Racing in Waterloo Year: How the Sport Was Conducted When Napoleon Was in Power, Daily Racing Form, 1924-01-05


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1 . RACING IN WATERLOO YEAR How the Sport Was Conducted When Napoleon Was in Power. Some Interesting Reading From the English Racing Calendar of a Hundred Years Ago. It is interesting to take up a musty volume of the "Racing Calendar" of a hundred years ago, at which period all Europe was as much concerned with Napoleon as we of a century later were with the kaiser, and compare the racing of those far-off days with that of the twentieth century- The annual official record of the fifty-fifth year of George III. was of moderate dimensions in comparison with those of recent years. In other respects, too, there is the world of difference, but there is at least one point! i in common the familiar name Weatherbyj j appears on the titlepage of the volume of. I 1S15 just as it does nowadays. Evidently the chancellor of the period had, like Mr. McKenna, been searching for new sources of revenue, as we read in the preface that "on account of the additional Stamp Duty, which took place on the first , , of September, 1815, the subscription to the Racing Calendar will in future be twenty-: six shillings per annum; the first years subscription to be paid in advance." It may ; i be added that among places at which the , book could be obtained were "Air. Partride, : stablckeeper, Bath, and the Coffee Room.i ! Newmarket." Another interesting item is a ; notice to the following effect: "In conse-! i quence of the many fatal accidents which! have happened by horses running too near the posts the stewards at Newmarket races have caused the large and fixed posts on I the Heath to be surrounded with turf banks, about five feet at the base and sloping to the height of about four feet; and in other parts of the course, particularly where there are turns, they have adopted the ruse of slender posts that will break on any strong pressure." One runs across some queer places devoted to the sport of kings in the course of a glance through the index. Among these were Bodmin, Exeter, Blandford, Barnet in these days content with a fair Basingstoke, Canterbury, Grimsby, Bridgewater, Egham, Guildford and Holywell. Of course. Ascot, Goodwood, Lewes, Doncaster, Warwick, Lincoln and other places in which racing still goes on when the government permit held their meeting in. the early part of last century, but it will come as a surprise to some folks who regard Newbury as a modern cen- Continucd on twelfth page. RACING IN WATERLOO YEAR Continued from first page. ter to learn that the sport flourished like the green bay tree in the days o their fathers grandfathers. Certain of the rules, too, make queer reading now. For instance, we are told that "a Whim Plate is weight for age and weight for inches." Again, "Give-and-Take Plates are fourteen hands, to carry a stated weight, all above, or under, to carry extra, or be allowed, the proportion of seven pounds for an inch." This may be a trifle beyond ones philosophy, but thare is no occasion to quarrel with the decision that "the horse that has his head in front at the Ending Post first w;ins the race." That seems reasonable enough. The backer was left in no doubt as to how he stood, the rules on betting being delightfully explicit. Thus, "the person who lays the odds has a right to choose his horse, or the field." And again, "When a person has chosen his horse, the field is what starts against him, but there is no field without one starts with him." Then, Avhat could be clearer than this for an "example": "I bet that ilr. Kobinsons bile h., Sampson Absolutely, wins the Kings Plate at Newmarket next meeting ; the bet is lost though he does not start, and won though he goes over the course himself." One, however, ponders over the following: "Bets made in pounds are paid in guineas." The sporting writer of a century ago, one cannot helf reflecting, was at a considerable disadvantage, in one respect at least, with the scribe of the present day. The former could not introduce the new season by trotting out that hardy animal: "The saddling bell on the Carholme," for the very sufficient reason that the Lincoln meeting was not associated with the opening of the racing year. That honor in 1815 fell upon Cattericks Bridge, which set the ball rolling on" the last Wednesday in IMarch. As a matter of fact, Lincoln had to wait until, the autumn for its one days racing. The Catterick Bridge meeting, which lasted two days, was the only one of the opening week, while in that which followed, Middle-ham which in these days is chiefly noted as a training center had the field to itself. Then came the first of the Newmarket functions, with its Craven Stakes, an event which is still decided. Itacing appeared to be conducted on something like the war time methods of. the past couple of years a hundred years back, as after Newmarket had run its five-day course there was only one meeting, at Durham, during the next ten days, following which we come to the First Spring meeting at headquarters, the program for which was largely made up of matches, though, of course, there was also the Two Thousand Guineas. In connection with this race, which was won by a colt named Tigris, we read that so and so "also ran, but the judge could place only the first two." The whys and wherefores are not stated. ONLY ONE MEETING THEN. The Epsom return there was only one meeting at the period makes a peculiar comparison with those in more recent volumes. The only race of the first day was the Woodcote Stakes, for which there were six starters and which was won by a filly bearing the name of Rivulet. The betting, by the way, reads: "Even betting and G to 5 Rivulet." On the Thursday the card was confined to the 33erby, which was won by a famous colt in Whisker. Again the judge had to express his inability to do more than place the first two. On the Friday matters brightened, there being, in addition to the Oaks, three minor races. Ascot was also an unpretentious affair in those days, relatively speaking. On the first day there were but four race3, on the second there were five, and on the third three, including the Gold Cup, then, as now, run over two miles and a half. This was won by the Duke of forks Aladdin, which must have been a versatile sort, seeing that on the following day he won the three-quarters of a mile Wokingham Stakes, on which occasion he carried 12S pounds, the bottom weight being eighty-three pounds. The Royal meeting did not monopolize the bill at that time, as Beverley clashed with it one day. But for the fact that it happened to take place on a Sunday, there would probably have been racing on the day of the battle of Waterloo. On the Tuesday following a start was made with the Hampton meeting, and it is interesting to note the names of Molesey and Twickenham among the titles of the races. There were only four events, run in heats, during the three days of the meeting, so that those present were not surfeited with their favorite sport. REMINDERS OF TROUBLOUS TIMES. One gets occasional reminders of the troublous times of that particular period of the century. For example, at Salisbury, one of the races was won by a colt named Welles-ley, the runner-up in the same event being an animal known as Wellington, while in another race at the same meeting, the Yeomanry Cup, it Avas only in accordance with the fitness of things that Waterloo should defeat all comers. Goodwood was held in late July, as is the case in these days, but whether it was then dignified with the prefix "Glorious" one is unable to say. There was certainly nothing strikingly glorious about the program for the fixture, which was confined to two events. On the first day there were but two events, but on the final afternoon or morning, it may have been the menu contained five items. York was evidently a fairly important meeting in 1S15, the August fixture lasting seven days, though there was no "Ebor" 011 the card. Doncaster came along somewhat later than is the case now, the meeting starting at a Saturday la.e in September. The great attraction was, of course, the St. Leger, while other events which were then run and retain, their ..places to the present day were the Fitswiiliam Stakes, the Corporation Plate and the Doncaster Stakes. Doncaster was almost immediately followed by the three autumn carnivals at Newmarket, and with the Houghton meeting the season came to a close. J. P. P.. in London Sporting Life.

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