view raw text
RACING AS CONDUCTED IN CHINA. Sports and pastimes are nourishing in China, and in spite of the internal troubles which have considerably upset the Flowery Kingdom the celestials find plenty of time to enjoy life on road, track and river. Pony racing is a popular sport, and a number of meetings are held throughout China. All sports are conducted along modern lines, copied after American and English methods, while the scok embraces a wide range from football, golf and hockey to pony racing and field and track athletics. Major Palmer E. Pierce, U. S. A., formerls" President of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, and one of the leaders of amateur sports in the United States, now stationed at Tientsin, China, says sport is growing exceedingly popular in China. Recently a series of athletic meets were held at Tientsin, which Included a two-day open affair of mixed Chinese and European events, an all-British Held sorts meet and a Frencli lield meet in one week. The latter embraced everything from a 22-mile race and a 15-mile march to exercises and competition on parallel bars. It is, however, in pony racing that China is making progress, and Major Pierce is enthusiastic over the manner in which the natives conduct their race meetings. He cites the Tientsin Bace Club as an evidence of the advance of civilization in China, and says the grounds, track, stables and club buildings would lie a credit to a racing plant in New York City. This he attributes to the fact that the buildings are new, replacing those destroyed by the Boxers, and England and America offered a fruitful Held to copy. .Major Pierce, in a letter, gives the following description of pony racing in China: "Thousands of beautiful chrysanthemums, a flower that nourishes Jn abundant profusion in North China, were scattered about the veranda and grounds of the Tientsin Race Club, making a brilliant scone for the visitor to the race meeting. "It is a bit surprising to one fresh from other countries to lind how well conducted arc all sporting events in these treaty ports of the Far East. Whether it be football, hockey, golf, tennis or pony racing, the conduct of the affair is admirable. Truly the amateur spirit is prevalent, for professionals are unknown, at least in North China. This must be a legacy from the Englishman who first came to trade in these ports and brought with him the sports and the traditions of the homeland. "We hear that some of the amateur spirit is being superseded in Britain by the professional, but such is not the case in the Chinese ports. Not onlv arc there no professionals, but also there is a general participation in athletics of all kinds that is most refreshing to see, especially by one who lias been struggling with the ever prevalent question in the United States of how to prevent the professional from monopolizing the whole field. "But I want to tell you of the enjoyable rating held here twice a year by the Tientsin Race Club. This is an organization to which practically every one of any importance in Tientsin belongs. Its grounds, track, stables and club buildings would be a credit to New York City Itself. The buildings are new, having all been built since 1900 to replace those destroyed by the Boxers. This may account for their excellence, since the organization was paid an indemnity for the loss of its old buildings. "The terrain is almost a dead level for miles about this city. However, the race course is the most attractive spot in or about the place. It is readied by a well-kept, private road, some three miles, in length. To be sure, as one drives to the grounds he is reminded that in the midst of life we are in death, for the graves of innumerable Chinamen can lie seen to the right and left. But there is no escape from tills horror of China. The dead certainly arc crowding the living. Not a road but is bordered by these built-up graves. Even the clghtcon-hole golf course of Tientsin is situated in a Chinese cemetery. One of the local golf rules Is that a ball falling into an open grave may be picked out and dropped without loss. "And there is plenty of excitement and color at these race meetings to make even the most susceptible forget any unusual and disagreeable sights he may have seen en route. "The brilliancy of the flowers and shrubs is en- hanced by the colors of the variegated clothes worn On such occasions. Mixed with the sober civilian dress of the men are the beautiful costumes of women clothed by Paris modistes and the striking uniforms of many of the ollicers of the great pow ers. The Frencli, icrman, Russian, Japanese. Austrian, English and American nations were all rep resented in the throng that crowded the race course-last October. Here and there also were seen the Chinese and Japanese some dressed in their native costumes, others affecting European dress and manners. In the bandstand were seen the red coats of the musicians from one of Englands Irish regiments. "The sun shone brilliantly and the air had an invigorating quality. Everything was conducive to gayety and good sport. And good sport it proved to be when the Manchurian ponies appeared for the tirst race, ridden by gentlemen jockeys wearing the highly-colored garments and sashes that always pertain to such events. The baud played Its liveliest air. and some of these ponies, so lately roaming the plains of Manchuria, showed their wild blood by unexpected and hard to control gyrations. "The port, however, is not alone of the day of the race meeting. It really covers the greater share of the year, beginning witli the arrival of a lot of shaggy, wild-eyed, sturdy little beasts from tins plains of Mongolia or Manchuria. A man may buy a half dozen of these, hoping among the lot to lind a single good and speedy one. Then commences months of work and training. The owner usually does much of the training himself unless his weight makes this impossible. But it is remarkable what loads these small beasts carry usually from 110 to 1U0 pounds. "After the preliminary training the so-called Critlius are worked at the race course every morn ing, beginning at seven. During this training season it Is quite the proper thing to ride or tramp the-three miles to the grounds, watch or direct the training, breakfast and return about nine. Women as well as men take this early exercise for weeks before the spring and fall race meetings. As a result of this vigorous training the wild, shaggy Critlin has become a clean limlied animal, witli speed and staying overs quite remarkable. The great fault of the racing in the eyes of a spectator is the tendency of the ponies to run bunched until near the. homestretch. This gives the appearance of an exercise gallop, until the tinal break is made. "The betting is one of the most interesting parts of horse racing in these Chinese treaty ports. The highest wager is ten .Mexican dollars and the lowest . Bookmaking is unknown, the betting being the pari-mutuel and other well-known forms of wager ing, in which the club acts as agent, charging a commission and dividing the remainder of the money bet among the lucky winners. The betting booths last fall were in charge of Britisii noncommissioned officers whose scarlet coats gave quite an otiicial and unusual air to the money side of tills sport. "The Chinese are fond of gambling, and the better class frequent the betting booths and watch 1 1 1 entries witli keen celestial eyes. And the wagers arc not confined to those who have adopted European clothes as well as customs. The man with the pigtail and Mandarin coat puts up his money as well as the modernized Chinese." New York Times.