Exploits of Hammerkop: Gilpin Recounts History of Good Mare That Won Cesarewitch, Daily Racing Form, 1924-01-30


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1 : EXPLOITS OF HAMMERKOP Gilpin Recounts History of Good Mare that Won Cesarewitch. Humor of the American Trainer Huggins His Instructions to "Stccts" Martin Caused Mare to Lose the Oaks. - - Although Pretty Polly was really the star of P. P. Gilpins stable in the early years of the present century, the English trainer also held a great admiration for Hammer-kop, whose racing career he reviews in the following article from the London Weekly Dispatch : Pretty Polly was not the only grand mare that Clarehaven sheltered nearly twenty years ago. I have already referred to a remarkable animal called Hammerkop, which, taking a dislike to Pretty Polly on the morning the peerless mare won the One Thousand, shied and only missed Pretty Pollys hocks by the thickness of a sheet of note-paper. Though Hammerkop almost destroyed the grandest mare in living memory, she did many compensatory things. It was as late as the autumn of the third year of Hammerkops career that she first walked into a stall at Clarehaven. Until that time she had been trained, with other of Major Eustace Loders horses, by Hug-gins at Heath House, Newmarket. Major Loders horses at that time were leased to Lord William Beresford, for whom Huggins trained. Hammerkop had done, well as a two-year-old. She won four races, including the July Stakes at Newmarket, worth ,150. She also won at Goodwood, at Kempton Park and again at Newmarket. "WINS THREE-TEAR-OLD PLATE. The next year 1904 she won the May Three-Tear-Old Plate of ?7,500 at Kempton by three-quarters of a length, starting at C to 1. Then she ran in the Oaks, and was ridden by that clever jockey "Skeets" Martin. Unfortunately Huggins gave orders to "Skeets" Martin which proved fatal to her success in that classic event. Hammerkops real forte was staying. With a fair turn of speed she could plod along all day, though she was not in the picture with a mare like Pretty Polly. In this race for the Oaks she was opposed by some speedy animals, including Our Lassie and Skyscraper. These were good mares, but not really stayers. In these circumstances there is no doubt that Huggins should have told "Skeets" Martin to see that it was a good pace all the way, but he gave orders exactly contrary, with the result that Hammerkop was kept muddling around until the race was nearly over, when Our Lassie shot out and won by three lengths from Hammerkop, with Skyscraper, a head away, third. I watched this race carefully and backed Hammerkop, as Huggins had kindly told me he thought she would win, and I was quite satisfied in my own mind that if she had come through she would have won. After the race was over "Skeets" Martin told Huggins that he ought to have won and that he would have done so but that he was hampered, by having been given orders to wait. Later Hammerkop won an Oaks the Torkshire Oaks at York from five others. HUGGINS A GOOD TRAINER. Though I considered Huggins to be wrong in regard to the way to ride Hammerkop, he was nevertheless a good trainer indeed. Most painstaking and with a thorough knowledge of his business, he was certainly one of the best of the American trainers who came to England. I liked him both as a trainer and as a man, and was sorry when he gave up training and returned to America, where, I know, he had rather an unhappy life. He himself has since told me that at times he was in such physical danger that he had to change his bed from one corner of the room to the other, or he might have been shot from without The explanation was that he was the unfortunate butt of some feud of bid standing. To return to Hammerkop. The mare also ran in the Coronation Stakes that year at Ascot, but, as the distance for this event is only a mile, it did not prove long enough to bring out Hammerkops remarkable staying qualities, and she was beaten. That year, as a sort of last moment inspiration, she was pulled out to run for the Cesarewitch, for which she had not been really trained. She ran fourth, and the race was won by Grey Tick, which started at 20 to 1. Grey Tick is also memorable because he was the horse which was bought by Mr. Bass to lead Sceptre in her work. Hammerkop then came into my stables. Major Loder had decided not to lease his horses any more, but run them in his own name. Huggins kindly told me all about the mare, and was not the least put out at her coming into my hands. At times Huggins was amusing, and I remember that in the train one day he made me laugh like fun. Lord William Beresford had been down to Newmarket not long before. The day before the meeting when he went to sec Huggins, he opened the conversation by saying: "Well, John, we shant do any good this week." To which Huggins, j rather taken aback, said : "Hows that, my I lord?" Lord William replied : "The horses have not done enough work !" Huggins thereupon asked how his lordship knew that, and Lord William replied : "I hear you have been giving the horses an easy time. At all events the "touts say they havent done j I enough." Whereupon Huggins said : "Oh, I see, you have, been listening to those men down in the trees. I guess .if you were out shooting smart men you would not cock your gun at one of them." The funny, crisp way in which he said it, with the Tankee twang, was inimitable, and as a matter of fact they had a good week that time. Hammerkop was a whole-color bay mare of the long and low type, standing on excellent legs and feet, but rather inclined to be hollow-backed. She was a sound, healthy mare of equable temperament, a mare that it was a pleasure to have anything to do with. Like Pretty Polly and many other good horses, she was by Gallinulc, from Concussion, and was an own mare to that really fine mare Sirenia. which won for me the Duke of Tork Stakes, my first English win, and the Jubilee Stakes, both at Kempton. She was also half-sister to Llangibby, the horse which came to such unaccountable grief in the SL Leger. Before Doncaster, where Pretty Polly was to compete in the Leger, she was working with her every day, and was in some really good gallops with her. Of course she met with her usual fate when they really went along. Nevertheless I considered Hammerkop to hold a fair chance in the Great Torkshire Handicap, which she won quite cleverly, starting at a fair price 8-1, and it was really Pretty Pollys almost immeasurable superiority to Hammerkop that accounted for the price. Had the peerless mare not made such a hack of her we should have had much more confidence in her. Hammerkop wound up that year by winning the Kings Plate at Derby, run over two miles, beating Rondeau, a good mare, and Thrown way, which had won the Gold Cup at Ascot. She was second favorite for this event, starting at 9 to 4. Rondeau was favorite. Throwaway, the Gold Cup winner, which was meeting Hammerkop at weight for sex, started at the remarkably long odds of 6-1. No gamer animal has ever been sheltered by Clarehaven than Hammerkop. At Ascot the next year, 1905, she was only beaten a head and a half-length by Bachelors Button and Mark Time in the race for the Gold Vase. That was on the Tuesday ; on the following Friday I pulled her out again, and she then won the Alexandra Plate, which is run oyer two and three-quarter miles and eighty-five yards. In this race she beat a good French horse, indeed, named Maximum II., thus proving what a wonderful stayer she was and confirming what I have already written as to her performance in the Oaks. At the Second October Meeting that year at Newmarket Hammerkop went one better and redeemed her failure of the previous year when, running without having ben really trained for so severe a race by winning the Cesarewitch Stakes, staying the two and a quarter miles and beating eighteen other competitors. Two lengths divided her from Merry Andrew, to which she was giving twenty-six pounds a horse of which I was very much afraid. I have a large photograph of the race hanging in one of my rooms at Clarehaven, and this shows Merry Andrew leading from Hammerkop at the Bushes and apparently holding the rest including our mare at bay. However, Hammerkop, on which B. Dillon rode a remarkably good race, ran on with unflinching courage and, refusing to be denied, fairly worried the other out of the race up the hill from the Abingdon Mile bottom and scored a most meritorious success. HER LEGS GIVE TROUBLE. Merry Andrews pilot was a lad named Howey. We were none too certain of Hammerkops standing her preparation for this race, as her legs had been giving a great deal of trouble, so much so that there were grave doubts about her being able to run even up to the day before the race. Even then we were anxious as to how her legs would stand the strain of the race. The Page and Pradella were equal favorites at 7 to 1 ; Princess Florizel, a four-year-old, carrying only 90 pounds, was at 8 to 1, and Hammerkop at 100 to 14. The top weight was Mark Time, which carried 124 pounds. Hammerkop was next at three pounds less. There comes to my memory a rather amusing incident concerning Hammerkops Cesarewitch. The afternoon before the race I was sitting in the smoking room at Clarehaven when a wire arrived from an old friend of mine, which ran: Can you indicate anything in big race tomorrow. If so will as in duty bound ever pray. TOM. So that it should not cause too much unnecessary interest when passing through the post office and to show my appreciation of his wire, I prefixed an "h" to the word "ours" in my telegraphic reply, which was as follows: Pray for hours. PETER. I knew that would convey to Tom our opinion that Hammerkop with luck had a fair chance of winning the Cesarewitch. In answer to this we received the following telegram : I will on my knees tonight. Good luck. TOM. The aforesaid Tom was fond of a bet, and I have reason to believe he had a good race indeed and that he was pleased with life and himself when he despatched the following wire to me after he knew the result of the race: Heartiest congratulations. I prayed all night and being a good Catholic it came off. TOM.

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