Golden Age of Plungers.: Some Anecdotes of Race-Track Betting on the English Turf in Days Long Gone, Daily Racing Form, 1917-03-17


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■ I * s 3, k s in " * f e a "s | , * •v ;. B to V i . j ",. . ,t y [- • 1- d a a GOLDEN AGE OF PLUNGERS. at and w gi Some Anecdotes of Race-Track Betting on the Eng- m lish Turf in Days Long Gone. s- in In these days when you hear of a man making J ,K 000 a bet of 0,000 on a horse race you are apt to throw up your hands in surprise, but there were tiniis. especially in connection with the English " tnrf. when such a wager would be considered mere -» A childs play and unworthy of notice, says the Sim. m The tills, and perhaps for a generation earlier. ■ might be characterized as the golden age of the ■ plungers, for a string of bets is on record for that ■ period which completely dwarfs anything since or " ■ before. These were the days of the Manpiis of Hastings and the Duke of Hamilton, while somewhat " earlier were the Earl of Glasgow, the Marquis "f ,; Exeter, Leviathan Davics. Lord George P.eiitinck and " of several others. Of this brigade of reckless plungers " undoubtedly the most remarkable character was ■ the Manpiis of Hastings, whose short life was one «■ continuous romance of the maddest plunging. It » could be said of him that he was a born plunger. I for he let no event of note pass without wagering on it. When he was about twenty five years of age am! at the heyday of his career he owned a crack two-year old filly named Eady Elizabeth, and she was nominated for all the big three-year-old fixtures. For the first few times she carried silk the filly v was fairly successful and the marquis thought h to t saw in her ■ chance to retrieve his waning fortune. The climax of her two-year-old season came in the Middle Park Plate. Then, as now, the race was v "considered the two-year-old Derby trial. I.ady S Elisabeth was a splendid animal to the eye. and for n the test her trainer had her in the best possible I fettle, and at the same time he informed the owner ■ that she was a sure winner, and. acting on the advice, he backed her for the sum of 50,000. As the horses went to the post the owner of Eady J Elizabeth was sitting with Maria Marchioness of Aileslmry in her carriage, and he watched every , move of the horse through a field glass. The horses were a long way off. but early in the fray the t keen eye of the marquis saw that Eady Elizabeth 1 had not the ghost of a chance, but. being one of the a best losers, he never quailed. Only as the horses t flashed past the post he was a trifle pale, but his " mouth was set and his eyes glared. Then the marchioness, noticing his pallor anil being a woman of !l quick perception and at the same time resourceful, a offered the marquis her betting book and asked him , to calculate how much she had lost. He did some f figuring and. returning the book in the coolest and j politest manner, informed her that she had lest about 25. It was a most clever interruption, cxe- j rated for the purpose of distracting the thoughts of t the marquis for the time being from his disaster. I and yet the marchioness only guessed that he must -1 have had a heavy bet on the race. Won 00,000 When Hermit Won the Derby. In her three-year-old year Lady Elizabeth gave promise that she might land the Derby, for in her , early spring races she showed high-class form. Her • most dangerous opponent was Hermit, which be . longed to a wealthy man named Chaplin, who was i at the time engaged to marry the Marchioness of i Ailesbury. This state of affairs involved a romance I — the marchioness was madly in love with the 1 Manpiis of Hastings, and it was an open secret that he had the highest regard for her. However. the Derby came around and sonic enormous betting , was recorded. The marquis took one last chance and he backed Lady Elizabeth to the amount of 0,000, but he was doomed once more to disappointment, for Hermit won the much -coveted race j and his owner gathered in the handsome sum of 00,000. which is probably the biggest amount ever won by ne man over the race. The Marchioness never became the wife of Chaplin, for she eloped witli the marquis and married him and shared some of th - misfortunes which befell him later on. Over this same r.n e of Hermit there was a still more tragic episode, William, the third Duke of Hamilton, being the chief actor. People went mad over the chances of Hermit, and especially when it was reported that he had burst a blood vessel. All sorts of bets wire laid against him and the wildest sort of plunging was done over what he might do in the race. His trainer was the famous Captain Machcll. the keenest judge of horses, and. of course, he knew whether the bursting of the blood vessel affected the horses chances. One night about a couple of weeks before the race Machcll walked into Longs Hotel, where there was some brisk betting going on. No matter what size bet a man wanted to make he could always find a taker at Pongs, for it was a plungers resort. On this occiision they were laying 20 to 1 against Hermit and before he was long in the house Machcll had covered bets which would bring him 25,000. He I nt up his money so freely that a few of the wiser division began to think the trainer had a good thing, knowing, of course, what Hermit could de. si naturally after a little while there came a lull in the anxiety to lay odds against Hermit. Then it was Mat-hells turn to create a surprise, and he did it when in a loud voice he announced that he stood ready to take 00,000 to ,000 about tic horse and in a very short time the money was covered. Jusl at that moment in walked the Duke of Hamilton and he was immediately told about the betting and be was aflame in a minute for a plunge. 1 ut when a few of his retainers who were there wanted to give him the exact figures he waved them aside, saying that the sums were not worth talking about. An Extraordinary Wager Declared Off. At the same instant he walked over to where Captain Maehi 11 was standing, ami. drawing himself up to his fullest beighth, said he would lay 50,000 to ,000 sgaiasl Hermit— that he would do so nine, twice, three times, four times, five times and six times. It was as if a thunderbolt had fallen, am! I then everyone present leaked toward Machcll and. i after a few moments pause, he quietly but firmly informed the duke that he would take the fill! amount— that is. 1917.sh00,000 to 0,000. The end of this wager was rather tame, for later in the evening the duke offered a nice sum to have the bet canceled, but Machcll refused. Next day. however, he took a different view of the situation, for he declared the bet off altogether. A generation earlier George, fourth earl of fllas- gow. flourished, and though he was a notorious plunger, he was the worst kind of a loser and a I testy sort of a sportsman at the best. He did some . heavy betting over the St. beger in 1S24. and after . he balanced up his accounts he found that he was a winner to the amount of .".KM. but he lost 35.- MM over the Derby in 1827, when lie laid long odds against the winner. Mameluke. There is a story told I of Eord Glasgow having jumped up on the table at [ the Star Hotel. Doneaster, the Right before the ■ St. Leger of 1828 and offering 25 to 1 against Bra- tandorf in thousands. John Gully getting a big slice of the odds on the sjMit. Some years later Loid Glasgow and Lord George P.eiitinck were constant opponents in the planting : line. Whenever the least opportunity arose they wagered against each other. Eord Bentlnck had a i horse named Gaper in the Derby of 184S, and the ■ night before the race he strolled into Cockfords to l make a few wagers. Cockfords was in St. .lames street and ill those days was the great haunt of f the plungers. Eord Glasgow, who happened to be there, said he was willing to lay 00.000 pounds — something like 50,000— at odds of I to 1 against 1 Gaper. The size of the bet staggered Lord Ben- tinck and for once in his life he had to take water r by admitting that the sum was a little larger than he expected. The second Marquis of BxetCT was another of the big turfmen who liked to do some plunging occa-o sionaliy. ami he did it in the most off-hand manner. One day at Newmarket he walked up to the betting ring and asked for Mr. Davics. He meant Leviathan Davies. a bookmaker, who at the time handled the biggest bets in the turf and was well-known to all the noblemen. On Davies making his appearance Exeter asked him low much he would lay against his horse, which happened to be running in one id the races. Davies told his lordship $.»0.000 to 5,000, and the figures being satisfactory, the bookmaker was told to jot them down, after which Exeter strolled away to the paddock, Leviathan Davies Peculiar Advent as Bookmaker. The advent of Davies as a bookmaker occurred in a most peculiar way. He was a carpenter by trade, and when a young man was sent to New market to do some w nl. around the Stables. There was a meeting under way. and on the advice of some Stable hands he made :i few small bets, which we!-, successfal. Another acquaintance which lie made sroaad the staid.- advised him to back Atlila for the Derby ol the following year. At that time the horse was not even mentioned for tin-Id classic, and in the winter books Davies got 100 to 1 agaiiiat the which he iuc»tcd. A tula meat, at and w gi m s- in J ,K 000 " -» A m ■ ■ ■ ■ " " ,; " of " ■ «■ » I the money, along with other small wagers which Davics madi the horse, tempted him to give up work and take to bookinaking. That he was a success can be gleaned from the fact that when he was thirty year- of age lie was worth 00,000. One of his biggest losses while in business was over West Australians Derby, when he dropped S600.IMMI. but that same year he won s.L"il on the Cambridge shire and Ocaate witch. One of till mist peculiar instances of ptaagiug occurred once at Tattcrsalls to Fry. the bookmaker. somewhat seedy -looking stranger presented himself at the box and asked for the price against Common for the St. Leger. Fr.v. not being Impressed with the strangers looks, answered 2 to 1 sharply, and the new investor was further informed that be would have to put up cash or get a reference. Thereupon the stranger cooly took out a greasy old wallet, and from it extracted five Bank of Bag land notes, each of ,000, anil laid them in front the bookmaker. Fry was so surprised that he nearly fell off his chair. Common won. and the shabby person sauntered back out of the i row 1 to collect the equivalent of 5,0001 Fry bad to give him an open check and a letter to his banker, as the stranger refused to tell his name.

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