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TALK OF THE DAY

BY MAZEPPA. *** The North Otago Trotting Club seems to have made a promising start. A larger attendance at tho inaugural race meeting last ■week nnibi bb r ht have been and probably was hoped

for, but it was not bo bad for a beginning. People won't rush a thing of this eort till they know something about it. They want a guarantee of decent management and a promise of fair racing. So far as I have heard, last week's meeting gave no cause for complaint in these respects, wherefore I reckon that the club has only to go on as it has begun and the patronage of the public will come. For one thing the course is near town. That is an advantage it has over the regular racecourse. The site is Lewis' paddock, on the north road, where a track of nearly half a mile has been laid out. At present the going is a bit rough, but no doubt an improvement in this respect will be made an early charge on the funds should the club prosper, as I hope it will. Mr O. R. Wise, the hon. secretary, is too old a general not to see the necessity of this being done. As to the racing : Paddy, the favourite in tho Maiden, broke badly, thus giving Miss Lily a show which she took advantage of. Myrtle fairly won the Champion in spite of a break at a critical moment, beating the favourite by half a dozen lengths ; tho Pony Race was a gift to the dandified Croesus, who was seen at the Tahuna Park meeting ; Tourist had not a great deal to spare in the District Race, as he broke in the last round and was passed by Ravenßwing, but recovered his position and won by four lengths ; Mabel was formidable in the early stages of the Twomile Handicap, but tired to nothing, and an exciting finish between the placed marcs ended in Fancy winning in the last two strides ; and in the Consolation there was only half a length between first and second. Daffodil pulled up in this race after going 50 yards, and the stewards held an inquiry into the matter. The explanation, whatever it was, was deemed satisfactory. Mr Dowse was handicapper and Mr Shalders starter. Messrs Cowie and Co. passed L 30- through the totalisator.

*** A sort of memorial (signed by about 60 persons, including Bishop Mules) was presented to the committee of tho Nelson Jockey Club on the 3rd inst., in which attention was drawn to the condemnation that is being extended to racing as at present conducted. An extract from Truth is given, in which the habitues of racecourses are described as "a congregation of desperadoes and villains of the most dangerous description." Another extract is from a Wellington weekly, in which it is stated that the recent meeting was attended principally by spielers and professional racecourse thieves, followed by a sweeping assertion that hardly one in a dozen owners run straight. The memorialists, as fellow citizens, ask whether the interests of the community can be served by tho promotion of proceedings the tendency of which is thus described. One cannot but regret that a memorial, which professedly has for its object the promotion of morality, should be based on what every fair-minded man must deem a misrepresentation.- It is not thus that the interests of righteousness are forwarded. To begin with, it is misleading to quote an English paper in condemnation of what goes on in New Zealand. It seems to be, unfortunately, the case that late years have 6een an outbreak of what is called "racecourse ruffianism" in England, bat that is locally attributed, and no doubt with truth, to lax management on the part of certain clubs, and the ruffianism complained of is pretty well confined to those clubs. It is preposterous to suppose that Truth's assertion applies to Goodwood or Ascot or Newmarket or Epsom or Doncaster or any other course where there is decent management. Even if it did apply to all English courses, there is no reason for making that fact the ground of an attack on New Zealand race-goers. I was not at the Wellington meeting, but I refuse to believe that the experience there was so uncommon as to deserve the denunciation relied on. It was probably written by a well-meaning man who got his information from an unreliable source. I have had experience of racecourses for about 28 years, and have not yet found them as bad as represented ; indeed, the tendency is distinctly towards improvement, and the insinuation conveyed in the remark that " racing as at present conducted" requires reform is simply absurd. To say that racing is all that it should be v would be equally ridiculous, and I do not lend myself to any such expression of opinion. The spieler should be hunted away if possible ; the dishonest owner should be more severely discouraged. I grant that. But things are mending in this respect, and tho society of the racecourse compares favourably with that of 20 years ago. The suggestion to the contrary betrays ignorance, and ignorant zeal generally damages rather than helps a good cause. lam on the side of any party who will rationally seek to purge our racecourses of whatever undesirable influences they are still pestered with, but for goodness sake let us be practical.

* # * Reference is demanded to the English news to hand this week. On the day that Curio upsefc the favourite in the Newmarket Derby the Australian-bred Martindale (by Martini-Henry— La Princesse) started in the Rose Plate, but he was never dangerous, and finished last but one in a field of five. The company, it may be noted, was rather good, May Duke being the winner and Watercress second. The Great Sapling Plate at Sandown Park was rendered doubly interesting by the fact that it witnessed the first appearance of Ormonde's only two-year-old, Glenwood, for whom Mr A. M. Singer was reported to have given 5500 guineas with contingencies. Four of the starters were preferred to this colt in the betting, but he dished them all rather easily, and is said to be the making of a good colt, although not quite sound in his wind. In the Amphion Plate tho gigantic Watercress easily defeated Dunure and Bumptious on even terms, the winner being untouched, though Barrett once showed him tho whip. On the first day of the Newmarket Houghton meeting a great deal of interest wa6 manifested in the prospect of another contest, in the Limekiln Stakes, between Orme and other cracks. Flank March was started to assist Sir Hugo, but he was of no service, as when the mission was accomplished the Derby winner was in trouble and Orme found none of the others able to extend him. In the Criterion Stakes — a race that has been won by such celebrities as Jannette, Thebais, Bruce, Macheath, Melton, and Ormonde— the Duke of Portland's filly The Prize, who started favourite, was smothering Montezuma until 50yds from the chair, when all the steam was gone, and struggling under the whip, the outsider won an exciting race by a head. This was a tremendous turn up, and entirely due to the severity of the course, as The Prize held Montezuma quite safe on the Lewes form in tho Astley Stakes. Tho Cambridgeshire was decided on a bright summery day succeeding a frosty morning. Thirty cjmpi.-titois went to the post, or one more than last year, the field bfci> g the largest since Hackneso won in 188?. The French had sent over a fiily named Kairouan (by Le Destrier), and 6ho was very heavily backed, but notwithstanding her light weight bhe did nothing in the race, and in short nothing was able to seriously trouble La Fleche, whoee per-

formance was highly meritorious when we consider the weight she was carrying and the long time she has been strung up. This race brought to a close La Fleche's career as a three-year-old. During this season and the last she has started in 13 races, and won all but the Dei by, in which she was beaten by Sir Hugo. Her winnings in stakes come to L 28,453. Orme's success in the sweepstakes on the same afternoon brought his winning total up to L 21.198. On the following Jay the unbeaten Meddler made his third public appearance in the Dewhurst Plate. The ground was heavy and had began to cut up, but he stayed on stoutly to the very end, and altogether shaped so well that it is quite likely ho will be tho winter favourite for the Derby. ' Orme was rather unwisely started the same day in tho Free Handicap, and was beaten by Colonel Noith's El Diablo, who was receiving 71b.

*#* Conceruing this last-mentioned ovont, ife seems to be generally believed that Orme was not beaten on his merits. The Sportsman's special is of that way of thinking. I thought myself , he writes, and almost overyoue thought, that Ormo had won his race all right enough when they were half-way up the rise out of tho Abingdon dip and close home. In fact Georgo Barrett, I fancy, ttought the same as soon as The Lover was beaten, for that seemed to be his only formidable antagonist, and Orme was striding along in his well-kuown style, able to have gone further ahead at that part of the race had ho been asked to do so. Suddenly El Diablo swooped down on him "with an extraordinary reserve of speed, travelling half as fast again as anything else. It was a surprise indeed to the spectators, and probably was so to Barretb. He had little more than 50yds left in which to seriously call upon Orme, and that distance was all too short in tho sticky ground for the son of Ormonde to stall off the now comer. Orme ran home straight and true as a lino, but he was incapable of the rapid chango of paco which alone could have saved the race, and El Diablo, admirably ridden by Dick Chalonor, got home with one run by a length and a-half. Of course this fairly sot the ball rolling again in the way of animated discussion, and tho detractors of the great horse were death on him once more. "He had refused to struggle," "He could not Bfcay," "Tho maro could givo him stones," and so on. AH this is nonsense. Full allowance should be made for the extraordinary way in which the horso has been run, for the heavy weight, and for the heavy ground, and for the fact that Dick Chaloner's rush on El Diablo was very much a surprise. And this I say without for a moment blaming Georgo Barretb, who was naturally not doing more than he thought just enough on Orme. It may be, of course, as the Duke of Westminster thinks, that the horse's illness, whatever may have been its cause, has impaired his stamina ; but I do not myself think tho horse has had fair treatment, and sorry as I was to see him beaten I was certainly not surprised.

*** The story of Red Deer's Chester Cup, which many a sporting sub-editor wishes had never been run, reads (remarks London Referee) a rather nasty barefaced plaut. Justifiable may be on the part of a professed callous sharp of no particular reputation, but most queer business for a very high-toned swell turf retormer and corrector of abuses. I said that many a sporting sub-editor ' wished Red Deer had never won. That is because, ever since he did land, catch bets have been founded on the bodily weight of Kitchener or Kitchenar, the Deer's pilot. I always thought it was Kitchenar, not " er." The late Mr LanghuuU told me the name was spelt " nar." His father found the boy one dark night at the double (toll) gates afc Merlon. A shrimp crept out from the toll-house's shelter, and asked for a lift to Epsom. On the road he explained that he had run away from home to be a jockey, and be a jockey he would. Finding the mite would not be turned from his purpose, Mr Langlands got him a' job. What size he was when first discovered may be guessed from his being able to ride, after learning the business, at 351b in the Ascot Wokingham Stakes, though he weighed out 3st 121b. Now conceruing tho Chester Cup, Lord George, who owned Bramble, the favourite, made a book for tho Duke of Richmond's Red Deer, also in his stable, and [ % backed Red Deer all manner of ways. In order not to give too clear a uotion of tho right one, he got on "Kent's lot," tho " three-year-olds," and Red Deer singly, while slipping it into Bramble and others. Poor Kent goes into ecstasies over his lordly bookmaker's generosity in giving the public a run for their money with Bramble instead of scratching him and making sure that nothing could go wrong wifch the works. That seems jannock after all, do you say ? Well, but listen to this. Tho trainer knew Red Deer could beat Bramble, with another two stone or so up, and just you sco what sort of a run it was intended to give tho public for their Bramble money. Besides Bramble and Red Deer, Best Bower, another of Kent's horses, ran. Lord Ge<rrge himself started thejield of 26, who were arranged in two rows, because of their number, on the narrow track. The other two were placed in the front row immediately in front of Red* Deer, who was held by his trainer for fear that he'mighli break away and take 'something out of himself in a false start — pretty thick that ! — and for another purpose. Bramble and Best Bower's riders were under orders to pull out right and left immediately the flag fell, and let Red Deer through. With all this nice little arrangement cut and dried, no wonder Red Deer chopped his field at the 6tart. You may guess the flag did not fall until all was plain sailing. What would people say now if a bookmaker who had a full volume against his own horse and stood .to win a fortune on another was permitted to send the fleet off and arrange them as he pleased P

*#* Fifteen horses have accepted for the Auckland Cup. Clanranald and Rosefeldt, two of the candidates that were thought to have a good show next to Merganser, are among the missing, but the acceptance list is longer than was generally expected, there being four- more than last year, and if Mr Rathbone's uuderratcd marc should happen to be " off " on the day there will probably be an interesting' race. With her at her best, or as well as she was at the Forbury, the race is about all over. That, at any rate, is the opinion of most of the writers, and of backers also. The handicapper has actually taken weight off Merganser for winning the Otago Cup, and he asks St. .Hippo to concede her 231b reckoned by the weigiit-for-age scale ! He has a stone over the scale weight, and she 91b under. It is probable that the payment of lOsovs at the post will knock out a few of the horses at present engaged. Crackshot will probably not be one ot these, for he has gone up, and will most likely start in spite of his weight. It may be expected also that Major George will start one at least. Last year bis Coalscuttle ran second to Pinfiro. This year Coalscuttle has 101b more to carry, and Pinfire has 12lb more, at which weights it is probable that The Workmau can beat them both. I still look to Merganser to wio, and next to her I like St. Hippo, The Workman, and Brigand, rather preferring The Workman" of the last-mentioned thiec, though it is an ominous eigo which backers muot interpret

for themselves that Maj or George's horse is at outside prices in Auckland. *** An application made the other day to the D.J.C. as metropolitan was bound from its very nature to be refused. It proceeded from a body styled "the Mount Ida Jockey Club," the request being to pass the programme for a race meeting to be held on the Maniototo Jockey Club's course, the use of which, it was stated, had been granted for a small consideration. The programme forwarded for approval was, I understand, right enough in itself— that is, the amount proposed to be given in 6takes — viz., L<K)O for a two days' meeting, was sufficient, and more *ihan sufficient, for a club holding only one meeting during the season, and so far as I know the draft document submitted complied in other respects with the rules. But anyone with half an eye could see that the " Mount Ida Jockey Club " was simply the Maniototo Jockey Club under a new name; indeed, there was no pretence at deception. There was the same name as secretary ; several other officers of the old club had their names figuring on the new programme ; the same course was to be used ; and the races proposed to be run were identical with those on a programme ju6t previously submitted by the Maniototo Jockey Club, and referred back for amendment iua3much as the stakes proposed to be giveu were not large enough to comply with the rules. The M J.C. held a race meet, ing in November last, when L2lO wa given in stakes for two days, the programme having been passed previous to the new rules coming into force. The summer programme sent down for approval provided stakes of L 435 for a two days' meeting. That was of course considerably under the required amount, and the club was told so. The rext we hear is the presentation of this application from the so-called new club. As I have said, the request ■was one which could not be entertained. What has happened is that the D.J.C. committee have formally declined the application, seeing that it manifestly proposed an evasion of the rules. It was a direct invitation to the D.J.C. to break away from the obligations imposed at the conference. That is not the way to remedy the existing grievance. The constitutional plan, already pointed out by country representatives, is to proceed in the direction of obtaining a voice for the country clubs at the conference. The Nasoby people must see this, and I dare Bay if we knew all we should find out that this extraordinary request of theirs was never intended to be seriously taken, or if it was sent in earnest, it was possibly packed off in a hurry in a fit of pique caused by the rejection of the M.J.C.'s programme. That seems to me the only reasonable explanation of the affair, and quite likely we shall hear no more of it. * # * Mention was made last week of a match that didn't come off. I have now to record a match that did eventuate. It took place at Tahuna Park on Tuesday morning, between Mr H. Alexander's Pihie and Mr Box's Nancy, the distance being two miles and the stakes LlO a-side, owners up. Pihie, a well-known horse and a public winner, was made favourite by the large number of spectators. Mr J. M'Kewan, who acted as starter, sent them away on even terms. Alexander steadied his horse and allowed Nancy to gain a long lead, but Box was soon in trouble, and though he rode vigorously he had to accept defeat by two lengths. I understand that Mr Box is not quite satisfied that his mare was beaten on her merits. One of his stirrup leathers broke during the race, and some seem to think that but for this and Nancy's saddle slipping she would have had a show. Others claim that Pihie would beat her every time they met, and this assumption is probably correct, for Pihie, though not a Nancy Hanks to go nor a particularly impressive joker in appearance, is certainly a racer. I don't think, however, that he will make the journey to Auckland. * # * There is nothing new under the sun. Over 150 years ago an act was passed in England to restrain excessive horse-racing. It was (writes an exchange) thought by Parliament that the love of horse-racing and gambling •was becoming too prevalent throughout the country for the welfare of the community, and that it would be better subdued by an act which would increase the stake to be run for, and so do away with the small country meetings, where such very paltry stakes were competed for. It was enacted "that after June 24-, 1740, no plate should be run for in the^kingdom of less value th&n L 50." The penalty being L2OO, half of it was given to the informer, the other portion being divided among the poor of the parish where the offence took place. Numerous iuformations were laid, and, amongst others, that of two horsett competing for L 25 cash. In tho trial case of this question— Ridmead v. Gale— tho presiding justice directed that a verdict be given for the defendant, as, although the winner would only receive L 25, it was a stake of LSO within tho meaning of the act. On' appeal, tho judgment of tho Full Court was unanimously in favour of the defendant. *** The present position of affairs in New Zealand consequent upon the latest experiment of the same Dature as that above alluded to is the subject of an interesting article in the Australasian. It iq a good thing to know what dispassionate outsiders say of us, and I therefore reproduce the leading portions of our contemporary's remarks. Apparently, he says, there j is no limit to tho genuine racing clubs which should be allowed the use of the totalisator in New Zealand. The idea of several of these places combining and forming one association capable of giving the prize-money fixed by the conference has either not occured to those interested, or, if it has occurred, the notion has not found favour. Surely, if providing the residents oi their district . with a good meeting is the primary object of all these little club 3, a combination between two or more of them would assist the cause very materially. In South Australia the Government only allows two courses within 20 miles of Adelaide lo use the machine, and outside this radius racecourses, to obtain totalisator licenses, must be at least 20 miles apart. In New Zealand it seems to have been the practice to let the totalisator be worked anywhere, and when the Governn ent imposed atax of 1£ per cent, the clubs, already receiving 10 per cent, for themselves, saddled the investors with this imposition instead of deducting it from the handsome percentage allowed themselves. Evidently the Maori racing clubs have had it all their own way so far as the use of the "instrument that can't lie" has been concerned, but this state of things cannot last, and for the sake of raoiog in their colony it is to be hoped sporting men will take a sensible view of the position, and by allowing the metropolitan clubs — or the New Zealand Jockey Club, if it is formed to regulate the use of the machine, save riskin" its loss altogether. . . . It is evident, from the tone of several of the New Zealand papers, that in some quarters the grievance of the Otago clubs is considered a very genuiue oue, and the agitation to have these outside associations represented at the meetings of the conference is cordially supported by more than one journal which devotes a deal of space

to sport. At this distance, however, the regulations approved by the metropolitan clubs with the object of checking the indiscriminate use of the machine seem reasonable enough. Any district which really requires more than three meetings in the year should be able to give L6OO a day. Then, again, L3OO per day, the amount set down as compulsory for a club holding two meetings, is little enough, and surely the residents of a place who hanker after their one little flatter in a year should, with the help of the percentages, be able to spread Ll5O over a day's sport. When a club cannot endow its stakes to the extent required, the failure is tantamount to a confession that in the community it caters for sporting instincts are not strongly developed, and under such circumstances those residents who want racing might well co-operate with a neighbour, and get their sport in that way. The Otago clubs are not going to submit to the " added money limit " without a struggle, and as genuine racing clubs, the conference is likely to meet them as far as possible ; but if the totalisator is to live in New Zealand, some steps to prevent it being abused must be adopted, either by the racing authorities or the Government, and the conference can hardly bring about the required reforms without acting prejudicially to the interests of some small clubs. *a* Some interesting particulars of the stock recently brought over to Wellington appear in the notes by "Vigilant." The purchase of First King by Mr Robert Stevens, of the Rangitikei, could not, he says, have been more opportune. Although claiming Ringmaster and several other good ones as his progeny, the horse had gone out of favour as a stallion, and when Mr Wilson decided to sell him it was not expected that he would fetch a very high price. We are told he was sold at auction for lOOgs to a Mr Sinclair, who resold him to Mr Stevens. What Mr Stevens paid for the horse we are not told, and it is nobody's business but his own. Where the opportuneness came in was that only a few days after First Kiug became Mr Stevens' property his three-year old son Ducrow— a full brother to Ringmaster, being out of Yardley — won the Victorian Club Handicap of 200sovs, one mile and a quarter and a distance, at the Victorian Club meeting, carrying 7.1 and beating a field of 12, Dramatist 7.5 being second and G'Naroo 8.6 third. Ducrow started first favourite at 5 to 2 against, and won by a couple of lengths. It is safe to conclude that had this capital performance of one of his youngest offspring taken place before instead of after the sale the price would have been at least doubled. First King won the Champion Stakes in 1878 and 1880. He is a dark bay with a lot of character about him, the most striking feature being his great length of rein. Ho is one of the long and low sorb, standing about 15hds 3in on steel-like legs, and showing both substance and quality. He has a very intelligent head and eye, and the only sign of age about him is a slight dip in the back. With ordinary luck Mr Stevens ought to have five or six good seasons with First King. Other horses in the shipment, also the property of Mr Stevens, are the chestnut mare Moss Rose, by Cassivelaunus— Roseneath, who was bred in New Zealand and exported some years ago ; a brown two-yoar-old colb by Robinson CrusoeDuster ; and a chestnut gelding, whose breeding was nob ascertained. Mr Kraft also brings over for Mr Colter, of Ashurst, the brown mare Nectarine, by St. Albans— Horticulture, with foal at foot, by Calma, and in foal to the same sire ; and the bay mare Ethel, by King of the Ring, from Elsie, by the Marquis (imp.), who is in foal to Calma.

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TALK OF THE DAY, Otago Witness, Issue 2025, 15 December 1892

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TALK OF THE DAY Otago Witness, Issue 2025, 15 December 1892

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