A First Ride and Its Aftermath, Daily Racing Form, 1924-04-23


view raw text

A First Ride and Its Aftermath BY W. P. CILPIN. Have you ever ridden a race? No? Well. I can tell you my experience of the first race I ever rode was so indelibly impressed upon my memory that no lapse of time can efface it. And it was only a little no-account race, at a little no-account hunt Meeting, but to me it was a most momentous happening. I was a boy at school at the time, and during the holidays delighted in relieving the grooms of their duties, and taking my fathers hunters to the blacksmiths shop. This said shop was adjacent to the Hednes-ford training hills, where the training of horses is still carried on by Couthwaite. Indeed trainer Couthwaite has trained there a winner of the Grand National, and his entry is greatly fancied for this years big steeplechase. Inch Wright was at that time the blacksmith, a right clever man with horses feet, but he had one great failing -he would once in a while go off on a big spree, and had it not been for his skillful helpers would assuredly have lost his business. It was during one of his sober periods that I vis- ! ited his shop with one of my fathers hunters, and .la k — with whom I was a prime! favorite- at once grabbed me. "Youre just the boy I want to see. Ive got P.anjo Charley entered in a maiden rate at Lttoxeter. for gentlemen riders and farmers sons. I aint got a jock, but I want you to ride him." [ NOT MICH TO LOOK AT. | I was in the seventh heaven of delight at the prospect, and at once pictured myself in the category with Mr. Thomas. Garret Moore or Tommy Peasley. True, my proffered mount was no great shakes to look at. I He was a brown four-year-old by The Lawyer, which spent most of his time hitched to the smithy window, where the blacksmith could readily jump on his back, and gallop off to the Cross Keys Inn. some half mile distant. That was Jacks only effort at training him. He thought anything sufficed for Panjo Charley, which had been presented to him as worthless by one of the trainers. Not a bad shaped little horse, with a set of good legs under him. and good shoulders. Put he had a coarse head and neck, and a rough mane which was unaccustomed to the tea of a comb, and stood up in places as if it had been hogged, and the man who ! had done the job and died before finishing his contract. He stood, too. with his hind legs crossed, making him look as if he had a hip down. To grooming he was an entire stranger, and the coal dust flew out of his coat when anyone ventured to lay a hand on him. No! he was by no means a beauty. I i Howevc r, such as he was. I had been of- | fered a mount on him. and to me he looked like a real race horse. I could even see virtue in his outlandish name. On my arrival | | at home I lost not a moment in informing [ my father of the treat in store for me. But ; my joy received a severe setback when my father put his stern veto on my riding Banjo Charley. FATHER SAYS NO. "You go tell Jack Wright," he said. "I wont let any son of mine ride his damned screw. When you ride — if ever you do — Ill see to it that you have a decent mount." I sorrowfully related to Jack how the case stood and what my father had said, but Jack only laughed and winked at me. "Cant yon and me circumvent the old gent?" he nnhed. "I dont know how. Jack," I said. "Well, say nuthin. Just you leave it to me. boy, and youll ride all right. Just you bring up one o Squires osses to be shode. mornin o the race, and Ill do the business." I did as Jack had told me, rode one of my fathers horses up to the shop, and there was Jack awaiting my arrival in a tax-cart. "Oont say a word, now," said he. "Im goin to kidnap you. Jump in !" And picking up the reins he squeezed me tight up to him. and away we galloped. "Now dont go to try and jump out, cos if you do youll get hurt. Just set still. It aint your fault. Im just runnin off wid yer." And with a "gitup oss!" away we went stream inir away for lttoxeter at a good sixteen miles an hour gait. Of course Jack had to stop two or three times on the road to refresh both man and beast, but it was little over an hour when we landed on the course and found ourselves among a crowd of carriages, farm wagons, tax-carts and every description of vehicle. Our Banjo Charley-had been led on early in the morning. ! [ | I ! I i | | | [ ; His race was fifth on the program, an affair for maiden hunters, and his weight was scheduled at 10 stone 7 pounds 147 pounds. I had now quite made up my mind to go through with Wrights program, seeing that he hail me there, and moreover I was keen to ride myself. I changed my clothes and donned the dusty-green jacket of Mr. John Wright behind a convenient hedge. I was too shy to present myself at the recognized dressing tent, and at saddling time presented myself equipped with my saddle and weight correct. The stewards had accepted my qualification to ride as a farmers son though my father was not a bona fide farmer. Still he farmed his own land, so it was all right. Everything was in order and I started for the post. I had not had a mount on Panjo Charley before and he grabbed the bit in his teeth as firmly as if it had heen in one of his owners vises. He got away with me directly, his helper turned his head loose, and I only managed to stop him eventually by pulling his head into a hansom cab. where he could go no further. After that slight mishap we reached the starter without further breaks. BANJO CHARLEY OITRINS FIELD. "Go !" shouted the starter, and away we sped, ten of us in a cluster, but Panjo Charley rapidly forging his way to the front. The field opposed to him was an incongruous lot. made up for the most part of animals which looked lost without a cart hitched on behind them. They cavorted across the ridge and furrow grass, as if enjoying a holiday from the plough, and Banjo Charley, even though he might be a bum thoroughbred, strode past them is if they were standing still. I had my doubts as to wha* might happen at the first fence, as I had not the slightest control over him. To steady him the best I could do was to sit still and try my best to hold him and steer him between the flags. I will say this for the little demon, he never made a skip or blunder at any one of his fences, hut just flew them like a bird. His field were plodding along and some of them falling hopelessly in the rear, and we finally-passed the wagon in which sat the judges, fully a sixteenth of a mile ahead of all competitors and at that completed an additional half circuit before being able to stop our wild career. Who shall describe my feeling of exultation as I rode back to weigh in. after win-■ ning this, the first race of my life? It was a, proud moment such as I have never since experienced. Everybody wanted to shake me by the hand, and everybody invited Wright to have a drink. This the blacksmith had never been known to decline and the conse- quence was disastrous. He was eventually carried by his friends to his tax-cart, laid in the straw at the oottom and was not resurrected until reaching home, where his men, who were accustomed to his vagaries, took charge of him. WHAT BECAME OF THE HORSE. And what of Banjo Charley? It was some fifteen years after at Saratoga I met the three bosom cronies, T. C. Pattison, Rhoddy Pringle and "Doc" Smith, V. S.. of Toronto, strolling in the paddock. They had come on their annual pilgrimage to the Springs for the race meeting. Mr. Pattison was the Toronto postmaster and had a valuable and beautifully equipped stock farm in that neighborhood. I inquired of him casually as to what stallion he had at his farm. "Oh." said he, "I have a little old horse you have never heard of. by The Lawyer." "What is his name?" I asked. "Banjo Charley." "I believe," said I. "I rode that horse the first race he ever started in and won on him. There could not be two horses with such a rotten name as that." "I can hardly credit that." said Mr. Fatti-son. "Did you buy him off a blacksmith, at Hednesford Hills?" "Certainly. I did," said Mr. Pattison. "Gave him fifty pounds for him. They told me afterward the man was drunk or I couldnt have bought his horse for five hundred." "Thats the horse." I said. "Bano Charley. He must be over twenty years old." "Thats my old stud, all right. said Mr. Pattison. "Thats without a doubt the little horse on which you rode your first race. Its only a small world after all, isnt it?" Editors Note— The many who know our own "Gilly" never did know about his first ride as he his told it here, but the old-timers have a vivid recollection of his fearlessness through American steeplechase fields.

Persistent Link: https://drf.uky.edu/catalog/1920s/drf1924042301/drf1924042301_9_1
Local Identifier: drf1924042301_9_1
Library of Congress Record: https://lccn.loc.gov/unk82075800