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ENGLISH SPORTING REMINISCENCES

One would have thought (says Mr John Corlett in the "Sporting Times") that all the jockeys who rode in the Derby in 1857 would by this time no longer be numbered with the things; that be, and yet wlien we come to think*"of it. it was only a month or two ago that we were called upon to. write an obituary notice of Mr W. S. Martin, who "looked after" Plenipotentiary when he won the Derby of 1834; and John Kent, who actually rode the great Priam, winner of the Derby of 1820, in a gallop in Goodwood Park, is still alive. Compared with these, W. Abdale, whose death took place recently, was scarcely a veteran. We cannot call to mm& Abdale as a jockey, though we must have seen him. as we well recollect Skirmisher, whom he rode, running for the Derby in 1857. On turning to an account of that race, we find that Abdale was fined £10 for disobedience at the post. Not ouly did he last on until last week, but other jockeys who rode in v-at race who are still with us are John Osborne, F. Bates, and Wm. Day. It was, indeed, not long after this that Fred Bates, who was a midge of & thing at the time, astonished the dignified Sam Rogers by telling him to hold his horse while he got off and gave the starter a hiding. We do not think that Abdale was ever regarded as a great jockey, and probably his riding of Skirmisher in the Derby did not altogether give satisfaction, as he did not ride him again. Looking at the success of the Voltigeur line it is remarkable that he never got a winner of the Derby, Oaks, or St. Leger. Buckstone ran well for him In the Derby, and wo thought

ought to have won the St; Leger. He won the Ascot Cnp. Skirmisher, who was by Voltigeur, also won the Ascot Cup. His two-year-old career was not particularly brilliant, as out of ten races he only won two, and they were very small stakes. His earlier three-year-old career was, however, very similar to that of St. Albans three years later. He ran second in a big field for the Northamptonshire Stakes, in which One of the unplaced horses was the celebrated Adamas, who afterwards won the City and Suburban, and was only a neck behind in the Derby. In those, days if a horse ran second for a race, he had to carry a penalty afterwards, which was cruel, seeing what a tantalising place second is. For being second in the two miles Northamptonshire Stakes Skirmisher carried 51b extra for the Great Northern Handicap at York, which was also two miles, and this he won readily, the great Northumberland Plate winner, Underhand, and Odd Trick, who afterwards won the Cambridgeshire, being in the field. The York Biennial also fell to Skirmisher, and on the strength of these performances he was backed down to 7 to 1 for the Derby, for which he was ridden by Abdale, and was not placed to Blink Bonny. With Charlton, who had ridden Blink Bonny, in the saddle, he won the Ascot Cup, beating an exceptionally good field, which included Gemma di Vergy, Saunterer, Pretty Boy, Leamington, who twice won the Chester Cup, Winkfield, who had won an Ascot Cup, Rogerthorpe, who carried off the Goodwood Cup, and Warlock, who was the winner of the St. Leger of 1856. Underhand beat Skirmisher for the Northumberland Plate, with El Hakim, who afterwards ran a dead heat with Prioress and Queen Bess for- the Cesarewitch, third. Strathnaver, who had finished close up in the Derby, was beaten easily by Skirmisher for the Biennial at York. For the Great Yorkshire Stakes he ran, second to his stable companion, Vedette, with whom Lord Zetland declared to win. Whether he was engaged in the St. Leger or hot, we do not know, but for that race the stable were supposed to have a better in Ignoramus, who was, with Blink Bonny, the summer favourite. At the Doncaster meeting Skirmisher won the Queen's Plate, beating Fisherman, and his stable companion, vedette, took the Cup on the same afternoon that the Blink Bonny riot took place, Skirmisher on the same day beating Saunterer for the Doncaster Stakes. From this it will be seen that it was no ordinary animal that Abdale rode for the, Derby. It was his last mount in the race, and he lived 45. years longer. He rode some good winners for Lord George Bentinck, but we fear that ins circumstances were not goOd. Many famous or successful jockeys have died in poverty. Without doubt one of the greatest jockeys that ever got into the saddle was Jim Robinson, but though he lived a quiet, steady life, he was in by no means affluent circumstances, and the £o0 that the Duke of Rutland gave him every year for having won the Derby on Cadland was a matter of consideration to him. After his death, which took place in a small house, on the site of which Charles Archer has erected a very fine building, vre looked over his things which were advertised for sale. An item was the jacket he wore on Cadland. It was light, blue, with purple sleeves, and. we determined.to buy it, but it was withdrawn from the sale, and in all probability It «£2f » '? ptl r an £ _"? lfc -aye seen it stated that when Robinson won the St cr p l °, ! L M i ti l da ' Ca P tain Dowbiggen gave him £1000, but we were always under the impression that the first man to give a jockey as much as £500 was Captain Scott, and that was some time later. For "many years Captain Scott, who in: his time was a plunger, was lost to the English turf and we believe Ik? went to Australia. We recollect, however, seeing a little old man at Newmarket some time later, and a veteran pointed him out to us, saying: ''That is Captain Scott, who wss the first man that ever gave a jockey £500." Captain Dowbiggen was the hero of the famous Crimean War story of "Take care of Dowb." This message, sent by Lord Panmui£, who was Minister for War, to the Commander-in-Chief, caused the utmost perplexity. Dowb, it was concluded, was some sort ox important strategical position, and it was not until explanations were offered that it transpired that it was a favourite officer who was to be looked after. Sam Rogers, Nat Flatman, and Frank Butler all died in easy circumstances. Aldcroft, on the other hand, was a pensioner for some time before his death. Norman, who had some splendiu riding, and was -on the back of the famous Stockwell when he won the Two Thousand Guineas and St. Leger, and Regalia when she won the Oaks, died in poverty, and for some time earned a few shillings weekly by strapping horses. John Porter tells a gruesome story of the end of Bell; who rode many a great winner, and there was something of the same, we beiieve, with Mariow,- who was made famous by The Flying Dutchman. One of the worst cases in our own time was that of Maidment, who In the early "seventies" had a greater following than any of the jockeys of the present day. He was, in fact, known as the "lucky jockey," and with some reason, seeing that he won theDerby on Kisber and Creinorne, the .Oaks on Hannah, the St. Leger on Hannah and Wenlock, and the One Thousand Guineas on Hannah; in fact, there was scarcely a big race a winner of which he did not ride. He followed in the footsteps of Norman, and.became a strapper in the stable.! Morris, who rode Galopin in. the * Derby, came to know what it was to want a shilling, and we: occasionally see at Newmarket an old jockey that we more than oriee saw ride Prince Charlie to victory, who is very much down on his luck. In the majority of these cases, but not in all, prudence in the time of prosperity was what was lacking, and having sunk, they almost refused to allow themselves to be redeemed. The Chifneys, who were a great racing family of and were at one time almost kings of Newmarket, gradually sank in the social scale until at length the name altogether died out. Priam House, which Chifney built, is still there, bnt it now belongs to a banker, and Is called Priam House no more. Newmarket without an Arnull would at one time have seemed strange* bnt that is another name that we no longer see. Sam Rogers had a son who was once a fiist-class light-weight, and when on one occasion the boy, in a close finish, beat the father, the old man looked very glum. That light-weight is now in large practice as a solicitor, and at the present moment would writ us as lief as' look at us. Flatman's sons were brought up to other pursuits, and one of them is an artist of some merit. The late John Watts has a son who is a chip of the old block, and with Tom Cannon the son is the old block itself. There iis no family of late years that has supplied more jockeys than that of Loates. H. Loates, who rode Friponnier and The Rake; Ben loates, of "What Do You Think?" celebrity; T. Loates, who was on Isinglass; S. Loates, who is fighting Sir J;B. Maple for a matter of a thousand pounds or so; and a very promising son of "Ben," who is now a light-weight, have all shown 3kill in horsemanship.

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ENGLISH SPORTING REMINISCENCES Auckland Star, Volume XXXIV, Issue 87, 13 April 1903

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