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Scale of Weight for Age,

{The Field, Octuber 18.) The great hundicip race for tho Ceparewttch S'akpn wa« ealitliHr-hcd in 1889, and lias therefore hpen in oxi-tonct) for forly six ye<«B If we divide this term in fo two portions of t'vonly thvro y^rn r<»eh, ft will bo found that, between 1839 and 1861, tho Cesarcwi'ch was won ten tim^n by tbree-ynrir olris, and t hi) teen timsa by four year old* and upwards ; wbeiea«, between 1862 and 1884, sixtoon three yesar olda won agaiuttt Heven muturer aninuiß The die proportion is still more niarkf d if we compare the first ten with the laat ten yeira. Between 1839 and 184S, four threo-vear clda won ogainat seven th>-p* year elds which came in first between 1875 and 1884. In the last six years, again, tbe race baa been won five times by tWeevywfc.iotd.<!. Th«ta fi^iraa indicate what

ev.iry racir g man of experience is well aware j of —to wit, that the decline in t,he number of I c. c"lit»f<e!s pg' 1 f< >ir"ye.ire< ami upwards cm- I linne.s to innroaso apace. N?.';rly forty yora J b.ive eiap'-tirl Rinoe, in hia little book " On tha Liiw"? au<l Prac ico of Horse-raring," Admiial R'ius wiote: — "It is much to be regretted that the old Bystem of not training horses till their powera are fully developed is abolished, The gieat expense of training induced horse-owners to bring forward all the important swoopstakaa at two years old and three years old ; and, with the exception of a few cups and country handicaps, thera is very little bußineas for horaes to do after four years old. Yearlings are often t"ied in October and in December to ascertain if they are sufficiently promising to bs entered for the two year-old stakes which close in the Houghton and on tha l3t of January. Many two-year-olds are trained to the highest point of perfection in the month of May ; and, consequently, few horses retain their racing powers after four years of age. This system, unfortunately, cannot now be altered." The tendency towards early maturity in thoroughbreds which Admiral Rous saw and doploied in 1846 would have disturbed him much mora had he been alive to witness its alarming progress during the last few years. Speaking generally, three two-ypar-olda start nowadays against each four year old that carries silk, while the proportion of threeyear old to four-year-old starters is at least two to one in favour of the formnr, It waa very diffarent forty years sinco. In 1843. for instance, there were but 213 two ydaroid starters against 456 competitors thit were five years old and upwards ; while simultaneously, between three-year-old and four year-old starters there was not much d-fference in numbers. Tbe obvious effect produced by the num?rous mature animal-, that were running a generation or two since was that three-year-olds had no chance with them, especially over a distance of ground, except at a gre.it disparity of weights. Thu3 it will be found that, with the exception of Faugh-s-Ballagh. and The Biron — both St. Leger winners— none of the early three yaar old winners of the Cesarewirch carried much weight. Within the last few years the mwebief — for as such we rrgard it — has gone on increasing, until upon many occasions three yfar-olda in autumn have shown themselve-' to be the best aaimala in England over the Cesarewitch and Cambridgeshire courses. Let us, for example, compare Surplice, who won the Derby and St, Lcger in 1848, and Blue Gown, who won the Dprby in 1868, with those three giantß of re c?nt ysars. Robert tho Devil, Foxhall, and St. Galien It is idle to institute hj pothetical comparisons between two horses which ware not contemporaries, but it is probable that Mr John Kent, the still liyiug trainer of Surplice, would altogether decline to admit that his favourite Bteed was inferior to any three yearold that was ever foaled. The lat9 Mr W. H. Williamson (commonly called "Billy Williamson") was of opinion that Voltigour n u ver had an equal; while Sir Jo«pph Hawley — one of the moßt thoughtful and observant appraisers of form that ever made a handicap — always held, on the other hand that tbe bast thVee year old of each successive year was within slb of the best or worst of his predecessors. There is, therefore, good reason to suppose that Surplice and Blue Gown wore nearly upon an equality with Robert the Davil, Foxball, and St. Gatien ; but whether Surplice and Bluo Gown were slb bitter or 51b worse than tha other three it would bo unprofitable to guess. All these five animals ran, for the Cesarewitch as three-year-olds, and it is, therefore, possible to frame a' shrewd esti nnte of their respective form aa compared with that of the fields they met. Surplice, with Bst s\b on his back, started first favouriie for the Cesarpwitoh of 1848, and was not placed behind Tbe Car, a six year old, who carried Bit 31b, Now, we know that The Cur was, at bfjst, no more than a fair seoond class horse, and it is therefore to be presumed that in 1848 the best three year-old must have barm at least a fttone worse than tbo be.it four and five-year-olds of bis day In 1848, for example Chanticleer won the Goodwood Stakes aa a five yearold carrying 9.it 21b, and Van Tromp won the Goodwood Cup as a four-year old with 9st 3lb on his back. Each of these mature horses would probably have given Surplice or Blue Gown a stone and a beating over the Casarewitch course; and, despite the indignation with which tbe presumptuous suggestion will be leceived by the rhappodists wh'> hold that each successive good thraa-year oM that appears is "tho horse of the century," we are ounrlves of opinion that either Rob«vfc the Dovil, Fox hall, or St. Gatien would bay" found it difficult to win the Cesarewitch with Bat tipm their backs, bad th°y encountered such old horses a« Chanticlepr and Van Tromp with iht in the saddle. We know that Blue Gown cut a very poor figure in the Ceßarewitch carrying about the same weight as St. Gatien ; and yet there are m&Dy of Blue Gown's other performances which prove him to have been a three-year-old of far more than ordinary merit. The truth ib that good old horses— and by " old " we mean four years and upwards— are now- so rare upon thp British turf, that, until the arrival of the year 1900, and possibly for all coming time, it is to be expected that "horses of the century" — which, by the way, are always three- year-olds— spring up twice or thrice in overy decade. There are, however, men of the old school still left in abundance whom it would be difficult to persuade that St. Simon and 3t. Gatien are one whit better than Teddington, Newminster. sind N.tncy, the great three-year-olds of 1851; or than Surpioe, Tbe Flying Dutchman, Voltigeur, and West Australian, each of them winners nf a double first in the Derby and St. Ltgar. Forty, thirty, and even twenty years ago, there was no lack of old horses whom no three-year-old that ever was foaled could have tackled at even weights over a long course. Nowaday." we have no aged meters or standards to tell us the truth about our so-called " horses of the century." Thus, when Mr Padwick's wonderful three-year-old filly Virago beat Mr Greville's five-year-old colt Muscovite for the Metropolitan Handicap in 1854, it was the general opinion that no three-year-old in the world— let alone one which had already run for and won another big handicap upon the same day — could got the best of Musoovite when in receipt of 171b from him. With all our respect for Virago, we dnubt if 9ha could have beaten Muscovite, who was no more than a good second-rater, at even weights in the Cosarewitch of 1854, which he won. And, although it, is p'otiuble that for many years to cmno gond thiee-year olds will ofcipionally win both the Cesa>ewit;cb and CambrifJf?ojsh.iip «'ith weights ocillaiing between Ba' 71b and 9-1 7ib upon their back^ it will be fuiilo to nth m>-n of tho old schn.)l to b^lievo that, modern •'hor.-'Ort of the century" are superior to thosf Lbree-year olds which graduated with honour when four, five, and six-year-old horsesabounded, out of which their hearts had not bee* 1 ealloped at two and three ypars old. " Unfortunately," as Admiral Roua remarked in tho passage we have quoted above, " this syßtem cannot now be altereQ." We can well remember that upon the evening of the day when, in 1845, Mr Greville's Alarm won tub Qaujbrid^Bibirt fo * owjter, wsh

7st 91b on his back, Admiral Rons shook liands warmly with Ihe famous Otark of the Council, and told him that no three-year-old would repeat the feat in either of their lifetimes. So far as Mr G-i-avitla wa3 concerned, the prophecy waa true. No thrae year-old won the Cambridgeshire, carrying so much as 7^t 9ib, between 1845 and 1865, in which latter year Mr GreviJle died. The Admiral, however, was spared to see Montargia beat Alarm's record by carrying 7s!; 13lb to victory in 1873. Another French three-year-old, Jongleur surpassed both his triumphant predeceases by winning the Cambridgeshire ia 1877 with Bst 4!b on his back ; bub in that year the gallant Admiral had passed away. Wore be alive now, his experiences of the Ceaarewitch and Cambridgeshire during the last five years would warn him that the old " Scale of Weight for Age" which he framed in 1846, and which, with slight alterations, has remained in force until this day, stands in need of radical reformation. Acoording to Admiral Rous, a three-year-old was to carry 7st 71b against a five or six year old's 83t 121b over two miles. Our existing code of weights prescribes that over two miles a three-year-old is 'to carry Bat lib against a five, six, or aged horsa's 9at. The time has evidently come when a further approximation of the weights is imperatively needed. It is almost certain that no old horse in England, or in the world, could now boat St Gatien at level weights over a distance of ground. In 1880 Isonomy, as a five-year-old, would undoubtedly have beaten Robert the Devil, a three-year-old, at even weights. But in 1884 we have no laonomy, and, according to the sacrificial system now in vogue, good staying four and five year olds will bacome scarcer and scarcer. William Day's assertion in his " Racuhorae in Training," that modern thoroughbreds are at their best towards the close of their third year, has b9en more than confirmed Bince the appearance of that excellent book. To those, ho ever, who realise that " early maturity meana early decay," many a sigh will be permissible over the stout and gallant aged stayers which gained fheir fame upon cup courses "in the brave days of old."

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https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/OW18850110.2.47.13

Bibliographic details

Scale of Weight for Age,, Otago Witness, Issue 1729, 10 January 1885

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Scale of Weight for Age, Otago Witness, Issue 1729, 10 January 1885

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