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TURF HISTORY

THE ASCOT GOLD CUP UNBEATEN FRENCH HORSE LESSONS FROM THE PAST BY SPEARMINT When Mr, Reid Walker proudly led in Invershin after winning his first Ascot Gold Cup he is reported to havo said: " I really believe that I would rather win the Gold Cup than the Derby." What he said when the handsomo son of Invincible won the same race for the second year in succession is not, so far as I am aware, on record, but a prominent writer was justifiably sceptical as to his preferring the cup to the Derby and pointed out that Mr. Reid Walker had still to lead in his first Derby winner. The little anecdote, however, throws a vivid light on the extraordinary hold which the Ascot Gold Cup has on the imagination of tho English racegoer, excelled in its romantic associations only by the Derby and the Liverpool Grand National. Wo owe the oxistenco of Ascot to " good Queen Anne," who, when riding over the common ono day realised what a wonderful racecourse it would make and translated thought into action to such good effect that on August 7. 1711, Her Majesty's Plate, of 100 guineas, was run for " round tho new heat on Ascot Common, near Windsor." It was open for " any horse or mare, being no more than six years old the grass before, carrying 12st., three heats; to bo entered tho last day of July at Mr. Hancock's, at Fern Hill, near tho etartingpost." Derby and Ascot Oup It is a far cry from these days to tho Gold Cup as we now know it. Tho actual race for the Gold Cup was instituted in ISO 7 by George 111., and it was attended by the Queen and her daughters, " Her Majesty and the threo Princesses," as the contemporary account runs. It was won by a horse with tho unromantic name of Master Jackey, who was a three-year-old and carried 6.2. For many years the cup was not particularly popular nor was it won by many of the best horses, Touchstone, who won it two years in succession, and Beeswing being exceptions. From 18-15 to 1553 it was known as tho Lmperor's Plate out of compliment to Tsar Nicholas, who was then visiting England and presented the prize. In 1851 the original name was restored, and this year was signalised by the victory of the great West Australian, the first winner of the triple crown and one of few Derby winners to win the cup. As a matter of fact, only 11 winners of the Dirby have succeeded in winning the cup, the last to do so being Persimmon, who won in 1897. Only ono horse ha 3 won the Derby and cup in tho same year. This was the sensational Blue Gown, whom Sir John Hawley rated higher thnn his stable companion Rosicrucian. and who was a brilliant success as a racehorse, but an arrant failure as a sire. Hyperion attempted the double event last season, although not in same year, his Derby victory having been in the year before, but he did not succeed. There will not be a Derby winner engaged in tho field this year, Windsor Lad having been struck out of the race last month, while the Aga Khan appears to be relying on Felicitation- and rather than his recent Derby winner Bahram, who may be given a chance to show his metal next year. Sensational Incidents After West Ausf' 'ian's year the Ascot Gold Cup came in'o its own and it numbers among its winners some of the greatest horses that have ever graced a tacecourse. One of most interest to New Zealanders was Fisherman, who won it in 1858 and 1859 and subsequently came to Australia to found a great line, represented by Angler, Robinson Crusoe, Trident. Maribyrnong. ' '.bmond, The Admiral and innumerable I ; iics. including the great Sylvia. Another I wus Merman, tho only Australian horse to j van. " The Special Commissioner " also j brought over Aurum, whom he thought in- ! finitely superior to Memian. \o run in tho same ownership, but Merman was a hardy i customer, and the same training methods, [•'applied to Aurum, broke him down and ho ' never raced in England. Australia claimed a further interest in the Ascot Gold Cap when the three-year-old Bomba, a son of Carbine, won in 1909. Three of the easiest wins in the history of . tho race were those of St. Simon, Cvlleno ! and Bayardo, although the feat of the lasti named was to a certain extent dis- ! counted by the weakness of the field. | There have been plenty of sensational incij dents in connection with tho cup. including i two disqualifications. The first was in 1907, ! when The White Knight dead-heated with the French horße Eider after a desperate I struggle, and the race was awarded to tho : former, who also won it again the followinjz i year. The other instance was in 1920, when 1 Sir William Nelson shattered the tradition j which held it to be bad form to lodge a I protest at Ascot by getting the raco awarded to hi 3 horse Tangiers, instead of to Buchan, who was first past the post. Unbeaten Brantome The Ascot Gold Cup has always had an international flavour and there have heen very few occasions in recent years when j there has not been a strong foreign reprej sentalion. The main interest in to-morrow's contest is centred in the nomination of the I unbeaten French champion Brantome, who is hailed by his admirers as the best horse ' of the century. This colt, who is a four- | year-old son of Blandford and Vitamine, bj i Clarissimus, recently won the Prix de j Cadran, which is the French equivalent of the Ascot Gold Cup, being run over a j severe course of two and miles Brantome won by 15 lengths in 4m. 235., j which was 1 2-ss. faster than was taken by . Felicitation to win the Ascot Gold Cup last I year. This made Brantomo's eleventh successive I victory and ho has won over £27,000 in atake3. When he challenged his rivals, he left them as though they wero walking and was merely cantering when be passed tho post 15 lengths clear. His trainer, Lucien Robert, expressed the opinion before the race that he was in better condition than over before, an opinion which his appearance and tho manner of his victory fully confirmed. Should he have reached England in the same condition, it. is a foregono conclusion that he will start favourite. French Successes j In view of the immense interest created i by Brantome's form it is opportune to review some previous attempts of French champions to capture this delectable prize. It was not until 1861, over 50 years after the inauguration of the event, that a foreigner appeared in tho field, this being the French colt Royallieu. who finished fifth to Alice Hawthorn's son Thornmnby. The first j French success was in 1806, when Gladiatour, who had won the triple crown tho | previous year, won by 10 lengths from the ! Oaks winner Regalia, with Breadalbane, the only other starter, tailed off to such an extent that he did not pass tho post. The next French winner came in IS7I and has special interest for New Zealand readers, as he was Mortomer, tho sire of Aprcmont, who made a great success at the stud in this country, siring Prime Warden, Wakawatea, Pygmalion, Cynisca and many o'her pood winners. Mortemer belonged to M. Lefevre, who repeated his triumph in tho following year by the aid of Henry, who, like Gladiateur, was a son of Monarquc. The next French win came in 1572, when the great Boinrd beat a strong field, which included Gang Forward, Kaiser, Marie Stuart and Doncaster. After an interval of four years another French-bred horse triumphed in Verneuxl. a son of Mortemer. England's Main Hopes Twenty years then elapsed before the cup again went to France through the win of F.lf 11. in 189R In 19"3 Maximum 11. won by six lengths from Rising Glass, and in IHO7 Eider dead-heated with Tho White Knight, but was disqualified. The only other French horse to win was Massine, who scored from another of his own nationality in Filibort de Savoie in 1921. Last year Tlior 11. finished ill second place, but he wp« eight lengths behind the winner Felicitation. What champions is Britain able to put into the field to do battle with the French inva(>:r on Thursday next? Windsor Lad, our best horso of last year, is not to run. After him we naturally look to the Aga Khan's pan. Felicitation, last year's winuer, and Umidv.ni, who was prevented from showing his best form last season by the hardness of the ground Unfortunately both have commenced tho season badly. At Newmarket early in May Felicitation was beaten into third place in the Chippenham Stakes, ono mile and a-half by Tai-Yang and Tiberius, the margins being threo lengths and six lengths, and on the following day was beaten by Easton by four len ,t th« in the Mtrob Stakes, one mile and a-quarter. The distanco in each case may havo been too short, but at present it certainly looks as though England's main contenders for tho prize will be tho unbeaten Tai-Yang and Tiberius. The former is by Silsrio and the latter by Foxlaw. both Ascot Gold Cup winners, and both are bred to stay the d stance a sine qua noil in this most gruelling of all racecourse testß.

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Bibliographic details

TURF HISTORY, New Zealand Herald, Volume LXXII, Issue 22139, 19 June 1935

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TURF HISTORY New Zealand Herald, Volume LXXII, Issue 22139, 19 June 1935

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