On Judging Race Riding: Donoghue Cites Instance of Unfair Criticism of Jockeys, Daily Racing Form, 1923-10-12


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ON JUDGING RACE RIDING Donoghue Cites Instances of Unfair Criticism of Jockeys. How Silver Tag "Won the Cambridgeshire Easily, Although Her 3Iargin Was hut a Head Circumstances Alter Cases. Stephen Donoghue, in the course of his reminiscences, digresses from his narrative long enough for a discussion of unjust criticisms suffered by riders at various times by observers who misjudge a race. His contentions in the matter follow: In racing it often appears as if the onlooker finds it difficult to realize the importance of patience and kindness with a horse, or to give credit for it. If a jockey sits quietly on a horse, urging it on with hands and knees only, not using the whip until the last possible moment, if at all it ,is because he knows, in his own mind, that these methods are the best and that by these alone he is obtaining the best response from his mount. But if his horse is just beaten in the finish, so often adverse comments are made. "What a bad race the jockey rode on the second. Such a tame finish ; he threw the race away," etc. On the other hand, a jockey is often misjudged when winning a race, should he sit quietly and not drive his mount out to win as far as possible. If the horse only wins by a head or neck it is frequently said that he was "lucky to win," or that "the second ought to have won." EASY TO MISREAD A RACE. It seems easy for people to misread a race. Only recently I saw an instance of this in one of the sporting dailies, where a leading writer, in reference to past winners of the race for the Cambridgeshire, stated positively that "such winners as Silver Tag and Zinovia were fortunate to score. Mount William should have beaten Silver Tag and Hainault ought to have been first at the judge in Zinovias year." It is my humble opinion that where Silver Tag and Mount William are concerned there is hot the smallest justification for making such sweeping assertions. As the jockey who rode Silver Tag when she won the Cambridgeshire I unhesitatingly affirm that she beat Mount William from the fall of the flag. I jumped out of the gate as the tapes went up and was never headed on the filly. Mount William certainly came a rattle at me when he made his effort, but Silver Tag always held him comfortably, although she only won by a head, cleverly. I may be asked, "Why, then, did you only win by a head on her, if you won so comfortably?"" The answer is, "The anijnal, a three-year-old filly, carried 115 pounds ; why should she have been pressed to do more than was necessary?" So often is it stated that the second horse "ought to have won," and it is "most unfair to the jockey when the latter has probably ridden one of the best races in his career, and, as in the case of Silver Tag and Mount William, his mount has simply been beaten by a better animal. I was never more confident of winning a race than I was of winning the Cambridgeshire that day. I rode Silver Tag when she won the Champion Stakes previously at Newmarket; she was objected to there by the owner of Let Fly on the ground of crossing and suffered disqualification. Without any idea of criticising the action of the stewards, I may state frankly that I always keenly disagreed with the decision that gave the race to Let Fly. Let Fly was always a sour horse in the opinion of every jockey who rode him, he had been through some hard tussles as a two-year-old, which no doubt helped to spoil his temper. LET FLYS RECORD. He was considered by his owner to be quite up to classic form. He had run three races in 1911, in one of which I rode him. As a three-year-old he dead-heated in the Greenham Stakes and his next and last achievement w.as in the Champion Stakes referred to above. He "would "stick his toes in" if pressure was applied and swerve right out of his ground. Any experienced rider will confirm my statement if I say that often in a race a horse, if swerving behind, appears unlucky and the quite erroneous impression is created of the horse in front crossing it. This is difficult to make out from the stands because of the angle, but is quite impossible to mistake by any unbiased observer riding in the race. This is exactly what happened with Let Fly and Silver Tag in the Champion Stakes, ?nd in my opinion Let Fly was really the one in fault I was, therefore, convinced in my own mind that the filly had won the race fairly and squarely and so I knew what a really good animal she was and though in this Cambridgeshire she was set to carry 115 pounds, admittedly a lot of weight for a three-year-old filly, I looked on the race as a good thing for her, and the confidence I felt was reflected and I hope justified in the way I rode her.

Persistent Link: https://drf.uky.edu/catalog/1920s/drf1923101201/drf1923101201_11_2
Local Identifier: drf1923101201_11_2
Library of Congress Record: https://lccn.loc.gov/unk82075800