Famous Partnerships And Plungers.: How British Turf Giants Operated More Than a Century Ago., Daily Racing Form, 1908-05-08


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FAMOUS PARTNERSHIPS AND PLUNGERS How British Turf Giants Operated More Than i Century Ago The first betting partnership on record I be ¬ lieve was that of the Right Honorable Charles James Fox and Thomas Lord Foley which lasted from 1772 to 1703 twentyone years and was only terminated by the death of Lord Foley vrites Thormanby In the London Sportsman Every one knows what a reckless plunger Charles James Fox was at every species of gambling Gibson tells of his playing at hazard for twentytwo hours at a sitting and losing 000 an hour and In his lirst three years at the game lie got through 140000 ndomitable punter that he was he used to say that he greatest pleasure in life after winning was osing He commenced his partnership with Lord Foley well for In the first spring meeting of 1772 at Newmarket he won 10000 by laying against the neckThree favorite which was beaten by half a neck Three years later he eclipsed this coup by win ¬ ning 30000 over the three days racing at the leadquarters of the turf Even the cares and duties of statesmanship could not keep him from constantly visiting Newmarket where bis portly frame was ever to be seen on his hack tearing vlldly past the judges chair close up with the eading horses whipping spurring and blowing as if he would have infused his whole soul into ho horse he was backing just as Lord George Ben tinck used to do until the late Mr Clarke defended a disputed decision by the remark that he ought by rights to have placed a tall gentleman In a white mackintosh first1 first1Charles Charles James Fox owned some good horses in ils time among them Pyrrhus by which he and his tarlner woii upwards of 12000 But though he ronght off some big coups he plunged so recklessly hat his losses far exceeded his gains in the long run His partner Lord Foley however was even less fortunate He commenced his career as a rac ¬ ing inau with 100000 in ready money and a clear 18000 a year When lie died in 1703 he was lankrupt ILlke Charles James Fox of whom Edmund Burke said that he was a man made to be loved Lord Foley won the affection of all with whom he was brought in contact he was the most amiable nnd charming of men and he left chind him not only a stainless name but the repn atlon of being one of the finest and most straight ¬ forward sportsmen that the turf has ever seen But seenBut the prince of plungers was without ques ¬ tion Harry Mellish For live brief years Mellisb was the most conspicuous figure in the circles of sK rt and fashion Ho commenced his racing career In 1S01 when his Welshman by Sir Peter Teazle with that wily jockey Billy Pierce in the saddle won for him a match of 550 guineas at Durham races From that time forward he was passionately attached to the turf and had le confined himself to that sport despite his reek ess plunging he would probably have added to rather than diminished his splendid patrimony for lie was admitted on all sides to be the cleverest man of his day both in the theory and practice of racing In matching and handicapping bis skill was acknowledged to be extraordinary But in one memorable instance the Duke of Cleveland the lesuit of the Hing as he was called and one of the most crafty and astute turfmen of his own or any other time was one too many for the accom ilished Mellisb The Duke who was then Lord Darlington matched bis Pavilion a horse after ¬ wards purchased by the Prince Regent against Mollishs Sancho for a 000 guineas a side The wo horses hail already met once in the New Claret Stakes over the Lewes course and Pavilion had won The second match was won over the same course in the July of 1800 The excitement over the race was tremendous greater even than that evoked by the famous contest between Ilambletou iiin and Diamond Mellish bad backed Sanebo to win him oX anil when be drove on the course n bis splendidly appointed drag with its superb ream of browns he raised his white hat ironically o bis friends in the grandstand and said If Sanchos beat I hope some of you will take me M a coachman coachmanIt It was a splendid race Sam Chifney having the mount on Pavilion and Frank Buckle being on Mr Mellishs horse but just at the finish Sanchos leir ave way when he looked all over a winner and avllion shot past the judges l ox After the race Hie Prince met Mellish on the course and said Mellish Im sorry for you No youre not your Royal Highness for youve won your money replied the owner of Sancho turning on his heel as be spoke and leaving the Regent to stomach the retort as best he could ft was a keener cut for bis Royal Highness than even when he received the round robin from the Jockiy Cltib In consequence of which lie Jiever again appeared at Newmarket But such trifles did not weigh very long on the Itliilosophic mind of Henry Mellish and despite liis rudeness to the Regent he lunched at the Stir with the royal party as calMly as if he luul been only losing threepenny point at whist whistAt At that time Mr Mellisb had as his betting associate Lord Foley the sou of Charles James 1oxs partner one of the most miserably lean am meager men ever neon whom bis contemporaries nicknamed No It from u fancied resemblance which the appearance of bis extraordinarily long thin legs bore to that numeral And very lively these two made it for the betting men for Mellisli never opened bis mouth under r 00 in the ring Stirring ringStirring scenes there must have been down at Brighton The two pulled off some big coups to ¬ gether and on the whole held their own wel against the ring though perhaps not with such distinguished success as the Hon Richard Vernon commonly called Dick Vernon who if we are to believe his biographer Thomas Hol croft author of that admired comedy The Road to Ruin was so adroit in hedging bis bets that bo usually made a 10000 book by which be lost nothing nor could bo in any case have lost anything But Mellish lived at such a rate that the wealth of Croesus could not have stood the strain He had close upon forty horses in training seventeen carriage horses a dozen hunters in Lei ¬ cestershire five chargers at Brighton he was cip tain of the 10th Hussars the ne plus ultra of fashionable soldiering besides backs innumerable ami had a whole brigade of retainers in his pay whose crimson liveries alone must have cost him a pretty penny Then he was also an enthusiastic supitorter of the prize ring in fact the noble army of bruisers looked upon him as their treasur ¬ er and made no slight demands upon bis purse Yet not all this lavish expenditure would have ruined Mellish if he could only have kept aloof from cards and dice diceBut But vile insinuating hazard effected that which betting in the ring only partially accom ¬ plished and filched from the reckless plunger bi4 fair domains It is said that he once staked 41000 upon a single throw and lost On one occasion he lost 07000 at one sitting at Brooks Club in St James street and was leaving the place when be met his Royal Highness the Duke of Sussex to whom he exclaimed Ive lost everything Im ruined Thereupon the goodnatured duke clapping him on the back said Come back your luck will turn perhaps And It did turn with a vengeance for he won 100000 clean off the reel from his Royal Highness But all he ever got in discharge of the debt was an annuity of 4000 a year badly paid paidThe The last straw to break the camels back was the St Leger of 1800 over which the betting was terrific The Sporting Magazine two months be ¬ fore the race was run stated that there was little doubt that upwards of one million guineas had al ¬ ready been paid Lord Foley and Mellish wen amongst those who were most heavily bit by the victory of Fyldencr The latter Indeed was ruined by the blow In the following December his stud wqs sold whilst be himself left England and went out as an aidedecamp to Sir Rowland Fergu ¬ son In Spain where the Peninsular war was then raging ragingBut But before be left be had the honor of enter ¬ taining his Royal Highness the Prince Regent in bis ancestral hall at Blythe which was no longer his liowcvA for he had been compelled to sell It to Mr Walker the great Iroufounder of Hotlierdam who generously lent him the bouse in order that li might play the host to bis distinguished guest In a manner worthy of his reputation reputationDuring During the few days that Mr Mellisli gave his farewell reception to royalty he and the Prince used to sit up all night engaged In the fascinating pursuit game of hazard and there is still pre ¬ served In Doncaster I believe the little table at which the master of BIythe rattled the dice for the last time with the future Sovereign of England On being appointed aidedecamp to Sir Rowlam Ferguson Mr Mellish received the brevet rank of Colonel and whilst he was attached to that Gen ¬ erals staff distinguished himself so conspicuously by hl3 gallantry and Intelligence that he was more than once honored with special mention and praise in the dispatches of the Duke of Wellington Un ¬ fortunately however Mellish could not restrain his passion for gambling a vice which the Duke viewed with the greatest abhorrence during a campaign and the consequence was that the Colonel was ad vised to throw up his post and return home homeIt It was whilst be was In the Peninsula that Mellish made one of the maddest bets in the annals i of wagering He appeared one morning on a wretched looking horse which mad him the sul ject of unlimited chaff Why the brute wouldnt fetch a flver saldimu of bis brother officers Til bet you a couple of ponles that I shall get forty five pounds for him replied Mellish MellishThe The wager was promptly taken by half a dozen officers Mellish quietly Imoked all the bets and then putting the spurs to bis charger galloped straight for the enemys nearest picket As smm as lie was within range the French sharpshooters began to blaze at him but regardless of the bullets that whistled around him Mellish rode on till his horse was shot under him Then waving his hand to the Frenchmen he walked coolly back to the British lines untouched Now the Government then allowed fortylive pounds for every officers horse killed In action So Harry Melilsh won the wager for whlc i he had deliberately rfeked his life lfOut lf Out of his splendid property only one small farm was left to him There he lived quietly on his wifes Income foreswore betting and gambling and devoted Mils attention to scientific farming anil the breeding of cattle and greyhounds He died In 1S17 thirtysevenThe at the early age of thirtyseven The story of the illfated Marquis of Hustings Is too well known to cull for repetition here An ¬ other notorious plunger of the nn t fiK llsh type was Ernest Benson commonly known a the Juliileo Juggins who got through a fortune of 2TOQO in two years Yet now and then fvn he hat bis good times But a man who could spend 0 000 on a pleasure trip to Australia and diop thous ¬ ands at baccarat in a single evening scarcely needed plunging on the turf to bring him to speedy ruin 1 have known men to whom the reckless Hinging away of money was u fascinating pastime The mere possession Of ready cash Inllamcd them with an irresistible passion for throwing it away awayThe The number of men who have at one time oc another won fortunes on the turf and then let their winnings go again is extraordinary Never being satisfied with one fortune they tried for two and lost all Ridsdale who with Gully as a partner won the Derby twice died In u garret at Newmarket without the price of a pint of ale ti bless himself with wbllo William Cliifney the owner of til celebrated Priam whose establishment at Newmarket rivalled frockfonis In its magnifi ¬ cence died nearly as badly off as Hidsdale Then the money Mr Hodgman won in 1SS on Rocket for the Cesarewitoh in 1K5 on Victor for the Royal Hunt In ISGH on Verdant for the Ebor and on Confederate for the Great ICasteru Handicaps In IStIO on Paul Jones for the Chester Cup and in 18IK on Westminster for the Cambridgeshire must have been fabulous but as Lord George Bentinck dis ¬ covered it was not sufficient to pay expenses for the number of horses be had in training and in that manner and unsuccessful speculation melted away like the morning dew dewAt At one time Mr Brayley was tired of win ¬ ning but in ills case too a series of failures combined with a very large stud soon took more than all the gilt off the gingerbread Mr Bonnet again by the two victories of Dsilby in the Chester Cup 18 V5 won over iOOO yet a few years later be bad not as many farthings Portr CaiTw who stood to win 180000 on Old Robert died almost penniless In Boulogne

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Library of Congress Record: https://lccn.loc.gov/unk82075800