Most Famous English Bookmaker: John Jackson, of Fairfield, a Mighty Plunger and All-Around Sportsman, Daily Racing Form, 1916-12-03


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MOST FAMOUS ENGLISH BOOKMAKER. Jchn Jackson, of Fairfield, a Mighty Plunger and Ail-Around Sportsman. "The greatest sportsman and best fellow of all the English bookmakers, half a century ago, was John Jackson Jock oFairfield" writes Thor-manby in the London Sportsman. "I shall never forget the memorable day, when, standing on Newmarket Heath, as the field of thirteen came tearing along in their fierce struggle for the Two Thousand Guineas. I heard close behind ice a stentorinn shout of Glasger wins. There was no mistaking that voice it was like the roar of a six-inch Long Tom, booming loud and distinct, above the din that raged around Glasger wins. You could hear the thunder tones rolling far and Wide over the Heath; for no voice like it in volume, force and penetrating power has ever been heard before or since upon an English race course. Leviathan Davis was a piping treble to it. Glasger wins. It rang out like the trump of doom, with one final bursting blast, as Aldcfoft sent the vhite and crimson to the front, and the General Peel shot past the judges box the winner of the first aiid only classic race ever won by the Earl of Glasgow. "A fine specimen of a hard, powerful Yorkshire-man did John Jackson look that day, as he strode about with his betting book in one hand, and his favorite short stick in the other, ready, as one of his friends said of him, if there was a row, or a scrimmage of any kind, to project himself violently Into the middle of it as a bottle holder or commentator. For Jock oFairfield loved a fight of any kind. Everything in the shape of a contest had an irresistible fascination for him, a foot race, a horse race, a cock fight, a bruising match, seemed to. send his blood dancing through his veins with excitement aiid delight. It is, of course, as one of the great magnates of the betting ring a very Napoleon among pencilers that John Jackson was best known; but he was something far more than this. He Was a keen, enthusiastic, sterling, all-around .sportsman, a. first-rate judge of- a race horse, a greyhound, a shorthorn, or a ram, as acute a critic f. cricket as of jockeyship; as much at home in the hunting .field us at the Subscription Rooms; never more in his element tliun at the ringside cheering on his idol, Tom Sayers, to victory; a man, take him for all in all, who has had but one equal in line, and that was John Gully. "John Jackson was born in the year 1S27 at Tunstall, near Catterick, where his brother, I believe, still farms the paternal acres, for the father was a small farmer and young John was bred to the same calling. But from the very earliest period of his life, love of sport dominated every other feeling or sentiment in the lads breast. Nothing could keep him to the plow-tail when there was a nice meeting, a steeplechase, or a cricket match anywhere within five or twenty miles. In vain his father a grim parent of the severely Roman type leathered him soundly. It had not the slightest effect on John. "To love of sport for its own sake was added the true English craving to back his fancy. He must bet, but, young as he was, his financial instincts were strong; he would do the thing methodically. So Master John borrowed 5 from a friend of his, a saddler, in Catterick, and, having changed that sum into half crowns that coin being the standard of wagering in those parts John set manfully off to a big cricket match in the neighborhood, and made his first book. It speaks well for his astuteness that ho doubled his 5, repaid the loan, and found himself with unhampered capital of 5. But, Jupiter Tonans, wasnt his father in a rage when he heard of it, and didnt he just come down upon that saddler, waled him with the buckle end of one of his own two-inch straps till the man was black and blue, and had to pay 0 afterwards to square the matter. But John went on and prospered, and he had rare natural gifts as an arithmetician a genius for figures, in fact and would have made a splendid chancellor of the exchequer. "John Jacksons connection with the turf dated from Flying Dutchmans year at least, it was then that he landed his first great coup. The Dutchman was a gold mine to him. and at the close of 1S4S he found himself with 0,000 to his credit at the bank. With that comfortable nest egg as a foundation, he went ahead gaily, and worked his way up to the top of the tree among the members of-the ring in quick time. He was early intrusted with the commissions of the Middleham and Richmond trainers, and his reputation as a safe man was speedily established. It was Jacksons rule always to stand on good horses, and in the long run he found it to pay. His biggest success, I think, was with Ellington for the Derby of 1S5", when he cleared upwards of 00,000. His extraordinary partiality for Lord Glasgows colors was a hobby for which he sometimes had to pay dearly; but General Peels victory in the Two Thousand made up for many disappointments, and I suppose no one who saw him on the Derby Day of 1S54 will ever forget his ecstacy of delight when he saw Blair Athol and General Peel coming in alone at the finish of the great race. His memorable exclamation on that occasion probably fctill lingers in the recollection of all who heard it, bellowed out. as it was, in the broad, racy, unshackled Doric of the North Riding, but unfortunately of a nature that will not bear setting down in print. He won 00,000 on Blair Athol, but would have netted double that amount on General Peel. Then he purchased the estate of Fairfield for a large sum from Mr. Henry Thompson, and went in as hotly for breeding as for betting. "The worst, perhaps the only really serious, facer he ever received was in Lord Lyons year. Up to that unlucky season Jackson had had an almost uninterrupted run of good fortune, and, despite his lavish and reckless expenditure, he was known to be worth upward of 50,000. But he was hard hit by the son of Stockwell and no mistake. Rumor would have it that Mr. Jackson had failed to settle in full over that Derby, and that he owed 5,000 to Mr. Sutton, the owner of Lord Lyon. But that gentleman himself flatly contradicted the report, and publicly announced that Mr. Jackson had paid up every farthing on settling day. It was a cruel libel upon Jackson, who never failed to settle with any man in his life, and who, though enthusiastic about his winnings, was absolutely indifferent to his losses. "A man of restless energy and mast excitable temperament, Jackson was never happy unless he was engaged in some kind of a contest political or sporting, it was all the same to him. He dearly loved a hacd-fought election, and Sir Frederick Milbanke, the liberal member of parliament for the North Riding, used to say, Jock o Fairfield was worth his weight fifty times over in canvassing solicitors. With -the Bedale and Sir Charles Slings-bys hounds he was a tremendously hard rider, and one years pounding match for ,000 a side was arranged between him and Sir Frederick Johnstone in other words, a game of follow my leader ou horseback, whichever failed to follow to lose the match. It would have been a desperate breakneck race, for Jackson had six hunters up at the time, among them his celebrated Barney, at Barn-ton, with whom he had leapt a flight of double pests and rails sixteen feet measured from the inside, with the Bedale. Sir Frederick had just leapt a mill-dam in the Burton country and done other deeds of daring. So the probability is that one, if not both, of them would have been brought home on a stretcher. George Payne was to be umpire; but somehow the match fell through, to the great relief of the friends of both parties. "Whatever he did was always done in the spirit of a true sportsman. He cared far more for sport than for filthy lucre, and as illustration of this excellent phase of his character I may give the following anecdote: Jackson had backed Lord Zetlands Vedette for the Two Thousand Guineas of 1857, but the son of Voltigeur was so shaky cn the pins, so frequently reported lame, that-he dared not stand the money. A friend laid it all off him, and Jackson stood to win heavily against Vedette. To his surprise the horse won in a canter; but when he saw the spots coming in ahead of everything the big-hearted Yorkshireman raised a mighty shout of delight that made the welkin ring again, and went up and patted the winner as proud as if he had won a hatful of money instead of being some thousands to the bad. "Jackson had entered the sporting world with the constitution of a horse, but the pace he went at soon wore out his natural vigor. The fiery, restless spirit within him fretted the body to decay. I think the excitement produced by Lord Lyons victories really gave him his death blow. At any rate, the first symptoms of his fatal illness showed themselves towards the close of that year. He spent the next winter at St. Leonards. On the Tuesday before the York meeting of 18G8 his stud of twenty-four yearlings was sold, and he appeared at the sale in a bath chair, but the change in his appearance was appalling. He seemed shrunk to nothing. He said himself that he did not believe he weighed six stone. But something of the old reckless gaiety flashed out when he found that his yearlings had fetched 42,500, which was 0,000 more than he had expected. . He knew, however, that he had not long to live, and asked all his old friends particularly to come and say good-by to him that week, as they were never likely to see him again. The brave old Yorkshire heart in him kept him from breaking down, but it was a sad leave taking. "Three months later, on January 20, 1809, ho passed quietly away, only forty-one years of age, but he had seen more life in those two-score years than most men who live to eighty. John Jackson won and spent his money like a dashing sportsman, yet he died rich, for after all his debts were paid there Was 00,000 left. He had his faults, no man is without them, but he was sound to the core, and a gallant, generous-hearted Englishman lies buried under the turf that covers Jock o Fairfield. "

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