صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

are

CHANCES FOR THE DERBY NOT QUITE ANNUAL. 91 then it would be difficult to prevent his shortly getting out: and again, boys are seldom put up on such horses as I instance. We cannot make other horses follow, it is true: so much the better; they would be welcome to go what pace they liked; but if they cannot stop our horse, it is all that is wanted, and we are making the running that suits him, while we are making the pace throughout such as does not suit the others. There can be no doubt but flyers stand a chance for the Derby ; my useful nag does not. * I must here quote a schoolboy reminiscence: “Gutta cavat lapidem, non vi sed sæpe cadendo.” My nag cannot win a great stake perhaps ; sed, sæpe currendo, he picks up the crumbs that fall from the rich man's table. These put together make at all events a pennyroll. The flyer has a chance for the big loaf, it is true, but a hungry man would feel rather faint in waiting ten years for it. The Derby and Leger are fine takes-up I allow; but if we look at the number of flyers that are bred, entered, and trained for them, I should say that with ordinary luck they would fall to each nominator's share about once in a century. Some have won them several times; so some have made money by gambling: a good many more have been ruined, and perhaps as many have committed suicide from, as ever made their fortune by it. Of course when I speak of a useful horse, I do not mean a slow one; but, as speaking comparatively, I mean he would be slow if put by the side of (we will say) Semiseria, or any other goer, in a half-mile race. Fast for two or three miles as to the time it takes to do the distance in, and fast in finishing, are two quite opposite qualifications. My useful horse must be fast, or he cannot cut down his horses so as to

many

92

WONDERS OFTEN CEASE TO BE WONDERS.

bring them comparatively slow at the finish; but if he is this, I should consider him a safe horse to back when properly placed, and a most useful one to own.

It may be asked why such horses as (we will say) Bay Middleton might not go on running as long as the more useful sort? They might, it is true; and much better would it be for their owners if they did : but they don't (speaking of course in a general way). They might perhaps go on if their age did not ; but we cannot stop that, and its consequences stop them. They are not generally formed to go long lengths or to carry weight, both of which they must do when they become older, or not run at all, or only, as I have before said, for handicaps.

I have stated the numberless trials it would require to exactly ascertain what (taking all things into consideration) is a horse's true forte, and I quite feel convinced this is scarcely ever ascertained. We get perhaps with the generality of horses a sufficient insight into their qualifications to partially answer the purpose : with many I am sure we do not, and with some their very best forte is never known. To elucidate this I will suppose a case— begging it to be borne in mind that I am not supposing, and still further am I from proposing the kind of trial I shall mention as one practicable, or at least judicious to attempt with a race-horse, for the idea would be preposterous. I merely state the case to show the difficulty of getting at what we want to know — a horse's best.

We will suppose we have an untried three-year-old: let us see how many trials we should want to learn his true forte. We try him as to time with 7st. at one, two, three, and four miles, to ascertain his best

ma

FACTS ALL BUT IMPOSSIBLE TO ASCERTAIN. 93 length, bearing in mind what is fast time for each four trials.

We now try him four lengths with 8st., to see what weight doesfour trials.

Ditto, ditto, ditto, with 9st. -four trials.

By these twelve trials we have got some insight into his speed at different distances under different weights; but our work is only half done yet, for these trials have been all run in one waynamely, at best pace from end to end, and this may by no means suit the horse, or rather colt: so, though we may have found out what he does best, running in this way, we know but little of him as yet ; for if he has done any or all of these trials badly, we may have upset him by continued pace, and he may be a race-horse still, and a good one, in races run in a different manner : and if he has, on the other hand, done any or all well, he may still in another way do better.

To ascertain this, we must now select a trial-horse whose qualities we precisely know, and who we also know will run kind; and we must go all over our ground again, beginning at a mile with 7st., and making the pace such as to try the colt's speed, courage, and temper in finishing-four trials.

Ditto, ditto, ditto, with 8st. four trials. · Ditto, ditto, ditto, with 9st. - four trials.

We have therefore had twenty-four trials before we can ascertain how to best place and run a horse-a very pretty dose this, and a pretty animal our nag would come out after such an ordeal-a good two years' work, and enough too! And yet we could not get at what is a horse's best with less trial than I have supposed as a case. I trust, therefore, it shows I am not far astray in venturing an opinion, that many

94

AB UNO DISCE OMNES.

horses are constantly beaten, not from being altogether bad, but from being merely bad at the weight and in the races they are entered to run for, from our not knowing in what way, at what length, and at what weight they will run better: and this must always to a very great degree be the case more or less. By the time a horse is regularly stumped up, perhaps, and only perhaps, we may learn the secret, and then have the pleasing satisfaction of reflecting, that had we precisely known our horse's forte, we have had an animal in our possession that would have made our fortune.

If, therefore, it is so difficult for any one, however interested he may be in a horse, to ascertain his best qualities, can we be surprised if many a horse in a public training stable, unless he is a favourite, is continually running, and of course continually losing, in races where he never should have been placed ; for if a trainer does in an ordinary way his duty to a horse, he conceives that he has done all that his duty requires. It is not to be expected that a man with a dozen horses under his care will rack his brains or exercise his ingenuity in considering how to make the most of each individual horse for the benefit of the owner, whether as it regards his treatment or running. It may be said he ought to do this: we know he ought; we all ought to do a great deal we do not do : so ought trainers, though I do not mean to say they fail in this particular more than the generality of men; but whether they ought or not, they won't. The regular routine is gone through like the business of a parade. Commanding officer, officers, non-commissioned officers, privates, and band, all go through the duties of their class, and do it mechanically and according to rule: the trainer does the same; so do the boys: they as

REGULARITY NOT ALWAYS SUCCESSFUL.

95

mechanically take down the bales, set beds fair, feed their horses, put on the rack-chains, strip and dress them, saddle them, put up the bales, and then look out for their own feed: they as regularly return, take down bales, bridle their horses, mount, and ride them out: they walk them all round the yard for a time: though some may be as wild as hawks, others requiring kicking along, still as a rule they all do the same thing. They are then exercised, take their gallops according to their age, are walked, get their water, are dressed, shut up, and so forth. This is all right and proper; the trainer has done his duty; so have the boys; that is, they have done their bare duty, and there has been no wilful neglect: in short, all has been done that with horses of ordinary constitutions, appetites, rate of going, and temper, could be required : but all horses are not possessed of all these ordinary qualities; consequently ordinary treatment won't do at all. The trainer does what perhaps brings a horse into condition, but few trouble their heads as to what will bring him into the very best. So, supposing first the horse in point of condition to be six or seven pounds worse than he might be brought to by studying temper, and a variety of other things—and then in point of weight, distance, or the mode of using him in a race, we also make him six or seven pounds below what he would be under different circumstances, we get our horse nearly a stone under his real mark, or something bordering on a distance; yet under such disadvantages I am satisfied may run. In some proof of this :

Four years since, a little mare was offered me for sale at a very moderate price; she was then four years old, and had been running with little success. The

« السابقةمتابعة »