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HORSES' POWERS DIFFICULT TO ASCERTAIN. 81 change as any tricks of the conjuror; for, handicapping the lot that have come in as they did, put a feather on all of them, “hie presto," the late winner, who is perhaps a really good sort of nag, and likely to run on a useful one, might be nowhere, and one of the non-placed, a weedy wretch that never did or ever would do any good to any one (but the trainer), might come in winning, hard held. Here, supposing (but not otherwise) the race was run exactly the same as the first and in the same time, we should have pretty clearly ascertained which horses could carry weight and which could not. But if we permitted the race to be differently run the second time to the first, we should be astray as to how far the difference of pace had produced the difference of running in the horses as well as the difference of weight. To ascertain exactly at what particular weight, at what distance, and at what pace the horse becomes the most superior to other horses, would admit of almost as many changes as the old trick of placing a dozen persons at table ; in fact, before we could come to the perfect knowledge of this, we must give him as many trials as old Catherina, Isaac, or Bee's-wing have run races. This of course being impracticable, many a race is lost with a good horse by ournot knowing his forte. Weknow what he does well, but we do not know what is his best. A horse may be nowhere at (say) 8st. weight for a mile; no great things, but better at two ; very good at three; and a regular trump at four. Now there can be no doubt as to two of the superior qualities of this horse: he can go a length, and carry highish weight; and if this has been done at first-rate four-mile pace, there can be no mistake about him at this sort of race: he is a thorough, stout, game, honest horse. I wish all
PAYING " SCOTT AND LOT.”
my friends a stable full of such: they are a very safe sort, and not the sort that often deceive or ruin their owners. They may not, and certainly would not, win a Derby or a Two Thousand Guineas ; but being (as Providence has ordered I should be, and am forced to be) content with trifles, I have an idea it is better to. take up two or three hundred two or three times a-year than to be VERY NEAR winning a fortune, and, by being so repeatedly, eventually losing one. Some men mig t be pleased, if they found a 30,0001. in the lottery was won by ticket 1937, that theirs was 1936 : it was very near I allow : a man is very near the Derby who runs second for it, and sometimes very near his ruin also: but the man who does win 3001. instead of 30001. has something toward stable expenses, and can pay “Scott and lot," a thing not easily done by being second best. Our horse having done his Beacon length something under eight minutes, we will give him a scrape, put on his clothes, and send him offheats, thank custom, not having crept in at Newmarket. Let us hope they never will, for one race can generally give a horse, and very often an owner, quite a sufficient warming for one day.
Having supposed the above race or trial run, we · may infer that the horse who could run so well under 9st. might run equally as well, or perhaps proportionably better when compared to others, under still higher weight. In this conclusion we should perhaps be right; but we must not depend upon it as a certainty; though I have remarked that generally the shape and make, style of going, and stamina that enable a horse to go from end to end four miles, also enable him to carry weight: but what weight ? We have supposed a horse above, that it is clear is no flyer with feather
NEVER PERSEVERE IN A BAD CAUSE. 83 weight; we have proved he can go a choking pace for four miles with 9st., but another stone might stop him. There is a certain weight at which most horses shine at certain distances, perhaps at all lengths, though this by no means is to be considered a general case. We have found our horse run well four miles with 9st. : we have found out what he can do well; but interest or curiosity induces us to see if we can find out what he can do better. To ascertain this, let us consider, or rather try and prove, whether his running on under this weight is occasioned in the greatest degree by his game, stamina, and a certain turn of speed, or by his peculiar adaptation to and powers of carrying weight. He must possess all these qualities in a high degree, we are aware; but this does not quite bring us to what we want, though if we were to make the following trial we should come pretty near the thing.
We know our horse cannot run short lengths. When I say we know, I mean supposing the owner of the horse to be somewhat of my way of thinking in such matters : there are some men who would not know, or be persuaded of the fact : let them run their pets on, it will be all the better for somebody, but I opine not for themselves or owners. I say we know, because our nag has run two or three times third and fourth at such lengths. The trainer may give reasons enough why the horse did not go to the front in these races —“ Owing to the frost or the snow, or a bruised foot, or a little cold, the badness of the weather, or a something, the horse was a little short of work; or the course did not suit him; or if he had been made a little more use of early in the race, or a vice versâ ; or if, something else; the race would have come off differently ;" or anything but what in nine cases out 84
COMING TO A DEFINITION.
of ten is the fact when a horse does not win- he could not go fast enough. Having this truth firmly fixed on our minds as to the horse in question, we did not trouble him with another chance in the same kind of race, but run him the four miles, and now wish to try what most contributed to his winning that. He ran the four miles with Est. at a certain pace; we put another stone on him, and find he made the time very little more, or not nearly so much so as the additional weight would lead us to expect. We then made a third trial, taking a stone of the original weight (8st.): he now runs under 7st., and we find he does not improve in pace commensurate with the lighter weight. Now this is something like proof that it is his power of carrying weight that made him win his first race; and his decided forte is, that, though not fast, he can under high weight go such a pace as can cut down his horses in a length; and such a horse will generally pay his way, put money in his master's pockets, and a handsome addition of plate on his sideboard.
But if, on the other hand, in our three trials we had found that the putting on the additional stone and taking one off had made a very great difference in his pace, we should come to the conclusion that game, wind, and stamina enabled him to win his first race, and not his particular powers as to weight, for with the additional stone he would have been beat. Still this is a good useful horse, but by no means likely to be so profitable a one to go on with as the other; for in most cases the longer the race the greater is the weight put on, and of course the older he grows the more he must carry: and beyond a certain weight we have found this horse wanting. Such a horse would
WEIGHT-FOR-AGE STAKES AND HANDICAPS. 85 most probably not be nearly so good at five years old as he was at four, unless in a handicap.
I am quite clear that in nine cases out of ten the winning qualifications of race-horses are not found out at the proper time. I do not mean that such is the case with such an owner as Lord George Bentinck, who thoroughly understands and is fond of racing; but I am clear that with most men the fact is as I represent it. They find out what their horses can and cannot do in the course of time; but paying entries, travelling expenses of a horse, boy and trainer, and then the jock, is rather an expensive mode of finding out in what sort of race a horse should be placed to get a fair chance of winning. A public trainer could not adopt a better for every horse in his stables, and very few owners indeed know how to do it.
Nothing can be fairer or more proper than weightfor-age races, as they encourage men to breed a fine class of race-horse. If a stone and a half were taken off the weights to be carried for the Derby, Leger, and other great stakes, it would shortly do up racing, or at least we should be getting into a set of weedy animals unworthy the name of race-horses. Still the fixed weights must always preclude a field coming in even within hail of each other; for among the starters there are always many who at the weight have as much chance of winning as if they ran with a patent safety cab at their heels. There can be no doubt that if we wish to see a good race, a handicap is that race: still I should be sorry to see these more general than they are, as they would tend to discourage the owners of good horses, and induce others to keep bad ones in training; for if horses are really and judgmatically handicapped in accordance with the true spirit of the thing, the