Reflections: Interesting Week End at Belmont Park; International Steeplechase True Novelty; Battleship Small But He Won at Aintree; Withers Has Impressive Winning Roster, Daily Racing Form, 1954-05-08


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REFLECTIONS By NELSON DUNSTAN BELMONT PARK Elmont L I N Y May 7 With the International Steeplechase Handicap at two miles and the Withers at one mile Satur ¬ day should be one of the most in ¬ teresting days of the long Belmoht Meeting International sport has grown rapidly in the past few years but steeplechasing is a new phase of it and this 20000 event is really the first race of its kind ever staged in this country The International Steeple ¬ chase was inaugurated in 1895 but this is the first year in which the Belmont officials endeavored to bring foreign jumpers here to compete with the best now in training in this country Stephen C Clark Jr went over to the other side to interest foreign owners in this race While there will be no French steeplechasers competing the vicepresident of the National Steeplechase and Hunt As ¬ sociation did secure three from England and three from Ireland In England steeplechasing is confined to the winter and for that reason it was much easier to recruit their horses than it was from France where the jumping season is very similar to that of our own in dates With the Washington D C International and other races horses of different countries have come here to race on the flat but Saturdays International will demonstrate whether this is to hold good with horses through the field It should be a fine spectacle and in all probability a thrilling race raceA A A A AThere There were some obstacles to be overcome before this International event became a reality Some complaints appeared in the British press that two miles is too short to give the English horses to show at their best While there are some events on the other side at two miles the majority are at three miles or more and they lead up to Interesting Week End at Belmont Park International Steeplechase True Novelty Battleship Small But He Won at Aintree Withers Has Impressive Winning Roster the Grand National Steeplechase at four mile 856 yards English courses generally hae higher jumps than those in France and it is a fact that the British asked the Bel ¬ mont authorities to reduce the umps for the International event eight to 10 inches This was refused and as a re ¬ sult some of the horses who were originally scheduled to come here did not make the trip despite the fact that their jumping season is over It is unfortunate that Knock Hard winner of the Cheltenham Gold Cup and other events did not come over for he would have given us an opportunity to compare our horses with one Of those who negotiated one of the toughest courses on the other side Cheltenham is a course for horses tljat can stay jump and have a full share of courage The Curragh is the course where most of the big Irish races are contested and like Cheltenham it is a genuine test of any horse with a heartbreaking uphill finish that will search out the slightest weakness in any jumper jumperA A A A AWhen When the jumpers line up for the International we daresay the Irish horses will appear more powerful and rangy than the English or our own There will probably be a difference in the riding styles of the foreign jockeys and those of this country I the breeding of jumpers conformation size and substance is far more important than pedigree Purity of blood does not seem to be a necessity in a jumper The Whitney horse Easter Hero was not in the stud book in fact he traced to an Arab mare who had performed in a circus The Irish jumpers generally have much better bone than those of the Eng ¬ lish and that holds true generally with those in this country The Irish would have termed our Battleship too small to engage in the Grand National Steeplechase at Aintree but after winning the American Grand National he went to Liverpool to win that supreme English test It is often said that our jumpers today do not class with such as Battleship in former years Regardless of all that Saturdays race is one which should give up many new angles on the sport that has not had much support in re ¬ cent years yearsA A A A AAlthough Although it is a richer race the Withers is a secondary feature on the Belmont weekend card But it is one of the most unique races for threeyearolds in the spring as it is at one mile and is usually sandwiched between the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness or Belmont Stakes The race was named for D D Withers who was one of the turfs bulwarks before the turn of the century It was inaugurated in 1874 one year before the Kentucky Derby came into existence and down through the years it has been won by some ofthe greatest horses of their years Aristides winner of the Kentucky Derby in 1875 came on to New York to win the Withers at Jerome Park the same year In 1919 the maiden Cir Barton not only became the first horse to win the Triple Crown but he was also the first to win the Withers the same year Since that time Count Fleet has been the only other one to win the Triple Crown and the Withers Man o War skipped the Kentucky Derby but he went on to win the Preak ¬ ness and Belmont and also the Withers demonstrating in the latter event that he had all the speed of the sprint ¬ ers and the stamina common to the Fair Play line Iii the Withers he defeated his only two opponents Wile1 air and Continued on Page FortyNine REFLECTIONS By NELSON DTJNSTAN Continued from Page FiftySix FiftySixDavid David Harum after assuming command at the start winning under restraint He ran the mile in 135 a new American record that was not to be tied in the Withers until Johnstown came along in 1939 a nd then Hill Prince and Battlefield a few years ago agoA A A A AThere There are many threeyearold races that boast an impressive winnig beadroll and the Withers is no exception In 1878 Duke of Magenta was the winner and we have heard his name when the greatest horses of all times are mentioned In the years that followed Crickmore Hanover Domino Jean Bereaud Colin Sir Barton Man o War Zev Johnstown Count Fleet Hill Prince Battlefield and last year Native Dancer joined the list It would be diffi ¬ cult to find a race with a more impressive list of winners We moderns may not be well acquainted with some of the horses mentioned but every one of them was a champion of his particular year For in ¬ stance Jean Bereaud was the champion twoyearold of 1898 and in the colors of W C Whitney won the Withers and Bel mont Stakes As a fouryearold he was sent to England where he turned savage and could not be trained He would attack horses galloping with him and also his grooms With all its impressive winners the Withers due to its being at one mile has also been the race in which such as Dobbins Peter Pan Fair Play Middle ground Roman and One Count suffered i defeat

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