Allison Writes of "Dope": Special Commissioner of London Sportsman Discusses Question, Daily Racing Form, 1924-03-03


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ALLISON WRITES OF "DOPE" Special Commissioner of London j Sportsman Discusses Question. Cites Case of John o Gaunt "Which "Was Re-cently Uestroyed Sir George Chetwynds , Out-of-Date Opinions. Continued from issue of Friday, February 29. j It would seem offensive nowadays to suggest that anything of the sort was done in any particular case, but that is a different matter altogether. English trainers used frequently to give their charges whisky or even port before a race, and it was not until the more dangerous doping came in that any serious notice was taken of it. I remember when the American, Edward Payson Weston, created a sensation by longdistance walking in this country. He used to chew coca leaves after the custom of American Indians, who were said to derive great endurance from the practice. I think the late Sir George Chetwynd mentions in "his reminiscences that he made some experiments in this way. Anyhow, what I wish to convey is that there can be no offense now having regard to the then knowledge of these things, when I recall attention to the condition of John o Gaunt in the paddock at Sandown Park before he went out to encounter Pretty Polly in her first race. He was in a black sweat, lathering, and wildly excited. Again I say that no intentional harm had been done, but symptoms which 1 saw myself, and shall never forget, were quite unmistakable. It has been left to these later days to realize the evils that may be done by cocaine, and though it is possible even now that some worthless old gelding, which can go if he will, may be stimulated in this way to do his best, it is, I am quite sure, certain that no one would dream of doping a high-class two-year-old, even if it were not contrary to rule, for it is well known now what damage results in human beings from the use of cocaine. TWJ2TY-0"E TEARS AGO. It must be remembered that it is twenty-one years since John o Gaunt was a two-year-old, and the evil properties of cocaine were then practically unknown, and I am anxious to make it "clear that there could be no imputation then on a trainer who used it any more than on another who might use whiskey or port as a stimulant for his horses, but it is surely worth consideration if the somewhat chequered stud career of John o Gaunt was not due to constitutional derangement. I remember seeing one of Dukes charges a year or two later at Newmarket, when he was made favorite, and his appearance in the paddock exactly resembled that of John o Gaunt at Sandown. George Thursby rode him Faithful Don which, on being led out, took charge and galloped two miles before he could be pulled up. He never came under the starters orders. These things were little understood in those days, and I remember that quaint old American, Edward Corrigan, saying: "Doping is no use unless a man can invent a timefuse for it, and that would be spoiled by a few false starts !" How shadowy and evanescent all human affairs are! It seems but the other day when Sir John Thursby had given carte blanche to his relative, Major Roberts, to make the Blink Bonny Stud fit for the reception of John o Gaunt and his mates, and money was poured out like water in this process. John o Gaunts box and extensive high-walled paddock was magnificent. All the buildings were thoroughly renovated and the paddocks dressed and redressed with all manner of turf revivers. Cattle of the most select sorts were fed olf with as much cake as they would eat, and no money was spared in the purchase of mares thus Lesbia for 545,000 and Menda for 8,000. The training stable and gallops were restored at almost needless outlay, and for two or three years all seemed to be going well. No horse could make a better start than by siring Swynford. Lesbians first foal by John o Gaunt was Torchlight, the best two-year-old filly of her year, and Menda, as her first, produced Cressingham. Then there was Kennymore, which at one time, together with Torchlight, seemed likely to sweep the board of the classic races of 1914. I and many others thought the glories of the Blink Bonny Stud were indeed come again. I had one of Royal Blues foals by Great Scot reared there in order to inherit fully the Blair Athol traditions, and I sent Mary Queen of Scots, by Great Scot Royal Blue, to John o Gaunt as her first mate. Alas for the vanity of human expectations! John o Gaunt never again lived up to his early promise, and he land that had reared Caller Ou, Blink Bonny, Blair Athol, Bread-albane, Blinkhooli;, and, indeed, all the great family of Queen-Mary, failed utterly to equal its own record. Sir John Thursby must have been bitterly disappointed, so must Major Roberts. Both are dead and gone, and, last of all, John o Gaunt is dead also. Now does not all this show the folly of dogmatism on horse breeding or training? What the Blink Bonny stud did in the past is among the brightest pages of turf history. What the training ground was still capable of was proved by William IAnson when, before its expensive restoration, he gave Mintagon a really rasping preparation for the Cesarewitch on it as it was, and after Huggins and Sam Darling had both given up Mintagon as a bad job. He had desperately straight knees. Now William IAnson trained him on those old Malton gallops to run a close second for the Ebor Handicap, and, being closely handicapped on that, the horse was sent along in good earnest. More than once poor Major Roberts said to me : "I cant understand how old William IAnson dares to send his horse such gallops. It is hopeless going." MINTAGON PIT. Nevertheless Mintagon kept pounding along mostly uphill and when it came to the Cesarewitch day he- was about the fittest horse ever trained for it, and he won as he pleased by about six lengths. It was a great performance on the part of William IAnson, especially as two such trainers as Huggins and Sam Darling had failed to do anything with him, and he was trained on gallops which according to later knowledge of such subjects, were unlit to train on at all unless renovated at enormous expense. It may be that Mr. Kenyon will derive much benefit from the money which Sir John Thursby spent on the Blink Bonny paddocks. They must needs be in good heart, but the boxes which were cemented inside are far from desirable. Those inside walls used to attract and sweat moisture, and I am sure they were all wrong. Wood is far better, for that is always dry if it is weatherproof. It would be absurd to suppose that what the Blink Bonny Stud paddocks have once done they cannot do again, but the improved farming was done all on the rush and to such an abnormal extent that it must have led to something in the nature of a reaction, doing positive damage for the time being. Mr. Kenyon is likely to reap where Sir John Thursby sowed. WILLIA3I IANSONS METHOD. It should be remembered in this connection that the original William IAnson did not keep a stallion at his stud, but sent his mares away to outside horses, and in this he did wisely, though there was not much scientific breeding in his day. The main theory was to combine the male lines of Eclipse, Herod and Matchem, and this old IAnson did most effectively when he mated Blink Bonny Matchem with Stockwell Eclipse, her dam being Queen Mary Herod. It was a simple scheme, and it succeeded better than the best. It is probable that in the later days, when stallions such as Beauclere, Bread Knife, and others were kept at the Blink Bonny stud, the paddocks may have suffered from excess of visiting mares ; but this can have been nothing in comparison with the good work done for them by the late Sir John Thursby, who did not live to reap the advantage of it Referring to what I have written abov,e about Sir George Chetwynd, I quote the following from his reminiscences, which I hava just found: "Common sense and practical knowledge have much to do with the training of horses. For instance, in 1870 and 1871 I had a mare in . Bloss, an establishment which Captain Mached was managing. She was a bad feeder, and at last he hit on the expedient of trying her with Thorleys food for cattle, the result being that the mare ate it greedily, and soon put on flesh, without which it is impossible to train a horse for you must have something to train on some flesh to reduce into hard muscle. At Newmarket, trainers are fond of putting a few steel drops in the water, and this is believed by many judges to be a good plan with shy feeders, especially with selling platers, if they are going to run immediately. BRACES HORSES TJr. "It, so to speak, braces the horse up for the time, but it has to be continued, and I have known selling platers degenerate when they have left stables they have been accustomed to this tonic, to where they have not had the medicine. "I was once rather impressed by a man writing to me and suggesting that I should give my horses tincture of coca, a plant much used by the Indians and Mexicans when going long distances on foot with the prospect of being kept short of food on the journey. They chew the leaves into a sort of ball, and keep it in their mouths like a quid of tobacco. I procured a bottle of tincture of coca, accordingly, took it down to Beck-hampton and gave a horse, possessed of an uncertain temper, a dose of it, two teaspoon-fuls in a wine glass of water before he took part in a trial I had arranged. "At the same time my brother and I each took a dose of it before we set out on our walk up to the downs. It certainly produced an exhiliarating effect on us, and the horse ran as straight as a die. He won his trial, and at the time I though I would try it with uncertain horses, but I never did so, though I am confident it would have a better effect than the whiskey which is so often given to rogues before starting for a race." Sir George Chetwynds book, in which the late Alfred Watson assisted him, was published in 1S91, and there could be no clearer proof than the above quotation as to profound ignorance of the deleterious qualities of cocaine. Only he preferred whiskey, and a good judge too!

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