have
expired, requires only to ride his appointed horse; he has no grooming
to do; he keeps a valet to assist him in changing his dress and to look
after his "traps." He travels from one race meeting to another in a
first-class carriage, very probably as the companion of the nobleman
or gentleman for whom he is going to ride or has been riding. In the
winter season he "will to hounds," and enjoy the pleasures of the
chase on his own thoroughbred; or he "will to town," and indulge in
the theatre or the opera. When the world was without railways, jockeys
required to walk their horses from one race meeting to another; and
strings of these animals, accompanied by their grooms, might during
the race season be encountered proceeding leisurely along the highways
of the country at about the rate of sixteen or twenty miles a day. A
celebrated jockey of his time records that his father, a trainer and
owner of race-horses in a small way of business, sent him away while
almost a child to travel the country with a race-horse, to appear at
the different race meetings, enter his horse for those stakes and
matches he thought the nag could win, and generally transact such
business as was incidental to the situation. "With saddle strapped
behind his dapper back" he did as he was bid, and in time became a
jockey of renown, ultimately settling down as a trainer himself, in
which calling he attained celebrity, training in his day several
winners of the Derby and St. Leger.

Another feature of the past may be alluded to. A hundred years ago, the
trainers of the race-horses were, as a general rule, the confidential
grooms of the gentlemen for whom they acted. Now there are public
trainers at Newmarket and elsewhere, who make it their business to
take charge of the horses of any number of gentlemen, and train them on
terms mutually agreed upon.

There is one feature of jockey life which is likely, in the course
of time, to die out--that is, the sweating jockeys had to undergo,
and occasionally have still to endure, to be able to ride at a given
weight. It is almost impossible for a growing, well-fed lad to keep
from "making weight," and even set jockeys, men of mature years, must
occasionally work hard to keep themselves down or bring themselves to
scale after a winter's indulgence. In the old "wasting" days there were
fewer jockeys than there are now, and no railways to admit of a jockey
being whirled from Newmarket to Ayr on an hour's notice. At the present
time there is a fair choice of jockeys at all weights to select from,
so that sweating does not require to be so much resorted to, or, at
least, not in the same degree as formerly. In some of the Newmarket
stables, and in the Yorkshire and Berkshire stables as well, there may
be found about twenty jockeys able to ride with ability at various

Many anecdotes have been printed of the feats which were formerly
accomplished by jockeys in order to reduce their weight. These men knew
"Banting" long before the celebrated London upholsterer published his
pamphlet, but did not systematically practise the art. Thomas Holcroft,
the dramatist, author of _The Road to Ruin_, who was for a short
period a jockey-boy at Newmarket, has described the painful process of
"wasting" as it was practised in his day, about one hundred and twenty
years ago, when the lads used to walk about for hours enveloped in
heavy horse-cloths, trying with all their might to fine down their
"too, too solid flesh."

Jockeys have told the writer that "wasting" is a severe penance, and
requires to be done carefully. On occasions of quick sweating, pains
must be taken to prevent illness, as, if the process be too rapidly
carried on, fever or death might result. It is known that a jockey, if
not careful as to work and diet, will increase from twenty to thirty
pounds during the winter season; but, by taking vigorous exercise,
"buried in flannel," he can come back to his proper weight in about
twenty days. When occasion required it, as when a jockey was anxious to
ride a favourite horse, cases have been known where a reduction of half
a stone was accomplished within twenty-four hours. It is painful to see
some jockeys after they have been engaged in "wasting"; they look as
if all their muscular strength had departed, and as if they could only
ride in their bones. Daley, the jockey who rode Hermit in the Derby,
was cast by nature in the mould of a thirteen-stone man, and to keep
himself at 8 st. 10 lb. or bring his weight to that figure when much
beyond it must have been an exhausting process. Many a clever jockey
has gone to a premature grave from over-exertion in wasting.

Wasting regimen varies according to taste or the constitution of the
man. As some of them say, "What is meat and drink to one jockey is
poison to another." Frank Butler's usual diet consisted of a pint of
champagne and a slice of dry toast after each walk, while after each
race he partook of a small portion of gruel in which was mixed a
little brandy. A Yorkshire jockey, called Jacques--it is not on record
whether or not he was, like Shakespeare's hero, a melancholy man--once
reduced his weight no less than seventeen pounds in twenty-four hours.
Three times within that period he walked from the grand stand at
Newcastle to Gosforth Hall, a distance of three miles, making a tour
of eighteen miles in all. Jacques was a famous and artful waster. His
diet on the occasion under notice was a little tea with gin mixed in
it, which caused him to perspire freely; a dry biscuit and a poached
egg served in vinegar was all the food he took in twenty-four hours.
Sam Darling, another olden-time jockey, walked on an average about five
hundred miles a year in order to keep himself down to racing weight.
Some jockeys used long ago to waste by means of hard riding, clad, of
course, in heavy woollen garments; others preferred to do their penance
in their walks from course to course, thus killing the proverbial two
birds with one stone. John Osborne once relieved himself of seven
pounds of superfluous flesh in one of these walks. Other horsemen have
done the same. Many of the jockeys of sixty years ago were as good
pedestrians as equestrians.

"Nimrod" tells us that the old system of wasting was as follows: "With
jockeys in high repute it lasted from about three weeks before Easter
to the end of October, but a week or ten days are quite sufficient for
a rider to reduce himself from his natural weight to sometimes a stone
and a half below it. For breakfast they take a small piece of bread
and butter with tea in moderation; dinner is taken very sparingly--a
very small piece of pudding and less meat; and, when fish is to be
obtained, neither the one nor the other is allowed. Wine and water is
the usual beverage, in proportion of one pint to two of water. Tea
in the afternoon, with little or no bread and butter, and no supper.
After breakfast, having sufficiently loaded themselves with clothes,
that is, with five or six waistcoats, two coats, and as many pair of
breeches, a severe walk is taken, from ten to fifteen miles. After
their return home, dry clothes are substituted for those that are wet
with perspiration, and, if they are much fatigued, some of them lie
down for an hour before dinner, after which no strong exercise is taken.

"From nine at night until six or seven in the morning were the usual
hours of sleep. Purgative medicines were resorted to by those who did
not like excessive walking, consisting of Glauber salts only. John
Arnull once ate nothing but an occasional apple for eight successive
days, in order to reduce himself to ride a particular horse for
the Prince of Wales. In later days the system was much modified,
particularly the length of the walk, and the custom at Newmarket at
that time was to go four miles out, where the person sweating had
a house to stop at, in which there was a large fire, by which the
perspiration was very much increased. Indeed, sometimes it becomes so
excessive, that he may be seen scraping it off the uncovered parts
of his person, after the manner in which the race-horse is scraped,
using a small horn for the purpose. After sitting awhile by the
fire and drinking some diluted liquid, he walks back to Newmarket,
swinging his arms as he proceeds, which increases the muscular actions.
Sufficiently cool to strip, his body is rubbed dry and fresh clothed,
when, besides the reduction of weight, the effect is visible in his
skin, which has a remarkable transparent hue. The most mortifying
attendant on wasting is the rapid accumulation of flesh immediately
on a relaxation of the system, it having often happened that jockeys
weighing not more than seven stone have gained many pounds in one
day from merely obeying the common dictates of nature, committing no

It is essential that all jockeys should be careful about being of the
proper weight, or when they are over it, of having the over-weight
declared when going to ride, otherwise they would lose the race if
they should happen to be first at the winning-post. When the jockey
cannot ride at the prescribed weight it is made up by placing slabs of
lead on the horse inclosed in woollen pockets. In all races the clerk
of the scales requires to be very particular in seeing that jockeys
weigh exactly the weight allotted to their horse. The weighing-out of
a jockey for his race is a work of nicety: he is placed in the scale
along with his saddle, and he must be in the very pink of condition
if he can ride a severe long race and afterwards scale the weight he
drew before mounting the horse. Trainers and owners have frequently
experienced an anxious moment at the weighing-in of their jockey after
the race; the bridle has sometimes to be taken off the horse and thrown
into the scale before the "all right" of the clerk can be given.

Among the miscellanea appertaining to the subject of jockey life it may
be mentioned that noblemen and gentlemen occasionally don the livery
of the turf in order to ride at race meetings, chiefly, however, in
hunting and steeple-chasing. They rarely display their talents in what
are called "flat races"; but many gentlemen riders would make excellent
professional horsemen, although, it is said, a professional can always
give an amateur jockey a stone in the weights. There is a tradition
in Yorkshire of a clever jockey who was a girl, but so far as we can
learn it is only a tradition. Buckle was a successful and hard-working
jockey; from 1783 to 1831 he was, indeed, the horseman of his day. An
instance of his power of work may be stated--he would ride from his
residence to Newmarket, take part in a trial, and then come home the
same day to tea at six o'clock, the distance covered being ninety-two
miles, not counting the riding he would accomplish on the course at the
capital of the turf.

A great feat of jockeyship was that accomplished by Benjamin Smith,
who rode and won a race after having one of his legs broken in
the struggle. The rider of Caractacus, in a race at Bath, was so
unfortunate as to break his stirrup leather, but he nevertheless
defeated all his opponents, and was so clever as to bring the detached
stirrup home with him, so that he was able to scale the correct weight.
A clever horseman once upon a time won the St. Leger after his horse
had run into a ditch, and seemed to have lost all chance of victory.
George Herring, a jockey of the olden time, achieved a feat which is
recorded among the miscellanea of the turf; he was so fortunate as
to win nineteen races in succession, without one single intervening
defeat, a triumph that we are not aware has been attained by any other

The word jockey is in itself significant. One of the meanings of it,
which Dr. Johnson gives, is, "a cheat, a trickish fellow." Another
meaning given is, "to jostle by riding against one." To a great many
the word is indicative of some phase of knavery. "He was jockeyed out
of his money," is a phrase which denotes this. There is more in these
meanings than is generally supposed. Those who are not behind the
scenes of turf life have in general no idea of how races are run and
won. They see the horses gallop from end to end of the course, but
they may not be aware that each jockey has received from his master or
his master's trainer particular instructions as to how he must comport
himself in the race. The rider is not allowed to ride as he pleases,
but must guide his horse at the will of his master. The directions
given to a jockey are sometimes exceedingly simple. "Get home first,"
Lord George Bentinck used to say, "and to do that make every post a
winning-post." Another owner will tell his jockey to "get to the front,
and keep there till you are past the judge's chair." Some masters,
again, delight in complex and garrulous instructions that would puzzle
the wit of an old man to understand and obey, far less a jockey-boy
of probably tender years. Any lad, if the horse he rides be only good
enough, may win an important race, but in the end superior jockeyship
generally gains the day; and it sometimes happens that the fastest
horse in the struggle is beaten by the superior acumen of the boy who
rides the winner.

The talents of jockeys vary considerably. One will lie in wait with his
horse and "steal" the race from his opponent so quietly and win by so
short a distance as to excite wonderment as to how it was all brought
about. Another boy, if he feels that the horse he is riding is equal
to the task, will make his way to the front and force the race from
beginning to end with, so to speak, a flourish of trumpets. All that a
jockey has learned, all that he knows, must be brought into requisition
in the supreme minute or two which is devoted to the struggle. If a
jockey has any talent, then is the time for its exhibition. Whilst the
race is being ridden the owner and trainer of the horse engaged in
the contest busily survey the scene with all attention through their
powerful field-glasses, so that they are able to see whether or not
their instructions are being obeyed by the jockey who is riding their

A jockey riding in an important handicap has need of all the firmness
and nerve he can command. A moment's inattention may lose him the
race; there are others quite ready to take advantage of any mistakes
he may make. He must have a good head and a fine hand; with the one he
examines and judges the horses which are racing alongside of him, so
as to note their power and see what their jockeys are doing; with his
hands he feels the strength of the animal he is himself riding, so as
to be able to regulate its pace and "bring" it at the right moment for
a supreme effort. Any want of ability or misconduct on the part of a
jockey in the riding of a race is at once detected by the questioning
eyes which are ever following him as he rushes to the goal.

What are called "fine hands" are essential to a jockey; they are the
instruments which indicate to him the strength and power of the animal
which he is trying to guide to victory. Some horsemen have this gift in
perfection, and have known how to use it to the best advantage. Strong
horses will occasionally run away with the race, leaving the jockey
powerless. In such cases what can a child, weighing perhaps six stone,
do but sit still? It was a maxim of a celebrated jockey that a horse
ought to be ridden as delicately as if it was being held in check by
a silken thread; but each jockey in time acquires a style of his own.
Some lads are famous for making their opponent believe the horse they
are riding is quite out of the hunt; this is "kidding," and they so act
as to put the rider of what may be a superior horse off his guard, and
having done so, to a greater or lesser extent, they will sometimes by a
final rush (if their horse is good enough) win the race, and so obtain
the credit of being brilliant jockeys. Old horsemen of the "knowing"
type will try what they can with safety, during a contest, to keep
their younger brethren from scoring a win, all the tricks of the trade
being brought into requisition on such occasions. A first-rate jockey,
however, has qualities that are far beyond the range of mere cunning;
he has a firm and graceful seat on horseback, "fine hands," and, above
all, he is a good judge of pace, quite able to calculate whether the
horse he is riding can last the distance he has to gallop, so as to be
sure of winning, or whether he will require to be eased in his pace,
or "nursed" for a final effort. There are jockeys who, for sinister
purposes, can make a great show of riding power, but who, for all their
doing so, "pull" their horse to prevent its being first; but as a rule
the morale of the modern jockey is fairly good. Black sheep are to
be found in the flock, but the great majority of the public horsemen
of to-day, notwithstanding what they have in their power, are beyond



Although many sketches descriptive of the Jockey Club, its members and
stewards, have from time to time made their appearance in sporting
journals, no consecutive history of that institution has yet been
published; and even were all the dribblets of information about it
which have percolated through the press added together, the result
would be rather bald. Till the Club itself shall put forth an account
of its history, or allow some credible historian access to its
archives with the view of placing before the public a full narrative
of its origin and its ways and work, as also an account of the men
who originated it and those who have carried it on, I despair of ever
knowing more of it than I do at present. Few persons, indeed, other
than those very intimately associated with the "sport of kings,"
know much about the interior working of what is undoubtedly the most
remarkable institution of our day. Nor has it been given even to
persons deeply interested in the business of the turf to ascertain with
precision the varied functions of the Club, or the mechanism by which
it moves. It would require the sum of knowledge possessed by perhaps
a score of well-informed outsiders to make up a chronicle that would
form something like a history of the institution, or supply a reliable
account of its means or motives of action, or the wonderful powers with
which it has endowed itself.

The Jockey Club, without being incorporated by Act of Parliament, and
without any legal constitution--a self-elected body, in fact--through
its stewards--a council of three--acts as a tribunal, civil and
criminal, in every matter pertaining to the turf, its authority in all
racing matters being acknowledged throughout the United Kingdom. From
its judgments there lies no appeal, there being no higher court. No
alternative remains, "obey, or depart without the pale" is the order
of the day. Sinners have occasionally shown fight, and bearded the
lions in their den; but, as a rule, implicit submission is given to
the mandates of the club; every one having a part, however trivial, to
perform in the national pastime comes under its sway. Trainers, touts,
jockeys, judges, and starters, all must submit to "the stewards,"
whose words are law. Trainers who may drug, or boys who may pull
their horses, have cause to tremble; should their sins find them out,
banishment from the turf at Newmarket--the chief scene of horse-racing
in England--as well as from every other racecourse in the United
Kingdom, would be certain to follow. A sharp eye is now kept by the
stewards on all inconsistencies of form; should an animal fail in a
task to-day, and accomplish a difficult feat to-morrow, it is almost
certain the "council of three" will call to account those connected
with the horse and demand explanation.

As has been stated, the inner history of the Club is not as yet public
property. The Jockey Club is simply of the nature of a private society,
and racing authorities differ somewhat as to the time when it was
instituted. One writer says it was during the reign of George II,;
another tells us the Club was constituted between the years 1750 and
1760, when a few gentlemen interested in the sport of horse-racing,
and who, moreover, were in the habit of riding their own horses,
banded themselves together, and became founders of the tribunal
which at present governs the "sport of kings." The original title to
enrolment, it has been stated, was the wearing of boots and spurs. The
first official mention of the Club occurs in Heber's Racing Calendar
for 1758, under the heading of "Orders," given for the purpose of
compelling riders to weigh when they came in from running their horses
in a race, on pain of being dismissed, which order is signed by Lord
March and other noblemen and gentlemen then members of the institution.

In an excellent, although brief, sketch of the history of the Club
contributed to the "Badminton Library," we are told that tradition
points to its origin in the year 1750, before which time the usual
meeting-place for gentlemen attending Newmarket was the "Red Lion Inn,"
the site of which is supposed to have been on the present Station Road.
In 1752, the subscription-room was built, and it may be taken for
granted that the Club would then be formed, or had been formed a little
time previously. It was not till the year 1770 that stewards began to
be regularly appointed, and their duties defined; there were stewards,
however, eight years previously, but the functions they fulfilled are
not known. From its beginning, the members of the Jockey Club were
persons of high social position.

Strictly speaking, the Jockey Club had no authority or power to extend
or enforce the observance of their laws at any other meetings than
those held at Newmarket; but it soon became evident that a uniform and
general application of its rules or laws was desirable, and therefore
by a sort of tacit understanding it gradually became customary for all
race meetings of importance to place themselves under the laws of the
Jockey Club by a general consent and acknowledgment of its authority.
In many cases, however, there was a doubt respecting the extent and
power of application of the said laws, and therefore, in 1831, the
Jockey Club notified that their rules and orders applied to Newmarket
_only_, but they recommended their adoption to the stewards of other
races, and in places where they were publicly adopted and recognised
the Jockey Club would investigate and decide on disputes submitted to
them for adjudication, but not otherwise. It was also made a condition
that when the question or dispute submitted originated elsewhere than
at Newmarket, the statement of the case must be reduced to writing, and
must be referred through or with the sanction of the stewards of the
races where it happened.

I am indebted for these remarks which, so far, indicate the rise of the
Jockey Club to power, to an anonymous volume published in 1863, which
contains many observations on the powers and duties of the Club, and
the mode in which they ought to be carried into execution, the object
of the commentator being to point out how wonderful a circumstance
it is that the whole racing community can be held in check by a
self-constituted body. That is certainly remarkable, but is not more so
than that, at every race meeting, tens of thousands of pounds sterling
change hands, as it may be said, by means of a nod of the head of one
person to another, neither bill nor bond being required to bind the
transaction, which as a rule is honourably implemented by both parties.

What probably in the beginning most helped to give the Club that
power it now exercises was its interest in Newmarket Heath. For
two centuries and more Newmarket has been to trainers and jockeys
what various seats of some particular industry are to the persons
interested in that industry. The Jockey Club, which has no palatial
London dwelling-place--having, as a matter of fact, only an office
there for the transaction of business--possesses a suite of apartments
at Newmarket, and holds in its own right, or by lease--chiefly the
latter--all the land of the Heath now being used for the various
racecourses or public training-grounds, from which it derives a large
income, each horse exercised at Newmarket being charged for at the
rate of five guineas per annum. Considerable sums of money are also
derived from charges of admission made at various stands and enclosures
pertaining to the different racecourses, and these are being multiplied
by order of the Club, which seems to be fashioning racing on the Heath
pretty much in the same way as if the meetings held under its auspices
were gate-money meetings.


The "Rules of Racing," which have for a long period given law to the
turf, and the code of honour pertaining thereto which all racing men
respect and obey, have been from time to time revised and made more
perfect by the Jockey Club, which numbers at the present time about one
hundred members, and makes itself felt through the stewards, to whom,
for all practical purposes, its powers are delegated. During their
period of office, to which they are nominated by their predecessors,
the stewards address those who are interested in the sport of
horse-racing through the official "Calendar," which is published in
London by the Messrs. Weatherby, of Old Burlington Street, who may be
termed the mouthpiece of the Club. In racing circles these gentlemen
are much respected, one of them being "keeper of the match-book," and
it would be rather difficult to say what functions connected with
horse-racing they do not take part in.

Messrs. Weatherby, in addition to being, as may be said, clerks of the
course for all races run over Newmarket Heath, and therefore recipients
of entries, scratchings, etc., also officiate in a certain sense as
bankers to a considerable number of gentlemen who own race-horses and
have payments to make in connection therewith. By payment of a slight
commission on such transactions as take place, gentlemen are saved the
trouble which pertains to receiving stakes they may win, or of paying
personally such entry-money and forfeits as may have been incurred in
the races they have been entrusted by clients to enter horses in. The
gentlemen likewise keep a record of sportsmen who, for various reasons,
prefer to pursue their career on the turf under an assumed name; as
also a register of the racing liveries or "colours" selected by owners
to be worn by their jockeys, and of these about nine hundred different
arrangements are annually chronicled.

Among their other duties, Messrs. Weatherby edit and print the Book
and Sheet Calendars of the Jockey Club, in which race meetings are
announced, entries of horses in various races published, handicaps
made public, and through which the general business of racing is made
known to its votaries. Nominally the head-quarters of the Club are
at Newmarket, but it may be assumed that the larger portion of the
business is transacted at the offices of Messrs. Weatherby, in the
great metropolis.

The Jockey Club is, of course, best known through its works and the
laws laid down for the government of the turf. The "Rules of Racing"
are entirely the work of the Club. For the information of persons who
have never been behind the scenes, these rules may be here briefly
glanced at. They provide for all the contingencies which may be
expected to occur during the progress of sport; these are so well
provided for, indeed, that if a jockey meet with an accident or be
killed at the winning-post, provision is made for his being carried
to the scales to be weighed. An explicit date is set down when flat
racing shall begin and end in each year. The powers bestowed on the
stewards of the different race meetings throughout the country are
generally defined; the gathering has to be under their direction, they
must regulate the conduct of all officials and persons coming to the
meeting on business--that is, trainers, jockeys, and others. The power
of punishing evil-doers is vested in the stewards, who may fine or
suspend any person in fault. Stewards of meetings, it is commanded in
the "Rules of Racing," shall exclude from the stands, and other places
under their control, every person who has been "warned off" Newmarket
Heath, persons who are in the unpaid forfeit list, also every jockey
suspended for corrupt practices on the turf, while as a means of
ensuring good order at meetings it is ordained by the "Rules of Racing"
that "the clerk of the course, or corresponding official, shall be the
sole person responsible to the stewards for the general arrangement
of the meeting," a clause evidently devised to bring some kind of
machinery to bear for the exclusion of roughs and welshers from the
racecourses of the kingdom.

The following remarks will be generally accepted as being greatly to
the point: "If an individual member of the turf suffers a pecuniary
wrong, it is the Jockey Club to whom he applies for redress; and
should his honour be assailed, he places his reputation before the
same authority for vindication. In truth, looking up as the sporting
public do to this body as the chief and sovereign head of their own
community for either approbation or condemnation, and with such
serious obligations on their own part, and weighty and grave matters
to deal with and adjudicate upon as regards others, it behoves them
to be careful in their own actions, and tender in investigating and
deciding upon the action of others. To have the moral right of sitting
in judgment upon and deciding a question of honour with respect to
others, they must themselves be beyond reproach as reflected in their
own character and actions; but their verdict can never be impeached as
long as in their own persons they set an example to others of high and
honourable conduct."


The jurisdiction of the Jockey Club will always, in my opinion, be
incomplete till it accepts the responsibility of laying down the law
in questions as to disputed bets, and of deciding when horses are in a
race or when they are not; as, for instance, in the case of Maskelyne,
about which there was a few years ago much discussion, resulting in
the illogical conclusion that, although the entry of that horse was
informal, and consequently inept, those who backed it were ordered
by the committee of Tattersall's to pay their bets! Why should it be
possible to make an informal entry of any horse for any race? Hitherto
it appears to have been among the unwritten laws of the turf that any
person might enter any animal he pleased in any way he liked, without
let or hindrance, and any one can still do so, and thus open a wide
door to fraud. To promote the interest of bookmakers possessing a
dishonest turn, half-a-dozen Maskelynes might be entered for important
races. Such entries, no doubt, as in the case of the horse named, may
hitherto have been accidental; but in future such entries might be
made all but impossible by being brought, by order of the Club, under
the cognisance of some responsible official whose duty it should be
to oversee all entries and check the age and breeding of the animals
submitted for the various races.

With regard to bets, it is notorious that in the case of disputes a
really logical decision on the merits of a case can seldom be obtained.
Decisions are often given on what may be called a "sentimental" view
of the subject; it would not be difficult to cull from the annals of
Tattersall's a string of judgments each of which would put the other
out of countenance. The committee to whom is confided the giving of
a decision in a case of disputed betting is too big. A very small
tribunal, always composed of the same men, the consistency of whose
decisions could be watched and discussed by those interested in the
purity of the turf, would act with such promptitude as would enable
"quorums" to be dispensed with--the "quorum" system, indeed, might be
advantageously done away with.

The unique position occupied by the Jockey Club, which has been, so
far, described for the benefit of the uninitiated, is, of course, known
to all interested in the business of racing. The Club, as lawgiver
of the turf and as its own executive, is despotic; it makes laws
and alters them at discretion; the plain truth is, it seems to be
perpetually engaged in the patching of the "Rules of Racing," which
have been the growth of the last seventy or eighty years, and which,
instead of being occasionally patched, ought to be revised from
beginning to end--or, perhaps, if they were "entirely reconstructed"
it would be better. In all probability the original framework has been
so patched as to be past recognition. Any person who takes the trouble
to look over the "Rules of Racing," which are to be found in "Ruff"
or any of the other guides to the turf, will at once see that many of
them might be with advantage altogether excised. The terrible penalties
against horse-watching, especially in regard to trials, might at once
be removed from the statutes; as they stand they only provoke laughter;
in fact they are altogether obsolete, and seem to us moderns "full of
sound and fury."

The following sentences comprise the rules of racing, so far as they
relate to "corrupt practices," among which will be found what is said
in regard to the watching of trials: "(i.) If any person corruptly
give or offer any money, share in a bet, or other benefit to any
person having official duties in relation to a race or to any jockey;
or (ii.) If any person having official duties in relation to a race,
or any jockey, corruptly accept or offer to accept money, share in a
bet, or other benefit; or (iii.) Wilfully enter or cause to be entered
or to start for any race a horse which he knows to be disqualified;
or (iv.) If any person be detected watching a trial, or proved to the
satisfaction of the stewards of the Jockey Club to have employed
any person to watch a trial, or to have obtained surreptitiously
information respecting a trial from any person or persons engaged in
it, or in the service of the owner as trainer of the horses tried, or
respecting any horse in training from any person in such services;
or (v.) If any person be guilty of any other corrupt or fraudulent
practices on the turf in this or any other country; every person so
offending shall be warned off Newmarket Heath and other places where
these rules are in force."

These laws were evidently devised in favour of betting owners, who
cared little about racing except for the opportunities afforded for
gambling. During these latter years the Jockey Club has been criticised
by several sporting writers with unsparing severity; various faults
incident to a pastime which within the last sixty or seventy years has
developed into an immense institution of the gambling order having
been improperly laid at its door. The Club, or at all events the men
who direct its work, are not seldom held up to the public as "anserous
noodles" of the deepest dye, as "men, indeed, who could not be
entrusted to groom a horse, far less to make laws for the regulation of
horse-racing." Nothing comes easier to some writers when, unfortunately
for the public, they are entrusted with the use of pen and ink, than
abuse; but happily abuse is not argument, and no writer desirous of
seeing the turf in a flourishing condition, or who is anxious to have
its unsavoury surroundings eliminated, can ignore the useful work done
by the Club within the last ten or twelve years, which may be assumed
as the precursor of more good work to follow. What may, however,
be very properly charged against the Jockey Club is that, being a
dealer in racing itself, it is wrong for it to regulate the racing of
other companies; it is, in reality, as if one firm of tailors were to
constitute itself the supreme head of the trade, and say to all other
tailors: "You shall do as I tell you; you must cut your cloth as I
dictate, and sell at the price I name." The Club has in its day done
much to further the interests of the turf, but much remains yet for it
to do--not so much, however, in the devising of big stakes to be run on
its own race-ground, but in various reforms incidental to race-running
and in codifying and revising the laws of the turf.


|Transcriber's note:                              |
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|Obvious typographic errors have been corrected.  |
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