Nestor Of The English Turf Dies.: George Hodgman, Who Saw the Liverpool Grand National Run Sixty-Eight Times., Daily Racing Form, 1913-04-23


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NESTOR OF THE ENGLISH TURF DIES George Hodgman Who Saw the Liverpool Grand National Run SixtyEight Times A man long famous and widely known in con ¬ nection with racing iu England died suddenly at Warrington of apoplexy Saturday April 5 after having beeu in attendance at Liverpool to view the running of v the rand Xatioual Steeplechase Con ¬ cerning him and some points in his history A Special Correspondent wrote in London bportiug Life of April 7 7Death Death came to George Hodgman as he would have it come swift dramatic For he lived in a world that was one great drama Ills life was pricked all over with adventure You might say that he took his chances and won He lived long wondrotisly long He was but one year short of ninety when his long winter ended We called him the Father of the Turf He was something more he was an institution and he was as you may ex ¬ pect a picturesque personality He belonged to another world an age long passed and yet he was possible even in these changed and changing times for he was keen alert am no dodderer his memory evin almost to the lasr was wonder ¬ fully clear Perhaps when you fell to exchanging ideas that meant dipping into days long gone he was not quite so sure but a little nudge just a little prompting and the old man would tell you stories crowded with facts and splashed witli color that were amazing amazingWith With just a little exaggeration you could say that everybody knew him He was inseparable from turf history He was selfmade not remarkable for polish as polish is many times understood hut he had the gift of assimilating any amount of know ¬ ledge about many matters so that he was well in ¬ formed iu the broad sense of the term for he was observant nothing that was likely to matter es ¬ caped his notice he memorized everything that was likely that counted and thai was likely to count It was as recently as the Easter meeting at Kemp ton which this vear as you know was permitted to open the flat that I saw and chatted with him It was hard to believe that he was within twelve montns or Ixing ninety years old His eyes were bright he carried himself with almost a touch of jauntiness you forgot the wrinkles that were cut deep if one had not known him as intimately as I did one would have said there goes a tremendously lit hard old man Tophatted pilotcoated his face fringed with while hair he stood out high above everybody else at Kempton and I should pay that there was ri i man more intent upon niaking himself an fait will everything that was happening He would dare to criticize this and that always In a kindly though not Jipologetic way for Jierwas certain of his own judgment to the very last And when the news came lo me on Saturday that death had carried him off it was hard to believe that Hodgy as most of us were wont to call him was no more moreHe He was a sort of living textbook on men and matters of the turf and a great book filled with stories Years ago he was induced to write a book to which he gave the title of Sixty Years on the Turf a most interesting book edited by the late Mr Charles Warren who spent a part of his news ¬ paper career on the Sporting Life There is set out in its pages most of the principal incidents of Hodgmans life but it does not tell as it could not everythingGeorge be expected to tell everything George Ilodgmans life was more interesting more varied more daring more specnltive than it could be represented to be by cold print It was only when you got the old man iu some quiet corner and let him talk in a plain blunt brusque and pointed way that you could appreciate what a really remarkable character even astonishing character he was Last Friday was the sixty eighth Grand Xational lie had seen which I should say is an absolute record Ilodgman won our great ¬ est chase with Emigrant in 1857 and it was lie cause of his success at Liverpool perhaps that he was more keen and more vitally interested in stceplechasing than iu races on the fiat though the turf in all its comprehensiveness was for him He lived for racing he lived in racing racing had always been for him it was his passion his joy his life lifeIt It is given out that he was born at Stevenage Herts where he had a permanent residence bill whether Stevenage was his birthplace or not 1 should not like to say At any rate when he talked with me about his youthful days he always fastened upon Ramsgate at least he used to say that it was while living at Ramsgate that he had his first real setoff and it was at Itamsgate that he had his first bet I was very young at the time he would say and he was not averse to confessing that the first lump of noiney as he termed it that came his way was got by an extraordinary chance A man who posed as the athlete that mattered came to Uamsgate and annouuced that he would jump all comers for a wager I saw him per ¬ form said Hodgman and was sure that I could hop skip and jump better than he could We had a match and I won and shortly afterwards I set out for London LondonOnce Once in a town he soon became a personality and for years lie was a bookmaker in a substantial way It was just like Ilodgman that he came to possess Emigrant in a way romantic It was in 1855 that he turned up at the George Hotel Shrewsbury and hit upon Ben Land who was very much down on his luck as a result of card playing Land found it absolutely necessary to raise the wind and told Ilodgman of the perilous state in which his finances were at the same time telling him that he was not averse to parting with Emigrant If ever a man knew a good thing Jt was Hodgraan and it did not take very long for him to strike a bargain He paid 2950 Land wanted 3000 for Emigrant and agreed to hand over another 500 if the horse won at Shrewsbury ShrewsburyHe He did not acquire Emigrant to keep it as his own property for lie gave Xcd Green who by the way was a very fine billiard player and a rare expert with the lly rod a half share in It so that when Emigrant won the Grand Xational in 1S57 it ran in the joint ownership of Hodgman and Green It had previously however carried Hodgiuaus colors Emigrant was the mount of Charlie Boyce and after his success Boyce was presented with a check for 5000 such u present I helieve not equalled until the late Mr George Mastersoir wrote Arthur Xightingall a check for a similar sum when Ilex won It was a wonderful performance on the part of Boyce for he roiro Emigrant with one hand a small ihoiio in the other having been broken in the hunting field a week or two previously llodguian previouslyllodguian did not win the enormous amount of money over Emigrant as at one time he stood to win for he bad hedged a great deal of money The first race horse or part of one which Hodginau owned was Tobolsk which ho purchased for 3300 from Squire Ilcathcote and there is a little story in his Sixty Years on the Turf concerning Tobolsk which might be reproduced In the filly Mr J Barnard a bookmaker had a half share At that time writes Hodgman there was betting on al ¬ most any little race before the day of decision and having no idea that Tobolsk was to run for the Beddlngton Stakes at the Epsom Autumn meeting I laid out 3500 to lose on my list Till I told Mr Barnard almost an hour before the race Good heavens he exclaimed shes fit and she must run that was a condition of the sale Then you will have to back her back It stems to me we have made a nice mess of affairs In a little while I heard from Mr Barnard again Who have you put in to do the business Mr Merrv Well I have seen him take 10000 to 5000 off Davis Continued on second page NESTOR OF THE ENGLISH TURF DIES Continued from tirst page Thats all right half is for us Tolwlski i by a short head Wells riding a splendid race but as we had to pay 3500 out and came within a shade of losing 2500 I did not think a great deal of owning horses horsesAfter After Emigrants victory in the National Hodg man subsequently tried to win long races with him on tho Hat like the Ascot Gold Cup and the Cesaro witch but found one game did not dovetail with the other By tho way about the National I remember asking Hodgman what the Liverpool course was like in his early days The fences I recollect him saying were quite as large as now but not so well looked after they were more rough and wanted more doing I have said that last Friday was his sixtyeighth National he did not see sixtyeight successive Nationals for about twenty years ago he missed one owing to an attack of typhoid fever Hodgman had a weakness for Vs and rather sug ¬ gested in the naming of many of his horses Sam Weller WellerI I once asked him to explain why the V His explanation was a very shrewd and simple one it served to him as a ready reference In other words when he had to refresh his memory he found all his horses bunched together In addition to Emi ¬ grant he had however one called Rocket and others such as Confederate and Paul Jones but there was quite a string of horses tho lirst letter of whose names were V For instance Victor Vest minster Verdant Victoria Vigorous Vein Vln and Vica He loved to talk about his Vs but I should say that ho regarded Paul Jones as the best horse he ever had hadPaul Paul Jones was by Buccaneer out of Queen of the Gipsies by Chanticleer He only gained ouo success in ten races as a twoyearold in 1807 that was the Mile Nursery at Goodwood where lie de ¬ feated two dozen others starting favorite at 5 to 2 and winning by a neck As a threeyearold he won the Trial Stakes at Epsom Spring Meeting prior to the Chester Cup He was I should say the hot ¬ test favorite of that race as in a field of seventeen runners as little as G to 4 was accepted The colt was ridden by Jeffery whom Hodgman and his inaiiv friends were pleased to call tho Steam Engine Paul Jones was third favorite for Blue Gowns Derby but did not get into the iirst four Hods mans greatest disappointment was the St Leger Having tremendous faitli in Paul Jones staying powers and the greatest admiration for Fordhani who was the jockey Hodgmau backed his horse to win a pile of money Formosa which was in the race was supposed to be amiss but she was equal to the occasion and won But llodgmaii always thought Ford ham made a mistake in holding For ¬ mosa too cheaply There is one little story I should like to tell about Victorious Hodgman bought him for 025 and declared that when he took him he hal never seen a horse in a worse state In fact h told his groom he hail better cover the horses head with a sack and then perhaps I can see what hes like It was a lucky purchase however for Vic ¬ torious won many races racesTalking Talking about luck at times it simply showered upon Hodgman He won fortunes and lost fortunes for there was nothing he loved so much as a down ¬ right gamble As 1 have said he knew everybody and everylwdy knew him He was a great char acter and now he has gone Lord Coventry is the oldest living owner of a Grand National winner

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