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2 HORSES RUNNING FOR THE BENEFIT OF BETTORS.
contrary, that he must consider his horse as the property of the public; and that, instead of his being at liberty to consult his own interest or pleasure as to the disposal or running of his horse, he must consider only that of the public. We will suppose he had entered his horse for some Stake on the Monday, and also for another on the following Wednesday, and that for some reason or other he was in a great measure indifferent as to winning the Monday's race, but particularly anxious to win that on the Wednesday, simply, perhaps, because he had said he would win that particular race, or that some one's horse was in it that he was particularly emulous to beat. Now, one might very naturally infer that a man had a right to give his Jockey something like these instructions: “Now, George, I am particularly anxious to win the Stakes on Wednesday: if you find you can win to-day at your ease, do so; if, on the contrary, you find you will have to take a great deal out of your horse to win, pull up at once, for we must not be beat on Wednesday if we can help it.” There certainly does not appear any thing very unreasonable in supposing that a man has a right to forego winning money if he chooses to do so; but the betting fraternity will tell you that you do not possess this right; and if you do exercise it, let me recommend you a porter to carry the load of abuse awaiting you; your own shoulders will in no way suffice for the purpose. You will be told that you have a right to lose your own money if you please, but that you have no right to lose that of other persons: that your horse had been backed heavily to win; consequently he ought to have been made to win if possible: in short, so long as whip and spur could avail, they ought to
HORSES NOT TO BE AT THE DISPOSAL OF THE OWNER. 3
have been used on your horse for their benefit, or at least the chance of it, whether you choose it or not. In the above directions nothing like interested motives in a pecuniary point of view was the influence: but we will suppose a case where a man chooses to consult what he considers his interest, and still where the transaction is perfectly honourable and straightforward. I have a colt entered for the Derby: he has run and won some good Stakes, and this has probably brought him up pretty high in the betting. Some person, for reasons best known to himself, and which I have no inducement to investigate, offers me, say two thousand pounds for this colt, whom I may consider from his previous running to be fairly worth about one. I may think, like others, my chance of winning the Derby to be very good : in short, my horse is first or second favourite, but I may not be a betting man, or disposed in any thing to go the “whole hog;” consequently prefer making a thousand sure, by selling my colt, to standing the chance of winning the Stakes, worth we will say three, but attended with all the risk inseparable from such events. It certainly appears hard I should not be allowed to do this without calling forth the animadversions of the Turfmen—I should rather say the betting men; for such men as (we will say) Lord Albemarle, Sir Gilbert Heathcote, and many others, would not care one farthing whether I sold my horse or kept him. They feel a very laudable emulation to have the best horse in the race; therefore are anxious to win; are gratified if they do; and are to a certain degree mortified if their horses run badly. I allow that to triumph when we win, or show temper when
we lose, is ungentlemanlike and ungenerous; that
4 TURF BETTORS.
is, when the loss or gain of money is the consideration: but I glory in seeing a man delighted when his horse wins; there is a freshness in the thing that really does one good to see. Depend on it, such a man is no Leg. The latter wins or loses his money with the most inflexible coolness; he takes it as a matter of business. If he keeps horses, so far from taking any pleasure in them, he cares not if he never sees them from one year's end to the other: whenever he does, it is merely a visit of business. If his horse wins, he pockets the money, but neither cares nor thinks more about them than he does about the spit that hangs in his kitchen, and has roasted the mutton for his table. Unfortunately for racing, it is chiefly this description of Turfmen who virtually (certainly not virtuously) hold the helm of racing affairs: yet such men might all be driven off the Turf. If such owners of race-horses as keep them from the love of racing, and the proper emulation of having the best horses, would only set about the thing, it would cost them neither trouble nor expense, but would put their own characters beyond suspicion, and would at once draw a distinct line between men who keep racehorses merely as machines to win money with, and those who keep them from a patriotic wish to encourage the breed of superior horses, to enjoy sport themselves, and contribute to that of others. Racing, we all know, was first established merely as an amusement. This of course led to an emulation among those fond of such amusement to get the best horses; and this induced people to begin to look for means to improve their breed. Here was an absolute good done to the country. No matter whether the race was with chariots, whether the horses were turned
QUEEN's PLATES. 5
loose on a straight-roped course, or whether ridden over the Beacon, racing will always tend to improve the breed of horses in whatever country it is established. King's Plates were given for this patriotic purpose; and doubtless at the time when a hundred guineas was worth the best horse's starting for, it had a very good effect ; but our other stakes have now become so heavy that a Queen's Plate is considered a very mediocre affair. To win a King's Plate formerly stamped a horse's character at once: now, only two years since, the same horse won seven Queen's Plates in the same season—a good horse certainly, but still no flyer. It is flattering to the Turf to be patronised by Royalty, and Queen's Plates add to the respectability of a meeting: but as to the original intention of these gifts, that is now totally set aside. I think, between England, Ireland, and Scotland, the Queen gives about fifty Plates to be run for; that is, five thousand pounds. For many of these we see every year several “walks over;” and where this is not the case, the Field generally comprises four or five horses at most, often two or three: so, from the smallness of the amount (in these days), it has become comparatively five thousand thrown away. It would be too great a tax on Royal liberality to increase the value of this host of Plates so as to make each worth running for; but if perhaps five Royal Plates of a thousand pounds each were given in lieu of these, the original intention would be more brought to bear than it is at present. When it took a week to get a race-horse a hundred miles, and that also stopped his work for so long a period, it was quite necessary to have Royal Plates distributed thus widely over the country, other
wise the horse in training at Ascot could not without
6 BETTING AS A BUSINESS.
great inconvenience be got to Doncaster to run for a Royal Plate there; but now the railroads have remedied that inconvenience, there would be sure to be good Fields for Plates worth a thousand, or even five hundred, each. The towns from which they might be taken would lose little by it; for where we see a “walk over,” or a Field of three horses, it plainly shows that at the present moment Queen's Plates create but little attraction. Returning to those laws that betting men will always uphold (so long as they can)—the first of which is that their interest is to be the fiat under which every owner of a race-horse must act—I really cannot see why such persons or their interest should be consulted at all. What good do they do the Turf? Certainly very little; while their influence, on the contrary, does it a great deal of harm. Doubtless there are some men who keep several horses in training, and bet heavily at the same time; but these are comparatively very few indeed in number. Where one hundred is betted by those who keep race-horses, forty hundreds are betted by those who do not. Hundreds of those who bet largely know little or nothing about a race-horse, neither know a racing-looking horse—whether he is a good goer, or, if going to run, whether he looks in good form for it or not. The fact is, such men merely as a business make up a book, look to the different horses' public running, and lay or take the odds accordingly. This, and this only, is their business. If they attend a race, it is merely to see whether at the last moment they cannot get some point in their favour as to the odds. If at the same meeting a race is run for on which they have no bet, probably they do not take the trouble of looking at it: and, if they do, it is