Memoirs of the British Turf, Daily Racing Form, 1922-08-05


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Memoirs of the British Turf BY THE HON. GEORGE LAMBTON. Seventh Article. On another occasion I traveled down from London to Newmarket with him. He told me that he had running in the first race a very promising two-year-old of which Sherwood had a very high opinion. We arrived just in time to see the horses going out of the paddock and met Sherwood, who told him that the horse was still backward, but that he expected him to beat ail except the favorite. Rickaby was riding, and was told not to be hard on the horse if he could not win. AVe watched the race together. The favorite was always going like a winner, but coming out of the dip Rickaby made his effort and for a few strides his horse looked to have a winning chance, and, though beaten, put up a promising performance. Randolph was delighted, rushed off to the paddock and went up to Rickaby as he was riding in, saying, "Well, how did he run?" Rickaby had a good look at the questioner and replied, "What the hell is that to do with you?" Randolph was furious and told Sherwood, "Dont you ever put up that jockey again." Sherwood assured him that Rickaby did not know who he was, and Sir Frederick Johnstone, who overheard the conversation, chipped in with, "Of course, with that old hat and coat of yours he took you for a tout." But it was not till halfway through a good dinner that night that he became molified, and then enjoyed the joke more than anyone. Sherwood was a very clever trainer and devoted to his master. I am sure that their success would have continued, though I rather doubt whether Randolphs racing had been financially as satisfactory as he anticipated. When bad health, which for long he struggled against bravely, at last forced him to give up racing, he was a great loss to the turf, and certainly to me personally, because, although I was a good deal younger, I found him the most delightful of racing companions; his wonderful charm, his quickness, his love of horses, even his changeable moods had made me deeply attached to him. SHERWOOD QUICK TEMPERED. Bob Sherwood was a fine fellow, a most kind-hearted and generous man, with a quick and fiery temper. He used to be severe on his jockeys when they did not win on some horse that he fancied. I remember once at Lewes, Tom Cannon, who frequently rode for him, throwing his saddle into a corner of the weighing room and exclaiming: "You ride your horses yourself; I wont." But the storm blew over quickly, and he was riding for him again the next day. His son, the present Robert Sherwood, has these same characteristics and is well known to be the most hospitable and generous man in Newmarket Lord Randolph, having shown his judgment in selecting a trainer, was no less clever in his choice of a jockey, as Tom Cannon or Watts was generally associated with his victories. For half a century the name of Cannon has been famous on the turf, and well has this reputation been deserved. Tom Cannon was the elder of two brothers, a slight, delicate-looking man, good looking, a bit of a dandy, and a beautiful jockey. I can think of no other word that describes his style so well. In finesse, and the fine art of jockeyship, he had no superior, and in the handling of a two-year-old 1 should say no equal. At the time of which I write he lived at Danebury, Stockbridge, where he had a large stable of horses both on the flat and over fences. He was a good trainer of horses, but I think an even better trainer of jockeys, vide his sons Morny Cannon, Kempton, Tom, and Charles, Jack Watts and Robinson, who were all under his care as boys, and I cannot leave out Mr. Arthur Coven-try, far the best gentleman rider I have ever seen. He learned all he knew from Tom Cannon. I remember Archer saying one day that there was no jockey living who could give Mr. Coventry five pounds. FUN AT DANEBURY. At the Bibury Club and Stockbridge meetings Danebury was a great "rendezvous" for all the elite of the turf world. They would all go there after the days racing, and Tom was a most perfect and hospitable host. What fun we had in those Bibury Club and Stockbridge days ; fishing, bathing, lawn tennis in the morning, then racing, and in the evening most cheery dinners, either at the Bibury Club or at different houses rented for the week. Bridge, which has been the ruin of social life in England, was not then invented. Matches were frequently made overnight I remember one between Lord Durham and the late Lord Herbert Vane-Tempest, in which Lord Herbert was beaten, as the horse stuck his toes in the ground at the start and tried to kick him off. Another time there was a private sweep-takes for horses ridden by their owners. Harry Milner, who had married the Duchess of Montrose, had entered a pretty good mare, Shrine. On form the race looked a good tiling for her, but Harry, although he was a plucky man to hounds, did not inspire confidence as a jockey, and Shrine was known to be a fidgety sort of mare. She was very much on her toes, and there was quite a crowd in the paddock to see him get up. SHRINE AND HER JOCKEY. After half taking off his overcoat, he pu it on again, declaring he would not get up on such" a beast. At last he was prevailed upon to do so, but when Golding gave him a leg up he nearly fell off on the other side. Eventually he was dispatched down the course vowing he would break his neck. Everyone went back to the stand laughing and saying, "We cant back such a rider even with a stone in hand," and back went Shrine in the betting, but in the race she jumped off in front and stayed there, and Harry Milner sailed home an easy winner, looking quite different from the frightened object we saw going out of the paddock. It then transpired that he and the Duchess had landed a good stake, and that all this funking had been "put on." The Duchess had been annoyed at hearing that people were saying Harry could not ride, so she said: "We will teach them a lesson," and she certainly did and had the laugh on everyone. Tom Cannon was king of Stockbridge, and his colors in gentleman riders races with Arthur Coventry up were good to follow. With all his suave manner and geniality Tom did not wear his heart upon his sleeve, knew how to take care of himself and was a good business man. He made a lot of money selling horses. He sold Humewood to Lord Rodney, as everyone thought, quite cheaply, before the Cesarewitch. I asked Tom why he had done this and he said, "Yes, the horse was cheap, but look at the advertisement; everyone who wants a horse will now come " to buy another cheap one from me." After Mr. Coventry gave up riding I used to ride for him, and he taught me what a mistake it is to tie a jockey down with many orders. He would tell you what the horse wanted and the sort of race that would suit him best, and left the rest to the rider. But it was quite rare for him to tell his jockey to go along; he hated to see horses in front, and this has always been a well-known characteristic of all the Cannons. As I have said, Tom did not wear his heart upon his sleeve, and he was as anxious as many other people to get a good price when he bet. The next year I rode for him at Stock-bridge I was lucky enough to win three races for him. The first horse I rode was Polemic. I used to bet pretty high in those days and I asked him what sort of a chance the horse had. "Well, just a fair chance if you are very patient and wait till the last moment," said he. I did so, and the horse came and won the race cleverly. He was in a race the next day, weights to be declared after the first days racing. In the evening I saw he had been given 180 pounds, so I jumped to the conclusion that he would not run, and half engaged myself to some other horse. The next morning Tom said he wanted me for Polemic, and as I went out on the horse he said: "You had better back him again. What do you want on? Dont wait with him this time and you will win again," which I did easily. Afterward I said I wished I had known what a good thing jit was the first time, and he replied, with a twinkle in his eye : "Ah ! the worst of it is you young gentlemen will talk so." I have known and liked many Cannons, but Toms brother Joseph, who still lives at Lordship Farm, Newmarket, was my favorite. I have known him intimately for over thirty years. In fair weather or foul you could not put him wrong, and he is the best friend I have ever had racing. Joe is not quite so tall as his brother Tom, but a much stronger man, and before I knew him had been a splendid crosscountry jockey. He rode and trained Regal when he won the Grand National for Captain Machell, who had told me that Joe was the bravest man he ever saw on a horse, but extremely nervous before a race. Once in the saddle he was cool and determined, and Machell was so impressed by this that in his later days, when he Machell had given up steeplechasing, he used to go round the paddock before the National to find a jockey who loked pale and nervous, saying, "If I like his horse I shall back him, as I know that man is going to do his best." CANNON TRAINS FOR LORD ROSEBERY. Joe Cannon left Captain Machell to become private trainer to Lord Rosebery, a connection which lasted for some years until Lord Rosebery made one of his periodical retirements from the turf. He then set up as a public trainer at Grafton House, Newmarket, where he quickly got together a most micellaneous collection of horses and owners, among the latter myself and many of my friends. None of us had any money, were often slow in paying our training bills, and how poor Joe carried on I do not know, but they were merry times, of which I shall write later when I come to my steeplechasing days. All his owners were not men of straw. One was Jack Hammond, who won the Cambridgeshire and a fortune besides with that grand mare Florence. Hammonds career was remarkable. He began life as a stable boy in Captain Machells establishment when Cannon was trainer, and before middle age he owned St Gatien, which dead-heated with Harvester for the Derby, Harvester being trained in Captain Machells stable. Later he was Joe Cannons richest employer, but the connection, successful as it was, did not last long. Hammond was a clever man and a good judge of racing and horses, but, above all, one of the best gamblers that ever lived. He attributed his great success in that line to the fact that when he fancied a horse and the price was short he had a small stake on, but the longer the odds the more heavily he bet. It is easy to see that this is the best policy, but how few of us have the pluck to carry it out. To Be Continued.

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