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ANECDOTES OF SPORT AND SPORTSMEN.

(Licensep Vituallo.s' Gazette ) Now that flat-racing is over for the present season, we wonder what the biggest loss and the biggest win on any one ia©6 amounted to, or what sum would the biggest plunger have won had the horse he backed come in first? Forty years ago htich bets as 100..000 to 1000 were not uncommon. D'O^say Clark, for example, had 100,000 to 1000 iv one bet about; Vaudermeulin for tlia Dt-rby, and it wa« & comical sight to. seo him at Ascot afterwards Khaki ng bis umbrella at the ring, and calling' down curses on ■ everal bookies for having as be thought, " got at " his horse. Poor Carew,. again stood to win £180,000 on Old Robert and died almost penniless in Boulounge; Mr Naylor won £100,000 on Macaroni, and Mr Brayley stood more than that sum on Tom Fool. BJit Joseph Hawley was credited with winning immense sums on his Derbies, though it is generally believed his winnings weie much overestimated. Mr Saville has been one of the mosfc unlucky men in connection with the Derby, for, although he won the race with Cremorne in 1872, unfortunately for him there was little or no betting until his horse had become a favour* ite, when the most he could get against him wa» 5 to 1, and there was only 3 to 1 at startingQn the other hand, against Mr Astley's Felfc - Mell, that ran second to Cremorne, 50 to I, or even more, could easily have been got op to the mompnt of the race, and had that hoise won the ring would have had as great a v facer M as it received the year before. The number of men who bare at one time or another won f ortuues. on the turf, and then let their winnings go again* is extraordinary. Never being sati^td with one fortune they tried for two and lost all. Ri-dale who, with. Gully as a partner, won the Derby twice, almost died in a workhouse ; while Cbifney. the owner of the cel^brate.d Priam— whose establishment at Newmarket rivalled Crockford'sin its magnificence died nearly as badly off as Rwiale. Then the money Mr Hodgman won in 1858 on Rocket fop the Ct-sarewitch; in 1863. on Victor for the Royal Hunt ; in 1865 on Verdant for the Ebor, and on Confederate for the Great Eastern Handicaps ; in 1888 on Paul Jones for the Cl>«s- - tec Cap; aud in 1869- on 'Vresttnin.ster fos^he" Cambndgeahira, must have been fabulous;

bat as Lord George Bentinck discovered, it was not sufficient to pay expenses for the number of horses he had in training. At one time Mr Brayley was " tired of winning" ; but in bis case, too, a series of failures, combined with a very large stud, soon took more than all the gilt off the gingerbread. Mr Bennet, again, who by the two victories of Dalby in the Chester Cap (1865-66), won over £80,000: yet, a few years later, he bad not as many farthings. The Hartington winnings of Mr Smith are said to have been " dropped " in the Sportsman ; but what he gained over Rosebery he more discreetly invested in the Bon Marcb.6— a much more safer bußinesßthan a sporting paper. Pretty Boy and Ben Webster did not suflSce for poor ** Jimmy" Barber. Of the men who made money on the turf, it was the boast of Mr Steel that he never owned a hair in a racehorses ta'l. Oharles Snewing, who won the Derby with Caractacus, remembering that the whole art of gambling is knowing when to leave off, retired then from the ring to a farm at Watform, surrounded in his home by portraits of hishorses and statuettes of the " Ancient Britons " being led in chains to Rome. Hargreaves accumulated a large fortune, aa did also Mr Harry Hill, and many more, who, when they got hold of the money, had the sense to keep it. During the time that Cribb was under trainIng at Mottingbam, in Kent, for his first battle with Molineux, he was one evening refreshing himself at a favourite pub. when he fell into conversation with a little master chimneysweep, who was a bit of a sporting character, and who, not knowing the person he was talking with, began to boast of his fistic prowess. To have % lark Tom asked him if he had any "queer." Now "queer" seems to be the technical phrase in the profession for 6ome substitute which is sold instead of genuine soot. Ye gods ! only fancy soot being adulterated. The knight of the chimney felt himself so insulted by the question, that without more ado he sent bin fist against the champion's »ose as to draw the claret, and at the same time fell to abusing htm in the choicest term. Tom, however, not the least pat about, wiped the injured organ, smiled, and said, '* But you haven't told me what price you ask for the queer." Sooty now shrieked with passion, tore off his jacket, put himself into attitude, and told his insulter to come on, as he intended to thrash him for his " imperence." Without movingja muscle Tom calmly smoked his pipo and looked, as miioh amused, as though the little man had been a dancing monkey. Here a coachman, whose size and strength rendered him aggressive, chose to interfere, and called Tom a coward, that took advantrge of the poor little chap's size to insult him, but he was ready for him ; and, suiting the action to the word, he planted a heavy blow upon the hero's mouth. _ The Kon was now aroused ; dashing his pipe into a thousand atoms Tom went for his lubberly assailant. It was one, two, and down he went as though a sledge-hammer had fallen upon his nob. Raising himself upon his haunches, coachoe stared for a moment in stupefaction ; then, seeing the other ready for another round, picked himself up and fled howling to his master's stables. At this juncture some swells, who had just arrived from town, came into the house and saluted the conqueror as " Tom Cribb." Upon hearing that renowned name Booty's jaw dropped ; he expected nothing less than to be thrown out of the window for his temerity. All he could do was humbly to ask the great man's pardon, and request htm to drink an^ be friends." " With all my heart," cried Tom, laughing at his fright. "Never mind, Sooty; you're a prime little gamecock, and it's the coachman, and not you, that is queered." Of all the many curious charactprs which were to be found among the old Yorkshire tr.iiners of half a century ago, there was none more amusing than "Bill" Pierse. Billy owed the greater part of his prosperity to his wife. ** If ever I 6aved a shilling my wife saved sixpence," he used to say. Mrs Pierse took an active part in the management of the stable, and it was said she had the quicker eye of the two for discovering anything wrong in a horse. With a walking-stick in her hand and an old black crunch bonnet on her head, she would stand at the door of the house every morning, and watch each horse as it left tha yard, and if she called out, " I say, turn him back, mun ; that horse is leame," there was no mistake about it. Billy's only interference in household matters was to insist upon a roast goose every Sunday during the season, and buying twice as much meat as was required, the overplus of which his good-hearted helpmate gave to the poor. Billy was a powerful finisher and judge of pace, and stood in the first rank of jockeys. He hated quarrelling, add was a wonderful peacemaker. Mr Tomline, [the judge at Richmond (Yorks) used to tell how cleverly he stopped a quarrel between two jockeys who had ridden a punishing finish and g)t to high words about the issue. Trotting bickpast the chair to wfiigh-iu he called out, '• How far did I win, Mr Tomline ?" " You, Mr Pierse ? why, you were beat three lengths," was the answer. "Oh," said Billy, with a polite bow, " thank ye, sir ; that alters the case," and his manner was .so comical that hu set both disputants laughing, and 60 ended tho row. His whole reading was confined to the Bible and Smith's ".Wealth of Nations." He •went through each about 30 times, and in the winter would ait for hours together poring over the abstruse subject of political economy. Billy certainly knew how to make a bargain. When he wanted some new clothes for his stable boys he would go up to Manchester, give the cord merchants a few tips, and come back with enough corduroy in exchange to last the stables a year. He ouee dined and slept at the house of one of these merchants ; after he'had gone to bed the host heard sounds of distress proceeding from his room. On going further he found Billy pacing up and down the room arrayed in a loug nightgown, aud evidently in ?;reat distress. " Oh, sir," he said, "my wife's orgot to put me in a nightcap, and I can't sleep without one." This want was soon supplied. "Theße are very high beds of yours, sir," observed Billy, " I can't get in ; do give a leg up." This was done with as much solemnity as if the St. Leger bell had been ringing. After he had been tucked in he said, in a very confidential fcoue, " Sir, you've been very good to me to-day, and I wit-h to make you some return, mind " — placing his finger solemnly against his nose — "it noes no further, but Borodino is a racehorse— that's the straight tip. Good night," and the next moment his head was buried in the pillows." The elder Mathews, like most actors, was eomethiug of a turfite. Whenever his professional duties allowed of it, hfi made a point of being present at the more important races, and always had something on the event. He was a great friend of Richard Tattersall, whose manner in the rostrum he could imitate to the lifn ;.he was always a guest at the Derby dinner given the day before the race by that worthy, and in the Derby lottery of the evening he was M Tatfa " deputy. The stakes were two sovereigns

each, and of the 18 or 20 subscribers one always took the field. The lots were placed in a claret cup and drawn after dinner, and those who did not like their horse's chance, or wanted to hedge, had it put up for sale. Matthews knew his Calendar and corner quotations quite well, and could rattle them off and dilate to any extent upon the merits of a favourite, which he some* times— always in imitation of his friend's manner — would sell as high as £20. Some say Glaucus, some Forester, and others Whale, but I say Astra — can win the Derby," was one of his hits in 1833. His ventriloquial powers were marvellous; once when he was accompanying Mr Tattersall to Newmarket he exercised them upon the postboy. After dining at Cheeterford, the night had closed in before they again started. They had not gone a - mile upon the road when Mathews put his head out of the carriage window and imitated the cry of a child that had been run over. In a great fright the postboy pulled up with a jerk, but being very short and humpbacked he was unable to get off, and had to ran along the pole and so to earth by the splinterbar, and groped about for the supposed sufferer till Mr Tattersall ordered him to get on. They had gone a little further when the scream was again repeated ; this time the postboy threw himself off in his fright, and not only searched beneath the vehicle but even the hedges. He had no sooner regained his seat than a shriek, more agonising than all that had gone before, pierced the stillness of the night. Urging on the horses, he made them tear along like mad, roariiig out, " I'll stop again for nought, for the devil is following us." Lord March was noted for his eccentric ! matches. He and the Earl of Eglinton laid a wager of 1000 guineas with Count Theobald O'Taafe and Mr Andrew Sprowle that they j would produce a carriage with four running wheels, and a man in it, to be drawn by four horses 19 miles an hour. Wright, the famous coacbbuilder of Long Acre, was deputed to manufacture this vehicle. It was of the lightest possible construction ; the harness was made of the thiaeat leather, covered with silk, the man sat in a seat of leathern straps, cased in velvet, the boxes of the wheels were provided with tins j of oil to drop slowly on the axletree for one hour. By an ingenious contrivance, the traces ran into boxes with springs when any of them hung back, thereby preventing the traces from gettiug under the horse's legs. The race was ' begun at 7 o'clock on the morning of the 29th of August 1750, near the Six-mile House on Newmarket Heath. The course lay between the Warren and Rubbing Houses, through the Running Gap, where, turning to the right, the vehicle was drawn three times round a corded piece of ground of four miles in circumference and then back to the starting post. The carriage and harness altogether weighed only l^cwt. An immense amount of money depended upon the result, and thousands of people assembled to witness the match, which was won with ease in 53min 27sec. There was a great deal more excitement on the racecourse, in the ante-tape and sporting club days, than there is now when so much of it is bottled up iv Fleet street and elsewhere. An old sporting writer thus describes one of these Bcenps : — " For actual excitement I never saw anything pqual to the deciding heat for the Voltigeur St. Leger, as the crowd pressed on to the bend, and left to all appearance, scarcely a four-yard space for the horses. Poor Bobby Hill's state of mind was wondrous to mark. He had been dreadfully put out, because some of the crowd had ironically advised him to put some brandy in the water which he had brought for his horse from Middleham, and even went so far as to allude to the honoured cow that had been specially put into the Turf Tavern box to air it overnight. Burning for revenge, he had stationed himself close to the judge's chair to hear bis doom, and even then his friends would net let him alone. ' He's beat, Mr Hill,' said one of them, as the vast crowd closed in behind the twain from the distance, and the roar of 150,000 iron lungs rent the air. *Is 'oe beat ? is 'cc beat ? ' exclaimed the little man, skipping frantically upwards to obtain a good line of sight. *Ye maun't tell me, ye maun't tell me— l know him better; Job's a cOininV Sure enough Job Marson was coming, and then Bobby's yell of ' Ah ! that's right ! which wins now ? Oh, my horse ! my horse ! ' might have been heard at Bawtrey, as he dashed through the crowd, butting like a bull to get to his favourite's head. The Voltigeur spotted handkerchiefs were waving everywhere, hats were recklessly flung into mid-air as if their owners intended to trust to a natural growth, or wig for life ; and it was all poor Leadbitter could do to keep order among the countless enthusiasts who would try to wipesome of the sweat off the winner with their handkerchiefs and keep it as a toilet memento. " After the Dutchman's defeat in the Doncaster Cup on the Friday the scene was quite different. The crowd seemed to be paratysed, and utterly unable to believe that such a giant had fallen at last ; his backers wandered about as pale and silent as marble statues, and Marlow stood near the weighing-house, with Lord Egliuton as pale as ashes, kindly trying to soothe him. The Richmond men became quite alive as' evening drew on" to the greatness of their victory. Such a strange night of jollity was never witnessed in Doncaster before, and the inns were overflowing to the very kitchen. Strolling into one of the latter about midnight, we espied a large group of grave clothiers, one or two of them smoking pipe? of enormous length, while others with eyes fixed solemnly ceilingwards, insisted on waltzing with the cook and the other domestics. 4 You're going to bed aren't you?' we said, to an enthusiastic double-event Richmond man. 'Go to bed, indeed ! you aint half a man. Who'd go to bed when Voltigeur's won the Leger and the Cup?' was the scornful reply. Indeed, he was a lucky fellow who did not object to being bodkin, or taking his turn between the sheet* on alternate nights. One vowed to me that he slept with his head on his great coat and a doormat in the passage for three successive nights."

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/OW18870225.2.86.22

Bibliographic details

ANECDOTES OF SPORT AND SPORTSMEN., Otago Witness, Issue 1840, 25 February 1887

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2,859

ANECDOTES OF SPORT AND SPORTSMEN. Otago Witness, Issue 1840, 25 February 1887

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