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RACECOURSE AND PADDOCK.-NO. 1. (Licensed Victuallers' Gazette.), Otago Witness, Issue 1909, 11 September 1890
RACECOURSE AND PADDOCK.-NO. 1. (Licensed Victuallers' Gazette.)
Blair Athol. Blair Athol was bred by Mr W. I'Anson in 1861. Ha waa got by Stookwell out of Blink Bonny, by Melbourne, her dam, Queen Mary, by Gladiator, grand-dam by Plenipotentiary out of Myrrha. It was with no small degree of pleasure that his breeder watohed the handBorne and sprightly youngster careering round the paddooks attached to Spring Cottage, Malton. Bliuk Bonny, like many of the Melbourne family, was plain and angular, but the son made ample amends for her lack of beauty. Day after day he gave signs of growing into one of the handsomest of his kind, He always carried the stamp of high breeding. His indifference to matters which did not concern him, and bis nonchalance on all occasions, were remarkable throughout his whole career. He gradually continued to improve, and when the colt was two of years of age his breeder became aware of the real value of the chestnut. A gentleman who had been commissioned to purchase some thoroughbreds for a foreign Government called at Spring Cottage, and accompanied I'Anson to the training grounds on Langton Wold. Theie ho witnessed Blair Athol gallop. On looking over the colt in the stable the commigsioner offered I'Anson 4000gs for him. " No," was the answer ; " nor ll,ooogß would not buy him, for he his sure to win the Derby." .Even previous to this, John Jackson— " Jock of Fairfield "—had offered 7000gs for Blair Athol. Blair Athol's fiist trial at Malton waß at even weights with the four-year-old Bore&lis, and he beat her by two lengths. Mv I'Auson then tried him to give her 71b, but as he ran out at the turn, Ohaloner on the mare beat him by a head. When the spring of 1864 came round Blair Atbol was amiss.sand, like his dam Blink Bonny, suffered from a disease in the teeth and gums, which prevented him feeding freely. Jackson had supported him, but the big bookmaker soon became aware that there was another dark horse likely to distinguish himself in the racing world, This was Lord Glasgow's colt, General Peel. In spite of the large sums of money which had gone on Blair Athol, there was, just after General Peel had won the Two Thousand Guineas, considerable uncertainty as to His Starting for the Derby. The monetary arrangements were left entirely to Jaokaon. He stood to win £25,000 over General Peel, and a similar Bum over Blair Athol. Jackson's friend, Hargreaveß, who only died something over a year ago, stood to win a still larger amount over General Peel, and had not backed Blair Athol for Is. As he had won the Two Thousand, General Peel's merits were known to the outside publio, whilst comparatively few knew about Blair Athol. Cool, calculating men like Steel and Hargreaveß wanted to keep Blair Athol in his Btable on Derby Day, let General Peel run at Epaom for their money, and reserve the Malton chestnut for the St. Leger. At one time Jackson, although reluctantly and halfheartedly, seemed to acquiesce in this arrangement. Thus there waß always a lot of mystery about the horse as to whether he would run or not. One night Jackson became excited, if not something worse, and backed Blair Athol more heavily. After all, his love for his favourite waß intense, and as now he stood to win more money over him than General Peel, he determined that he should run for the Derby. Steel and Hargreaves were, of course, disgusted. Aa the day for the decision of the Blue Riband drew near Blair Atbol improved, and when galloped with Caller Ou, who was then six years old, he beat her at even weights. The mystery about the borse was kept up to the last. He did not show in the paddock, the same being the case with Blink Bonny when Bhe won seven years before. There were 30 runners for the Derby of 1864, and when the others had left the paddock and were walking up the course Blair Athol was aeen cantering from the direotion of Tattenham Corner, led by his stable companion Caller Ou. His fine stride and splendid action elicited a murmur of approbation. At length the field reached the post, and the Btart was awaited with feverish eagerness, for seldom baa Derby created such universal and intense interest. Break away after break away took place, Sir Joseph Hawley's colt, Washington, looking on complacently in the rear, as if to show that he did not in any way share in the universal anxiety. At last, of a sudden, and after many false alarms, " off " they are in reality, and hopes and fears by turns prevail as the names of the leading horses are frantically shouted out. Soon Tattenham Corner is reached ; the beautiful Ely retires, and as the lot speed onward the ory is raised for General Peel. Nearer still, and " the General " walks in, A moment moie, and up steals the mysterious Blair Athol, General Peel is collared, outridden, defeated, and the Darby of 1864 is over. Little or no cheering ensued, the publio generally were disappointed. It was the doubt regarding intentions all along that led fc> a prejudice against Blair Atbol, and no doubt as to hia actual merits. The mystery was kept up to the denouement, for bo Buspioiouß were many of the up-and-down movements that many hedged every shilling they had originally backed the horse for. Blair Athol was the first horse that made a successful debut in the Derby since 1839, when Bloomabury astonished the natives of Epsom, as much as the snowstorm the race was run in. It was not a bloodlesß victory, for 15 spur marks could be counted on Blair Athol's aide. Out and out racing men never fancied Mr I'Anson's horße for the Derby, and he, probably the best horse of bis generation, was allowed to start at 14 to 1. A flat sided animal named Birch Broom, with no pretentiona to Derby form, started at 11 to 2, and the handsome but roaring Paris at 12 to 1. A tale is told that on the day of the race Mrs Jackson was staying at James Bland's house at lelewortb. Mrs Jackson and Mrs Bland were at an open window watching the return of their husbands, and wondering which horse had won. Mrs Bland first espied the gentlemen as they drove up to the house, and exclaimed : " I wonder what can have won ? Mr Jackson has some laburnum round his hat." "Laburnum !" cried Mi s Jaokaon;" that means green and gold—l'Anson'a colours I Then Blair Athol has won ! " Blair Athol was a bright chestnut standing about 16 hands high, He was a better horse in his etridej than to stand alongside of, when His Appearance was Not So Telling. With that strange blaze of white in bis face that so often speaks cf blood in ft chestnut, he
had a good general, but not thoroughly handsome nead. It -was more remarkable for honesty than beauty. He possessed a strong musoular neok and shoulder, well laid back, and beautiful riaing withers. He had the ' shortest of backs, and best of loins, great depth of girth, but running up a little in the barrel like a greyhound ; but he lost much of this look after he had been some time at the j stud. He had a grand quarter, rtraight and rather high in the oroup, with good thighs and arms, but was not remarkable for any musoular prominency. His legs and feet were all that could be desired ; bis near hind heel was white nearly to the fetlock. After winning the Derby, Blair Athol was sent to France to run for the Grand Prix de Paris. The journey was tedious, and considerably upset him, and, in addition, the determined stern chase he had run in the Derby had told its tale, and he Buffered defeat by Vermont, a bay colt by The Nabob. Vermont was certainly a smart horse, but we question if Blair Athol had been in his Epsom trim whether he would have been beaten. Anyhow, the defeat was no disgrace, as Fille de lAir, the Oaks winner, finished third, His next appearance waa at Ascot, where he met Ely and Hopper in the New Mile Triennial. He looked dull in his coat and nipped up in his flanks, and the bookmakers laid slight odds on Ely, But Blair Athol won very easily. At Goodwood he won the Gratwicke Stakes, beating Peon, Miss Pickle, and another, walking over for the Zetland Stakes at the same meeting. His next appearance was at York August in the Great Yorkshire Stakes. Here he suffered defeat for the second tima. Tom Chaloner rode Blair Athol (7lb extra), and Harry Custance was on Ely. Chaloner watched every movement of Oustance, and sojn Ely was beaten. Then Blair Athol looked like rolling in, but Johnny Osborne, in his quiet, cute, observant fashion, came rushing along on The Minor, on the blind side of Ohaloner. Just as the latter was nearing the winning-post he saw the danger, but too lato to Bet Blair Athol going again, and he was beaten by a length. The Miner belorged to the Rev. John .King, of Ashby-de-la-Launde, Lincolnshire, who raced as "Mr Launde." Blair Athol's next race was
The Doncaster St. Leger,
which was his last. The odds against him at starting were 2to 1. It was a fearful day, the wind and rain coming across the Town Moor in a perfeot hurricane. Blair Athol won again, beating the Epsom second (General Peel) by two lengths. Oambuscan was third, and then, four lengths off, came The Miner. During the race the leading horses could not live the pace with Blair Athol, and J. Snowden was puzzled how to get through. He endeavoured to rush between Ely and Baragah, when one of these horses severely struck Blair Athol on the knee. Snowden, having every confidence in Blair Athol's ability to win the race, came round on the outside. Had it not been for bis unfortunate scrummage, Blair Athol would have won by many lengths. After the race the winner's knee got so large and inflamed that be was struck out of the Doncaster Oup. It is a matter for regret that Blair Athol did not aspire to Oup honours, either at Ascot, where he could again have tried conclusions with Scottish Chief, or at Donoaster, where he would have met General Peel. A day or two after the St. Leger, M. Oavaliero, who then bought horses for the Austrian Government, offered Mr I'Anson 7000gs for Blair Athol, but the owner refused to part with his favourite until he was Bound again, so he took the colt baok to Malton. Two months after this, when Blair Athol had completely recovered, I'Anson wrote to M. Cavaliero, offering to sell the colt for 8000gs. By this time the Austrian Government had purchased as many Efcallions as they requited, so happily the negotiations fell through. Blair Athol was eventually sold to John Jackson, and that warm-hearted and impulsive Yorkshireman resolved that this favourite should run no more in public, and that he should become the Sultan of the Falrfleld Harem. He had a special suite of apartments built for the colt, TMb included a roomy and lofty box, communicating with a small yard and a covered way solely for Blair Athol's own use. Thus the horse could go out for exeroise in rainy weather without the fear of getting wet. It will be remembered that Gladiateur carried off all the three olassic events in 1865, and in the following season much badinage ensued between Tom Jennings, the trainer, and Jackson. The latter, always ready to back his opinion, bet £100 that Blair Athol was a handsomer and more symmetrically-made horse than Gladiateur. To the general surprise, Tom Jennings aocepted the wager. It was arranged that both horses should be exhibited in the sale paddock at Doncaster, but considerable difficulty arose in getting competent judges, and therefore the wager was declared off by consent. Jackson's excitability of temperament, aggravated by the oopious draughts of champagne and spirits in which he habitually indulged, told upon his constitution, and he resolved to sell his stud. At Fairfield, in 1868, there was one of the most remarkable thoroughbred sales ever held. Purchasers came from Germany, France, Austria, Hungary, and even Australia. Forty, four brood mares were sold, the chief purchaser being Mr Blenkiron, the founder of the Middle Park Stud, who gave £5000 for Blair Athol. The total sum realised was 23,000g5. In the summer of 1872 the greatest Bale of thoroughbred stock ever known was held. Mr Blenkiron had died in 1871, and it was deoided to disperse the stud by auotion. The total amount realised was 124,620g5— 193 yearlings fetching 22,115gs j 129 mares with foals and 70 mares without foals, 67,785g5; and a dozen stallions, 34,720g5. Blair Athol was sold for 12,50028, Gladiateur for 7000gs, and Bredalbane, an own brother to Blair Athol, for 6000gs. Blair Athol was purchased for the Cobham Stud ; and on the break up of this establishment he once more faced the auctioneer, when he fetched 4500g5, his new quarters being the Pound Stud Farm at Cobham, where he died on Sunday, September 3, 1882. There was a nonchalant air about Blair Athol which at times was very amusing. This was particularly noticeable as he quietly Btood to have his portrait taken. He would remain in one position for an hour at a time without moving a muscle. When he took his daily exercise his attendant was obliged to ride a cob, as no man, however quick, could keep up with him. Blair Athol was scarcely the success at the stud that his friends and admirers anticipated. It is certain that he never got such a good horse as himself. A mistake was made in sending him to the stud too early, and then the dangerous indulgence of allowing him to cover too many mares. The best of his stock was Prince Charlie, the King of the T.Y.O. And then he was the sire of Silvio, the winner of the Derby and St. Leger of 1877 ; Craig Millar, who won tho St. Leger of 1875 ; Scottish Queen, the Oue Thouaand winner of 1869 ; and Cecilia, who won the same race in 1873. He waa also the aire of the flying Eooßsaiß, Ethus, Anrlred, Silver Ring, Glenalmond, and a host of others.
Another Sydney cable states that the football match between the University and New Zealanders resident in Sydney waa won by the former by 23 points to 10.
RACECOURSE AND PADDOCK.-NO. 1. (Licensed Victuallers' Gazette.), Otago Witness, Issue 1909, 11 September 1890
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