Steeplechase Courses., Daily Racing Form, 1907-06-01


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l , i | , J , STEEPLECHASE COURSES. "There Is little doubt that steeplechases are extremely attractive to the general public. That the average association realizes this fact is shown by the steady increase in the value ol the purses of late years, and iu the making of cross-country eeatsas where none existed five years ago. There are also others to come,- says Sports of the Times. •The gentlemen who make a hobby of cross country racing are generally representative men. the bulk of them are in the sport for sport and sport only, several at them do not bet, and several of them work pretty hard training their own horse.-. for amusement rather than for economy. "Very considerable stuns have beeu spent by these aathartaats to obtain good horses, some have been imported, others developed here; not broken down racers from the flat, as was the rule a few-years ago. but sound horses, eminently suitable to I lie Cross country division, several of which have proved their speed and bottom conclusively on the Hat and these were taken into the steeplechase fold While their flat running laurels were thick upou their "top." •"It would seem therefore that such a combina tion should have an adequately safe course over which to run races, but is this the case? One very prominent steeplechase man, one of the leaders, remarked the other day that association owners thought anything was good enough to race a steeplechaser over, and that expression appears to till the bill. ••We have been racing only a few weeks, visiting only three courses, yet only one of these eaarses has even approached practical efficiency. In one case tlie be.-t steeplechase horse iu this country put his foot in a hole, and went down a matter of seventeen Inches. How the leg escaped breaking was due to one of those modern miracles which placed a wide hole of sett slush, permitting the leg to swing forward through it as the weight of the horse over the stationary leg. Had the hole been less id - in its slushy area, the leg must inevitably have broken. This condition of affairs was no secret. Ira.tically everyone knew the course was bad, and if the starters at that course are scanned it will lie seen that several stables which are represented in almost .very cross country field were conspicuous by their absence. "Farther, the expert owning the good horse which SS narrowly escaped has tried time and ayaiu to have this course remodeled, the dangerous clay treated, and the woetully unpraetical turn reformed, but without avail. When first made, by some freak Of mentality, the cotitse wa domed, tuitlebacked, etc., the obstacles being cut crescent Shape to conform to it, and it was said thai the water jump had water at each end, but none iu the middle, because the tank was also tuitlebacked. Now, it is understood, the course is to be agaiu remodeled and changed. It is, however, a great pity that it was necessary for an extremely horse to pranically risk his leg before it was deemed necessary to io this. That the manage meiit knew of the condition of the eaana was evidenced b the moving of the course standards some fifty feet out of legitimate position, looking, un-availingly, for sounder ground. It would seem per-tinent to ask who were the represeata fives of the National Hunt and Bteealecbase A-sociation aha iti-pected this course, and •aid that it was geed1 "A few days later a similar state of things occurred at another course. A crosscountry erlea was apparently winning easiH. reached the last obstacle but one, cleared it, ran into the lead, put his foot iu a hole, all but went down and he also escaped with an unbroken leg as by a miracle. The hide was probably caused by inefficient tamping last fall, and the course is iu a very bad coidi-ttaa for racing. How many people, even the practical managers, understand what •fainping is absolutely necessary.- A horse strides from twenty two to twenty eight feet. He makes, with his four feet, a total of S80 impressions, turf cuts, etc., in every mile covered. Just ninety-two horses starting at a meting made a total of 148,788 cuts. All these should be tamped, hose earth sifted in. and every care taken to prevent water lodging or seeping down. The failure to do this was probably the trouble at the aeeaad course dealt with. The first course alluded to was simply miseonstructed. "If steeplechasing is to be retained al its present status, if the prominent men now interested are to retain their interest, courses musi be brought to the same standard as the courses used for flat racing. Several times in the history of our steeple-chasing the prominent men of each era have dropped out. disgusted with one thing or another, and each time this has occurred the grand sport has been practically killed for a decade, until some other, clean-handed, representative man arose to clear away the filth and start the sport afresh. "It would seem that the gentlemen inspecting the courses for the National Hunt and Steeplechase Association are those to be held responsible for poor courses, or courses not in a condition for safe rac-l ing. What do these gentlemen think about it, individually or collectively."

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