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THE PRINCE'S DERBY.

It was generally supposed that the limits of popular enthusiasm had been reached when Lord Boseberj won the Derby with Ladas. But this proves to have been a mistake. Great as was the excitement on that occasion it was mildness itself compared to the scene which occurred on June 3rd when the Prince of Wales's colt Persimmon won for his royal owner the Derby of 1896 in the fastest time on record, and in the presence of tho hugest crowd that ever blackened Epaom Downs. It began when the race, more than than a quarter of a mile from home, 1 resolved itself into a match between Persimmon and his great opponent St. Frus1 quin. The latter at the time w.is leading by le<*s than a length, and as it was seen that the gap was being steadily diminished the excitement grew intense, and the spectators seemed to hold their breath. When, with a hundred yards to go, Persimmon got his head in front, and, keepiug it there, bore the purple and gold jacket with scarlet sleeves first past the post, the enthusiasm of the enormous multitude, numbering, it was reckoned, at least 300,000, broke all bounds. The air was black with thousands of hats flung up by the excited owners, and a roar of cheering broke oat from all parts of the crowded course that was absolutely deafening. The hurricane of cheers continued for more than a quarter of an hour. But the climax of the enthusiasm was not reached until the Prince appeared on the steps of the Jockey Club stand, from which he had watched the race, and, hat in hand, made his way, not without some difficulty, on to the course for the purpose of bringing Persimmon back to the weighing stand.

The special reporters of the London papers seem to have found the task of describing the scene at this stage almost beyond their powers. During the five minutes that elopsed before a way could be made for Persimmon the ovation continued unabated. At last the hero of the day arrived escorted by a detachment of constables, and led by Marsh, his trainer, whose face, we are told, was that of a man who is enjoying the supreme moment of his ii ie. "He gave the rein to the Prince> who, with his hat in his hand, led his first Derby winner into the unsaddling enclosure. The cheers were almost hysterical now, and the spectacle was one which has known no parallel on any racecourse in the world. The Prince shook Marsh's hand a dozen times, and when Watts dismounted he shook his also. Porter, his old trainer, was bimilarly greeted, and so were many huudieds of others. The choering had known no break from first to last, but when the " All right " was called there was scarcely a man on the course with a hat on his head. The Prince appeared at Lhe top of the steps and bowed repeatedly to the mass below him, and he would .have beeu of stone bad he not shown how much he was moved. The whole experience was oro of a lifetime. The news of the Royal win was received with great enthusiasm all over the kingdom, and i\;markable de monptrations occurred at the Stock Exchange, the Military Tournament, and other places of popular resort, while at the theatres and music halls in the evening the public fueling of satisfaction and congratulations was strongly pronounced. The reception accorded to the Prince and Princess when they returned to London in the evening was a repetition on a smaller scale of the ovation on tlje course. Tl'ree days later, when they made their public entry into East London to open a Trades and Industrial Exhibition at the People's Palace, thiyhad unple evidence of the popular goodwill, for the reception given to them was perhaps the most tuinultuously cordial that they had ever experienced. The crowd was composed exclusively of the working class, and it 3 rapture at the presence not merely of Royalty, but of successful spotting Royalty, was phenomenal. The Prince in replying to an address of welcome, in which reference had boon mado to his bucccss, said that il. was always a matter of satisfaction to a man to aucceod, if possible, in anything ho had undertaken, and, no doubt, to have won tho Derby with a horse bred by himself was very gratifying to him, but the enthusiasm and kind feel|i..^iJ ji.'.jiiAi towards him surpassed, to him, his pleasure at having WO u th^

Derby. There is no doubt that by his win the Prince added enormously to his popularity, and even the Princess of Wales achieved the apparently impossible task of adding to hers by manifesting the keenest interest in the fortunes of Persimmon. The Queen, it is said, was not at all pleased with her son's success, as she detests horse racing, but she was gratified, in spite of herself, to read of the tremendous enthusiasm with which the nation as a whole hailed that success. —Press.

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/WCT18960728.2.18

Bibliographic details

THE PRINCE'S DERBY., West Coast Times, Issue 10336, 28 July 1896

Word Count
846

THE PRINCE'S DERBY. West Coast Times, Issue 10336, 28 July 1896

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