Old-Time Figures At Tattersalls: There It Was Where Fortunes Were Formerly Won or Lost in a Day., Daily Racing Form, 1918-12-04


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OLDTIME FIGURES AT TATTERSALLS There It Was Where Fortunes Were Formerly Won or Lost in a Day There is magic in the sound of Tattersalls Ring for it is there that fortunes were formerly won and lost with even greater rapidity than on the great altar of Mammon known to mortals as the Stock Exchange Nowadays the Betting Ring however is but a shadow of what It was in the palmy days of its existence when there was no daily sporting press to act as guide philosopher and friend to backers of horses Palmy days thosi were indeed at the period ranging from the late thirties to the early sixties of last century the only capital required by a budding bookmaker eing a notebook and a pencil anil good luck at he start In that long past era futures wen the only races bet on away from the course tiie seuiiis who invented startingprice betting having not yet arisen and for a race like the Derby or tlie Chester Cup every animal engaged had admirers no matter how forlorn its chance Often enough horses that had broken down or died weeks or even mouths before hand were supported by the public and as in many cases they were never struck out there was every opportunity for the keepers of list houses to reap a rich harvest No matter what won they were well over round the prices they laid generally not being regulated in market overt They were of course many firms of good repute who laid fair prices but readymoney list jetting paved the way to many abuses and betting houses which did a roaring trade were often found with the shutters up when the creditors arrived on the following day for the purpose of drawing their winnings This however had little or nothing to do with the business conducted by bookmakers in the ring on the race course where then as now a mans word was his lx nd whether in tlie matter of wagers in silver or bets running into many thou ¬ sands of pounds Let us how turn to consideration of some of the early fathers of the ring and briefly sketch their careers their foibles and in not a few cases their oddities odditiesCRUTCH CRUTCH ROBINSON NOTED PLUNGER PLUNGEROne One of the bestknown of the members of the bookmaking fraternity in the earlier part of last century was Crutch Robinson who for a period of something like thirty years was one of the Biggest bettors that wielded a pencil in the ring AVliere he came froni and who lie was no one seemed to know but from his dialect it was as ¬ sumed that the little lean wizenfaced person ¬ age in question came either from Yorkshire or Lancashire Rumor had it that he was an exstable lad who had been crippled by a kick from a horse hence the crutch from which his nick ¬ name was derived Whether that was the case or lie was born a cripple matters little now suffice it that he soon became a successful betting man and one of the originators of the art of bookmaking Others of the early professors of the art or science as it might be termed were Jerry Cloves Jem Bland Myers by vocation a butler John Gully Tommy Swan of Bedale of whom it is recorded that he never laid nor took but one bet on a Sunday Justice Richards Mat Milton and Crockford known to fame as Old Crocky Crutch Robin ¬ son like Crockford Ridsdale Gully Harry Hill IVdley and other layers figured as an owner but not with much success He was supposed to liavt landed a big stake over St Giles Derby keeping Mr Ridsdaies colt for his book and backing him to boot on the strength of information derived from Gully with whom Ridsdale was in partnership One description of Crutch Robinson shows him as a shrewdfaced wizened little man whose coat hung oh his back like a towel on a rail leaning on a crutch cracking walnuts and picking his teeth with a pocket knife a queer uncouth creature He had an instinctive knowledge of cockfighting and a marvelous knack of discovering the winner before anyone else had any Idea which bird would gain the advantage Nature a writer averred who knew old Crutch well must have broken the mold in which she formed the crafty Robinson as he leaned on his crutch with his back against the outer wall of the Newmarket betting rooms and with his knowing quiet leer and one hand in liis pocket argued about Stalybridge Radicals with the then Lord Stanley or offered to lay again ilenipo lie was always ready to lay against iot favorites and generally clinched the deal with the remark I may just as well have thee five pun as anybody else He never credited reports about horses being either deadamiss or fit to run for a mans life and was equally skeptical about alleged high trials and he got niany a five pun out of those that believed in such tales He knew everything almost about other bookmakers and own ¬ ers of his day and Sylvanus a lone bygone clironicler of turf worthies and their doings left behind him a word picture of old Crutch which unfortunately is far too long for reproduction One little conversation between the bookmaker and Syl ¬ vanus may however be given I remember once asking Robinson as he sat at the White Bear in Piccadilly who the Mr Hargreaves the lucky screaming gentleman with the large face and pink eyes was when at home Old Crutch pursed up tlie corner of his mouth half closed one eye and with an air of sneering lordliness simply replied Who is he Why four years ago he hadna four shilling Thats who he is You surprise me answered I how can he have got together such an amount of money as the ring now gives him credit for if he had nothing to commence with How did he get it retorted the old cripple Why by going for the gloves mon for four years and by nobbing Ratan thats how hes done it he was put in by his pal Sam There was much more of such illuminating discourse in Sylvanus but enlightening as it was suffice it here to note that Ratan was a colt belonging to Crockford then an old man with which he hoped to win the Derby of 1S44 1S44CAREER CAREER OF FISHMONGER CROCKFORD CROCKFORDCrockford Crockford had bred Ratan himself by Buzzard a Picton mare out of a daughter of Selim The colt had won both of the only races in which hi took part as a juvenile the New Stakes at Asco and the Criterion Stakes The latter race was ruj on the now long disused course finishing at thl Top of the Town and starting at the Turn d the Lands beyond the Rowley mile winning post He was ridden by Sam Rogers who also steered bin for the Derby for which he was heavily backed bj his owner and started second favorite but was nowhere A story was current at that time that Crockford had died before the Derby was run but that in order that Ratan might run and some of the money at all events be saved the corpse was seated in an armchair at the window of his club in St James street where he was wont to take up his position overlooking the street As a matter of fact he died two days afterward Crutch Robin ¬ sons allusion to tie nobbling of Ratan probably had some warrant for in the October after the Derby the matter was investigated and his jockey was warned off Newmarket Heath a sentence which wjs remitted three years afterward Originally a fishmonger Crockford blossomed into a commissioner and bookmaker and subsequently lie built a pa ¬ latial gambling establishment in St James street familiarly known to sportsmen of the day as Crockys Crockford was a free fooder in that the gilded youth and other frequenters of his man ¬ sion were provided with free supper of a sumptuous character the only charge being an implied stipu ¬ lation that they in return would try their luck at hazard or to use ah expression in frequent use in the newspapers of that period indulge in flirta tions with the elephants tooth from which ma terial the dice which rattled in their boxes until the milkman made his matutinal round used in the fascinating game were manufactured All the ee lebrities a ml notorieties in England were occasional or habitual visitors at Crockys and Capt Gro now recorded that the iron duke Lord Raglan and all the other wellknown military men were now and then to be found there Needless to say there was also a strung coiitingent of the aristocratic snp porters of the turf inclusive of Lord Chesterfield PayneI the magnificient Lord Litchfield George Payne Col 1Anson Sir St Vincent Cotton etc Novelists and statesmen like Buhver Lyton and Disraeli on occasions found their legs beneath Crockfords ma hpgauy the while Crockford hiniself looked after the theI main chance and sat at his desk apart from the board of green cloth on which his patrons often played for enormous stakes Best remembered as a helikeeper Crockford was equally prominent as u layer of odds in the ring and at Tattersalls and soon held a foremost position among the bookmakers bookmakersHe He was especially fond of laying such odds as 1000 to 10 that no one named the winner oC the Derby Oaks and St Leger London Sportsman

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