Billy Garth and Shannon River, Daily Racing Form, 1922-11-15


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"Billy" Garth and Shannon River "I wonder just how many miles old Shannon River ran while he was racinf-?" "Uncle Billy" Garth should have been able to answer the question rather than ask it, but when the old son of Black Dick and Tentore was racing the genial Virginian was kept too busy saddling him to keep books on what he was doing. Just to satisfy the curiosity of "Uncle Billy" and at the same time tell something of Shannon River it has all been counted up and the old black covered something like 210 miles through steeplechase fields before he broke his neck in a steeplechase at Laurel on October S, i9lS. Shannon River would never be named as one of the great steeplechasers of this country, but in some respects he was probably the greatest for his durability and he reliability. Gwyn Tompkins may take exception to this and put forth his old steeplechaser Jimmy Lane as a greater, but for actual durability the palm will have to go to Shannon River. The little old black bag of bones Avas unfashionably bred and about as ornery looking as any thoroughbred that ever stood on iron, but he could do it and that was what counted. He looked less like a jumper than most any horse that ever went through the field, and they come in all shapes and sizes, but at one time or the other he beat every good steeplechaser of his day. His money earnings were nothing in comparison with his long service on the turf. He did not take down any of the few big eross-country prizes, but he brought about the defeat of many a more fashionable jumper in these races. Then many of his victories were in selling races and he was so miserable to look upon that there was never a chance for "Billy" Garth to lose him. As a matter of fact if he had it would have brought deep mourning to Ral Parr, under whose silks he performed and life would not have been worth living around the stable if anyone had robbed him of the black. JOES TO DEATH "WITH COLOKS VV. And the taking off of Shannon River Avas as it should be. He went to his death gloriously Avith the colors up and in a fair way to Avin when he came down at a fence with C. Smoot and broke his neck. If the old fellow could have picked his way to go west that is just about what he would have chosen. Then it will be remembered that AVillie Allen, who had ridden the son of Black Dick in most of his races, blew out his brains the next day. It was the passing of two remarkable figures of American steeplechasing. Shannon River wa? not raced until he was a four-year-old and his first appearance was on May 12, 1912, when in a mile for gentleman riders, Avith Bernard Fenwick in the saddle, he raced a mile on the flat. That was his one race on the flat, for Garth at once put him to jumping and he went" on tc his mervelous reliability and durability. In his seven years of racing he started 104 times and in only thirteen of these races did he fail to finish. On four occasions he lost his rider and nine times he came down. It Avas not surprising that he unshipped Allen in some of his races, for while that rider was a thoroughly good one through the field he was an unfortunate build to ride over fences. He was ridiculously short in the thigh and altogether so "dumpy" that lie Avas nicknamed "Billiken." This shortness of leg made it hard for him to keep his seat when a horse made a mistake and while the little old black might make the fence he would, on occasions, land in a fashion that would shoot Allen to his ears, and Shannon River would come down. Shannon River went through his first season on the turf without winning a race. He was started nine times, was second three times and third three times. He finished in all of his races. As a five-year-old the son of Black Dick was. raced eighteen times and he was winner five times, second a like number of times and third twice. On three occasions he failed to finish. Garth kept the old fellow busy as a six-year-old Avhen he sent him to the post twenty times. He won six races, was second eight times and third twice, only failing to finish cn one occasion, Avhon Brooks fell with him at Pimlico in his last race of that season. As a seen-year-old he Avas raced fifteen times, Avon six races and was twice second and twice third, failing to finish on thret occasions. Continued on eighth page. .. J; s s 1 c 1 i a s C I r . c 1 c . cr J 1 t I i 1 - , j 1 j i , 1 : : "B1LLF GARTH AND SHANNON RIVER Continued from third page. As an eight-year-old Shannon River raced thirteen times and he Avas only Avinner of one race. But he was four times second and once third, failing to finish in two of hu starts. When a nine-year-old he had another busy season Avhen he Avas raced nineteen times, Avinning five races, being second twice and third four times. That year there Avere twn races in Avhich he did not complete th course. Then in his last year on the turf, as a ten-year-old, he Avas started ten times. He Avon tAvo races, Avas second three times and like number of times third. Only twice did he fail to finish. Once Avas when he unshipped Willie Allen at Aqueduct and the other Avas his fatal fall Avith Smoot at Laurel. With the exception of his first race of a mile on the flat Shannon River raced at distances of from two to three miles over fences and he Avas Avinner over almost every steeplechase course in this country and Canada. The distance coAered in these races that he completed the course amounts to one hundred and ninety-fiA-e and three-quarters miles. Then in the thirteen times that he did not finish it is a Aery modest estimate to say that he completed fourteen and a quarter miles, Avhich would bring his grand total to 210 miles. WAS A JINX 1OU WELDSHir. Shannon River AAas frequently a thorn in the side of Gwyn Tompkins Avhen he had Weldship, the acknoAvledged champion of his best year. Garth always insisted, and Avith good reason, that AVeldship could not Avin Avhen Shannon River Avas in the field. "You knoAV, Gwyn, you cant Avin when Shannon River starts against you," he Avould say. "I dont mean that Shannon will Avin, but you just Avolit." And it usually happened just that Avay, though Weldship had a couple of scores to his credit over the little black gelding. He raced OAer all courses, took up all sorts of Aveight, and Avhile no claim for greatness is made for him in the matter cf brilliant performances, for honest endeaAor and durability he Avas all that could be asked for in the thoroughbred horse. Here is a summary of his seAen years of usefulness : Failed to Year. Starts. First. Second. Third. Finish. 1912 9 0 3 3 0 1913 18 5 5 2 3 1914 20 0 S 2 1 1915 15 0 2 2 3 1910 13 1 4 1 2 1917 19 5 2 4 2 1918 10 2 3 3 2 Totals 101 25 27 17 13 "Uncle Billy" Garth has had many a jumper in his care that could give Shannon RiAer Aveight and beat him. He has de-Aeloped many more brilliant performares, but he ncA-er expects to haAe another of the honesty and durability of the little black. He always gave up his best. He Avas the first one shown in the spring and the last one to go into Avi nter quarters in the fall, and if you saAV him running in a pasture you Avould Avant to jail Garth for not feeding him, he was that poor and ornery to look upon, but there Avas no horse in the stable- that had better care or Avas as much admired.

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