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132 “PRACTICE” DOES NOT “ MAKE PERFECT.”
affect the running of his own horse, but of others in the race. Talk of head, why a State Trial does not require more to carry it on, and possibly it may not be of as much consequence whether it is lost or gained as many of our races. I stated in the commencement of these papers that a certain degree of education would be very desirable in a person who undertakes breaking young horses, and also in a trainer: I trust my Reader will think that it would be equally advantageous to the jockey. That there are many good jockeys without, we know; but I maintain that they would probably have been still better with, with of course the addition of practice as well. I remember to have spoken in a few opinions lately in no flattering terms of Gentlemen jockeys (that is, as jockeys); but this says nothing against my theory. I must have education and practice combined to produce better jockeys than we have, and it is from the want of practice only that Gentlemen fail: but though they seldom ride a race well, if they were ignorant men, with the little practice they have, they would ride it still worse than they do. I know theoretical principles alone will never make a workman in anything; but the man who commences with a good stock of them will much sooner become one than a man who has none. No Gentleman will undergo the necessary ordeal to make him a perfect jockey; yet there are some Gentlemen whose names I could mention who could tell most jockeys a great deal more than the latter know of their business (the practical part excepted). I will mention one of our Aristocracy who can ride very nearly as well as our best professional jocks, and much better than nine out of ten of the others—General
SUCH PAY BETTER THAN HALF PAY. 133
Gilbert. He only wants the ordinary jockey's practice to be perfect. Here education (the precursor to fine judgment in anything a man undertakes) has led to what most jockeys want—head. If poor Pavis had had such a head, he would have been a still more perfect jockey on his horse, and about twenty times a more sensible man when off. Some jockeys will perhaps ridicule the idea of education improving them: I dare say they will: all, or nearly all, ignorant persons are self-sufficient enough, and hate any theory. I should say to such, “Quid rides 2 de te fabula narratur.” In these “piping times of peace,” in this era of general distress, when we see close relatives of Nobility toiling their eight hours at the desk of a Public Office for 80l. or 90l. per annum, we are led to think that it matters little in what way a man can make his 300l. or 400l. a-year, provided the occupation is not in itself disgraceful. We might, therefore, expect that we should have some very superior men now following the occupation of professional riders; but there are many things that will always prevent this being the case. With a very few exceptions, I do not call to my recollection more than a very few—Powell, the M'Donoughs, Mayne, and a few others, for instance—though Mayne was hardly to be called publicly professional, as he only trained and sometimes rode for Lord Howth. But these can only ride at high weights, Powell particularly so, who never would deny to himself or his friend any of the good things of this life (if he could help it); therefore can be only considered as steeple-chase riders. I think I am within the mark when I say, not one man in a thou
sand can ride the weight of a flat-race rider, and cer
134 SELE-DENIAL EXEMPLIFIED.
tainly no man can hope to make a good income as such a jock who cannot get on his horse at Derby weight; and many of those who can, do it at an expense of bodily discomfort that nothing but habit enables a man to bear, and of which few persons are aware. It is not quite agreeable to see every one enjoying themselves but oneself. After a good dinner, it is all very fine to say it matters little what a man eats; but when the quality and the quantity of these vulgar creature-comforts are both limited to the smallest degree of nourishment the frame is capable of enduring, the thing is not quite so pleasant, particularly when to this are added certain little walks of a diaphoretic na-.' ture that are in no way pleasing addenda to the maigre days. Nothing can be pleasanter than to go on a visit to the Noble Patrons of the Eglinton Park, Croxton Park, or Bibury Meetings (where the weights are made to suit Gentlemen), and there to show off as one of the jocks. We will suppose a jock (that is to be on tomorrow) at the dinner-table: a few sips of white soup or julienne, with a glass of sherry, prepare him for two or three forkfuls of turbot, or John Dory, or the fish most in season: “Champagne, Sir!” a slice of venison (the sauce is exquisite): “Champagne, Sir!” the chapon aur truffes is magnificent (Champagne): a minute particle of the vol-au-vent brings on another “Champagne, Sir.” As our jock considers he must keep on the muzzle, he determines to be abstemious, and finishes with merely an orange fritter and some jelly. Stilton, Parmesan, or Gruyere? Neither. Macaroni is lighter for a jock, who is now enabled to wait for the dessert, the more so, as, from having taken so little, he has had a glass of Mareschino to prevent any cramp in the stomach: and this emboldens him
“TAKE THE GOOD THE GODS PROVIDE.” 135
to venture on a little ice, and then an olive, taken to prepare him for the Claret. Here we will leave him till we find him revelling in the greater enjoyment of the society of the Ladies in the drawing-room. There conversation, music, charades, tableaua vivans, and perhaps a quadrille got up at the moment, bring on the tray-supper, only a tray-supper, but constituting every delicacy that can tempt aristocratic appetite. He eats—that is, vulgarly eats—nothing; but, birdlike, pecks a grain of many things. In short, his abstemiousness amounts in point of fact to the same thing as if he had devoured a couple of good muttonchops. He now begins to think that with the aid of his valet, he can get to bed. In the morning, breakfast: jocks should not eat breakfasts; he will only therefore take something light. Chocolate 7 No. A cup of Mocha enlivens, and gives energy to the nerves: three or four plover's eggs are light; so are prawns, a potted lamprey, and a mere forkful of galantine de gibier aua truffes. Fearing his wasting system may not have produced the effect of making him lighter, he determines on a walk after breakfast; and really takes one as far as the conservatory with the Ladies, visits the gold fish in their marble ocean, and takes a peep at the gold and silver pheasants. It is now time to dress, and on go the gossamer boots, ditto ditto unmentionables and satin jacket: over this such a love of a Chesterfield or Taglioni! Notwithstanding all this, he is no puppy nor fool, and perhaps rides his race well, and with plenty of nerve (considering the deprivations he has submitted to), and that with a 4 lb. saddle he can ride 12 st. I am afraid my jock who has to ride 7st. 12 lb., has
not passed his time quite so pleasantly. While the
136 A LIGHT SUPPER, WHOLESOME — VERY.
one was at dinner, the other was getting his tea; dinner he had none ; some dry toast and a cup of tea suffice in place of the other's three meals: notwithstanding which, he finds himself over-weight in the morning. He also takes his walk; but rather in a different way: a couple of flannel waistcoats, ditto drawers, a great coat, flannel cap, and a fast walk of two or three miles out and back is not visiting the gold fish. Nor would one cup of tea and bit of dry toast be quite agreeable to our Gentleman jock. It is not to be wondered at, therefore, that we have so few men of education making riding races a profession: still, as some boys select this occupation, if as boys they were brought to think more than they are, I maintain they would become more scientific, and consequently much better jockeys from this sort of education. Having said thus much of the different functionaries of the Turf, let us now inquire how far Hunting may require head in its pursuit. I doubt not there are many persons who think any ordinary fellow who can “whoop” and “halloo,” blow a horn, and ride boldly, is good enough for a Huntsman. Of course no Sportsman thinks this; but I am not making these observations for the edification of Sportsmen: I never, on any occasion, presume to write for their instruction: but I am endeavouring to show those of the world who are not Sportsmen that our pursuits approach nearer to their own in point of the requisite of mind (or as I have termed it head) than they have hitherto supposed. If I succeed in this, my most aspiring hope will be realised. I have always considered, that, take him all in all,