Dont Blame the Jockey, Daily Racing Form, 1924-06-04


view raw text

Dont Blame the Jockey By W. B. GILPIX "When a hot favorite suddenly collapses and is beaten, the jockey usually comes in for an amount of vituperation. The public generally makes no excuses for him, but attributes the failure either to incompetence, or in the case of a good rider to crookedness. Seldom do they place the blame where it rightly belongs and blame the loss of their money to the horse. Knowing the idiosyncrasies of the horse and the unexpected things which may at times flash through his brain or through his anatomy should make people cautious about disparaging a rider or even asserting his not having used his utmost endeavor to win. I have been there myself, so I know. On one occasion I was riding a horse called Mark. He belonged to Jeorge Ashenden, a brother of Fred Ashenden, who for many-years was noted as the best four-in-hand whip in New York and had charge of the American Horse Exchange at Fiftieth street and Broadway. It was at a little local meeting in the neighborhood of Birmingham-Henley, in Ar-den. The course was an impromptu affair, over the meadows, and finished up a very steep slope. Mark was a hot favorite, for lie" had lxen winning quite a number of these open hunt steeplechases around the Midlands, but it was not generally known that his wind was affected. SURE HE WOILD WDT. He gave me a sweet ride, striding over his fences in grand style and apparently holding his field safe all the way. I felt cocksure I was going to win and the sensation of being a winner is pleading no matter what the prize. Yes. 1 had things pretty nearly all my own way. I was over the last fence well in the lead and half way up the hill at the finish when Mark all in a hurry collapsed. His infirmity had gone back on him. I could hear him grunt, feel his sides -thumping against my legs and, do my utmost, I could scarcely raise a gallop out of him. He was thoroughly cooked and eventually staggered past the ] ost a poor second. Was it my fault? The crowd evidently thought that it was. They hooted, they booed, some even threatened me with their sticks as I rode back to scale, amid cries of "Thief. Thief! Blackleg! Pamned robber!" A crowd of Birmingham roughs are not nice playfellows; they play too rough. Birmingham, cr as the lower classes call it, "Brummagem" — is the hotbed of British pugilism, being the center of the district known as the black country — the coal and iron district. We seldom have such playful crowds collected in this country. TAKES KEFUGE IX TEXT. I weighed in and slipped out quietly to the little canvas bell-tent set apart for a dressing room. I sat down on a b*-nch and was just about to change my riding things. My valet. Duke, was in the act of pulling off my l oots when he happened to glance through the flap of the tent. "My Gawd !" said he, "here they come. Now were in for it !" And he jumped for the tent flap and pulled it to. "Duck, sir! Duck your nut! For Gawds sake get down or theyll sure get yer !" "Let us get at Mm ! Give it to Mm ! The thief, the thief ! The robber ! The burglar !" I could hear their vindictive shouts as the Brummagem mob swarmed about the little tent. As a rule they had always been my friends and admirers, as I was born and bred only sixteen miles from their town, so they legarued me as a local product. Moreover. "Calf Heath," the favorite local fighting locality, was close to my heme and when the fighters were arrested they usually came up before my father as the nearest local magistrate. He invariably let them off. so that they had a friendly feeling for me. But now the mob had lost their heads and did not care what they did. First thing we knew down came the tent, with the pole smashed in the middle, burying Duke and myself in the ruins. "Whack ! Crack! Thud!" The blows fell fast and furious whenever a bump showed, which in- Idicated the presence of our bodies. Luckily | for me the valet received the greater amount ■ of the punishment, for I had thrown myself | Hat on the ground and was protected in a ] measure by the broken pole and a big saddle | bag. The onslaught only lasted some five min-I utes. Then the mob, thinking they had vented their anger and wreaked vengeance sufficient, withdrew and turned their attention | to betting on the next race. In half an S hours time I had managed to collect my clothes under the tent and slipped away un-I molested, scooting down the back of the hill and making my getaway in a hansom. So much for riding a broken-winded horse! Another somewhat similar misfortune be-; fc 11 me the following year when riding in a ■ race at Leicester. On that occasion I was 1 riding a mare on which I had previously won ! some few times, Broomieknowe. She belonged to Robert Hawdon, who afterward sold his home at Cropwcll Butler to our I famous jockey, Danny Maher. It was at i Cropwell Butler, I believe, that Danny died. Broomieknowe was a hot favorite, a charm -, ing mare to ride, and the race was for 1 gentleman riders, two miles on the flat. A : furlong from home 1 thought I had the race • won and took a pull on the mare, nursing ; her along and not wishing to win too far. Lord Petersham, the M. F. H. of the neighboring hunt, was my nearest opponent, but he was much of an amateur, who rr.d:. but seldom, and maybe I held him a little too cheap. Anyway. I lay alongside him until within a few strides of the post, when I shook my mare up and expected her to shoot j out to the front an easy w inner. MARE STOPS. To my astonishment and chagrin, the mare, ; instead of forging ahead as I had anticipated. j began to curl up and stop. 1 pricked her with I the spurs and hand-rode her for all I was I worth. All to no Try as I would | I could not improve my position. I pulled my whip. She dropped bacK and dropped j back from bad to worse and when we reached ! the post I was beaten fully a .length and a ! half. I Who can describe my feeling at such an untoward catastrophe. Yet, was I to blame? ! I cannot see it. I had done all in my power | to win and why it was that Broomieknowe i stopped in the way she did and failed to win I could not tell any more than a man in the moon. But the crowd did not look at it in the same light that I did, or from the same point of view. Again the Brummagem mob was in evidence, for Leicester is within easy-reach of Birmingham. I had no sooner dismounted and weighed in than the "Brummagem Buttons" attacked the weighing room in an endeavor to get at me. We had no Pinkerton force, but only a few odd policemen in those days to keep order on the race course, and these were seldom on hand if there was anything doing. FRIES DS TO THE RESCUE. Fortunately for me I had some few trusty friends among the bookmakers, old-time pugilists such as Tom King. Andrew Marsden and George Probert. They heard of the trouble starting and promptly came to my rescue. They were like Horatio guarding the bridge and held the door against all comers. But there was a merry battle for about ten minutes, almost resembling a battle royal. After a time my would-be assailants calmed down and I lost no time in dressing and wending my way into Leicester, where I took the train for home. It was my second experience of the sort and I swear to goodness nothing had been further from my thought or intentions than not to win. It just happened and that is all there was to it. It taught me a lesson at any rate — never to accuse a jockey of not trying his best to win. Jockeys are jealous to score a win every possible time. If a jockey is crooked he soon is found out and the Jockey Club attends to his case. Some jockeys of course are not so competent as others, but at least 99 per cent of them are honest and try their best to win. Do not. therefore, always blame the jockey, but let the horse carry his share.

Persistent Link:
Local Identifier: drf1924060401_15_3
Library of Congress Record: