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THE DERBY DAY.

(From the Times, 26th May.)

The anniversary of our " Isthmian Games," as Lord Palmerston once called them in proposing the usual motion of adjournment over the Derby day, was celebrated yesterday with as great enthusiasm as ia any other of the eighty-five years which have elapsed since an ancestor of the present Lord Derby first founded these famous stakes. The occasion, always possessing a fascination for Londoners, in this instance exercised special attractions, for, like the philosophers of old, their information extended to the point of enabling them to see how little they really knew of the chances of the race. Good horses in unusual numbers were believed to be among the starters; but in many instances there had been no opportunity of forming from previous performances a satisfactory estimate of their capabilities. The oracles were duly consulted, _ but their answers were mostvague and conflicting. The route to the Derby presents tlie choice of the road or of the rail; to speak more accurately, of several roads and several rails. Along the former, clouds of dust, escorting and almost hiding the vehicles by which they were raised, travelled towards the pleasant course that lies on the verge of Banstead Downs, and poured their converging particles upon its thirsty'soil. If it be the lot of every man, as the proverb says, to consume in his time a given quantity of Ms mother earth before he finally returns to her embraces, the journeyer3 to Epsom along the high roads may be congratulated on having got through an appreciable share of their allotted task. Dusty, thirsty, heated, tired, but still good-humored as when they set out, the occupants of every class of vehicle struggled on to the appointed gaol: now making good speed along the level, now toiling up hill, and now scattering like fragments of an Armstrong shell as the equine {jbattery in front pours in' a destructive : volley of kicks. Pleasant it is to muse on the contents of the hampers perched so knowingly on the roofs of Hansom cabs, travelling like the extinct race of carriage dogs under stylish four-in-hands, or swelling over and bursting, as it were, from the pockets of family traps; dogcarts, excursion vans, &c. Pleasant it is to witness the confidences and mutual understandings which grow with every mile of the journey between members of the aame party, whether the number be four or forty; and pleasant it would be to listen to the melodies in front, if the individual with the worst ear. for music were not invariably seiected to play the most defective instrument at command. Pleasant it is to receive kindly nods of encouragement from spectators whom you pass, evidently wishing that they, too, were ; going to the Derby; and when, with a smile, some female hand places in yours a paper, which you discover to be" a tract, you credit the donor with a desire that, in the midst of enjoyment, you should not lose sight of serious things. But pleasant it certainly is not to encounter at a turn of the road two men supporting placard-holders, which exhibit in gaudy colors names and texts of the most solemn kind; one of these men, moreover, delivering himself at half-minute intervals, of sentiments such as. these:—"The race is, indeed short," " The way down to the pit is easy," &c. With certain persons, religion resolves itself into a systematic attribution of the very worst motives to all their neighbors; and this looked very like a case in point. The result undoubtedly was that the class whom it was intended to atiect by these monitioas passed them by unheeded; while others,■ who felt their value, entertained decided opinions as to the manner in which they were put forward. These, however, are but wayside incidents. The tide of humanity which began to roll out of the metropolis at early morning, aud was still climbing the hill at Epsom while the bell was ringing

for the event of the day, can never-be detained within the limits of a single article. If, indeed) iit were possible that this p;reat " JJrift" couid be petrified, then tf'e task might'be performed at leisure, aud in detail, otherwise it is well nigh hopeless. ~ , -, • t But although, dust apart, the hign road is far the more enjoyable method of getting to the course, in these days of rapid and luxurious travelling the railways take down | numbers vast-'y exceeding those who drive or | are driven. For several hours ten-minute I trains wers running y<sfcerday, and yet each fresh departure left upon xhe platform hundreds of passengers, tickets in hand, who were unable to find seats. In the -midst of snch a concourse those who were going-about their ordinary bu:inoss felt entirely oat of place, and tendered their luggage in a deprecatory and apologetic manner. The sight, when once the spectator emerges on the Downs, by whichever routs lie has come, is always impressive. The grand undulating sweep embraced in the horseshoe course of a mile ami a half is for the most part covered with a living mass of spectators, broken here and there by barricades of vehicles, stands, and booths, allowing the green surface to ajppeir only in those spots from which no advantageous view can be obtained. As trains arrive aai vehicles pour in, the spectators accumulate even more rapidly than the nails in that other horseshoe which |to most schoolboys is a, hideous arithmetical [nightmare- One edge of.the course is fringed with canvas edifices, flunking the central buildi ing, which tosses its Union Jack high in air [in ! token of its superiority, and' further asserts its prerogative by smoking in a manner indicative of good cheer below; All these stands, from the | grandest to the smallest, are as full as full can j be—so full that rainy who have paid their t money, and find that seeing in them is a [process only less difficult than that of I breathing', volnntarily retire and take up | their places among the throng outside. It is I a singular gathering which " this freemasonry of the turf engenders. The proudest mera- ' bers of the proudest aristocracy pass, it may Ibe jostle, tile least cleanly of costermongers lat every turn. True, when the race begins I the latter cannot occupy the positions which ; are open to the former; but till then they are on a footing of perfect equality. _ Kindred tastes and' congeniality of pursuits have brought them together, for the day at least, and neither is sensible of the slightest incongruity. Within the area known as " the Ring the types of men are massed together whose faces were sketched inimitably in the Seven Sons of Mammon. Immediately overhead sit their JKoyal Highnesses the Prince of Wales and the Com-mander-in-chief. The force of contrast can no further-go; But it is two o'clock, andhigh time to visit the paddock, if a good look is to be obtaiued at the competitors, and an estimate formed of their relative merits. The favourites, as usual, are last in appearing, and do little more, indeed, than walk through the psddof.k on their way to the weighing and saddling post. But some who are desirous of creating a favourable impression arrive early, and pace" up and down among the spectators, who, at this point, owing to the tariff and the difficulties thrown in the way of obtaining tickets, are exceedingly select. Birch Broom, Historian, and Paris seem to be the horses creating the best impression; but the struggle, of course, is to see General IPeel, Cambuscan, and Scottish Chief, who at the eleventh hour advanced in favor so ivonderfully. It is strange, even in the simple operation of moving up and down a paddock, what shades of character are exhibited by different horses. Some, with faces soft and delicate as gazelles, return the spectator's stare with mute surprise. Others follow their grooms moodily to and fro, switching their tails, and to all appearance conscious of the work before them. Others object in . a decided manner to the crowd which follows them about; .-■ and some few require a strong arm and a man's weight upon their backs to keep them from bursting into open rebellion. At one time it seemed as if it were on the point of raining—more or less, indeed, it had been threatening all day—and a quiver of sensation ran through the assembly, A single shower might revolutionise the conditions of the race. But ihis was not to be. The firm leg and the hard hoof are indispensable -the " brazen hoof," as it would have been in Homer's time, when there are good reasons for believing that horses were not shod at all. shortly before three o'clock, at the sound of the bell, the whole of the starters advanced to the front of the Grand Stai-d f;>r their preliminary canter; but the public lingered so affectionately on the racecourse that the jockeys had time to walk nearly to Tr.ttenham Corner before they had a clear path back again. After three or four false starts, the horses, thirty in all, were duly arranged, and the ringing of the bell announced to the pablic, who bad once or twice before been excited by false alarms, that the race was fairly on; but it was when the horses rounded Tattenham Corner that the spectators began to understand the magnificent character of the finish they were about to witness. Ordinarily the horses have by that time dropped nearly into a string, having a few knots in it, but a string. There is a glittering rise and fall beyond the hedge at that point, which affords a means of gauging pace and distance. On this occasion the horses seemed to roll round the corner in a, bundle, and to spin down the hill like so many colored balls. The pace, already tremendous, increased at every moment, and it was not till tha horses were fairly abreast of the line of stands that ifc could be said to which group victory was likely to incline. Even then there was a little see-sawing, and the excitement and clamour became oppressive. Suddenly it was perceived that a horse which had not been seen in the paddock, though it earned favorable notice in the canter past, but which was not clearly identi-1 fied then, being by many mistaken for Birch Broom,;wasrapidlypas3ingallth.eothers, and gaining even upon the favorite. This was a tall horse with striking action of its fore legs, and a face prominently marked with white—in other words, Blair Athol. Still it seemed that General Peel could win easily if he liked; his long swinging stride had carried him past everything else, and a single effort seemed all that was necessary to retain his place. His jockey gave an uneasy glance over his shoulder; he had done, and was doing his best, but Blair Athol, longer in the limb, and i with strength befctsr preserved, shot passed him i him (after a momentary struggle, an easy win- j ncr by two lengths. Mr Merry's Scottish Chief made a good third; the others-had nearly all puled in. Even to the last moment the public faith in the qualities of Birch Broom was so strong, the colors of j bis rider beitig very similar to those sf the winner, that it was not till the telegraph spoke that uncertainty oh tae point was removed. In point of speed the race was most remarkable. As taken by "Benson's Chronograph," the time which it occupied was 2min. 445ec3., being 8 2-10 th sec. less than was taken to traverse the same course in 1863, and l|sec. less than in 1862. These races have only been timed for the last ten or twelve years, and in the year when Blink Bonny, the darn of Blair Athol, achirved her victory, she traversed the course in 2min. 45sec._, the shortest time of which any recard then existed. Hers remained the most rapid performance until 1861, when the Derby was won by Kettle-drum in 2min. *43sec. It will be seen that there is only the difference-of-a* second between Blair Athol's performance and that of the fastest horse ever known upon the Epsom course.' . Immediately that the race has concluded, persons began to remember the brilliant pedigree of which the winner could boast. Foaled by Blink Bonny, the winner of the Derby six or seven years ago, and, in the same week, of the Oaks likewise,: his sire Stockwell, through prevented from succeeding on the course at Epsom, had won the ■ cit Leger, and also carried off the 2000 Guineas.

We subjoin a more technical account of the great race: —

THE EIGHTr-FIFrH DERBY SIAKES. Of 50 soys. each, h, ft., for three-year-olds. Colts, Bst. 101b., and fillies, Bst. 51b. ; second to receive 100 soys. out of the stakes. Mile and a half; to be run on the new course, 234 subs. Mr W. I'Aflson's eh c Blair Atltol, by Stockwell - Blink Bonny (Snowdon)... .... 1 Lord Glasgow's b c General Peel (Aldcroft) .. 2 Mr Merry's b c Scottish Chief (J. Adams) .. 3 Captain A. Cooper's br c Knight of Snowdon (F.Adams).. ... .... .. •• ... * Mr Bowe's eh. c Baragah (Ashmal!) Mr T. Valentine's br c Hollyfox (T. French) Lord Glasgow's br c Stafford (Doyle) Mr J. Day's eh c Master Richard (Deacon) Captain Christie's gr c Warrior (J. Grimshaw) Mr W. Hudson's eh c Cathedral (Whiteleyj Mr Eastwood's oh. c Surat (Buck) Mr W. G. Craven's br c Planet (Morgan) Mr Ten Broeck's be Paris (G. Fordham) Mr H. Hill's b c Copenhagen (S. Rogers) Mr H. Hill's be Ackworth (Judd) Mr £, Brayley's br c Outlaw (Cowley) Mr Cavtwright's be Ely (Custance) Lord Westmoreiand's be Signalman (S. Adams) Lord Westmoreland's be Birch Broom (J. Goater) Mr W. Stewart'BbcMajor, (H tt.rim.shaw) Captain White's ph -c Csmbuscan. (J Mann) . Sir J. Hawley's eh c' Washington (Wells)

iVir iNaylor's on c AppeMue ( . i'icaca) Mr. NayJor's cb c Coastguard (Challonei) Mr £avile's b c Privateer (E. Sharpe). Sir F Johiist.one'.s b c Historian (Daley) Mr Cathciirt's eh c Pi-inca Arthur (J. Osborney Mr T. liobinson's eh c Dormou*? (W Boyce> MrHodgman'-i be Vaiiaufc (Perry) MrJ.B Starky's br c Izaak Wai con (H Sopp) BrttiT 9 ti 2 U'^st .-jyottish Chief, sto I nest' Genera- Peel, 13 to 2 ajj.rt i3ircli Broom, 7 to 1 aftst Cambosem, 10i) to 8 agst Pans, 100 to 7 apst'B'air Athol, 20 to 1 each agst Coastguard tmd Ely, 28 to 1 a*Gt .Valiaat, 30 to 1 agst Bara^ali, 33 to 1 agst Ackwovth, 40 to 1 agsfc Stafford 50 to 1 each asp* Historian and Prince Arthur, and 1001> to 15-e.vh agst Copenhagen and Hollyfox. In consequence of the extreme rehutiaee exhibited .by Washington, Master Richard, and Copenhagen, to face the flag coupled with'fue breaking away of Valiant, Blair Athol, Hollyfox, His-orian, Cathedral, and one or two others, the start was delayed to'Withm a-f-w minutes of four o-clock, when,Mr M'George was enabled to discbarge them on most favorable terms. Warrior, m the centre of the course, -being" tne hwt m motion followed by Valiant, Signalman, General Peelnext the rails, with Ely, Birch Broom, fccottoh; Chief, and Barapah-lying next, the next division, being headed by'HistOrian, Pans, -Blair Athol, and Mr Naylor's two, and in their rear came Knight of Snowdoh, Copenhagen, btrafford, and Major, who were whipped in -by Washington, Ackworth, Planet, Outlaw, Privateer, and Dormouse, the last, who was scarcely able tox:anter, being stopped before they reached the brow of the" "till, and walked home. On entering the furzes Warrior suddenly disappeared-.from- the front, followed in a few strides further by Signalman, leaving General Peel on the lower side with a slight lead, but who was speedily headed by Ely, who, in company with Birch Broom, Scottish Chief, and the Mapr, came on in advance, closely attended by General' Peel, Historian, Knight of Snow.ion, Cambuscan, Coastguard, and Blair Athol, to the mile post, when Major tell back, and his place was taken by the Malton favorite, who came in waking upon the favoiites to halfway down the bill,'when he joined Coastguard, the pair running in company until fairly round Tattenham Corner, when E'y was beaten,-and General Peel, apparently, full of ranging, hai the lead, closely pressed by Scottish Chief, Cam-' buscan, Birch Broom, Historian, and Blair Athol, the latter, biding his time untu they crossed the road, when he ran past his horses and joined the General on the upper ground, followed by Mr Merry's colt to the distance, where the pair had the iatter beaten, and gradually drew away to the enclosure, where Snowdon called upon hi 3 horse, who, without the slightest effort, quitted his opponent, and won with the most ridiculous ease 'by a couple of lengths, the General defeating 1 Scottish Chief by three lengths for the second 1 money, the latter being three-quarters of a i length in advance of Knight of Snowdon, who was half that distance before Cambuscan; Birch I Broom, Ely, and Historian finishing next, withia a length of Captain White's colt, close up with • ! whom were Coastguard, Baragah, Pahs, and 1 Appenine. The others, who were pulling up as they trotted past the post, were widely distributed, the last of which were Warrior, Privateer, Surat, Master fiichard, and Major, and a long way in their rear walked in among the dense crowd Dormouse. The net value of the stake was.L667a.

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/ODT18640725.2.20

Bibliographic details

THE DERBY DAY., Otago Daily Times, Issue 809, 25 July 1864

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2,892

THE DERBY DAY. Otago Daily Times, Issue 809, 25 July 1864

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