Thrills of Steeplechasing: Marty Yourell Says Racing through the Field Most Fascinating Sport in the World, Daily Racing Form, 1924-08-21


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i 1 I I THRILLS OF STEEPLECHASING Marty Yourell Says Racing 1 Through the Field Most Fascinating Sport in the World. "During my career on the American turf, which embraces a period of fourteen years," says Marty Yourell, writing . for the Louisville Courier-Journal, "I have been riding steeplechase races, and I want to say that steeplechase racing is the most , fascinating sport in the world, despite the fact that on many race courses in this country, especially Kentucky, this branch of the sport has been abolished. The pleasure of sitting astride a game hurdler and flying through the air is the greatest sensation a person can have, and the fact that one has to concentrate all his energy and attention to avoid an accident adds to the thrill and joy of the sport "When a rider takes a bad fall, and I have figured in more than a hundred, and is led or carried off the course and later it is discovered than at arm, limb or collarbone is fractured, you can always hear many of the bystanders say that that will end his career on the turf. But such is not the case with the majority of steeplechase jockeys. He merely worries along until his injuries are mended, with great anxiety to .get back to the saddle. REQUIRES LARGER RIDERS THAN ON FLAT. "Steeplechase riding requires larger boys than those who ride on the flat. Most of the jumping jockeys never rode on the flat. They usually get their start by being exercise boys and when they get too heavy and big for that kind of work they have an opportunity presented them by their employer, who has a horse in the stable which has outlived his usefulness as a flat runner, and he thinks may be a success as a jumper. So the owner or trainer has the boy school the horse over the jumps. If the horse schools well and proves to be a good prospect, he will let the same boy ride him in a race. "This is one reason why you dont see many flat riders taking totlie jumps. I have seen some good flat- riders that would ride a couple over the flat and then ride on the jumps the . same day. : However, their riding oyer the jumps was not. as good as they could do on the Hat, because there is more to contend with. You have to be sure to have your mount straight in going to the first jump and always be near head and head with the other horses. In the event you discover that you are unable to get up with them take your horse back a length or so or an accident will be the result. This alone causes most falls in the steeplechasing races. When you are a half a length off another horse in going to the jump and the first horse makes a big jump your- mount" will take off with him so that makes your horse jump a half length farther, which is the reason you will notice some of the more experienced riders take back at some of the jumps. "I have been asked time and again what position I would rather lie in during the running of a race. It all depends on the horse I am riding. Some horses like to run out in front, and the faster the better, and some like to remain back in the bunch. You will hear a great many people "say when it is raining and the .field is muddy that there Avill be a lot of falls in this race. Such is not the condition. However, horses are more careful and jump better in the mud. HORSE AS CAREFUL AS RIDER. "The experienced steeplechase horse is just as careful as the rider. They know what it is to fall. When a hcrse falls hard over the water, or liverpool, once he will always make sure to clear it the next time, and one thing about a horse he will never jump on you if he is able to see you. He will jump over or around you. A steeplechase horse ought to have at least six months schooling before he starts in a race, because then he learns to measure the jump and develops his muscles. How often have you seen horses go to a jump and prop or zigzag? That is because he hasnt been schooled right. I have seen some horses take right to jumping the first time you are asked to school them. Some owners and trainers fix a jump so as to throw a horse that is green because that will settle him more. I have seen some old jumpers that could carry a sack of flour on their back and they would run truly through the course. How often have you seen a horse , fall, get up and finish the race just as though the boy was on his back? "A steeplechase jockey is criticised and abused more than any other rider. You will hear people say they have partaken too freely . of stimulants before making the mount, or . have deliberately pulled the horse they are , riding, which is an injustice to them, as most all saddle artists riding over the sticks are , married and are men of families, who would ; not engage in any dishonest practice. Many times when I have not been riding myself in a steeplechase and have seen a boy thrown from his horse, I. have heard many remarks derogatory to the fallen boy, such as he de-! liberately jumped off his mount. I want to say that in all the time that I was riding I have never seen one purposely . fall from his mount, but people on a race course are unduly excitable and refuse to believe that . the act was not committed without criminal intent,"

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