« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
On WEDNESDAY, Oct. 2nd, the wind was so high as to render a large, hilly cover by no means a likely place for sport, and the hounds, unable to hear each other, divided, seven couple running a hind from Haddon over Brendon towards Slowly Wood and back again, killing under Upton Wood, after a very pretty run of a couple of hours. The master had been warming a stag round and round the cover in our absence, and having dispatched our hind, an endeavour was made to kill the gentleman, but light failed.
SATURDAY, 5th.-A stag was roused at Storridge in a few minutes by two couple of tufters, and, after a turn or two in cover, the pack was laid on, and going away by Baron's Down, crossed Court Down to Marsh Bridge, almost through Dulverton to Comb and Brushford, and ran up to our deer in the water a mile or two below Ex-Bridge; then to Stuckeridge and Stoodley, after ringing about, killing near three miles from Tiverton. His antlers were remarkable, only one horn being of any height, the other stunted and misshapen from some injury.
The last meet of the season was Horner Wood, on the 8th, without exception the most picturesque cover in Somerset, and generally with deer in it; most unluckily (perhaps not luckily,” for no regular harbourer had been sent) a stag was not found until past four o'clock; he left cover immediately, and crossed all the open between it and Brendon, going to water by Water'smeet, when darkness precluded all further endeavours to catch him. The gallop was excellent for more than an hour, the stag at one time lying fast in the heath, and jumping up in view. These hounds ought never to meet later than ten o'clock; had there been more punctuality and less drawing with the pack, at least three more stags would have been added to the list of killed during this season.
I wish I could say that deer are on the increase; I am afraid it is the contrary. Not being game (shame upon the laws that do not give to the noblest quadruped of Britain the protection afforded to a rabbit), poachers are numerous, as they have nothing to fear but an action of trespass, which few will take the trouble to bring. There seems to be some probability of a question on the game laws being mooted in the coming session, and an opportunity may thus opened for inserting deer amongst the animals to which protection is given by law. Although there are advocates for the total abolition of game of all sorts, the Fates forbid that they should succeed in their object, and thereby put an end to this, amongst the other sports of old England. Should the deer flourish and the hunt keep its head above water for a short time longer, our country will become more known, for railroads cannot well intersect it, and the sport takes place at a period of the year when other hunting is at a stand-still. Speaking of railroads, how mournful is it for a sportsman to read in one paper of two projected lines, one to destroy the Heythrop country, another that of Mr. Drake, at the very time perhaps when he is travelling by another railroad that mars Lord Gifford's hunt! Truly, then, I rejoice when I think of our rough hills and dales, defying tunnels and such like bores, and take a pleasure in being able to subscribe myself
“ ONE OF WEST SOMERSET."
THE PAST RACING SEASON.
As if by way of compensation for the entire absence of royalty in 1843, Ascot was last year honoured with three crowned heads on those days which it has so long been the custom of our sovereigns to grace the heath with their presence; in the programme furnished for the august visitors there was nothing to complain of; but two or three hitches in running it off required rather awkward explanation to one who entered so bodily into the sport as the Emperor of all the Russias. The Ascot Cup, always noted for mistakes, or something worse, has much increased in annual confusion since the Vase has been added as a finger-post to its fortunes. Within these four years Lanercost, Beeswing, and Alice Hawthorn, have, thanks to fate or fraud, made those slips t'wixt the Cup and the Vase that Derby winners are proverbial for doing at Doncaster, and given a general caution that no deductions within the eight-and-forty
hours as to cause and effect should be drawn, or at any rate relied on. So quick a repetition of the Running Rein recipe was absolutely staggering, and gentlemen who, either, past, present, or to come, claimed number two, looked their superiors over with a degree of attention anything but flattering. “How singular,” say some,
“that so many of these tricks should be tried on in one season!” “How many,” ask others, “ have been successfully tried on before this season ?” The way, however, in which these attempts were met, and the eagerness with which in more recent cases the slightest suspicion has been seized upon, leaves little hope for the wrong or fear for the right sort. The field for this second contest for the new stakes cannot be set down as bad, and yet Old England has never been in demand.* To be sure, all his races have been close at the finish ; but then they have all been won, and with a good-looking horse, that promises well to be better, I must say I had rather have him in my book at twenty-five to one, than Pantasa, Young Eclipse, or any other high-tried flyer that ran in behind him. The winner of the very last Derby was a nice example of this custom of defying public running, a criterion I allow far from infallible, but still not to be treated with that contempt too often bestowed on it. The exhibitors for the Ascot Stakes, considering the locale, were but a middling lot; those among them with something like a name
Old England, since this was written, has gone right out of the betting. I say nothing: but this I will say—the distemper is a very nasty thing to get into a stable, and a very nasty thing to get out of a stable.
having nearly worn it out, and Franchise, the one destined to earn a reputation, showing, for the nonce,“ discretion, valour's better part." Any great hit in the handicap line up to Ascot, acts as a stopper to running a muck on that kind of game hereafter.
The new anti-thimble-rig edict told at no meeting so severely as Hampton, where it came almost as the quietus complete; notwithstanding that, for the last few years, the last in particular, the sport here was much improving, there was no attempt at a rally, and, putting what racing there was out of the question, the “melancholy recreation" was left to the 'specials, who certainly, at the expense or risk of Sam Mann, Christophero Sly, and others, did contrive to raise a laugh or two. At Newton, again, another meeting that promised well, they appear to have played their parts in something like the same sober sadness; coming at the period it does, there must be a grand feature to make this a general rendezvous, while the inducements this season were small, and the company in the same ratio—what might have been, and what I fear may be expected. The Bibury and Stockbridge fírm, with the new understanding and good guardianship of John Day and Isaac Sadler, works on famously; the events decided here between amateurs and professionals would scarcely demand separate notice, had not the first come off introduced the now first favourite for the Derby. That he is not as worthy to head Tattersall's list as anything else out I should be loth to affirm; his place I do not question, but his price I do; by the two-year-old running of this year there is not a horse out that ought to be backed at under twenty to one; and when Alarm, a month or six weeks before running, has done much more than he has done yet, his true price will be a point or two greater than the ten to one taken at present.
The two and three year old running at Newcastle not this season so interesting as it usually is, the Cure being the only nag of any character that appeared. His clever performance certainly had a marked effect on the Leger betting, while the other stakes were divided among Epsom outsiders, either past or to come, without creating any sensation. The pith of the meeting was, consequently, centred in the plate — chiefly remarkable for being won by the Era; a horse that last season was, when in Scott's stable, made a great pet of for this very same handicap, being backed, at starting, at nearly even betting, but running home without a place. Are we to gather from the two very different results that he got better in (what the world would call) worse hands; or put this down as one more mistake to the account of the great stables? The Cup here treated us to nothing beyond a pro formå performance between Alice Hawthorn and Winesour; and the Goodwood Cup encouraged for the last time a similar hollow exhibition on the part of some less talented adventurers. A man, they say, ought to be satisfied with making one good hit in one season with a horse ; but about this time of the year it is not of rare occurrence to find a sequitur to a haudicap victory; and the finish for the Liverpool Plate furnished additional evidence of the really superior qualities of Scott's Cast-off; giving good weight and a good beating to Pastoral, Mickey Free, Aristotle, and Pompey, cannot rank the Era very low. The race, however,
of most import over the Aintree was the St. Leger; always full of debateable matter on its namesake further north, and now and then (Fireaway, for instance) destroying the second chance of those who aim at both; a result with something like the same consequences to one, if not to the two, who ran so severe a match for it this season. Pantasa beat a lot of middling two-year-olds in good style; and little Mickey Free at the second attempt renewed the hopes of the Pat-landers, who, as usual, came in crowds to test what had been done on the Curragh.
The Second Spring having received so very little real benefit from the assistance given by the town, no helping hand from that quarter can be expected for its immediate successor; and the Jockey Club having never turned their attention to it, the July meeting of course continues to get worse and worse ; while Goodwood, in whose great attractions we might, perhaps, trace some cause for this, proceeds precisely vice versâ ; where either will stop it is difficult to say. The latter, taken on the whole, as an uninterrupted week of brilliant sport, from the start for the Craven to running off the ties among the gentlemen jocks, has long " whipt the world;" although, unlike other grand places of sport, it does not rest its fame on one or two heavy events; if we must give precedence, it is to the Cup, which “ the mare of all others” cantered away with in a style superior even to Harkaway; an exploit that tended to assure the contractors their squeamish Ascot Heath delicacy was little needed, and, when opposed to the shameful plating at Newmarket in October, redounding little more to their honour than that to their humanity. The show of two-year-olds was strong both in numerical and individual strength, John Day and the Home Stable getting the best of the various bouts, though perhaps not in every instance with the best horses. The then said to be crack of the lot, knowu as the Cobweb colt, is almost the only one of the beaten horses now being backed (and verily their name is legion), that I should feel inclined to put any trust in. Fortune also bestowed her favours in other respects on the parties just alluded to; the Duke, as usual, taking a pretty good tithe of “the sum total ;” and the Danebury division making one of their numerous good things tell for the Handicap Stake; when“ honest John's” certainties do come off, the receipts are sure to be heavy, Notwithstanding the two recent warnings afforded in the cases of Attila and Cotherstone, we actually had three prime St. Leger favourites doing all they knew at Goodwood, a couple in the hands of those who have already suffered so severely by this error in judgment; the advantage with either of the trio was in nowise equal to the damage, the mare's great lump of extra weight stultifying the performance in toto ; and,
thanks to a singular mistake, the second trial between Ithuriel and Red Deer ending still more unsatisfactory than the first. All this, when taken into consideration, with the wear and tear of spirit and sinew, cannot have done much to further the insurance of the premier prize a few weeks following. The only other race our limits will allow us to notice is that in which the once wonderful nag Cotherstone appeared, and in the struggle for which he bowed to the now general rule, which proclains that no horse who has run right through his third year as a right good one shall continue in that character for another season. Will the Irish Hero who so discrectly declined any interference here prove an exception?
It seems astonishing, in this age of improvement, that Brighton, with the manifold advantages it enjoys, does not give us a taste of the olden time; the helps however of plenty of fashionable patronage, good situation, and easy reach, are more than counterbalanced by the apathy and parsimony of the town and trade, who, I believe, have not even the priest-ridden plea of another favourite resort, for the decline and fall of their races. The only feature of any note was the mistake of Alice Hawthorn for the Queen's Plate, which a good half of the ring, mindful of the different dodges already tried, were disposed to put down as intentional; but I think upon consideration not even the sorely-used Squire would press this opinion. Brighton not being in the line chalked out for her, Franchise cut in again with little trouble at Wolverhampton, a meeting this year in no respect quite up to the mark, and thence travelled brim-full of confidence into the north, but “York was wanting," though bringing out as middling a lot, and setting her against them at as favourable weight, as any in which she had just proved successful—iterum, iterum, iterumque, despite vans, railroads, and winning in canters, no doubt had its effect on one who doesn't come of a very hardy sort. For those two well-devised small subscription Stakes, the Prince of Wales and Great Yorkshire, a couple of large fields again showed, though the quality, bar the first (Lancashire Witch), with perhaps Pantasa placed second for the former, was very indifferent: this, however, is no fault of the directors, who are carrying on York races with that spirit and success which marked the opening-day last
One glance ere we reach Doncaster, at Warwick, where they chanted in strong but not very harmonious numbers the strain-
" That misfortunes they never come single, that's plain." In the first place, that sine qua non—the sport, for many years has never in any particular been so flat and uninteresting : then the threatened, if not actual split between the allies damped pretty considerably any preparations for “next time,” which the very hostile proceedings on the part of the gentlemen sportsmen versus their very obedient servant, the clerk of the course, rayther increased. A word or two on the last only of these evils: No man should be condemned on mere suspicion, the more particularly when his offence hangs on such an unsatisfactory, self-contradicting test as a horse's mouth. None until within the last few months could be more sincere in his respect to the Jockey Club than the humble individual who pens these remarks; but their closed-door councils, their disposition to screen the high, and their readiness to expose the low, have, I must say, worked a change. Mr. Brown may be guilty, for what I know; undoubtedly a greater robbery than the one on which he gave evidence was never attempted; but I hold, as I ever have, to the fallacy of a horse's mouth.
For three or four years past the Doncaster St. Leger has been