THE LATE GENERAL PEARSON.
(Licensed Victuallers' Gazette.)
General Pearson will always live in racing history a 6 the name of the owner of such great racehorses as Lord Lyon and Achievement. Other well-known animals that carried his colours — the once popular black and scarlet chevrons — were Ruddigore and Anarch, whilst years ago he was also closely connected with Gardevisure and Eurydice, Cambridgeshire j winners, who ran in the name of his friend and turf confrere, Mr— afterwards Sir — Richard Sutton. It is only two years and a-half ago since James Dover was laid to his long rest in that quiet Ilsley churchyard amongst the Berkshire Downs, and now his master has also passed away. General Pearson was comparatively unknown to the present generation of race-goers. In a quarter of a century we see many changes in life, and few turfites who saw Bonavista win the Two Thousand last Wednesday, were present when the 6table boy Thomas rode Lord Lyon to victory in the same race exactly 26 years before. General Pearson was a man who did not show, much liking for the turf during his early days. He took greater interest in the army, and he was Colonel of the 12th Lancers, a regiment which has always held a prominent position in the sporting world. It may be a that was only by a fluke that he ever embarked in the purchase of thoroughbred stock. His wife, Mrs Pearson, wanted a hack, and it was for this purpose that he bought, for 15gs only, a thoroughbred filly by Redshank (son of Sandbeck) out of Delhi, by Plenipotentiary. This was Ellen Home, a mare that became renowned in 6tud blood lore as the dam of that great brood mare Paradigm, who ultimately threw Lord Lyon and Achievement. We wera walking in the Thames Valley a year or two back, and called in to see Mr Stott, once a well-known racing official, at his pretty home at East Molesey. There on the raantlepiece was a hoof of Ellen Home, given him by his brother, who was the stud groom to General Pearson at Sandy, and who died in 1868. Lord Lyon himself was bom at Oakley Hall, a Northamptonshire village in the Woodland Pytchley country, not far from Kettering. General Pearson resided at this village in those days previous to living at Sandy, in, Bed fordshire, where he died. Lord Lyou was sent to Ilsley to be trained by the late Blr James Dover. Curiously enough it
was only at Newmarket on Tuesday last that we saw the very stable lad that was sent by the trainer to Oxford to fetch the horse that was to make such a great name in racing annals. That was Charles Gregory, and we exchanged a word with him when he was laading that nice horse, Drogo, round previous to his victory in the Hastings Plate. Gregory is | still in the service of the present James Dover, and he often talks of that long walk of 17 miles across the downs, when, with the rain falling and the wind blowing, he brought fche future winner of the triple orown to Churchill Cottage. General Pearson was, if anything, rather a hard man with his yearlings. He was always eager to try them, and to know the best or worst of them nearly as soon as they reached Ilsley. "Let them know what the prickers mean," he used to say, though it must be said that he betted very little, if at all. His racing confederate, Mr Sutton, was a very different sort of man in this respect, as he used to bet heavily. It was very early in the autumn of his" yearling career, that Lord Lyon was first put through the mill, and on September 10, | 1864, he ran his first trial. Carrying 8.3 against the two-year-old Jezebel's 8.10, StockI well's son was beaten by a short head over half a mile. Here let us point out a mistake in the Badminton Library Book on " Racing," for we are told there that the distance was five furlongs. The late Mr Dover has assured us that the exact course was half a mile. To run Jezebel to a head when in receipt only of 71b was a tremendous performance for a yearling, for Jezebel had beaten a field of 14 or 15 runners in the Bath Biennial, and ridden by Thomas, she had come in first for the Coventry Stakes at Worcester, Lord Coventry's filly, Prosperity, with James Adams, the present popular Epsom trainer, being second. Doubtless, many old race-goers will remember this race, it being the occasion when Jezebel was the cause of as much mischief and ill feeling as could have been expected from that ominous name. A Racing Calendar of that year lies before us as we write, and here we read that "At the scale Adams objected to the winner on the ground of foul riding, and after hearing the c:ise the stewards gave the following decision : — ' We are of opinion that the rider of Jezebel cannoned against Prosperity, and prevented her from winning by squeezing her against the rails. Prosperity is, therefore, the winner of the Coventry Stakes. Signed, 1L Rous, Stamford and Warrington (acting for Lord Westmoreland).' " Here was a verdict from no provincial stewards, unversed in the law and custom of racing, but two of the | most conspicuous men on the turf, and a verdict from them might well have been accepted, as showing the entirely conclusive nature of the evidence. Yet as is often the case on such occasions in the turf world, the public were not satisfied. They took it into their heads that favouritism had been shown, and when Lord Coventry's drag left the course, the roughs assembled and hooted most vigorously. Up to this time his lordship had been a very 3taunch patron of the meeting ; but he was so disgusted by the brutality and injustice of the proceeding' that he, in a great measure, if not entirely^ withdrew his support. According to the late Mr Dover's trial books, ■ Lord Lyon was not tried again until the following spring, when, on April 29, 1865, he was stripped. The trial finished as follows :— Rustic, 2yrs, 8.0, first ; Grisette, 4yrs, 9.7, second ; Lord Lyon, 2yrs, 8.0, third ; Tinder, 2yrs, 6.7, fourth ; and Ironclad, 2yrs, 6.7, fifth. , Rustic won by a neck, there being a length and a-half between second and third, the others being beaten off. This gallop appears to have upset Lord Lyon, as on that very night he went amiss. There is, however, every reason to suppose that at that time Mr Richard Sutton thought Rustic was actually the better of th« two. On the Wednesday of the Ascot meeting the Duke of Beaufort purchased Rustic for 5000gs, and there was a lot of chaff just at that time about his Grace having purchased the Ilsley second string. During the summer Lord Lyon went on very satisfactorily, and greatly pleased Mr Dover by the progress that he made. On August 3he was stripped on the famous Ilsley Downs once more, and then he gave a taste of his quality. The youngster, carrying Bst, beat Gardevisure, 3yrs, 9.6, in a canter by seven lengths, there being two lengths between second and third. Even this did not content General Pearson, and within a fortnight he must have the young crack galloped again. This trial was like the former one, three-quarters of a mile ; and with 8.7 up Lord Lyon beat Gardevisure in a canter by three lengths, with Grisette, 6yrs, half a J length further in the rear. In both of her gallops Gardevisure went the fastest for half a j mile, but the farther they went the farther Lord Lyon would have distanced her. We need not say much more about Lord Lyon's racing career. Our readers know as much about his public performances as we do ourselves, and our object is to narrate some facts which once were stable secrets, but now, like all such things behind the scenes, are most interesting to the racing public. That Lord Lyon was a good horse is certain, and how he won the Two Thousand, Derby, and St. Leger, is now matter of history. From a comparatively unknown man in the turf world, General Pearson became one of the foremost ones, and he accomplished a feat at the first time of asking in winning the Derby that many a much better sportsman has failed to do times without number.
The late General Pearson was also closely identified with an important turf winner, although she ran in the name of Mr Sutton. This was Gardevisure, the winner of the Cambridgeshire in 1863. This filly was also first tried as a yearling, and the old general always used to say right up to the last that her performance when she was first galloped was the best he ever saw done on the trial ground in his life. She was tried three furlongs at level weights with Jezebel, who was also a yearling. There were four others in the gallop, and yet Gardevisure won in a common canter by seven lengths. This performance on that day greatly impressed the old general, and, turning to his racing friend and confederate, Mr Sutton, he remarked : " Dick, this mare will win you L 10.000." " What the use of LIO.OOO tome?" was the reply. " I owe L 30.000 in one hand." However, the mare was better than the general's promise, and in the end won a larger sum than he had predicted for Mr Sutton. At the time that he gave up owning horses, he must certainly not have been a loser by his turf dealings. Another good . horse that General Pearson had was Achievement. She, too, was born in his Northamptonshire stud, and in due course she reached Ilsley. When Lord Lyou was gaining glory and renown, it became whispered about that his two-year-old sister was very smart and had been well tried. Ouly ouce, though, was she put through the test privately, this being in March 1866. She was galloped half a mile and 100 yds, at 101b, with a seven-year-old mare called Grisette, and the young one won in a canter by six lengths. She met her first engagement on the Tuesday of the Newmarket Craven meeting, when she contested the Beacoa Stakes over the last halfmile of the Beacon course. " What a certainty ! The best two-year-old I ever bred in my life," is reported to have been the remark of Mr Sutton, as the filly, not half extended, swept past the post two lengths in front of
Verulam. This remark was made in all the excitement of the moment, but it was not lost on more than one bystander, who never failed to follow the flyer throughout the whole of that wonderful year, wherein she ran 13 times, beating such horses as Hermit, Marksman, and all the equine elite of the day, being beaten herself only twice— once when in the Clearwell | Stakes she attempted to give 41b to Flanders, I when with 7.3 on her back she seconded him by a head, and the second time when, in the Middle Park Plate, The Rake avenged for Mr Felix Pryor the defeats of Friponnier, Verulam, &c., the mare giving 51b, and being defeated by about a couple of lengths. What a great mare Achievement was when at her best. Unfortunately she did not train on, and she was not herself during the spring of her three-year-old career, though, like many another good filly, she regained her form in the autumn, when she won the St. Leger and the Doncaster Cup. Only on Tuesday last we travelled to Newmarket with Custance, who 6hould know as much about her as anyone. He told us that although she won the One Thousand, he had some trouble to beat Sceur de Charite, who was a moderate mare. Her defeat in the Oaks was disastrous", and the upset is talked about to this day. Achievement had a peculiarity, which was that she took great exception to an ordinary-sized stable door. Her box at Ilsley is in the lower yard, hard by Joseph Lowe s house, and it remains the same to this day, with its high door like a coach-house. When she came out for exercise each morning she used to dash through this doorway, and it is highly probable that she had received a blow in passing under the portals. When ■we were at Ilsley we inspected a nice two-year-old colt named Bohemond, who is out ot Flutter, the dam of Guiscard, and Drogo. General Pearson won a lot of money in stakes, Achievement's winnings alone topping L 22,000, but it cannot be said that he behaved particularly liberally to his trainer, who brought him such good fortune. General Pearson was a man with strong views on most subjects, but his theory of breeding was so awful in its simplicity that it may well be quoted here. He was wont to say, " By the winner of the Leger out of the winner of the Oaks— that's the proper pedigree for a racehorse." It must be owned that he was an exceptionally lucky man to have two such good horses as the above-named classic heroes. In later years Ruddigore and Anarch were about the best that carried his colours, and the last-named was a good horse spoilt. He could not stand the whip. It is most likely that he turned thief, after being hit by a weUknown horseman, and this, too, after he had passed the post. Anarch was the horse that lost an officer— Mr Wedderburn— Llo,ooo when he was beaten by John Porter's filly, MonDroit, at Windsor. He was very smart on the day that he won the Fitewilliam Plate at Newmarket as a two-year*old, conceding 101b to Seabreeze, 71b to Caerlaverock, Van Dieman's Land, Wiseman, and others. What must poor old James Dover have thought of his filly, Romilda, by Foxhall, out of Aida, whom he soon after tried to be even 101b better than Anarch ! A friend of [ours talks to this day of how, as they were watching the finish of this gallop, the old Ilsley trainer grasped him tightly by tha arm, remarking, "There's the winner of next year's St. Leger." Alas ! for such hopes and such anticipations ! Romilda ran twice, when she was not herself each time, and then she broke down badly, and it was found impossible to patch her up again. However, we saw a splendid filly foal a 6 her foot when we were down Ilsley way a short time back, and in course of time, if looks go for anything, she should certainly assist to restore the old glories of the Ilsley stable, in the days when the late General Pearson's name figured so prominently in the list of winning owners.
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