Foul by Princes Horse: How Lucknow Escaped Disqualification in the Portland Plate, Daily Racing Form, 1924-03-26


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FOUL BY PRINCES HORSE; How Lucknow Escaped Disqualifi- cation in the Portland Plate. i Sloans Foul Riding Beat Eager, Gilpin Sajs Stewards Suspended Jockey, but Did i yet Set Back Royal Winner. i 4 ; 1 A case where the stewards of an English meeting punished the rider of a winner for j loul riding without the usual accompaniment of a disqualification for his mount is re- counted by P. P. Gilpin in the London J Weekly Dispatch. From an English point , of view there was a sound reason for failure -to disqualify the horse because he happened j to be owned by King Edward VII., then Prince of Wales, but Americans will find it hard to understand how the owner of a horso so unjustly robbed of victory could ; look upon the matter in that light. Following Is Mr. Gilpins story: Has any one heard of an official objection to the running of a horse owned by a member , of the British royal family? I have not But I can visualize the surprise, almost consternation, which would follow so unusual an incident at an English race meeting. Yet there was one occasion in compara- tively recent turf history when the owner of the second horse ought to have claimed the race won by no less distinguished a member of the British royal family than King Edward VII., when he was Prince of Wales. PRINCE NOT TO BLAME. No one associated with the turf, least of all myself, would ever think or write a line, or utter a word of criticism of our late be- r loved monarch, who was indeed, as all men know, royal sportsman. But he was no more. immune from the unfair practices of some jockeys than any other owner of race horses. I had only been training in England two years when there occurred an incident so extraordinary that I as trainer felt compelled to advise the owner, Mr. Neumann, to claim a race for which the Prince of Wales horse Lucknow had been returned the winner. It was an amazing race, it was an amazing finish and the newspaper comments relating it were equally amazing. The race was the Portland Plate at Don-caster, which attracted a big field, including Lucknow. owned by his late Majesty, then Prince of Wales, and supported by his Royal Highness and his stable, and. Eager, owned by Mr. Neumann and trained by myself. I had S00 to 100- about our horse and Mr. Neumann had also a good investment on him. Those were the days when" Tod Sloan was astonishing the English turf by winning races with horses that, ridden by any other jockey, had little or no chance. Tod Sloan was Lucknows jockey and my jockey, Morn-ington Cannon, strangely enough, was then the first jockey of the royal stable. I have no wish to criticize Tod Sloan any more than he has already been criticized by the stewards, the public and the press. I will let the bare facts and a few of the comments published in the press at that time speak for themselves. WAT CUED THE RUNNING. I watched the race through my glasses from the stands. . As it progressed I was to write euphemistically, astounded ! Here are some of the published descriptions of the race: "With the Portland Plate will always be associated the name of that rare old warrior Eager. In 1S98 he won the race in gallant style for Mr. Fairie and last year and this year he struggled into second place under burdens which, on any other horse, would have seemed gigantic. Yesterday he was entitled to the full honors of the race and, as it was run, he was most unlucky to lose by a head to the Prince of Wales Lucknow. Heads only divided the first four and but for interference at the start Eager would have gone by the Princes horse. "After the race L. Neumann found himself in an awkward position. Whether the fact that Lucknow crossed Eager at tne start would have been sufficient to sustain an objection was a moot point and possibly he that is myself took the most advisable course when he lodged a complaint against Sloan for unfair riding instead of an objection against the horse. Sloan was properly suspended for the remainder of the meeting." Another sporting newspaper stated tnat: "In the "opinion of most observers, had the race been fairly ridden, Lucknow would not have been in the first three and Eager would have secured the verdict which was rightly his. Lucknow was ridden by Sloan, who has taken upon himself to disregard Rule 13S, which says: The horses shall so far as practicable be drawn up before-the start in an order to he determined by lots to be drawn by the jockeys at the time of weighing out. In the case of a round course he generally makes for the outside, just as Archer used to do at a time when there was no 1 rule against such a proceeding. TAKES LUCKNOW ACROSS EAGER. "Immediately the flag fell he took Lucknow across to Eager and, not once, but three : times did Mornington Cannon have to pull . Eager up. Eventually Sloan found himself where he wanted to be on the rails. "Lucknow, thus assisted, came up the : straight clear, but old Eager, setting his 3$ pounds at defiance, would not be stalled off and, running cn with indomitable pluck, , gradually closed the gap, and, pulling alongside, seemed likely to beat Lucknow. But Sloan pulled Lucknow out troni the rails and I bumped Eager, which had been separated I from him by a couple of yards, knocking ; Eager out of his stride. This gave Lucknow the race." When I saw what had happened and heard . the exclamations of surprise on all sides, I : hurried to Mr. Neumann and said : "You must object ! The race is rightly ours !" "But I cant object to the Prince of Wales," said he. "Well, why not? The Prince is a good i sportsman and will be the first to say you i are right." Mr. Neumann shook his head. "I cant : do it," he persisted. "The Prince is coming ; to Invercauld next week for a days deerstalking. I couldnt object." Nevertheless, I insisted that I was right. , I said: "If you were playing cards with the ! Prince and he accidentally revoked, surely you would call his attention to it; so why not object now?" But Mr. Neumann decided not to do so, , i i i ; 1 j J , j ; , : . : I I ; . : i i : ; , ! , and it was probably the most politic course to pursue, though I did not like it. The upshot was that we decided to object not to the horse but to the rider, which meant that we did not claim the race, but contended that Sloan had not ridden fairly. The dif- -ficulty of the situation , was enhanced be- cause our jockey, Cannon, had to object to the rider of the horse trained by the stable which had the first call on his services. That we were right was speedily deter- mined. Tod Sloan, was suspended for the rest of the meeting, but this pushful young man, who has since passed through many astonishing vicissitudes, had already won two races, the Portland Plate on Lucknow, the : Juvenile Selling Plate on Hoopoo, and had finished second in the Wharnecliffe Stakes. By their decision to suspend Sloan the stewards had, in-my opinion, publicly declared that the race was unfairly ridden, : and that Eager was the rightful winner. In those circumstances it was apparently their duty to disqualify Lucknow and award the race to Eager. This they did not do, although I have no doubt the late King Edward would have been the first to applaud such a decision, and there the matter ended. The unfairly beaten Eager was a grand horse one of the finest as well as one of the most interesting horses I have ever trained. He came to me in a" remarkable way. I had come over from Ireland in 1898, where I had been training for four years, and had brought with me about half a dozen fair horses with which to found a new training establishment in this country. I had been training in Ireland for Colonel Paget, now Gen. Sir Arthur Paget and the intention was that he, Mr. Neumann, and his brother-in-law, Mr. Higham, as a tri-umvriate, should start a stable together. The horses that I had brought over were fairly useful, as I will describe later. But the twenty horses that were sent to my stable by Mr. Neumann and Mr. Higham were inferior, as I shall also show. SEEKING GOOD ANIMALS. Having cleared the stable of most of these twenty horses, the triumvirate were keenly seeking some good animals. The December sales at Tattersalls came along, and I was asked what was the best horse to buy. I immediately said, "We must buy Eager." But Eager was then four years old. -Too old," declared Mr. Neumann. I differed, but lost. Eager, added another year to his age, during which period he won some more races, proving to me, at least, that he was the fastest horse in England. When December came around the following year and I was again asked what to buy I replied, "Eager." " "But we turned him down last year because he was too old,"- said Mr. Neumann. "My opinion remains the same. We should buy him. He is still the fastest sprinter in England." The previous December Eager had not reached his reserve and had been withdrawn. This year he climbed in the market to 7,-500, but at the end of the sale left Tattersalls for my stables. Eagers former owner was Mr. "Fairie" Cox, a successful man on the turf, who raced under the name of Mr. Fairie and later trained with Alec Taylor at Manton. At that time Eager was trained by James Ryan at Green Lodge, Newmarket. He soon justified my claims by easily winning the Queensland Plate at Ascot, one of the recognized fast sprint races, then run over five-eighths and 136 yards ; two lengths divided him from the second. No event of the day created such a stir as this race for the Queenstand Plate. The old horse gave an immensity of trouble owing to his high courage and excitability probably that was the reason why he was sold and I had a job to saddle him. He sweated a great deal in the paddock. Otherwise we should not have had the generous odds of 7 to 4 laid against him. Yet he won the race in a style which would have greatly distinguished a younger performer. Making light of his impost of 142 pounds, he tore away from his opponents at the- distance and won easily, with Morning-ton Cannon, as usual, in the saddle. Never had he shown better form. One of the sporting writers went so far as to declare that if Eager was religiously kept to three-quarters he would never again be beaten, whatever the weight he carried. He added : "Eager now boasts the really remarkable record of having won something or other at Ascot every year since he began racing." He was now six years old, and that, meant that he had won at Ascot where everyone is most anxious to win a race in each of five successive years. Next came the Portland Plate, which I have already described. EAGER WINS KENNETT PLATE. After Doncaster, Eager went to Newmarket, where he took the Kennett Plate. A fortnight later he ran in a match for ,000 at Hurst Park against Royal Flush. After Royal Flush had won the Royal Hunt Cup at Ascot and the Stewards Cup at wood the owners of that remarkable animal challenged us to match Eager against him. Both Mr. Neumann and I were quite willing to accept the challenge, and Ave Avere both confident of Avinning. During the preliminaries the sponsors of Royal Flush, according to their national custom, AAere openly boasting of the licking they Avere going to gie old Eager, for Royal Flush Avas now owned by an American, Mr. Drake, trained by an American, Mr. Wish- ard, and ridden by that good American jockey, Lester Reiff, Avhereas Eager Avas trained by myself and ridden by ton Cannon. Some time before the match a member of the American party told me that I had no chance, as their horse had coAered the dis-: tance three-quarters in some extraordinary good time. I replied that might be so, but they did not know Avhat time my horse could do it in. Nor did I elect to tell them. The Hurst Park executive entered thoroughly into the match, and, as an addition to the ,000 offered a gold cup Avhich happened to haAe been that Avon by that famous and strikingly named horse, Robert the Devil. EAGER BEATS ROYAL FLUSH. Despite the confidence of the Americans, the Brtiish public Avisely pinned their faith to old Eager, Avhich gave his opponent, and his party, a lesson Avhich they Avill never forget. Hardly had a quarter of a mile been covered before Eager Avent right away from Royal Flush, and, cantering leisurely past a crowd of excited, hat-AvaAing, cheering spectators, Avon in a common canter. The much-Aaunted Avinner of the Royal Hunt Cup and the Stewards Cup presented a sorry exhibition on this occasion. In addition to winning Robert the Devils gold cup lie Avon the stake of ,000 a side Avhich each contending party had put up. The two horses ran at level weights, although in the preliminary negotiations the American party had endeaAored to obtain an advantage of seA-en pounds from us. This Ave had refused, but no doubt Ave should have Avon easily if Ave had made fhe concession, judging by this result. At the time the race created tremendous public sentiment. It was, in fact, the racing tit-bit of 1900, for Eager Avas then undoubtedly the fastest horse in England, although he had lost the Portland Plate to the Prince of Wales Lucknow. Prior to coming into the hands of the Americans, Royal Flush had behaved disappointingly. He Avas an Irish-bred horse. Though known to possess- great speed, he Avas reputed to be unreliable Avhen the Americans purchased him. But probably by the aid of dope those Avere the days Ahen doping Avas permitted they had transformed him into an easy Royal Hunt Cup Avinner. He had been purchased from Fred Lee, one of the present day handicappers, Avho, I believe, had suffered rather badly from the previous performances of this horse. That Avas Eagers last racing year. The following season Ave sent him to the stud, and my friend Harry Mills stood him at Wimborne, in Dorsetshire, Avhere he became a successful sire. Electra, Avinner of the One Thousand Guineas; Petit Bleu, tAvice a Avinner at Ascot ; Nirvanah and Nero, and other famous Avinners Avere sired by Eager. Unfortunately he did not liAe long. One day the old champion Avas at exercise on the roads around Wimborne, Avhen a motor car came along and, though the driver behaAed correctly. Eager grew excited, and backing on to the halted car, broke a leg and had to be destroyed. This Avas an unfortunate end for a ureat horse, the first good animal that I purchased as a trainer in England.

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