"IS HE AN AUSSIE....?''
"Old Man" Wootton Made Racegoers Sit Up And Take Notice
FRANK AND STANLEY, TOO
Of all the trainers I have known I give the Woottons, Richard and his son Stanley, pride of place for knowing how to make racing pay. Treadwell House, at Epsom, offers one of the classic stories of the English Turf. It began in 1906 when "Old Man" Wootton, a tall, dark-visaged and hard-bitten Australian, came to this country, via South Africa. He meant to strike a new note, the main idea being a stable full of budding jockeys who would not only ride many winners for himself, but for other owners as well. In other words, he intended to become the principal of an academy for jockeys.
niCHAUD WOOTTON arrived here quite unknown, with no one of any consequence to give him any horses. He hart a son, Frank, however, who soon began to advertise the fact that Dick Wootton was a man to reckon with. .In his first season the youthful Frank rode 10 winners. Next year he steered H'J home, and the ensuing season—only his third in England, mark you—he jumped right to the top of the tree with 129 winners, or just ten behind the redoubtable Danny Ala her.
Then he wiped the American right off the map with 165 wins to 116, and all the big stables in England sought his services.
Brother Stanley was also doing pretty well, if on more sedate lines, while coming along under the "Old Man's" stern discipline were the two Huxley boys, followed later by Victor and Willie Smyth, David Dick, Dan McKenna, and a good many more.
What with the miraculous dash and skill shown by Frank before he was twenty, allied to his father's forceful character, the Woottons were soon the talk of the racing world.
They attracted the attention of a man equally hard-headed as Wootton—Edward Hulton, Manchester newspaper millionaire. A couple of years later Mr. Hulton, thanks to Dick Wootton's uncannily good judgment, was beginning to own some first-class horses. Marajax, a winner of many good handicaps, was one; Lonawand another. Later came Fairy King and Stornoway. Making Racing Pay Frank himself was also on top of the world. In 1910 he had become first jockey to Lord Derby, with horses such as Swynford, Stedfast, Hair Trigger 11., and a few others almost as good to ride.
On Swynford, he won the sensational St. Leger which half the racegoers in England declared to have been thrown away by Danny Maher on Lemberg, while later on, for Mr. "Double P." Gilpin, he beat a high*
class field in the Cesarewitcli oil Verney—one of the greatest and most successful gambles the old Master of Clarehaven ever pulled off.
With a gold mine like Frank in the stable, plus a very capable "second string" in Stanley, whose achievements as a horseman were a trifle overshadowed by his brother's, Richard Wootton rose to affluence.
Everybody was on the qui vive for the. cerise, gold sleeves, and blue cap, and also, of course, for the pale blue and maize hoops of Edward Hulton. Neither of them was in racing for the benefit of his health, but to make the game pay.
Wootton himself rarely approached the bookmakers. He had two commissioners, one known as "Deaf" Wilkinson, the other a Colonial confrere of much fame called "Doc" Gunton.
This deafness of Mr. WilKinson's was really an asset. To anyone who ventured to inquire in the Ring whether so-and-so of Wootton's was fancied, he would say: "What's that? Can't hear you." And only the most persistent of punters possessed the audacity to bawl back: "Is yours any good?"
Not for "Old Man" Wootton the tricky and often doubtful startingprice gambles. He liked to bet on the racecourse, to know exactly how much he had to come, and what the danger was. Later on, of course, Mr. Stanley, much enriched by his sire's experiences, began to show the poor bookmakers how "an S.P. job" should be worked. But the father never cat'ed for revealing stable secrets to many people. The fewer the better was his motto. This rattled Mr. Bob Sievier. No sooner had he been restored to the racing fold after a warning off than he began assiduously to cultivate Wootton's friendship. They had a certain bond of union. Wootton hailed from "Down Under," where Sievier had spent some years of his life making a "book." For a time at least they got on well enough, until Sievier began to think that all the secrets of Treadwell House were his for the asking. He soon discovered his mistake. Dick Wootton, never a man to stand dictation, barred Sievier from all further information about his innumerable winners.
Thereupon, as might be expected, the Winning Post, owned and edited by Sievier, became a pillory for him, and the upshot was a protraetcd libel suit in July, 191.5.
The main accusation against him was of running horses not intended to win.
Wootton briefed three expensive lawyers to prosecute his suit, F. E. Smith, K.C.; Eldon Bankes, K.C., and H. A. McCardie. Mr Sievier with customary self-conP.dence, defended himself.
From *a nost of witnesses—from Lords Lonsdale, Derby and Durham down to stable boys from Treadwell House —the public heard much of what racehorses are expected to do.
Mr. Wilkinson, also appeared, and being, as I say, somewhat hard of hearing, was permitted to stand in the well of the court for questioning by F. B. Smith.
At its conclusion, to Mr, Wilkinson's noticeable relief, he was requested to turn round so that Mr, Sievier might cross-examine.
Slightly flustered at this new turn, he obeyed, and in his embarrassment shook hands with the enemy!
Then an overwrought employee -of Wootton's admitting a fine of £50 for not weighing after a race, tried to run out of the witness-box.
He was called back by Mr. Justice Darling.
"Wait a moment, my boy," said the judge, "Mr. Smith hasn't weighed in yet."
Danny Maher, no friend of the Woottons, gave evidence for Sievier. Bob himself had one catch phrase he repeatedly used to the jury— "Money talks."
Persistently he hid up a farthing, and proved to be a good judge.
It was precisely the amount the 12 good men and true ajyarded Wootton when he got the verdict.
But the. matter did not end there
Wootton could be a friend to anyone he liked, but also an implacable enemy.
Some few years afterwards, having collected much material about
Bob Siever's rather purple past, he distributed a resume of it for the enlightenment of all who might be interested.
This necessitated an answer from the victim. He, too, brought an action for libel, which was as good as a Drury Lane drama. In the result, the jury gave back to Mr. Siever the solitary farthing he had paid to Mr. Wootton. War's Upheaval When the racing season of 1913— truly a memorable one, what with the Creganour tragedy in the Derby that year and the suffragettes' demonstration at Epsom and Ascot —came to an end, further sensations were provided by the retirement from the saddle of the two leading jockeys, Danny Malier and Frank Wootton. Poor Danny was already dying of consumption, while Wootton could no longer keep his weight down. He was a big boy, and after years in the saddle, with a record of successes never before known in England, the strain of continual wasting could no longer be endured. In 1914, therefore, he started training in a small way, just a few platers of no great account.
With the coming of tbe Great War in August, 1914, he promptly joined the Army and served his country gallantly and well in Mesopotamia.
Richard Wootton returned to Australia in 1915, and most of the Hullon horses, with racing confined to Newmarket, went to headquarters to lie trained by Walters and Dawson Waugh.
Others were already at Wliatcombe, with Richard Dawson, who, in 1916, won the Manchester millionaire the Derby and Oaks with that smashing good filly Fifinella.
When Sir Edward Hulton, as he had become in 1921, died four years afterwards, his tremendous stud fetched the unprecedented sum of £288,000, the brood mares alone bringing £130,000.
They were certainly a marvellously bred lot of animals, though inordinately dear as things turned out.
Frank Wootton returned from "Mespot," and eventually became a brilliant rider over hurdles. It was laughable to see a jockey like him getting the 51b allowance "over the sticks."
However, he soon lost that, much to the relief of George Duller, Ernie Piggott, Jack Anthony, F. B. Rees and a few more of the jumping jockeys. Frank rode much in the Duller style, and with a succes of hotpots trained by tlie evergreen Tom Coulthwaite, took his place among the champions almost immediately. But I shall be writing more about him later on.
If "Old Man" Wootton had done pretty well at Treadwell House, Stanley, who, like brother Frank, served in the East during the war, showed that he would do infinitely better. Over a period of 15 years he turned out close on a thousand winners, a record thai will probably never be surpassed. At Treadwell House the discipline was probably stricter than ever. The stables were a model of efficiency; the boys were models of obedience. Better horses were trained there, 100. "The master" would pay 300l)gs or 'JOOOgs for a worth-wnile one—and what a line judge he was! "Old Man" Wootton remarked: "That boy of mine will make a fortune." Also some of the country's finest jockeys came from'*this lOpsom racing emporium—young Pat lionogliuc, .Joe Marshall, Boboy Dick, Jack Sirett, Charlie Smirke, Joe Caldwell, Xoel Carroll, Billy Stott, Arthur W'ragg, Percy Serby, Suitl ingham, the brothers Cordell and Hunter, and the reliable Morris, who pulled oil" some of the greatest coups designed at Treadwell House. They ivere all taught their business by .Stanley Wootton. Early in Stanley's time one of his owners was ihat shrewd Shafiesijuiy Avenue bomface, Moss Vernon, who grew rich on his racing advenlures, and became a big properly owner in the West End. Sir Alfred Bull also joined llie stable. In l'J23 there arrived at Treadwell House one of the finest moneyspinners they ever Knew, the frisnbred Time. He was the properly of Macahnden, the bookmaKer, anu as a sprinter must have been close to championship class.
Time won a couple of races for VVootton as a four-year-old, and the following year, after carrying "J.G unplaced in a Kempton Park Handicap, made his appearance at mo Epsom spring meeting.
Even with 8.6 in a very big field he looked something to bet on, and the stable connections evidently thought that way.
They entrusted one of the cleverest commissioners in the country to "invest" £500 each way, at starting price, but not on the course.
All over the country wires for Time went out at the last moment, and was there not some grumbling and downright grousing when Time, with the utmost ease, won the Tadwort li Handicap at the staggering I,- ice of 25 to 1?
Never before had a Wootton horse done such a thing to the poor bookmakers In one swoop bang went £15,000.
Stanley had but one winner that memorable day, but doubtless was well satisfied.
Thrice afterwards this useful animal obliged—in the Royal Stakes at the Epsom Derby meeting, in a handicap at Brighton and, then, carrying 9.12, at Kempton Park.
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"IS HE AN AUSSIE....?'', Auckland Star, Volume LXXVI, Issue 53, 3 March 1945, Supplement
"IS HE AN AUSSIE....?'' Auckland Star, Volume LXXVI, Issue 53, 3 March 1945, Supplement
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