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at the last moment, and who lose their money, have over those who have hetted at an earlier period, and that is, that they are spared the suspense, the alternate hopes and fears, according as the aspect which rumours, and inventions, and actual facts assume, relative to the leading horse,which are so largely experienced by those who had staked their money at a previous period.
“ The amount of money which changes hands immediately after the conclusion of the leading races is immensely great. I have heard it stated by one of the leading sportsmen of the present day, that at least 1,000,0001. changes hands by the result of the Derby race at Epsom. Surely there must be an exaggeration here. If there were only half that sum, which I am convinced there is, it would be a very large amount. In some cases particular individuals bet to the extent of 20,0001., 30,0001., and even 40,0001. on a single event. In 1826, Lord Kennedy, one of the most celebrated Turfites of the present day, bet 30,000l. to 10001. against a horse called Crusader. In the same year another sporting gentleman bet 20,0001. against General, which was the favourite horse, and won it, but it was commonly believed there was foul play. Mr. Ridsdale, the distinguished Yorkshire sportsman, won at the Derby race of 1832 the sum of 40,000l. by backing St. Giles, which was his own horse, exclusive of 2,7751. in stakes. This was certainly good work for one day.
" It is a curious fact, that a horse which easily beats all the other competitors for a particular prize will sometimes, when running a race which takes place a few months afterwards, completely break down, and allow himself to be distanced by other horses which were not supposed to have even the remotest chance with him. Instances have repeatedly occurred in which the winner of the St. Leger has, a few months afterwards, been beat by the very same animals which he had left far behind him in the first instance. This is accounted for from the fact that some horses acquit themselves better on a soft than on a hard course; while others run better on hard than on soft ground. Other horses again may be unequalled at running on a level ground; while anything in the shape of an ascent proves fatal to their successful racing. When a horse that won the last St. Leger, is beat at the following Derby, or that won the Derby, and is beat at the next St. Leger, the losses, as hinted in a previous part of the chapter, are always enormous; such horse, provided nothing has previously transpired to his prejudice, either through bad health or otherwise, being always backed to a very large amount. It is unnecessary to say that the market value of such a horse experiences an immediate and serious fall. There have been instances in which horses, after winning some of the leading prizes, would have brought from 3,5001. to 4,0001., which would not fetch 300l. after being heat at the next great race. At the Epsom races of 1834, one horse, whose name I do not remember, was so great a favourite, that 2,5001. was offered and refused for him. He
so badly, that in a few months afterwards the proprietor gladly sold him for 651. Horses, on the other hand, that, contrary to the general expectation win some leading prize, rise as suddenly and to a proportionate extent in value. Fleur de Lis, for instance, was sold to Sir Matthew Ridley, soon after her appearance in 1825, for 1001., but having distinguished herself by winning a number of prizes in the course of the next two years, she was then purchased by George the Fourth for 1,500 guineas.
“ Horses of great reputation on the Turf always bring large sums. From 2,5001. to 3,5001. is quite a common price for a first-rate horse. As high as 5,000 and even 6,000 guineas has repeatedly been given. One of the Bonds, the well-known proprietors of the great gambling-house in Bennet-street, gave Mr. Beardsworth 5,000 guineas for Ludlow at the Doncaster races of 1832. Some years ago the Duke of Cleveland gave 12,000l. for four horses.
“ So great is the supposed inequality of the horses that are entered to contest the leading prizes, that it is quite common to bet 50 or 60 to 1 against a particular horse. In several cases 100 to 1 have been bet that
a certain horse would not win. The greatest disproportion I have heard of in the betting on any horse, was in the case of one which ran for the Derby some years ago, when 200 to 1 was bet against him.
" While some horses never gain more than one prize, others have a continued course of good luck. The mare Fleur de Lis, already referred to, won ten out of eleven races. But the horse, which of all others continued to run for the longest time, and which gained the greatest number of prizes, was Dr. Syntax. This horse continued on the Turf ten consecutive years, and ran in the course of that period no fewer than fortynine times. Out of this number of contests, Dr. Syntax won the prize in twenty-six instances. Among the prizes thus gained were twenty gold cups.
** There are many of the country races at which horses of all ages, and carrying all weights, are allowed to run; but at the Doncaster, Epsom, and other leading races, the horses must be of the same age and carry the same weight.* In the Derby the competitors must be three-year-olds. Either colts or fillies of this age may run for the Derby ; but for the Oaks none but fillies are allowed to start. The weight carried by the colts, in the Derby contest, is eight stone seven pounds; that carried by the fillies is eight !stone two pounds. In the case of the Oaks the age of the fillies is also three years, and the weight eight stone four pounds. But it is unnecessary to enter in detail into statements of this kind, every place having its own rules and regulations in such matters. To bring themselves within the proper weight, the jockeys are often obliged to go through a starva tion allowance for a week or two previous to the day of the races. I have heard of one, who by this means reduced his weight to the extent of seven pounds.
“But the hope of gaining the prize is a sufficiently powerful induce. ment to submit to the privation of their usual meals; for it is the invariable practice to present the rider of the successful horse with a handsome douceur. In the case of the leading races, it is seldom less than 2001. or 300l. The highest reward ever known to be given to a jockey for his good riding was 1,000l. This handsome gift was made to James Robinson, a Scotchman, by his master, also a Scotchman, for riding Matilda, when that celebrated mare won the St. Leger in 1827.
“In the case of the Derby, the St. Leger, and the other principal races, the horses intending to contest the prize must be nominated when they are only one year old. They may be named either at London or Newmarket. The last day of the July Newmarket races is the last day for the nomination of competitors for the prizes in question.
“ All disputes which arise about matters directly appertaining to the Turf, must be referred to the decision of the stewards of the Jockey Club. This is the only recognised tribunal in such matters. Its decision is final: there is no appeal from it. The Jockey Club consists of upwards of sixty noblemen and gentlemen of more or less standing in the sporting world. The stewards are three in number. One retires every year to make way for another, the retiring steward having the right to name his successor.
“In a week or so after a great race has been run, the winning horse is honoured with the appearance of his portrait and an account of his pedigree in · Bell's Life in London. In a month or two afterwards the same mark of distinction will be conferred on him, in a different style of engraving, by the Old and New Sporting Magazines. “Bell's Life in London,' I may here observe, is the only recognised newspaper organ of the Turf. Which of the two magazines is the leading monthly organ,
*“Where the horses are equally matched, the carrying one or two pounds additional weight would be decisive of the race. Some years ago, a horse that won the race easily when carrying the same weight as the other competitors, lost it when the proprietor agreed that three pounds should be added to the weight.”
is a point which I cannot determine. Each maintains that it is more approved and countenanced by the most distinguished men on the Turf than the other. The rivalry between the two is very great, and there is reason to believe that both are sufferers by the competition. Twenty years ago, the Old Sporting Magazine was an excellent property, but it has been greatly lessened in value by the conjoint operation of unskilful management some years since, and the spirit and vigour with which it has been opposed by its young rival.
“ The number of horses that run for the prizes, whether at Epsom, Ascot, Doncaster, or any other place, varies according to circumstances; but it will be found as a general rule, that the number is proportioned to the comparative interest which the races excite. The greatest number ever known to contest the Derby at Epsom was twenty-five. This was some years ago, but I do not now remember the particular year. Upwards of twenty horses have repeatedly run for the St. Leger at Doncaster. The greatest number that ever took the field at the latter place was thirty. This was in 1825. Twenty-seven have started on two occasions—in 1820 and in 1826. The number of candidates for the gold cup at Ascot, which usually take the field, is from four to seven.* For the smaller prizes, the number of competitors is less at all the races than for those of the first class. For the Oaks at Epsom, the number seldom exceeds
cethe number of horses that are entered with the declared intention of 1 contesting the prizes at the various races, is always much greater than that which actually takes the field. It is often six or seven times as great. The greatest number that entered for the Derby was one hundred and thirty-five. This was for the Derby of the present year. The number that ran was only twenty-three. The number that entered for the Oaks, though great, was considerably less. For the St. Leger of 1829, a period when the races were at the height of their popularity, the number of horses that entered was ninety-seven, though only nineteen took the field. For four or five years past, these races had been declining in the public favour, and the number of actual performances, if not of entries, had been correspondingly reduced ; but there is a re-action in this respect this year, for the number of horses entered for the next Derby is one hundred and fifty-two. It is possible, however, that out of this large number not more than from fifteen to twenty may take the field.
“ There are various causes which conspire to prevent a horse which has been duly entered, from running the intended race. The nominator may die before the appointed time arrives ; in which case, according to the rules which regulate all matters appertaining to the Turf, the horse is disqualified. Or any accident may, before the day of the race arrives, befal the animal, which either entirely disables him from running, or deprives him of any reasonable chance of winning.
* Another reason for withdrawing the horse may be, that the proprietor is in arrears for previous transactions on the Turf. Or the proprietor, seeing other decidedly superior horses in the field, may come to the con.
* The reason why the field at Ascot is so small compared with the value of the prize is, that the competing horses carry weight for age; so that moderate horses have no chance with those of the first class. It would very much increase the interest of this race if the conditions on which the Goodwood Cup is run for were introduced, which conditions make it a handicap race, an expression which implies that the weights put on the horses are in proportion to their public running. There is, however, this one departure from this rule, that horses that have never run are always weighted heavily.”
clusion that his one has not the slightest chance of a successful competition. Lastly, to mention no other reasons for the withdrawal of horses that have entered for a particular race, the betting on those horses may wear such an aspect as that the proprietors may, either directly or indirectly, have sufficiently powerful reasons to prevent their wishing that their horses should win, and consequently to cause them to determine on their withdrawal. This, of course, can only be where there is roguery in the matter, which it will be seen is but too often the case, when I come to speak of the tricks of the Turf.
“ In numerous cases, those who fancy themselves 'knowing ones' in horse-flesh are at fault in their calculations. Their favourite, instead of coming in first, or, in other words, winning the prize, is perhaps six or seven behind, which, in the language of the Turf, is called being nowhere. On the other hand, - outsiders, which, as explained in a previous part of the chapter, means horses that nobody thought of, because it was supposed they had not the remotest chance of winning, sometimes are the successful competitors. It is impossible to describe the mortification experienced by those who prided themselves on their supposed superior knowledge of horse-flesh, either when the animal which was their favourite thus falls far behind, or when a horse they ked on as not having a chance of coming in even fourth or fifth, is the winner of the
In many cases the parties feel more acutely the exhibition thus made of their ignorance in sporting matters, than they do the loss of their money.
“The Turf is on the decline. Every friend of morality, and every one who wishes well to his fellow-creatures, will rejoice at this. What are now the leading horse-races, but gambling transactions on an extensive scale ?
At what time gambling was first introduced on the Turf, I have not been able to ascertain, but it must have been at least nearly three centuries ago ; it is distinctly mentioned as being to a certain extent prevalent in the reign of Elizabeth. In that reign George Earl of Cumberland, as is well known, almost ruined himself by his gambling propensities on the Turf. Towards the close of the seventeenth century, gambling at horse-races appears to have become so general, that Burton, the author of the “ Anatomy of Melancholy,' who flourished at that time, emphatically though quaintly said, that many gentlemen by means of racehorses, galloped out of their fortunes.' What would Burton have thought if he had foreseen the extent to which the vice of gambling on the Turf is carried in our day? Thousands are yearly ruined by it.
“ There is a numerous gang of sharpers and black-legs, who make the plunder of simpletons who bet on horse-racing a part of their daily schemes and daily roguery. Their plans are secret, but they are deeply laid, and are carried out with a skill and artfulness which render their success almost a matter of moral certainty. And even where they are detected, it is not, unhappily, until they have fleeced their victims. What villanies have of late been brought to light, which have been practised at our leading horse-races! But in no instance have they been discovered in sufficient time to save the unsuspecting simpletons whose money was at stake. And what care the unprincipled legs’ for exposure, when it comes not until after they have pocketed the money of their victims? Nothing at all; for they have no character to lose. And they know the law cannot reach them. Who does not remember the disgraceful transactions which took place at the Doncaster races of 1832 ? And are not certain transactions of the most unprincipled kind, which occurred at a celebrated race a few months ago, and by which thousands have been ruined,-still the subject of animated and indignant remark in all the sporting circles? The affair of the horse Ludlow is still fresh in the recollection of all patrons of the Turf; and that of Harkaway, at a very recent race, is not likely to cease to be spoken about
for some time to come. Is it not beyond all question, that horses, which otherwise would have won, are often prevented from winning by the most consummate roguery? In some cases they are drugged so as to make them sick; in others the jockeys are bribed to ride them in such a way as to prevent them coming in first. A very common expedient resorted to by the leg ’ fraternity, when they have made their arrangements to their entire satisfaction beforehand, is to withdraw the horse which was the greatest favourite, by either purchasing him from the proprietor, or pretending to have purchased him. In fact, there is no end to the tricks of the Turf. The ramifications of the roguery practised by the mendacious gamblers who are so largely mixed up with all Turf transac. tions, are so varied and extensive, that no calculation or foresight can guard against their effects. So cunningly and skilfully are their schemes for plundering her Majesty's subjects laid, that they often, with the view of gulling the public, bet to a certain extent in favour of the favourite horse, though they know he will lose. A little loss in this way is amply made up by secretly betting to a large amount the other way; or by some other private arrangement made among themselves. Another favourite expedient on the race-course is to invent all sorts of rumours respect. ing different horses,-rumours relative to the probability or otherwise of particular animals running; and thus raising the odds, or causing them to fall in particular cases, according as their own interests are affected. Scarcely less notorious for the invention of false rumours on the part of a gang of black-legs is the race-course, than is the Stock Exchange itself. With regard again to the running of favourite horses, it is now so common a practice for the parties interested to manage matters in such a way as that they shall not win,--that it has of late become customary with the recently initiated, before betting for or against any favourite horse, to do everything he can to ascertain whether or not it really be meant or intended by the proprietor that the horse shall win.
“ The public, who know little or nothing of the tricks of the Turf, never contemplate the possibility of any person entering a favourite horse, far less of his starting him for the race, without being most desirous that he should win; and, consequently, are victimised without perhaps ever suspecting that there was aught else than perfect fairness in the matter. It is well known that many hundreds of pounds have been given to proprietors of favourite horses, to bribe them not to win the race; and it is equally well known that the jockeys destined to ride such horses have, when not directly bribed by the legs 'to lose the race, often received through the proprietors two or three hundred pounds for riding in such a way as to cause the horse to make a respectable appearance on the racecourse, and thus lull suspicion of any treachery without winning the
“ When I mention that a number of Jewish black-legs,- for the Turf swarms with rogues of the Hebrew persuasion,-have severally, perhaps, betted from 10,0001. to 15,000l. that a particular horse shall not win, and when I add, that these are all leagued together for the purpose of plun. dering simpletons of their money, it will at once be seen to be natural that they should unite together, through the medium of one of their number, in offering the proprietor of a horse, where that proprietor is supposed to be accessible to bribery, such a sum as will cause him to guarantee that the horse shall not win the race.
“ In innumerable cases, in which the proprietors were men of too much honour and honesty to be parties to any such fraud, the leading men among the ' leg' fraternity have, through the intervention of some person on whom they could depend, attempted to bribe the individual entrusted with the training of the particular horse, to give him a particular pill the night before the race, so as to make him sick; and when this has failed, the inducement of some hundred pounds not to win, has been held