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TO AVOID OTHER LEGS, TAKE TO YOUR OWN. 17 mile round than witness, instead of becoming an uncalled-for actor in its execution.
If a man on the turf stoops to tamper with the honesty of his trainer, jockey, or stable-boy, he of course brings himself to their level, or below it. If he also chooses, for the sake of making up his book, to associate (we will allow only pro tempore), consult, and bet with blacklegs and sharpers, he must necessarily lose that distinction his original position in society entitled him to hold. In short, it is not racing that levels distinction, but, like every thing else, the way in which it is sometimes done.
There are certainly some pursuits so degrading in themselves (bull-baiting, dog-fighting, &c.) that, carry them on as you will, being the pursuits of the ruffian and blackguard, must degrade the gentleman. Here no adventitious circumstance is wanted to level distinction-- to encourage, patronise, or even witness such barbarities, is enough to produce such effect. But racing ever has been the pursuit of the higher classes of society; and the only way by which noblemen or gentlemen can lose caste, or bring themselves on a level with the Leg, is by countenancing him and descending to his habits and practices.
I have said that these sharpers might easily be driven from the turf, or at all events their influence be destroyed. If we could prevent fools playing at thimble-rig, we should require no rural police to keep the table-keepers from the race-course. If people would neither carry watches nor sufficient money into crowds to be worth the attention of pickpockets, they would disappear from such places also. So, if noblemen, gentlemen, and all respectable men would determine neither to countenance, bet with, nor speak
such barbaritio encourage, patince is wanted to
to professed Legs, their harvest would be destroyed, and they would take themselves off also. “Dog will not eat dog," nor would it suit the books of the Legs to bet among themselves only. If those real patrons of racing who still keep their horses on the course would only come to the determination of striking at the root of the evil that has driven so many from the turf, hundreds would return to their favourite pursuit, and then should we see the palmy days of racing return also, and our race-courses be, as in days gone by, thronged with the aristocracy of the country, instead of being infested by the dregs of society.
It is often said that racing has a tendency to encourage gambling and betting. Doubtless it is one of the hundred means by which betting may be effected, but the one by no means follows as a necessary accompaniment to the other; and I strongly suspect that if the germ of betting is firmly rooted in the mind of any man, bet he will on something; so it little matters whether he loses his money on the racecourse or at the hazard-table. I can bring forward a case tolerably illustrative of this. .
When I first put on a red coat (I mean a military one), it was in a militia regiment. Among the members of our mess were two young men who were in no way addicted to racing or to any kind of field sports, and who, if they attended a race meeting, went to see the crowd, and cared not a pin for the racing. Now in these so strong was the mania for gambling that in one way or other they were constantly at it. Billiards was their chief pursuit; but even that most gentlemanlike and intellectual game pitch-and-hustle helped to pass the time from parade to mess hour: whist then took its turn; and finally
a little chicken hazard in their rooms closed the evening. After a time, a new freak seized them: this was to get the old corks from the mess-waiter: each took one, and after throwing them into the river, they stationed themselves on the bridge, and the cork that · first appeared beyond the arch won. This took wonderfully, and they were joined by many more, of which number I was fool enough to make one, and proposed in lieu of matches to make up sweepstakes. This was carried unanimously. I then proposed, instead of racing corks, to substitute racing bottles, and this was also carried nem. con. Each tied his colour round the neck of his bottle, and some nine or ten started — 2s. 6d. entrance. As we found, however, that one of the party was decidedly more lucky than the rest, and that, in short, he generally won the stakes, it struck me there might be something in the bottle, as well as in the luck; so I examined it privately, and found that both the shape and weight of the successful bottle were very different from the others. I took the hint, and, after looking over some hundreds at a winemerchant's, selected one that looked to me like a fast one—thin as paper, light as a feather, and very conically shaped. I started this the next day, and won in a canter by twenty lengths; won again, and again; in short, the late winning bottle was Meux's horse and dray to the American trotter Confidence and a match cart. After a time, some one smoked the thing, and it was decided that my bottle should not be allowed to start again. Relying how. ever on shape and make, I proposed a Handicap, agreeing that my bottle and the late winning one (which nearly always came in second) should each
20 EXPENSES OF RACE-HORSES DEFINABLE. carry weight to bring them to that of the others. I started, and again shape and make did the thing. They then wanted to add to my weight; but, knowing what weight does, I backed out—as some others would have been wise had they done when they backed Hyllus, forgetting, with the weight put on him, the length he had to go. * Our bottle-racing was soon given up; not so the gambling. Of these two fine young men, one terminated his existence after losing to an enormous amount in the Palais Royal; the other lost the whole of his fortune, went abroad, and died of fever.
These and many more instances that have come under my notice make me shudder when I see a young man betting high, and betting with men who are sure in the long run to strip him of every feather. The same feeling makes me execrate the very name of those who will not let us enjoy a noble sport without by every means in their power rendering it subservient to their own designs and nefarious purposes. As to the expense of racing, it is very easily defined. That of keeping a horse in a public training stable, every man who has race-horses in them knows: they will be pretty much the same one year as another: the expense of the entrances for different stakes are also known; so no man can at all events be ruined suddenly by keeping race-horses if he does not bet. If he is foolish enough to incur an expense of 10001. a-year, when he cannot afford to pay 2001., he does it with his eyes open. Probably his other expenses are about in the same ratio: still, UTRUM HORUM MAVIS ACCIPE.
* At Wolverhampton races, for the Holyoak Stakes, Hyllus carried 9 st. 6 lb., twice round and a distance, thereby giving Retriever, the winner, 23 lb., both 6 yrs.
when he is ruined, the poor race-horses are sure to come in for all the odium.
Let us suppose two sensible young men of fortune, on commencing life, each selecting his favourite pursuit
-the one takes to fox-hunting, the other to keeping race-horses. We will say the general expense of a pack of fox-hounds is 14001. per annum, which is I should think (take England throughout) about a fair average, and we will allow the other to lay aside 14001. a-year for his race-horse expenses. Now we are quite sure the fox-hounds will bring no further return than the amusement they afford, nor does the owner expect it. The other spends the same sum in the keep, travelling expenses, entries, and riders for his horses: if he never wins a race, he is only in the same situation as the owner of the fox-hounds; but he must be a most unlucky wight indeed if this is the case. In fact, he cannot but win some of his expenses back: with moderate luck and moderate judgment he may cover them all; and if his judgment and good luck are in the ascendant, he may make money. I grant, as I have said before, that few do so; but of those who keep race-horses, there are numbers who have no judgment at all, many who have but little, and not one in fifty whose judgment is really good. This is one reason why so few make their horses pay.
There are two things a man should well consider before he ventures on the turf: the one is, has he capital to stand a season or two of ill luck ? for be he on the whole as lucky as he will, this will in its turn happen. Thus, if his first year happens to be an unlucky one, if he cannot stand this, and wait till his turn comes round, he is swamped from want of capital — by no means an uncommon thing. The