1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Horse-racing
HORSE-RACING. Probably the earliest instance of the use of horses in racing recorded in literature occurs in Il. xxiii. 212-650, where the various incidents of the chariot-race at the funeral games held in honour of Patroclus are detailed with much vividness. According to the ancient authorities the four-horse chariot-race was introduced into the Olympic games as early as the 23rd Olympiad; to this the race with mounted horses was added in the 33rd; while other variations (such as two-horse chariot-races, mule races, loose-horse races, special races for under-aged horses) were admitted at a still later period. Of the training and management of the Olympic race-horse we are left in ignorance; but it is known that the equestrian candidates were required to enter their names and send their horses to Elis at least thirty days before the celebration of the games commenced, and that the charioteers and riders, whether owners or proxies, went through a prescribed course of exercise during the intervening month. At all the other national games of Greece (Pythian, Isthmian, Nemean), as well as at many of the local festivals (the Athenian Olympia and Panathenaea), similar contests had a prominent place. Some indication of the extent to which the passion for horse-racing was indulged in at Athens, for example, about the time of Aristophanes may be obtained from the scene with which The Clouds opens; while it is a significant fact that the Boeotians termed one of the months of their year, corresponding to the Athenian Hecatombaeon, Hippodromius (“Horse-race month”; see Plutarch, Cam. 15). For the chariot-races and horse-races of the Greeks and Romans, see Circus and Games.
There is no direct historical evidence to show that the ancient Britons addicted themselves to any form of this amusement; but there are indications that among some at least of the Germanic tribes, from a very early period, horse-racing was an accompaniment of their religious cultus. There can be no doubt that the Romans encouraged the pursuit in Britain, if they did not introduce it; traces of race-courses belonging to the period of their occupation have been frequently discovered. The influence of the Christian Church was everywhere at first strongly against the practice. The opinion of Augustine and other fathers of the church with regard to attendance at the spectacles, whether of theatre or of circus, is well known; those who performed in them were rigidly excluded from church fellowship, and sometimes even those who merely frequented them. Thus the first council of Arles, in its fourth canon, declared that those members of the church who drove chariots at the public games should, so long as they continued in that employment, be denied communion. (Compare the rule in the Ap. Const. viii. 32; ap. Bingham. Ant. Chr. Church, xvi. 4, 10.) In many cases, however, the weight of ecclesiastical authority proved insufficient to cope with the force of old custom, or with the fascination of a sport the unchristian character of which was not very easily demonstrable; and ultimately in Germany and elsewhere the old local races appear to have been admitted to a recognized place among the ceremonies peculiar to certain Christian festivals.
The first distinct indication which contemporary history affords of horse-racing as a sport occurs in the Description of the City of London of William Fitzstephen (c. 1174). He says that in a certain “plane field without one of the gates (quidam planus campus re et nomine—Smithfield, quasi Smoothfield) every Friday, unless it be one of the more solemn festivals, is a noted show of well-bred (nobilium) horses exposed for sale. The earls, barons and knights who are resident in the city, as well as a multitude of citizens, flock thither either to look on or buy.” After describing the different varieties of horses brought into the market, especially the more valuable chargers (dextrarios preciosos), he says: “When a race is to be run by such horses as these, and perhaps by others which, in like manner, according to their breed are strong for carriage and vigorous for the course, the people raise a shout and order the common horses to be withdrawn to another part of the field. The jockeys, who are boys expert in the management of horses, which they regulate by means of curb bridles, sometimes by threes and sometimes by twos, as the match is made, prepare themselves for the contest. Their chief aim is to prevent a competitor from getting before them. The horses too, after their manner, are eager for the race: their limbs tremble, and impatient of delay they cannot stand still; upon the signal being given they stretch out their limbs, hurry on the course, and are borne along with unremitting speed. The riders, inspired with the love of praise and the hope of victory, clap spurs to their flying horses, lashing them with whips, and inciting them by their shouts” (see Stow’s Translation).
In the reign of Richard I. knights rode at Whitsuntide on steeds and palfreys over a three-mile course for “forty pounds of ready gold,” according to the old romance of Sir Bevys of Hampton. The feats of the tilt-yard, however, seem to have surpassed horse-racing in popular estimation at the period of the crusades. That the sport was to some extent indulged in by King John is quite possible, as running horses are frequently mentioned in the register of royal expenditure; and we know that Edward III. had a number of running horses, but it is probable they were chiefly used for field sports.
An evidence of the growing favour in which horse-racing was held as a popular amusement is furnished by the fact that public races were established at Chester in 1512. Randle Holme of that city tells us that towards the latter part of Henry VIII.’s reign, on Shrove Tuesday, the company of saddlers of Chester presented to “the drapers a wooden ball embellished with flowers, and placed upon the point of a lance. This ceremony was performed in the presence of the mayor at the cross of the Roody or Roodee, an open place near the city; but this year (1540) the ball was changed into a silver bell, valued at three shillings and sixpence or more, to be given to him who shall run best and furthest on horseback before them on the same day, Shrove Tuesday; these bells were denominated St George’s bells.” In the reign of Elizabeth there is evidence from the poems of Bishop Hall (1597) that racing was in vogue, though apparently not patronized by the queen, or it would no doubt have formed part of the pastimes at Kenilworth; indeed, it seems then to have gone much out of fashion.
The accession of the Stuarts opened up an era of prosperity for the sport, for James I., who, according to Youatt, had encouraged if not established horse-racing in Scotland, greatly patronized it in England when he came to the throne. Not only did he run races at Croydon and Enfield, but he endeavoured to improve the breed of horses by the purchase for a high figure of the Arab stallion known as Markham’s Arabian, which little horse, however, was beaten in every race he ran.
In 1607, according to Camden’s Britannia, races were run near York, the prize being a little golden bell. Camden also mentions as the prize for running horses in Gatherley Forest a little golden ball, which was apparently anterior to the bell. In 1609 Mr Robert Ambrye, sometime sheriff of the city of Chester, caused three silver bells to be made of good value, which bells he appointed to be run for with horses on St George’s day upon the Roodee, the first horse to have the best bell and the money put in by the horses that ran—in other words, a sweepstake—the bells to be returned that day twelvemonth as challenge cups are now; towards the expenses he had an allowance from the city. In 1613 subscription purses are first mentioned. Nicholls, in his Progress of James I., makes mention of racing in the years 1617 and 1619. Challenge bells appear to have continued to be the prizes at Chester, according to Randle Holme the younger, and Ormerod’s History of Chester, until 1623 or 1624, when Mr John Brereton, mayor of Chester, altered the course and caused the horses to run five times round the Roodee, the bell to be of good value, £8 or £10, and to be a free bell to be held for ever—in other words, a presentation and not a challenge prize.
During James’s reign public race meetings were established at Gatherley or Garterley, near Richmond in Yorkshire, at Croydon in Surrey, and at Enfield Chase, the last two being patronized by the king, who not only had races at Epsom during his residence at Nonsuch, but also built a house at Newmarket for the purpose of enjoying hunting, and no doubt racing too, as we find a note of there having been horse-races at this place as early as 1605. Races are also recorded as having taken place at Linton near Cambridge, but they were probably merely casual meetings. The prizes were for the most part silver or gold bells, whence the phrase “bearing away the bell.” The turf indeed appears to have attracted a great deal of notice, and the systematic preparation of running horses was studied, attention being paid to their feeding and training, to the instruction of jockeys—although private matches between gentlemen who rode their own horses were very common,—and to the adjustment of weights, which were usually about 10 stone. The sport also seems to have taken firm hold of the people, and to have become very popular.
The reign of Charles I., which commenced in 1625, saw still more marked strides made, for the king not only patronized the racing at Newmarket, which we know was current In 1640, but thoroughly established it there, and built a stand house in 1667, since which year the races have been annual. Mention is likewise made in the comedy of the Merry Beggars, played in 1641, of races, both horse and foot, in Hyde Park, which were patronized by Charles I., who gave a silver cup, value 100 guineas, to be run for instead of bells. Butcher, in his survey of the town of Stamford (1646), also says that a race was annually run in that town for a silver and gilt cup and cover, of the value of £7 or £8, provided by the care of the aldermen for the time being out of the interest of a stock formerly made by the nobility and gentry of the neighbourhood.
In 1648 Clarendon tells us that a meeting of Royalists was held at Banstead Downs, as Epsom Downs were then called, “under the pretence of a horse-race,” so that horse-racing at Epsom was not unknown early in the 17th century; Pepys, too, in his Diary of 1663, mentions his having intended to go to Banstead Downs to see a famous horse-race. Cromwell is said to have kept running horses in the year 1653, but in 1654 he appears to have gone so far as to forbid racing for six and eight months respectively. After the Reformation in 1660, a new impetus was given to horse-racing, which had languished during the civil wars, and the races at Newmarket, which had been suspended, were restored and attended by the king; and as an additional spur to emulation, according to Youatt, royal plates were given at each of the principal courses, and royal mares, as they were called, were imported from abroad. Charles II. rebuilt the house originally erected at Newmarket by James I., which had fallen into decay. The Round course was made in 1666, and racing at the headquarters of the turf was regulated in the most systematic way, as to the course, weights and other conditions. Charles II. was the first monarch who entered and ran horses in his own name; and, besides being a frequent visitor at the races on Newmarket Heath, and on Burford Downs, near Stockbridge, where the Bibury Club meeting was held, he established races at Datchet. In the reign of James II. nothing specially noteworthy occurred, but William III. continued former crown donations and even added to them.
Anne was much devoted to horse-racing, and not only gave royal plates to be competed for, but ran horses for them in her own name. In 1703 Doncaster races were established, when 4 guineas a year were voted by the corporation towards a plate, and in 1716 the Town Plate was established by the same authority to be run on Doncaster Moor. Nearly a century, however, elapsed before the St Leger was instituted. Matches at Newmarket had become common, for we find that Basto, one of the earliest race-horses of whom we have any authentic account, won several matches there in 1708 and 1709. In the latter year, according to Camden, York races were established, the course at first being on Clifton Ings, but it was subsequently removed to Knavesmire, on which the races are now run. In 1710 the first gold cup said to have been given by the queen, of 60 guineas value, was run for by six-year-old horses carrying 12 stone each, the best of three 4-mile heats, and was won by Bay Bolton. In 1711 it was increased to 100 guineas. In 1712 Queen Anne’s gelding Pepper ran for the Royal Cup of £100 at York, and her Mustard, a nutmeg-grey horse, ran for the same prize in 1713. Again in 1714 her Majesty’s bay horse Star won a sweepstake of 10 guineas added to a plate of £40 at the same place, in four heats, carrying 11 stone. In 1716 the Ladies’ Plate at York for five-year-olds was won by Aleppo, son of the Darley Arabian. Racing and match-making continued to be a regular sport at Newmarket, and at York and Hambleton, and we also find a record of a race at Lincoln in August 1717 for a silver tea-board, won by Brocklesby Betty, as was the Queen’s Plate at Black Hambleton in the year before.
Between 1714 and 1720 there were races at Pontefract in Yorkshire for plates or money. The best of two out of three heats was to be the winner, provided the said horse was not distanced in the third heat—the distance post being 1 furlong from the winning post; and this appears to have been a usual condition. In or about the year 1721 Flying Childers is said to have run a trial against Almanzor and Brown Betty over the Round course at Newmarket (3 m. 4 f. 93 y.) in 6 m. 40 s., and another trial over the Beacon course (4 m. 1 f. 138 y.) in 7 m. 30 s.—which is fast even for a six-year old; but it is just possible that in those days the art of time-taking was anything but perfect. In 1721 George I. gave 100 guineas in specie in lieu of the gold cup at York presented by Anne, and the king’s or queen’s plates have been given in cash ever since. In 1725 a ladies’ plate was run for on the 14th of September by female riders on Ripon Heath in Yorkshire. In 1727 Mr John Cheney established the Racing Calendar—an historical list of all the horse matches run, and of all plates and prizes run for in England and Wales of the value of £10 or upwards in 1727, &c. No systematic records had till then been preserved of the running of the race-horses of the day, and it is only through the performances of certain celebrated horses and mares that we have any information of what actually took place, and even that is more or less of a fragmentary kind. At this time racing was thoroughly established as a national and popular sport, for there were upwards of a hundred meetings in England and Wales; but the plates or sweepstakes run for were for the most part of small value, as £10, £20, £30, £40, and sometimes £50. In 1727, according to Whyte, there were only a dozen royal plates run for in England: one at Newmarket in April for six-year-old horses at 12 stone each, in heats over the Round course—first called the King’s Plate course; one for five-year-old mares at 10 stone each, in one heat, and another in October for six-year-old horses at 12 stone, in heats over the same course; one at York (which commenced in 1711) for six-year-old horses, 12 stone each, 4-m. heats; one at Black Hambleton, Yorkshire (of which no regular account was kept until 1715), for five-year-old mares, 10 stone, 4 m.; one at each of the following places, Nottingham, Lincoln, Guildford, Winchester, Salisbury and Lewes, for six-year-old horses, 12 stone each, 4-m. heats; and one at Ipswich for five-year-old horses, 10 stone each. A royal plate was also run for at Edinburgh in 1728 or 1729, and one at the Curragh of Kildare in 1741.
In 1739 an act was passed to prevent racing by ponies and weak horses, 13 Geo. II. cap. 10, which also prohibited prizes or plates of less value than £50. At this period the best horses seldom ran more than five or six times, and some not so often, there being scarcely any plates of note except royal ones, and very few sweepstakes or matches of value except at Newmarket until after 1750; moreover, as the races were run in heats, best three out of four, over a course of several miles in length, the task set the horses before winning a plate was very severe, and by no means commensurate with the value of the prize. In 1751 the great subscription races commenced at York, the city also giving £50 added money to each day’s racing. At Newmarket there were only two meetings, one in April and the other in October, but in 1753 a second spring meeting was established, and in that year the Jockey Club, which was founded in 1750, established the present racing ground. In 1762 a second October meeting was added, in 1765 the July meeting, in 1770 the Houghton meeting, and in 1771 the Craven meeting. In 1766 Tattersall’s was established at Hyde Park Corner by Richard Tattersall for the sale of horses; it remained the great emporium of horses, and the rendezvous for betting on horse races, until 1865, when, the lease of the premises at the Corner having run out, it was removed to Knightsbridge.
We now come to a very important period—that at which the great three-year-old races were instituted.
The St Leger was established in 1776 by Colonel St Leger, who resided at Parkhill, near Doncaster. On the 24th of September, during the Doncaster races, which took place annually in the autumn, at his suggestion a sweepstake of The St Leger. 25 guineas each for three-year-old colts and fillies was run over a 2-m. course; there were six competitors, the property of as many subscribers,—a very small beginning, it must be owned. The race was won by a filly by Sampson, belonging to Lord Rockingham, which was afterwards named Allabaculia. In the following year the same stake had twelve subscribers and ten starters, and was won by Mr Sotheron’s Bourbon. It was not, however, until the succeeding year, 1778, that it was named the St Leger, in compliment to the founder, at the suggestion of the marquis of Rockingham. The stakes were increased in 1832 to 50 sovs. each, and the weights have been raised from time to time to keep pace with modern requirements. The Doncaster Cup, a weight for age race for three-year-olds and upwards, was established in 1801. The course is nearly flat, of an oval or kite shape, about 1¾ m. round the town-moor.
The Epsom Derby and Oaks were established in 1779 and 1780, the Oaks in the former and the Derby in the latter year. It is true that in 1730 Epsom races became annual, but the prizes were nothing more than the usual plates The Derby and Oaks. run for in heats, the money required being raised by voluntary subscriptions, as well by the owners of booths on the downs as by the parties more immediately interested, whence arose the custom of charges being made by the lord of the manor for permission to erect booths, &c. during the race-meetings. On the 14th of May 1779 the twelfth earl of Derby originated the Oaks stakes (named after his seat or hunting-box “The Oaks” at Woodmansterne), a sweepstake for three-year-old fillies run on a course 1½ m. long. The race was won by Lord Derby’s bay filly Bridget, bred by himself—her sire being Herod and her dam Jemima. In the following year the earl established a sweepstake of 50 sovs. each, half forfeit, for three-year-old colts. This, the first Derby, was won by Sir C. Bunbury’s chestnut colt Diomed by Florizel, son of Herod, who beat eight opponents, including the duke of Bolton’s Bay Bolton and Lord Grosvenor’s Diadem. These two races have since been run for regularly every year, the Derby, which before 1839 was run on the Thursday, now taking place on the Wednesday, and the Oaks on the Friday, in the same week at the end of May.
Ascot races, which are held on Ascot Heath, were established by the duke of Cumberland, uncle of George III., and are patronized by royalty in state or semi-state. They are mentioned in the first Racing Calendar, published in Ascot Races. 1727, but the races were for the most part plates and other prizes of small importance, though a royal plate for hunters appears to have been given in 1785. The Gold Cup was first given in 1807, and has been regularly competed for ever since, though from 1845 to 1853 inclusive it went by the designation of the Emperor’s Plate, the prize being offered by the emperor of Russia. In 1854, during the Crimean War, the cup was again called the Ascot Gold Cup, and was given from the race fund. The Queen’s Vase was first given in 1838, and the Royal Hunt Cup in 1843, while in 1865 a new long-distance race for four-year-olds and upwards was established, and named the Alexandra Plate, after the Princess of Wales.
Goodwood races were established by the duke of Richmond on the downs at the northern edge of Goodwood Park in 1802, upon the earl of Egremont discontinuing races in his Goodwood. park at Petworth. The races take place at the end of July, on the close of the London season. The Goodwood Cup, the chief prize of the meeting, was first given in 1812; but from 1815 to 1824 inclusive there was no race for it, with the single exception of 1816.
During the latter half of the 18th century horse-racing declined very much in England, and numbers of meetings were discontinued, the wars which took place necessarily causing the change. From the beginning of the 19th Two Thousand, &c. century, and especially after the conclusion of the French war in 1815, racing rapidly revived, and many new meetings were either founded or renewed after a period of suspension, and new races were from time to time established. Among others the Two Thousand Guineas at Newmarket for three-year-old colts and fillies, and the One Thousand Guineas for fillies, were established in 1809 and 1814 respectively, the Goodwood Stakes in 1823, the Chester Cup and Brighton Stakes in 1824, the Liverpool Summer Cup in 1828, the Northumberland Plate in 1833, the Manchester Cup in 1834, the Ascot Stakes and the Cesarewitch and Cambridgeshire Handicaps at Newmarket in 1839, the Stewards’ and Chesterfield Cups at Goodwood in 1840, the Great Ebor Handicap at York in 1843, and, to omit others, the City and Suburban Handicap at Epsom in 1851, and the Lincoln Handicap in 1853.
Two-year-old racing was established very shortly after the great three-year-old races, and on a similar footing, that is to say, the competitors carried the same weights, with the exception of a slight allowance for sex,—the July Stakes at the Newmarket Midsummer Meeting having been founded as early as 1786. The Woodcote Stakes at Epsom succeeded in 1807, the Champagne Stakes at Doncaster in 1823, the Criterion Stakes at the Houghton Meeting in 1829, the Chesterfield Stakes at the Newmarket July meeting in 1834, the New Stakes at Ascot in 1843, the Middle Park Plate (or two-year-old Derby, as it is sometimes called) at the Newmarket Second October Meeting in 1866, the Dewhurst Plate at the Houghton Meeting in 1875, and the Richmond Stakes at Goodwood in 1877.
- (E. D. B.)
Present Conditions.—Horse-racing, usually described as “the national sport,” has greatly advanced in general popularity in the British Isles. There is no doubt that the best specimens of the English thoroughbred horse are the Classic Races in England. finest animals of their kind in existence; the value of an infusion of the blood for chargers, hunters, hacks, and other varieties is scarcely to be overestimated; and the only way of ascertaining what animals may be most judiciously employed for breeding purposes is to submit them to the tests of preparation for and performance on the turf. Racing is therefore a practical necessity. On some accepted authority, the origin of which is not to be traced, five races run each season by three-year-olds are distinguished as “classic.” Of these the chief, by universal consent, is the Derby, which takes place at Epsom during the week which includes the 31st May. The Epsom course, on which the Derby has been run since its origin in 1780, is by no means a good one, in consequence of the abrupt turn at Tattenham Corner; and the severe descent after this turn is made is also held to be a disadvantage, though a really good horse should be able to act on ascents, descents and level ground with equal relative facility. In many respects the St Leger, run at Doncaster about the middle of September, is a better test, as here colts and fillies meet when both are presumably able to do themselves the fullest justice. September, indeed, has been called “the Mares’ Month,” for though fillies are eligible to run in the Derby, they are very frequently out of sorts and always more or less uncertain in their performances during the summer—only four have been successful in 129 contests for the stake—whereas in the autumn their numerous victories in the St Leger prove them to be at their best. It was the recognition of this fact which induced an alteration of the weights in the year 1882, previously to which fillies had carried 5 ℔ less than colts; the weights, formerly 8 st. 10 ℔ and 8 st. 5 ℔, are now 9 st. and 8 st. 11 ℔. The Doncaster course is superior for racing purposes to that at Epsom, where the Oaks, another of the “classic races,” is run on the Friday following the Derby; the other two contests which come into this category being the Two Thousand Guineas for colts and fillies, and the One Thousand Guineas for fillies only. These races take place at Newmarket during the First Spring Meeting, the former always on a Wednesday, the latter on Friday. The expression “a Derby horse” is common, but has no precise significance, as the three-year-olds vary much in capacity from year to year. It is generally understood, for instance, that Ormonde, who won the Derby in 1886, must have been at least 21 ℔ superior to Sir Visto or Jeddah, who were successful in 1895 and 1898. By their ability to carry weight the value of horses is estimated on the turf. Thus one horse who beats another by a length over a distance of a mile would be described as a 5-℔ better animal.
The term “handicap horse” once had an adverse significance which it does not now possess. In handicaps horses carry weight according to their presumed capacity, as calculated by handicappers who are licensed by the Jockey Club and employed by the directors of different meetings. The idea of a handicap is to afford chances of success to animals who would Handicap Horses. have no prospect of winning if they met their rivals on equal terms; but of late years the value of handicaps has been so greatly increased that few owners resist the temptation of taking part in them. Horses nowadays who do not run in this kind of contest are very rare, though a few, such as Ormonde, Isinglass, and Persimmon, never condescended to this class of sport. The duke of Westminster did not hesitate to put his Derby winner Bend Or into some of the chief handicaps; and it is, of course, a great test of merit when horses carrying heavy weights show marked superiority in these contests to rivals of good reputation more lightly burdened. St Gatien, who dead-heated with Harvester in the Derby of 1884; Robert the Devil, who won the St Leger in 1880 and on several occasions beat the Derby winner Bend Or; and La Flèche, who won the Oaks and the St Leger in 1892, added to the esteem in which they were held by their successes under heavy weights, the colts in the Cesarewitch, the filly in the Cambridgeshire. Of the chief handicaps of the year, special mention may be made of the City and Suburban, run at the Epsom Spring Meeting over 1¼ m.; the Kempton Park Jubilee, over 1 m.; the Ascot Stakes, 2 m., and the Royal Hunt Cup, 1 m.; the Stewards’ Cup at Goodwood, six furlongs; the Cesarewitch Stakes and the Cambridgeshire Stakes at Newmarket, the former 2¼ m., the latter now a mile and a furlong—till lately it was “a mile and a distance”—“a distance” on the Turf being a fixed limit of 240 yds. The cups at Manchester, Newbury, and Liverpool are also handicaps of some note, though it may be remarked that the expression “a cup horse” is understood to imply an animal capable of distinguishing himself over a long distance at even weights against the best opponents. There are many other valuable stakes of almost equal importance, diminishing to what are known as “selling handicaps,” the winners of which are always put up for sale by auction immediately after the race, in the lowest class of them the condition being that the winner is to be offered for £50. No stake of less than £100 can be run for under Jockey Club rules, which govern all reputable flat racing in England, nor is any horse ever entered to be sold for less than £50. As horses mature they are naturally able to carry heavier weights.
Scale of Weight for Age.
The following scale of weight for age is published under the sanction of the Stewards of the Jockey Club as a guide to managers of race meetings, but is not intended to be imperative, especially as regards the weights of two-and three-year olds relatively to the old horses in selling races early in the year. It is founded on the scale published by Admiral Rous, and revised by him in 1873, but has been modified in accordance with suggestions from the principal trainers and practical authorities.
|Age.|| Mar. and
|May.||June.||July.||Aug.||Sept.|| Oct. and |
|Five Furlongs—||st. ℔||st. ℔||st. ℔||st. ℔||st. ℔||st. ℔||st. ℔|
|Two years||6 0||6 2||6 7||6 9||7 0||7 4||7 7|
|Three years||8 2||8 3||8 5||8 7||8 9||8 10||8 11|
|Four years||9 0||9 0||9 0||9 0||9 0||9 0||9 0|
|Five, six and aged||9 1||9 0||9 0||9 0||9 0||9 0||9 0|
|Two years||6 0||6 4||6 7||6 11||7 0||7 5||7 7|
|Three years||8 4||8 6||8 8||8 10||8 12||9 0||9 2|
|Four years||9 7||9 7||9 7||9 7||9 7||9 7||9 7|
|Five, six and aged||9 9||9 8||9 7||9 7||9 7||9 7||9 7|
|Two years||6 5||6 7|
|Three years||7 9||7 11||7 13||8 2||8 4||8 5||8 6|
|Four years||9 0||9 0||9 0||9 0||9 0||9 0||9 0|
|Five, six and aged||9 4||9 3||9 2||9 0||9 0||9 0||9 0|
|One Mile and a Half—|
|Two years||6 0||6 4|
|Three years||7 7||7 9||7 11||7 13||8 1||8 3||8 5|
|Four years||9 0||9 0||9 0||9 0||9 0||9 0||9 0|
|Five, six and aged||9 5||9 4||9 3||9 2||9 1||9 0||9 0|
|Two years||6 0||6 2|
|Three years||7 8||7 11||7 12||8 0||8 3||8 4||8 5|
|Four years||9 4||9 4||9 4||9 4||9 4||9 4||9 4|
|Five, six and aged||9 10||9 9||9 8||9 7||9 6||9 5||9 4|
|Three years||7 1||7 4||7 5||7 7||7 9||7 11||7 13|
|Four years||9 0||9 0||9 0||9 0||9 0||9 0||9 0|
|Five years||9 8||9 7||9 6||9 5||9 5||9 4||9 3|
|Six and aged||9 10||9 8||9 7||9 6||9 5||9 4||9 3|
In the year 1884 the managers of Sandown Park formulated the scheme of a race for a prize of £10,000, to be called the Eclipse Stakes, and to be run over a distance of 1¼ m. In order to secure a large entry, horses were to be £10,000 Races. nominated soon after their birth; owners who perceived the hopelessness of their nominations could withdraw at stated intervals by the payment of increasing forfeits; if their animals finally went to the post a stake amounting in all to £115 would have to be paid for them; and thus it will be seen that owners were really running for their own money, though if there were an insufficient number of entries the funds of the club might be taxed to supply the deficiency. The scheme was found to be attractive, and the example was followed at Leicester and at Manchester, at both of which places, however, it lapsed. At Newmarket, under the immediate auspices of the Jockey Club, the £10,000 races succeeded, and there were two of them each year. The Princess of Wales’s Stakes was run for the first time in 1894 at the First July Meeting, and the Jockey Club Stakes at the First October. The former has, however, now been reduced to £2000 added to a sweepstake of £30 each with a minor forfeit. In the year 1900 a fourth race of similar character, the Century Stakes, was originated at Sandown, but the experiment proved a failure, and the contest was discontinued.
The age of the thoroughbred horse is always dated from the 1st January. Foals are generally born in February, March or April, though not a few good horses have been born in May; they become yearlings, therefore, on the 1st Two-year-old Races. January following, two-year-olds twelve months later, and many of them begin to race in the following March, for flat racing always starts during the week which contains the 25th, except when Easter falls unusually early. In France no two-year-olds run until the 1st August, and discussion is frequently raised as to the respective wisdom of the English and French systems. It happens, however, that some young horses “come to hand” soon, and deteriorate with equal rapidity. They are, in fact, able to win races at the beginning of the season, and fail to hold their own later in the year against bigger and more powerful animals of their own age who have taken longer to mature; so that there is some argument in favour of the earlier date. The first noteworthy two-year-old race is the Brocklesby Stakes, run at Lincoln during the first week of the season. Sometimes the winner of the Brocklesby is really a good animal, as was the case with The Bard in 1885 and Donovan in 1888, but as a general rule when the autumn comes he is found to be far inferior to the winners of subsequent two-year-old races of good class. It is seldom that a first-class two-year-old appears before the Ascot Meeting about the middle of June, though horses of character sometimes run for the Woodcote Stakes at Epsom and in other contests elsewhere. The names of many of the most famous horses on the turf are found in the list of winners of the New Stakes at Ascot, which was first run in 1843 and maintains its character. In 1890 the Coventry Stakes was originated, and is regarded as a race of practically equal importance. The July Stakes at Newmarket is the oldest of existing two-year-old races, having been first run in 1786. The list of winners is a brilliant one. The Chesterfield Stakes ranks with it. The best two-year-olds are usually seen out at Goodwood, and as a general rule those that have chiefly distinguished themselves during the year, and are to make names for themselves later in life, are found contesting the Middle Park Plate at the Newmarket Second October Meeting and the Dewhurst Plate at the Newmarket Houghton. The Middle Park Plate is generally worth over £2000, the other races named are between £1000 and £2000 in value; but these are not the richest two-year-old prizes of the year, the value of the National Breeders’ Produce Stakes at Sandown, run on the day following the Eclipse, being between £4000 and £5000, and the Imperial Stakes at Kempton Park falling not very far short of £3000. As a rule, a colt who has been specially successful as a two-year-old maintains his capacity later in life, unless it be found that he cannot “stay”—that is to say, is unable to maintain his best speed over more than five or six furlongs; but it is frequently the case that fillies who have won good races as two-year-olds entirely lose their form and meet with little or no success afterwards.
Newmarket is called with reason “the headquarters of the Turf.” There are about forty training establishments in the town, each trainer being in charge of an average of thirty to forty horses, irrespective of mares, foals and Newmarket. yearlings. During the year eight race meetings are held on the Heath: the Craven; the First and Second Spring; the First and Second October—the First October usually occurring at the end of September; and the Houghton. These are contested on “the Flat,” the course which includes the Rowley Mile. It is said that the Rowley Mile is so called from the fact of its having been a favourite race-ground with Charles II. The First and Second July Meetings take place on another course, known as “Behind the Ditch,” the Ditch being the huge embankment which runs through several counties and has existed from time immemorial. The Craven Stakes for three-year-olds is an event of some importance at the first meeting of the year. It used to finish on an ascent at what is called the “Top of the Town,” a course over which the handicap for the Cambridgeshire was run. This course has now been abandoned and the stand pulled down. At the First Spring Meeting the Two Thousand Guineas and the One Thousand Guineas occur, as already stated, but the names do not represent the values of the stakes, which are, in fact, usually worth close on £5000 each. The July Stakes and the Princess of Wales’ Stakes are run at the First July Meeting. The Jockey Club Stakes is the leading event of the First October; the Cesarewitch and the Middle Park Plates follow in the Second October; the Criterion Stakes, another of the few races that once finished at the “Top of the Town,” the Cambridgeshire and the Dewhurst Plate take place at the Houghton Meeting. The majority of races finish at the Rowley Mile post; but there are three other winning-posts along the Rowley Mile. “Behind the Ditch” races finish at two different posts, one of which enables horses to avoid the necessity of galloping up the severe ascent of the “Bunbury Mile.” Although, as a rule, there is no better racing to be seen than the best events Ascot and other meetings. at Newmarket, the programmes are often spun out by selling plates and paltry handicaps, and a high level is nowhere so consistently maintained as at Ascot. The Ascot meeting is distinguished by the entire absence of selling plates, and much more “added money” is given than on any other course. Added money is the sum supplied by the directors of a race meeting, derived by them from the amounts paid for entrances to stands and enclosures; for in many races—the Ten Thousand prizes, for instance—owners run mainly or entirely for money which they have themselves provided. The Ascot Cup is generally spoken of as a race success in which sets the seal to the fame of a good horse. It is a prize of the highest distinction, and of late years has been of considerable value, the winner in 1909 having gained for his owner £3430. That the number of runners for this race should be invariably small—the average for many years past has been about six—is not a matter of surprise to those who are familiar with the Turf. There are very few horses possessing sufficient speed and staying power to make it worth the while of their owners to submit them to the exceedingly severe test of a preparation for this race, which is run over 2½ m. of ground at a time of year when the turf is almost always extremely hard everywhere, and harder at Ascot than almost anywhere else. There is no course on which more good horses have hopelessly broken down. All the prizes are handsome, and success at Ascot confers much prestige, for the reason that the majority of horses that run are good ones; but annually there is a list of victims that never recover from the effects of galloping on this ground. Goodwood also attracts horses of high character, though some unimportant races fill out the programme. Formerly there were many meetings around London, which fell into disrepute in consequence of the manner in which they were conducted. These have been replaced by well-managed gatherings in enclosed parks, and here the value of the prizes is often so high that the best horses in training are attracted. These meetings include Sandown, Kempton, Gatwick, Lingfield, Newbury and Hurst Park. Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, Brighton, York and various other towns have race meetings twice or oftener in the course of each year. At the various fixtures over half a million of money is annually given in stakes. The largest sum ever won by a horse was the £57,185 gained by Isinglass in 1892-1895. Donovan follows with £54,935. In all probability these large totals would have been considerably exceeded had not Flying Fox—who had won in his first two seasons £40,090—been disqualified by the death of his owner, the duke of Westminster, as this colt was engaged in the four £10,000 races of 1900, in which to all appearance he could not have been beaten, so much was he superior to his contemporaries. The death of an owner of horses disqualifies the animals he has entered—a necessary regulation, as otherwise an heir might be burdened with a stable of horses the possession of which would entail heavy expense and serious responsibility on a person who perhaps had no knowledge of or taste for racing.
The value of an unquestionably good horse is enormous. It has been seen what handsome prizes are offered for competition, and when withdrawn from the Turf the horse may secure a large income to his owner at the stud. A Value of horses. stallion’s fee of 600 guineas (as in the case of St Simon) should mean well over £20,000 a year; and fees of 100 guineas and more are common. Proved merit on the Turf is considered essential in a sire, though there have been instances of horses, unsuccessful during their racing career, who have distinguished themselves at the stud: Wisdom, sire of the Derby winner Sir Hugo, and several notable examples might be cited. Mares are much more uncertain in this respect. On the whole, the famous mares that have won the Oaks, the St Leger and other leading races, have been apt to fail in the paddocks; but there is always a hope of success with them, and the large sum of 12,600 guineas was paid for La Flèche when she had ceased from active service on the Turf. For None-the-Wiser 7200 guineas was given; and 4600 guineas for Wedlock when well advanced in years, on the strength of her having been the dam of a good horse called Best Man. Well-bred mares that have shown no capacity for racing are, however, frequently the dams of good winners. Breeding is a lottery. An Australian enthusiast some years since published a book the object of which was to enable breeders to produce good horses by a species of mathematical calculation; but the fallacy of the “Figure System” was at once proved by the simple circumstance that in very many cases the own brothers and sisters of good winners, whose breeding conformed entirely to the system, proved to be utterly worthless for racing purposes. It is a fact difficult of explanation that the majority of famous winners have been privately bred by their owners. Many persons breed for sale, in some cases sparing no expense or trouble in the endeavour to secure good results, and yearlings sold by auction have fetched prices of from 10,000 guineas (paid for Sceptre, a daughter of Persimmon and Ornament, in 1900) downwards; sums of over 1000 guineas being frequently given. That so large a proportion of high-priced yearlings should turn out failures is not at all a matter for surprise, considering the uncertainties of the Turf, but it by no means follows that a high-priced yearling is necessarily an expensive animal; 5500 guineas was, for instance, given for La Flèche, who won for her owner £34,585 in stakes, and, as already observed, was subsequently sold for 12,600 guineas. The principal yearling sales take place during the July meeting at Newmarket and the Doncaster meeting in September. There are also sales at Ascot and elsewhere. The Royal Stud at Bushey Park, where Memoir, La Flèche, Best Man and other good animals were bred, has now been abandoned.
In many cases trainers have graduated from jockeys. The usual charge to an owner is 50s. a week per horse, but, as regards the cost of a horse in training, to this there are various additions irrespective of entrances to races, forfeits, Trainers and jockeys. travelling, jockey’s fees, &c. The recognized sum paid to a jockey is 3 guineas for a losing mount, 5 guineas for winning. In many cases special terms are made; the principal owners usually have a claim on a rider’s services, and for this call as much as £5000 per annum, exclusive of the usual riding fees, has been given.
From time immemorial until within a very recent period jockeys rode in much the same style, though, of course, with varying degrees of skill. Many hundreds of boys exercise daily at Newmarket and other training grounds, all of them necessarily having a firm seat in the saddle, for the thoroughbred horse is, as a rule, high-couraged and apt to play violent tricks; but though most of these lads find chances to distinguish themselves in trials and races for apprentices, probably not 5% grow into professional jockeys, increasing weight keeping many from the business, as a jockey has few chances unless he can ride well under 9 stone. Knowledge of pace is a rare gift or acquisition which is essential to successful jockeyship. The rider must also be quick to perceive how his own horse is going—what he has “left in him”; he must understand at a glance which of his rivals are beaten and which are still likely to be dangerous; must know when the moment comes for the supreme effort to be made, and how to balance and prepare the horse for that critical struggle. At the beginning of the race the jockey used to stand in his stirrups, with the idea of removing weight from the horse’s back and preserving perfect steadiness; towards the end of the race, if it were necessary to drive the animal home, he sat down “to finish.”
This method used to be adopted in all countries, but recently a new system came into practice in America. Instead of putting the saddle in the middle of the horse’s back, where it had always been placed previously, it was shifted forward on to the animal’s withers. The jockey rode with very short stirrups, leaning forward over the neck and grasping the reins within a few inches of the horse’s mouth. The appearance of this was ungainly in the extreme and an entire departure from ancient ways (though Fordham and a few other riders of great reputation had always sat much more forward than their contemporaries), but it was found to be remarkably effective. From the position thus adopted there was less resistance to the wind, and though the saving in this respect was largely exaggerated, in racing, where success or failure is frequently a matter of a very few inches, every little that helps is to be considered. The value of the discovery lay almost entirely in the fact that the horse carries weight better—and is therefore able to stride out more freely—when it is placed well forward on his shoulders. With characteristic conservatism the English were slow to accept the new plan. Several American jockeys, however, came to England. In all the main attributes of horsemanship there was no reason to believe that they were in the least superior to English jockeys, but their constant successes required explanation, and the only way to account for them appeared to be that horses derived a marked advantage from the new system of saddling. A number of English riders followed the American lead, and those who did so met with an unusual degree of success. Race-riding, indeed, was in a very great measure revolutionized in the closing years of the 19th century.
Of late years American horses—bred, it must always be remembered, from stock imported from England—have won many races in England. Australian horses have also been sent to the mother country, with results remunerative Foreign horses. to their owners, and the intermixture of blood which will necessarily result should have beneficial consequences. French horses—i.e. horses bred in France from immediate or from more or less remote English parentage—have also on various occasions distinguished themselves on English race-courses. That coveted trophy, the Ascot Cup, was won by a French horse, Elf II., in 1898, it having fallen also to the French-bred Verneuil in 1878, to Boiard in 1874, to Henry in 1872 and to Mortemer in 1871. In the Cesarewitch Plaisanterie (3 yrs., 7 st. 8 ℔) and Ténébreuse (4 yrs., 8 st. 12 ℔) were successful in 1885 and 1888; and Plaisanterie also carried off the Cambridgeshire as a three-year-old with the heavy weight of 8 st. 12 ℔ in a field of 27 runners. In most respects racing in France is conducted with praiseworthy discrimination. There are scarcely any of the five- and six-furlong scrambles for horses over two years old which are such common features of English programmes.
That the horses who have covered various distances in the shortest times on record must have been exceptionally speedy animals is obvious. The times of races, however, frequently form a most deceptive basis in any attempt Time. to gauge the relative capacity of horses. A good animal will often win a race in bad time, for the reason that his opponents are unable to make him exert himself to the utmost. Not seldom a race is described as having been “won in a canter,” and this necessarily signifies that if the winner had been harder pressed he would have completed the course more quickly. The following figures show the shortest times that had been occupied in winning over various distances up to the spring of 1910:—
|Five furlongs||Mirida (2 years), Epsom, 1905||0||5625|
|Le Buff (aged), Epsom, 1903|
|Master Willie (aged), Epsom, 1903|
|Six furlongs||Master Willie (5 years), Epsom, 1901||1||715|
|Seven furlongs||Vav (4 years), Epsom, 1907||1||2035|
|Mile||Caiman (4 years), Lingfield, 1900||1||3315|
|Mile and a quarter||Housewife (3 years), Brighton, 1904||2||145|
|Mile and a half||Zinfandel (3 years), Manchester, 1903||2||2845|
|Mile and three quarters||Golden Measure (4 years), York, 1906||2||5745|
|Two miles||Pradella (aged), Ascot, 1906||3||1925|
|Two miles and a half||Bachelor’s Button, Ascot, 1906||4||2315|
|Three miles||Corrie Roy, Ascot, 1884||5||9|
It may be noted that, as compared with similar records in 1901, only three of these latter held good in 1910, i.e. the mile, the six furlongs and the three miles. The fastest times over a mile and a half (the Derby and Oaks distance) up to 1901 may be repeated here as of some interest: Avidity, 2 min. 3045 secs., in September 1901 at Doncaster; Santoi, 2 min. 31 secs., in May 1901 at Hurst Park; King’s Courier, 2 min. 31 secs., in 1900 at Hurst Park; Landrail, 2 min. 34 secs., in September 1899 at Doncaster; Carbiston, 2 min. 3725 secs., in August 1899 at York; Bend Or, 2 min. 40 secs., in 1881 at Epsom (gold cup): Volodyovski won the Derby in 1901, and Memoir the Oaks in 1890, in 2 min. 4045 secs.
As regards time in famous races, Ormonde, perhaps the best horse of the 19th century—one, at any rate, that can scarcely have had a superior—occupied 2 minutes 4535 seconds in winning the Derby; and Lonely, one of the worst mares that have won the Oaks, galloped the same mile and a half in 2 seconds less. Ormonde’s St Leger time was 3 m. 2125 s., and Sir Visto, one of the poorest specimens of a winner of the great Doncaster race, took 3 m. 1825 s. The regulation of the weight to be carried serves to “bring the horses together,” as the popular sporting phrase runs—that is to say, it equalizes their chances of winning; hence handicaps, the carrying of penalties by winners of previous races, and the granting of “maiden allowances.” A horse that has never won a race, and is therefore known as a “maiden,” often has an allowance of as much as 7 ℔ made in its favour.
Sport is carried on under the auspices of the Jockey Club, a self-elected body of the highest standing, whose powers are absolute and whose sway is judicious and beneficent. Three stewards, one of whom retires each year, when a The Jockey Club. successor is nominated, govern the active—and extremely arduous—work of the club. They grant licences to trainers and jockeys and all officials, and supervise the whole business of racing. The stewards of the Jockey Club are ex officio stewards of Ascot, Epsom, Goodwood and Doncaster. All other meetings are controlled by stewards, usually well-known patrons of the Turf invited to act by the projectors of the fixture, who settle disputed points, hear and adjudicate on objections, &c., and, if special difficulties arise, report to the stewards of the Jockey Club, whose decision is final.
Steeplechasing has altered entirely since the first introduction of this essentially British sport. In early days men were accustomed to match their hunters against each other and ride across country to a fixed point near to some Steeplechasing. steeple which guided them on their way; and this is no doubt, in several respects, a class of sport superior to that now practised under the name of steeplechasing; for it tested the capacity of the horse to jump fences of all descriptions, and provided the rider with opportunities of showing his readiness and skill in picking the best line of country. But racing of this kind afforded spectators a very small chance of watching the struggle; and made-up steeplechase courses, the whole circuit of which could be viewed from the enclosures, came into existence. The steeplechase horse has also changed. The speed of the thoroughbred is so much greater than that of all other breeds that if one were in the field, if he only stood up and could jump a little, his success was certain; consequently, except in “point-to-point” races, organized by various hunts, where a qualification is that all starters must have been regularly ridden with hounds, few other than thoroughbred horses are nowadays ever found in races run under the rules of the National Hunt Committee, the body which governs the sport of steeplechasing. A considerable proportion of existing steeplechase horses have done duty on the flat. Members of certain equine families display a special aptitude for jumping; thus the descendants of Hermit, who won the Derby in 1867, are very frequently successful in steeplechases—Hermit’s son Ascetic, the sire of Cloister, Hidden Mystery and other good winners, is a notable case in point. The sons and daughters of Timothy and of several other Hermit horses often jump well. When a flat-race horse appears to have comparatively poor prospects of winning under Jockey Club rules, he is frequently, if he “looks like jumping,” schooled for steeplechasing, generally in the first place over hurdles, and subsequently over what is technically called “a country,” beginning with small fences, over which he canters, led by some steady animal who is to be depended on to show the way. A great many steeplechase horses also come from Ireland. They are usually recognizable as thoroughbred, though it is possible that in some cases the name of an ancestor may be missing from the Stud Book. Irish horse-masters are for the most part particularly skilful in schooling jumpers, and the grass and climate of Ireland appear to have beneficial effects on young stock; but, as a rule, the imported Irish horse improves considerably in an English training-stable, where he is better fed and groomed than in most Irish establishments. All steeplechase courses must at the present time contain certain regulation jumps, the nature of which is specified in the National Hunt rules:—
44. In all steeplechase courses there shall be at least twelve fences (exclusive of hurdles) in the first 2 m., and at least six fences in each succeeding m. There shall be a water jump at least 12 ft. wide and 2 ft. deep, to be left open, or guarded only by a perpendicular fence not exceeding 2 ft. in height. There shall be in each m. at least one ditch 6 ft. wide and 3 ft. deep on the taking-off side of the fence, which ditch may be guarded by a single rail, or left open, and which fence must be 4 ft. 6 in. in height, and, if of dead brushwood or gorse, 2 ft. in width.
45. In all hurdle-race courses there shall be not less than eight flights of hurdles in the first 2 m., with an additional flight of hurdles for every quarter of a m. or part of one beyond that distance, the height of the hurdles being not less than 3 ft. 6 in. from the bottom bar to the top bar.
Natural fences would no doubt be desirable if they could be utilized; but it is obvious that fences must be made up, because when the same hedge is jumped frequently, and for the most part in the same place—as it is the object of riders to go the shortest way round—gaps would necessarily be made. The use of these made courses naturally renders the sport somewhat artificial, but under existing conditions this is unavoidable; and as a matter of fact, by reason of the conformation of the ground, the arrangement and make of the fences, courses do vary in no small degree. The steeplechase horse differs from the hunter in his method of jumping. In riding to hounds a man usually steadies his horse at a fence, and in almost every case the animal “dwells” more or less after the leap. In a steeplechase, where speed is everything, horses must be taught to dash resolutely at their jumps without hesitation, and to get away with no pause on the other side; as a rule, therefore, an old steeplechase horse who is employed as a hunter is rarely a pleasant mount for any but a bold rider. It has been remarked that steeplechase horses are usually in the first place schooled over hurdles, and many animals remain hurdle racers till the end. More speed is required for hurdles than for a steeplechase course, and there is more money to be won over hurdles than over “a country.” No hurdle race is worth so much as the Grand National or the Lancashire Handicap Steeplechase, the two richest prizes now offered; but, with the exception of these, hurdle-race stakes are as a rule of greater value. Except as a spectacle, there is little to be said in defence of this mongrel business, which is neither one thing nor the other; but hurdle races are popular and are therefore likely to continue. A few years ago an attempt was made to discriminate between what were called “hunters” and handicap steeplechase horses, and certain races were only open to the former class. It proved, however, to be a distinction without a difference; thoroughbred horses crept into the ranks of the so-called hunters, and when nominal hunters began to be entered for, and in some cases to win, the Grand National and other important steeplechases, for which they could be nominated by abandoning their qualification of hunter, the meaningless title was relinquished. Still more absurd were the hunters’ flat races of a former day. In order to compete in these the rule was that an owner must produce a certificate from a master of hounds to the effect that his horse had been hunted. Thoroughbreds who lacked speed to win under Jockey Club rules used to be ridden to a meet, perhaps cantered across a field or two, and were then supposed to have become hunters. Animals who were genuinely and regularly utilized for the pursuit of foxes had of course no chance against these race-horses in shallow disguise. What are called National Hunt flat races still exist, the qualification being that a horse must have been placed first, second or third in a steeplechase in Great Britain or Ireland, after having jumped all the fences and completed the whole distance of the race to the satisfaction of at least two of the stewards, to whom previous notice must have been given in writing. There are no handicaps for such animals, and none is allowed to carry less than 11 stone. No race under National Hunt rules can be of a shorter distance than 2 m., except for three-year-olds, who sometimes run a mile and a half over hurdles; and the lowest weight carried can never be less than 10 stone except in a handicap steeplechase of 3½ m. or upwards, when it may be 9 st. 7 ℔.
Horses are ridden in these races either by gentlemen, or qualified riders or jockeys. The first of these classes comprises officers on full pay in the army or navy, persons holding commissions under the Crown, bearing titles either in their own right or by courtesy, or members of certain social and racing clubs. Qualified riders may be farmers holding at least a hundred acres of land, their sons if following the same occupation, and persons elected by members of the National Hunt Committee, a proviso being that they must never have ridden for hire; but it is feared that this rule is in not a few cases evaded. Professional jockeys are paid £5 for each mount or £10 if they win. The sport is governed by the National Hunt Committee, a body which receives delegated powers from the Jockey Club, and six stewards are elected every year to supervise the business of the various meetings. Steeplechases and hurdle races are either handicaps or weight-for-age races according to the following scale:—
|For Steeplechases of 3 miles and upwards.|
|From the 1st of January to the 30th of June, both inclusive:—|
|4 yrs.||||5 yrs.||||6 and aged|
|10 st. 3 ℔||11 st. 8 ℔||12 st. 3 ℔|
|From the 1st of July to the 31st of December, both inclusive:—|
|4 yrs.||5 yrs.||6 and aged|
|11 st.||11 st. 12 ℔||12 st. 3 ℔|
|For Steeplechases of less than 3 miles.|
|From the 1st of January to the 30th of June, both inclusive:—|
|4 yrs.||5 yrs.||6 and aged|
|10 st. 10 ℔||11 st. 10 ℔||12 st. 3 ℔|
|From the 1st of July to the 31st of December, both inclusive:—|
|4 yrs.||5 yrs.||6 and aged|
|11 st. 6 ℔||12 st.||12 st. 3 ℔|
|For Hurdle Races.|
|From the 1st of January to the 31st of August, inclusive:—|
|4 yrs.||5 yrs.||6 and aged|
|11 st. 6 ℔||11 st. 10 ℔||12 st. 0 ℔|
|From the 1st of September to the 31st of December, inclusive:—|
|3 yrs.||4 yrs.||5, 6, and aged|
|10 st. 7 ℔||11 st. 12 ℔||12 st. 3 ℔|
The great test of merit in a steeplechase horse is success in the Grand National, which is always run at Liverpool during the first week of the flat-racing season. The course is 4½ m., and includes thirty jumps, the fences being for The Grand National. the most part larger than are found elsewhere. The average time occupied is well under ten minutes. The stake has varied in value since the race was originated in 1839; it now amounts to close on £2500. Only a very small percentage of steeplechase horses possess the speed and staying power to give them a chance in this race, and the number of entries year by year falls considerably short of a hundred, the prospects of many of these usually appearing hopeless to all but unduly sanguine owners. The average number of starters during the period 1860-1901 was rather over twenty. As many as thirty-two competed in 1909, when the French-bred Latteur III. won; in 1883, when Zoedone, ridden by her owner, Count Kinsky, was successful, only ten went to the post. Mishaps are almost invariably numerous; in most years about one-third complete the course. So severe is the task that for a long time many good judges of steeplechasing believed that no horse with more than 12 stone on his back could possibly win. In 1893, however, Cloister won in a canter by forty lengths carrying 12 st. 7 ℔, and with the same weight Manifesto also won in 1899. The race which most nearly approaches the Grand National in importance is the Lancashire Handicap Steeplechase, run at Manchester over 3½ m. early in April. The stake is worth about £1750. An interesting steeplechase called the Grand Sefton takes place at Liverpool about the middle of November; the distance is 3 m. During the winter, and extending into the spring, steeplechasing and hurdle racing are carried on at Sandown, Kempton, Gatwick, Lingfield, Newbury and Hurst Park; at Ludlow, Newmarket, Aldershot, Birmingham, Manchester, Windsor and other places. A race called the National Hunt Steeplechase, under the immediate patronage of the National Hunt Committee, is run annually over a 4-mile course, the stake being £1000. Managers of various courses bid for the privilege of having the race on their ground, and it is therefore found in different localities. A condition is that no horse who has ever won a race can compete; and, as few owners are willing to keep their animals with a view to success in this event, the field consists either of unknown horses or of those that have been beaten.
Racing in Australia has its headquarters at Sydney, under the government of the Australian Jockey Club, the principal course being at Ranwick; and at Melbourne, where the Victoria Jockey Club is supreme, the principal course being at Flemington. In New Zealand sport is carried on under the authority of delegates from the chief racing clubs, who meet in conference. There is a Sydney Derby and a Victoria Derby, and a notable event at Flemington is the Champion Race, weight-for-age, for three-year-olds and upwards, which usually attracts the best horses in training, as the fee at which a sire stands depends in a great measure on his success in this contest. This race is over a distance of 3 m., and to ensure a good pace there is a regulation that the time in which it is run must not exceed 5 minutes 40 seconds, though the stewards have power to extend this in case the ground should be made exceptionally heavy by rainy weather. The Melbourne Cup is regarded as one of the most important races in the state. This is a handicap, and in comparison with English races may perhaps be ranked with the Cesarewitch. The birth of horses dates from the 1st of August, which corresponds as nearly as possible to the 1st of February in England, so that the Australian horses are practically seven months younger than the English—a matter of some importance in the case of those sent to run in England. There are few races which close long before the date of decision, and practically all the good animals run in handicaps. The five- and six-furlong races for other than two-year-olds, so common in Great Britain, are extremely rare; and it is asserted by colonial sportsmen that their horses stay better than those bred in England, a circumstance which is largely attributed to the fact that mares and foals have much more liberty and exercise than is the case in the mother country.
Horse-racing was indulged in to a limited extent in Maryland and Virginia as early as the middle of the 17th century, particularly in the latter colony. Most of the inhabitants of both were either from the British Isles or were descended from parents who had immigrated from them, and they inherited a taste for the sport. The animals used for this purpose, however, were not highly prized at the time, and the pedigree of not even one of them has been preserved. A horse called Bully Rock by the Darley Arabian out of a mare by the Byerly Turk, granddam by the Lister Turk, great-granddam a royal mare, foaled 1718, is the first recorded importation of a thoroughbred horse into America. He was imported into Virginia in 1730. In 1723 the duke of Bolton bred a mare named Bonny Lass by his celebrated horse Bay Bolton out of a daughter of the Darley Arabian. She became celebrated in England as a brood mare, and was the first thoroughbred mare, according to the records, that was carried to America. This is supposed to have been in or after 1740, as the Stud-Book shows she produced in England after 1739 a filly by Lord Lonsdale’s Arabian, and subsequently became familiar to the public as the granddam of Zamora. The importations increased very rapidly from this period, and many valuable shipments were made before the war which resulted in a separation of the colonies from the mother country. This acquisition of thoroughbred stock increased the number and value of racing prizes, and extended the area of operations into the Carolinas in the South, and New Jersey and New York in the North. The first race run in South Carolina was in February 1734 for £20. It took place over “the Green,” on Charleston Neck. This shows that the earlier races in America were actually on the turf, as they have always been in England. The next year a Jockey Club was organized at Charleston (1735), and a course was prepared, such as those which came later into general use throughout the states, the turf being removed and the ground made as level as possible.
After 1776, when the United States declared their independence of Great Britain, the importation of thoroughbred horses from England became quite common, and selections were made from the best stocks in the United Kingdom. This continued and even increased as the country became developed, down to 1840. The following Derby winners were among those carried into the states: Diomed, who won the first Derby in 1780; Saltram, winner in 1783; John Bull, winner in 1792; Spread Eagle, winner in 1795; Sir Harry, winner in 1798; Archduke, winner in 1799; and Priam, who won in 1830. The most important and valuable importations, however, proved to be Jolly Roger, Fearnought, Medley, Traveller, Diomed, Glencoe, Leviathan, Tranby, Lexington, Margrave, Yorkshire Buzzard, Albion and Leamington. The best results were obtained from Diomed and Glencoe. Diomed sired one horse, Sir Archy, who founded a family to which nearly all the blood horses of America trace back. He was foaled in 1805, in Virginia, and became celebrated as a sire. The superiority of his progeny was so generally conceded that they were greatly sought after. From this period, too, the number and value of races increased; still they were comparatively few in number, and could not compare in value with those of Great Britain. Up to 1860 the value of racing prizes was quite inadequate to develop large breeding establishments, or to sustain extensive training stables. Then the civil war between the North and the South broke out, which raged for four years. Breeding establishments were broken up during that time; the horses were taken by the armies for cavalry purposes, for which service they were highly prized; and racing was completely paralysed. It took some time to regain its strength; but an era of prosperity set in about 1870, and since then the progress in interest has been continuous.
In the United States interest in trotting races more than rivals that felt in the contests of thoroughbred horses. This interest dates back to the importation to Philadelphia from England, in 1788, of the thoroughbred horse Messenger, a grey stallion, by Mambrino, 1st dam by Turf, 2nd dam by Regulus, 3rd dam by Starling, 4th dam by Fox, 5th dam Gipsey, by Bay Bolton, 6th dam by duke of Newcastle’s Turk, 7th dam by Byerly Turk, 8th dam by Taffolet Barb, 9th dam by Place’s White Turk. He was eight years old when imported to the United States. He was at the stud for twenty years, in the vicinity of Philadelphia and New York, serving a number of thoroughbred mares, but a far greater number of cold-blooded mares, and in the progeny of the latter the trotting instinct was almost invariably developed, while his thoroughbred sons, who became scattered over the country, were also noted for transmitting the trotting instinct. The first public trotting race of which there is any account in the United States was in 1818, when the grey gelding Boston Blue was matched to trot a mile in 3 minutes, a feat deemed impossible; but he won, though the time of his performance has not been preserved. From about that date interest in this gait began to increase; breeders of trotters sprang up, and horses were trained for trotting contests. The problem of breeding trotters has been necessarily found to be a much more complex one than that of breeding the thoroughbred, as in the latter case pure blood lines of long recognized value could be relied upon, while in the former the best results were constantly being obtained from most unexpected sources. Among the leading families came to be the Hambletonian, of which the modern head was Rysdyk’s Hambletonian, a bay horse foaled in 1849, got by Abdallah (traced to imp. Messenger on the side of both sire and dam) out of the Charles Kent mare, by imp. (i.e. imported) Bellfounder, with two crosses to imp. Messenger on her dam’s side; the Mambrinos, whose modern head was Mambrino Chief, foaled 1844, by Mambrino Paymaster, a grandson of imp. Messenger; the Bashaws, founded by Young Bashaw, foaled 1822, by Grand Bashaw, an Arabian horse, dam Pearl, by First Consul; the Clays, springing from Henry Clay, a grandson of Young Bashaw through Andrew Jackson; the Stars, springing from Stockholm’s American Star, by Duroc, son of imp. Diomed; the Morgans, whose founder was Justin Morgan, foaled 1793, by a horse called True Briton, or Beautiful Bay, who was probably thoroughbred; the Black Hawks, a branch of the Morgan family; the Blue Bulls, descended from Doyle’s Blue Bull, foaled 1855, a pacer, sired by a pacer of the same name, dam by Blacknose, son of Medoc; the Canadians, whose best representatives were St Lawrence and pacing Pilot, horses of unknown pedigree; the Gold Dusts, another branch of the Morgan family; and the Royal Georges, springing from Tippoo, a horse who was probably by Ogden’s Messenger, son of imp. Messenger. But trotters of great speed have been produced which do not trace to any of the sources mentioned. Very large prices are paid. Steinway, a three-year-old colt, was sold in 1879, to go to California, for $13,000; and in 1878 $21,000 was paid for the four-year-old filly Maud S., after she had trotted a mile in public in 2 m. 17½ s. Much larger sums have been paid, however, for matured trotters, such as $40,000 for the stallion Smuggler, $38,000 for Pocahontas, $35,000 for Dexter, $36,000 for Rarus, and long prices for many others; St Julien, the trotter with the fastest record at the close of 1879, was held at $50,000, while Rysdyk’s Hambletonian, Messenger Duroc and Volunteer were valued, in their prime, at $100,000 each.
Compared with the early days of American trotting, the advance has been rapid and the changes marked. After the performance of Boston Blue, mentioned above, more attention was paid to the gait, but for a long time the races were generally under saddle, and at long distances, 3 m. being rather the favourite. The best of the old time trotters were Edwin Forrest, who trotted a mile in 2 m. 31½ s. in 1834; Dutchman, who did 3 m. under saddle in 7 m. 32½ s.; Ripton; Lady Suffolk, who trotted a mile in 2 m. 26½ s. in 1843, and headed the list of performers; Mac, Tacony, &c. After 1850, however, the taste of the people settled upon the style of race called “mile heats, best three out of five, in harness” as the favourite. By “in harness” is meant that the horse draws a sulky, a light two-wheeled vehicle in which the driver sits close to the horse, with his legs on each side of his flanks. These sulkies often weigh less than 40 ℔. The driver is required to weigh, with the blanket on which he sits, 150 ℔, while for saddle races the regulation weight is 145 ℔, or 10 st. 5 ℔. Each heat of a mile is a separate race; 20 minutes is allowed between heats; and the horse that first places three heats to his credit wins the race. There are various penalties imposed upon a horse that breaks into a run in a trotting race. The driver is required to pull him to a trot as quickly as possible; if the horse gains by running, the judges set him back at the finish twice the distance he has gained, in their estimation, by running; and for repeated “breaks” they can declare him distanced. The first-class tracks are of oval shape, with long stretches and easy curves, measuring 1 m. at 3 ft. distance from the “pole,” as the inner railing of the track is called. The time in which the leading horse trots each heat is accurately kept, placed on a blackboard in front of the judges’ stand for the information of the public, and also placed in the book of the course. The fastest time that any trotter has is thus entered as his “record.” This is one of the distinctive features of trotting in America.
Prior to 1866 purses for trotters were small; match races were more in vogue, and the trotting turf was in bad odour. In that year an association was formed at Buffalo, N.Y., which inaugurated its efforts by offering the then unprecedented sum of $10,500 for a trotting meeting of four days’ duration. The experiment was successful; other cities followed the example of Buffalo; larger and larger purses were given; and at Buffalo in 1872 the prizes amounted to $70,000. Since then the amount offered in the United States and Canada, during a single year, has reached $1,500,000. Individual trotters, in the course of a long turf career, earn enormous amounts. A remarkable instance of this was the mare Goldsmith Maid, by Alexander’s Abdallah (a son of Rysdyk’s Hambletonian), out of an Abdallah mare. She began trotting in 1866, and left the turf in 1878, when twenty-one years old, and her winnings amounted to over $200,000.
In 1869 the National Trotting Association was formed, under which an elaborate code of rules has been published.
In trotting races, it will be noted, the time test is supreme, differing from running races, in which time is of comparatively little consequence. The animal which has the fastest record for 1 mile in harness is, until deposed, the king or queen of the trotting turf. Lady Suffolk, with her record of 2 m. 26½ s., in 1843, held this honour until 1853, when Tacony trotted in 2 m. 25½ s. under saddle; Flora Temple wrested it from him in 1856 by trotting in 2 m. 24½ s. in harness. This latter mare, in 1859, trotted a mile in 2 m. 19¾ s., a feat which the best horsemen thought would never be repeated, but since that time forty-two trotters have beaten 2 m. 20 s. Dexter’s record was 2 m. 17¼ s. in 1867, and Goldsmith Maid’s in 1871 was 2 m. 17 s., which she reduced, by successive efforts, to 2 m. 16¾ s., 2 m. 16 s., 2 m. 15 s., 2 m. 14¾ s., and finally, in 1874, to 2 m. 14 s. In 1878 Rarus trotted a mile in 2 m. 13¼ s., and in October 1879 the bay gelding St Julien, by Volunteer, son of Rysdyk’s Hambletonian, dam by Henry Clay, trotted a mile in California in 2 m. 12¾ s. Other notable performances reducing the record were Maud S. in 1881, 2 m. 10¼ s.; Maud S. in 1885, 2 m. 8¾ s.; Sunol in 1891, 2 m. 8¼ s.; Nancy Hanks in 1892, 2 m. 4 s.; Alix in 1894, 2 m. 3¾ s.; Cresceus in 1901, 2 m. 2¼ s.; Lou Dillon in 1905, 1 m. 58½ s. Improved times have doubtless been the result of improved methods, as well as of care in the breeding of the trotter. Some very severe training rules used to be sedulously observed; about 1870, for instance, a horse never had water the night before a race, and the system generally appears to have overtaxed the animal’s strength. A prominent consideration in trotting races is the adjustment of toe-weights, which are fastened on to the horses’ feet to equalize their action, and it is found that horses improve their time to the extent of several seconds when properly shod.
Pacing races are also frequent in the United States. In trotting the action may be described as diagonal; the pacer moves both legs on the same side at the same time, and both feet stride as one. A similar “gait,” to employ the American term, was called in England some centuries ago an “amble.” The pacer moves more easily and with apparently less exertion than the trotter, and the mile record (made by Prince Alert in 1903) stands at 1 m. 57 s.
Owing to the vast size of the country there are various centres of sport, which can be classified with reasonable accuracy as follows: the Eastern States, dominated by the Jockey Club, founded in New York in 1894, and recognized by a state law in 1895; the Middle Western States, under the control of the Western Jockey Club, whose headquarters are in Chicago; the Pacific Coast, with San Francisco for its centre; and the Southern and South-Western States, with Louisville as the most important centre. The passage of the racing law in New York State marked the opening of a new era. Supreme even over the Jockey Club is a State Racing Commission of three, appointed by the governor of the state. While the Jockey Club is only recognized by law in its native state, it has assumed and maintains control of all racing on the eastern seaboard, within certain lines of latitude and longitude, extending as far north as the Canadian border and south to Georgia. There is small question that other states, both east and west, will follow suit and enact similar laws. The Western Jockey Club, though not recognized by law, controls practically all the racing through the middle west, south-west and south; but the racing associations of the Pacific Coast have maintained a position of independence.
What New York is to the east, Chicago is to the middle west, and a very large proportion of American racing is conducted close to these centres. In New York State the Coney Island Jockey Club, at Sheepshead Bay; the Brooklyn Jockey Club, at Gravesend; the Westchester Racing Association, at Morris Park; the Brighton Beach Racing Association, at Brighton Beach; the Queen’s County Jockey Club, at Aqueduct; and the Saratoga Racing Association, at Saratoga, are the leading organizations; and all these race-courses, with the exception of Saratoga, are within a radius of 20 miles of the city. The Empire City Jockey Club, near Yonkers, and another club with headquarters near Jamaica, Long Island, have also become prominent institutions. The Washington Park Club, at Chicago, is the leading Turf body of the west, and the only one on an equal footing with the prominent associations of New York State. With this single exception the most important and valuable stakes of the American Turf are given in the east; and so great has the prosperity of the Turf been since the Jockey Club came into existence that the list of rich prizes is growing at a surprising rate. In this respect the principal fault is the undue encouragement given to the racing of two-year-olds. At the winter meetings held at New Orleans and San Francisco, two-year-olds are raced from the very beginning of the year; and under the rules of the Jockey Club of New York they run as early as March. The Westchester Racing Association, with which are closely identified some of the principal members of the Jockey Club, gives valuable two-year-old stakes in May. The Futurity Stakes, the richest event of the year—on one occasion it reached a value of $67,675—is for two-year-olds, and is run at Sheepshead Bay in the autumn. The institution of races, either absolutely or practically at weight-for-age, and over long courses, has engaged much attention. The Coney Island Jockey Club has the leading three-year-old stake in the Lawrence Realization, over 1 mile 5 furlongs, with an average value of about $30,000. The Westchester Racing Association’s two principal three-year-old stakes, the Withers, over a mile, run in May, and the Belmont, 1 mile and 3 furlongs, run later in the same month, are of less value, but are much older-established and have a species of “classic” prestige, dating from the old Jerome Park race-course in the ’sixties. The Coney Island Jockey Club’s Century and the Annual Champion Stakes, both for three-year-olds and upwards, over a mile and a half and two miles and a quarter respectively, are fair specimens of the races the associations have founded. At Saratoga a stake of $50,000 for three-year-olds and upwards, distance a mile and a quarter, was opened, and run for first in 1904. The hope is to wean owners from the practice of overtaxing their two-year-olds, which has resulted practically in a positive dearth, almost a total absence, of good four-year-olds and upwards of late years. Handicaps play a more important part than in England. The principal events of this character, such as the Brooklyn Handicap at Gravesend and the Suburban at Sheepshead Bay, have for years drawn the largest attendances of the racing season.
Practically all flat racing in the United States is held on “dirt-tracks,” i.e. courses with soil specially prepared for racing, instead of turf courses. At Sheepshead Bay there is a turf course, but it is only used for a minority of races. Dirt-tracks, which are, like many other things in American racing, a legacy from the once hugely popular harness-racing, are conducive to great speed, but are costly in the extreme strain on horses’ legs. Steeplechases are run on turf. This branch of the sport in the east is now flourishing under the administration of the National Steeplechase and Hunt Association, a sister body of the Jockey Club. Comparatively few races are, however, run under these rules, as the weather conditions render it impossible to have a separate season for cross-country sport and steeplechases, and hurdle races are incorporated in programmes of flat racing held through the spring, summer and autumn, though the ground is frequently so hard as to be unsafe. Since the National Steeplechase and Hunt Association assumed control, regulation courses, practically similar in every respect to those used in England, have been insisted upon in the east, the “open ditch” figuring under the name of the “Liverpool.” In the west and south there is not the same uniformity, and so far the sport has not flourished.
Racing in France as conducted on modern lines may be said to date from the year 1833, when the French Stud-Book was originated, and a body formed, somewhat after the model of the English Jockey Club, under the title of the Société d’Encouragement pour l’Amélioration des Races de Chevaux en France. Races took place in the Champs de Mars, and an unsuccessful attempt was made in 1834 to arrange for a course, or “hippodrome,” as it is termed in France, at Maisons Laffitte. Chantilly was, however, fixed upon as the principal racing centre; on the 22nd April 1836 the first meeting was held there, with five races on the card, the principal being the Prix d’Orléans, a stake of 3500 francs, named after the duc d’Orléans, one of the chief promoters of the fixture. Next day the first race for the Prix du Jockey Club was run, and won by Frank, the property of Lord Henry Seymour, who was at the time taking a very active part in French sport. The Prix du Jockey Club was then worth 5000 francs; the value has since increased to 200,000 francs. This race occupies in France the place of the English Derby. The Prix de Diane, which corresponds to the English Oaks, was first run in 1843. Chantilly still continues an important centre of the French Turf, and a great many horses are trained in the district. Attempts had been made to popularize racing at Longchamps prior to the year 1856, when the Société d’Encouragement obtained a lease, erected stands, laid out the course, and held their first meeting on the 27th August 1857. Next season two meetings were held, one of four days in the spring and another of three in the autumn; at the present time the sport is vigorously carried on from March to the end of October, except during a summer recess. In 1857 meetings under the auspices of the Société d’Encouragement began to take place at Amiens, Caen, Nantes, Versailles, Moulins and other towns; and there were stakes for two-year-olds in the spring, though of late years the appearance of the young horses has been postponed to the 1st of August. Progress was rapid, and in 1863 two important events were contested for the first time, the Prix du Prince Impérial, which was designed to balance the English St Leger, but for obvious reasons faded out of the programme, and the Grand Prix de Paris, an international race for three-year-olds, run at Longchamps over a distance of 1 mile 7 furlongs, and now the most valuable stake in Europe. In 1909 the prize was £14,071. The first Grand Prix fell to an English horse, Mr Savile’s The Ranger; two years later it was won by Gladiateur, winner of the English Derby and the property of the comte de Lagrange, who raced equally in France and in England; the duke of Beaufort’s Ceylon was successful in 1866, and the marquis of Hastings’ Earl in 1868. Mr Savile’s Cremorne followed up his Derby victory by a victory at Longchamps in 1872, as did Mr Baltazzi’s Kisber four years later. English horses were also victorious in 1874 (Mr W. R. Marshall’s Trent), in 1878 (Prince Soltykoff’s Thurio), in 1880 (Mr C. Brewer’s Robert the Devil), in 1881 (Mr Keene’s Foxhall, who, however, should rather rank as an American horse), in 1882 (Mr Rymill’s Bruce), in 1885 (Mr Cloete’s Paradox), in 1886 (Mr Vyner’s Minting); and in 1906 Major Eustace Loder’s Derby winner Spearmint. During the first 23 years of the Grand Prix (owing to the war the race did not take place in 1871) the stake fell to English horses—if Kisber and Foxhall be included—on twelve occasions, and generally to English jockeys. In recent years, however, French owners have held their own. In not a few respects racing is managed more judiciously than in England. The courses, for one thing, are better tended and maintained. The five- and six-furlong races for others than two-year-olds, which are so common at English meetings, are comparatively rare in France, and the value of the prizes in an average day’s racing is considerably higher across the Channel than in England. A very large percentage of trainers and jockeys are English, and the former are, as a rule, quite as expert as at Newmarket and elsewhere. Transatlantic methods have been introduced by American jockeys since 1899. From the middle of February until the middle of December a race meeting within easy reach of Paris takes place almost every day, except during August, when the sport is carried on in the provinces, notably at Deauville. Near Paris, the chief centre after Longchamps is Maisons Laffitte. At Longchamps, early in October, a race called the Prix du Conseil Municipal, worth £4000, for three-year-olds and upwards, over a mile and a half, was organized in 1893, and has usually attracted English horses, Mr Wallace Johnstone’s Best Man having been successful in 1894, and Mr Sullivan’s Winkfield’s Pride the following year. Except when the Whip is challenged for and the challenge decided over the Beacon Course at Newmarket, no race is run in England over a longer distance than two miles and 6 furlongs; but in France the Prix Gladiateur, of £1200 and a work of art value £100, 3 miles 7 furlongs, creates considerable interest at Longchamps in the autumn.
The first recognized steeplechase in France took place at Croix de Berny, and was won by the comte de Vaublanc’s May-fly, all the horses at that time being ridden by gentlemen. Sport does not seem to have been Steeplechasing. carried on with much spirit, for it is said that the death of an animal called Barcha, in 1839, nearly led to the abandonment of the meeting; and it was not till 1863, when the Société des Steeplechases de France was founded, that the business was resolutely taken in hand. Gravelle and Vincennes were the principal centres until 1873, when the Société obtained possession of the ground at Auteuil, where the excellent course now in use was laid out. In 1874 twelve days’ racing took place here, the card each day including three steeplechases and a hurdle race, the “hurdles,” however, being small fences, as they are at present. The Grand Steeplechase d’Auteuil was then for a stake of 30,000 francs, at the time the most valuable offered in any country; but, as in racing on the flat, the stakes have enormously increased in value, and in 1901 the Paris Grand Steeplechase, as the chief event is now called, credited the winner with £6020, the hurdle race being worth rather more than half as much. In England there is scarcely any steeplechasing between March and November, except at hunt meetings, but in Paris cross-country sport is pursued almost all through the year, the chief races at Auteuil taking place in June, about the time of the Grand Prix, which is usually run for between the English Epsom and Ascot meetings. The Auteuil course is laid out in the shape of the figure 8, with varied fences, several of which really test a horse’s jumping capacity; and variety is further obtained by starting the fields in different places and traversing the course in different ways. St Ouen, a meeting within half an hour’s drive of the Louvre, is entirely devoted to steeplechasing; and jumping is also carried on at Vincennes, Colombes, Enghien, and elsewhere near Paris, as also at Nice in the winter, at Dieppe and other places in August. As a rule, the stakes run for, especially at Auteuil, are very much larger than in England. There are none of the clubs and special enclosures such as at Sandown, Kempton, Hurst, Lingfield, Gatwick, &c., though portions of the stand are set apart for privileged persons. A fee of 20 francs is charged for admission to the chief French race-courses, with half as much for a lady’s voucher, and the tickets give access everywhere but to the very few reserved portions. At Vincennes, St Cloud, and some other courses trotting races are also contested.
Other Countries.—Racing in Germany is mainly conducted under the authority of the Union Club of Berlin, the principal course being the Hoppegarten. Two-year-olds do not run until the 1st of June, except in Saxony, where they appear a month earlier. During the month of August there are several days’ racing at Baden-Baden, steeplechases as well as flat races being run. Some of the more valuable stakes are usually contested by a proportion of horses from France and other countries, a few being occasionally sent from England. For years past blood-stock has been imported from England. In Austria the two centres of racing are Vienna and Budapest, each of which has its Jockey Club. Racing in Belgium derives no little support from the contiguity of the country to France. The headquarters of the Belgium Jockey Club are in the Bois de la Cambre at Boisfort, and meetings are held at Ostend, Antwerp, Spa, Bruges and elsewhere. Steeplechases take place at Groenenval and on other Belgian courses, but are not of high class. Racing has not reached a great degree of excellence in Italy, though attempts have been made to improve competitors by the purchase of Melton, who won the Derby of 1885, and of other notable animals. Meetings take place at Florence, Padua, Bologna and other places, but the stakes are usually small.