Handicap Horse Racing
( Originally Published 1898 )
HANDICAPS—From one point of view the handicap is an altogether absurd institution ; for the result is simply and solely to show how far wrong the handicapper is in his estimate of the ability of the horses he weights. The winner comes in two lengths ahead of his field, and thereby demonstrates either that the adjuster of the weights regarded him as a 7 lbs. or 10 lbs.. worse animal than he is, or else that he accepted the second as a 7 lbs. or 10 lbs. better. A horse wins by a neck. The handicapper is shown to be only a couple of pounds or so wrong; but that is all the race has proved. Handicaps, however, are practically indispensable, for the reason that it takes more than the general scale of penalties and allowances to give the moderate animal a chance, and if racing were confined to the comparatively few good horses, the sport would be enormously circumscribed. Selling handicaps dealt with in a later division of this article, under the head of " Selling Races " are of course infinitely more preposterous, for here a horse carrying 9 st. may give a 3 St. beating to a horse carrying 6 st., yet both are entered to be sold for the same price and supposed to be worth the same amount. Such races merely serve the purpose of filling cards and providing opportunity for betting; they assuredly tend little to accomplish the professed object of the Turf the improvement of the thoroughbred. The principal handicaps, nevertheless, have frequently an interest of their own on certain occasions, when really good horses are called upon to perform very difficult tasks, and succeed in accomplishing them in handsome fashion, a very great and special interest. The handicap, indeed, is of value as serving to show what good horses can do ; for those that have most to carry are often called upon to give more weight away to moderate, useful, or even to horses of no small proved capacity, than would be the case in any other variety of contest.
Horses may thus make reputations in handicaps, and of late years the old distinction between the weight-for-age and the handicap horse has been well nigh obliterated ; one reason for this doubtless being that handicaps are often worth so much that there. are very few owners who do not enter the best animals they possess. Ormonde, St. Simon, Donovan, Isinglass, are among the rare exceptions. The Duke of Westminster is a typical owner who races habitually for the most distinguished prizes the turf offers ; but he did not hesitate to enter his Derby winner Bend Or in handicaps, the sire of Ormonde having won the City and Suburban the spring after his Epsom triumph, and having failed the sanie autumn in the Cambridgeshire. Here Bend Or, 4 years old, carrying 9 St. 8 lbs., ran unplaced to Foxhall, 3 years old, 9 st. The two thus met at weight-for-age, and the younger colt, who had never taken part in a " classic " race, very easily beat the classic winner. To Lucy Glitters, who was second to Thebais for the Oaks and a good third to Iroquois for the St.Leger—beaten less than two lengths—Foxhall gave no less than 3 St. 7 lbs. In the face of this what ground can there be for disparaging Foxhall as a " handicap horse " ? St. Gatien, a Derby winner, or dead-heater, which is much the same thing, gained lustre by his success in the Cesare-witch as a three-year-old with 8 st. 10 lbs. Melton failed in the Cambridgeshire, but carried 9 st. 3 lbs. home, as a four-year-old, in the Liverpool Autumn Cup. La Flèche, beaten for the Derby by a horse subsequently proved to be much her inferior, but winner of the One Thousand, Oaks, and St. Leger, ran in handicaps, won the Cambridgeshire as a three-year-old with 8 st. 10 lbs., and the Liverpool Autumn Cup next year with 9 St. 6 lbs. Memoir, an Oaks and Leger winner, ran in handicaps. Throstle won the St. Leger, beating Ladas and Matchbox, for which latter the Austrian Government paid 18,000 guineas. Soon afterwards Throstle met Best Man, a " handicap horse," and he beat her easily. Isonomy was a "handicap horse," but it would be difficult to say how much superior he was to the Derby winner of that year, Sefton.
The Lincolnshire handicap is always the first of the season, and is invariably run during the week which includes the 25th of March, unless that week is the week next before Easter Sunday. A few three-year-olds occasionally take part in it, Clarence won in 1892 and Wolf's Crag in 1893 -but are rarely successful, even in these days of early maturity. The class of competitors is generally rather moderate or useful than very good, yet Bendigo (1885, 5 years old, 8 st. 5 lb.) was a horse of class, and the reputations of Clorane (1896, 5 years, 9 St. 4 lbs.), and Winkfield's Pride (1897, 4 years, 8 st. 9 lbs.), were greatly enhanced by their victories. The next really important handicap is the City and Suburban at the Epsom Spring Meeting, and here class is often well represented. Sefton, who did win the Derby modest specimen as he was of the horses that have earned that fame carried off the City and Suburban as a three-year-old in 1878 with 5 st. 8 lbs. ; it was not till afterwards that the minimum weight in handicaps was raised to 6 st. that Master Kildare (5 years, 9 st. 2 lbs.) won in 1880, and in course of time became notable as the sire of Melton ; Bend Or, as already remarked, won with 9 st. in 1881. Bird of Freedom, who (albeit in a bad year) won the Ascot Cup, preceded that event by securing the City and Suburban in 1885 (3 years, 6 st. 9 lbs.), and Buccaneer comes into the same category, except that he won at Epsom as a four-year-old, carrying 7st. 10 lbs. The previous season the race had fallen to an Oaks winner, Rêve d'Or (6 years, 7 st. 13 lbs.). The Great Metropolitan is the companion race at the Epsom Spring, but, as is usually the case in long distance handicaps except the Cesarewitch, good horses are the exception in Metropolitan fields. They have, moreover, much deteriorated during the last few years ; indeed, a few extremely bad animals have won the Metropolitan. Previously some good, sound, honest stayers had been successful in this race. Dutch Skater, who did credit to himself at the stud, as the sire of the St. Leger winner Dutch Oven, won in 1872. There is an incident of some interest about the Metropolitan of the following year. Tom Cannon won on Mornington ; his second son was born on the same day, and named after the horse in celebration of the victory. That Mornington Cannon'sname is now written large in Turf history need scarcely be stated, he having headed the annual list of winning jockeys on six occasions. Hampton, a horse who grew from little things to great, won in 1875, as a three-year-old, carrying 6st.3 lbs., a creditable performance with the low minimum which then ruled. New Holland, a slow, muddling horse belonging to Prince Soltykoff, managed to get home in 1876, and 1879 was memorable for the victory of a good honest animal in the American Parole. Chippendale, who afterwards won the Cesarewitch, and on two other occasions came very near to victory, was successful in 1880, and the Duke of Hamilton carried off the prize in 1882 with Fiddler, a horse who afterwards gained a reputation by beating Foxhall for the Alexandra Plate at Ascot. But this was one of those instances in which horses win fame which they scarcely deserve, for after his severe exertions on the previous day in the Ascot Cup, Foxhall was too stiff and sore to do himself justice. In 1883 Lord Rosebery won with Vista, who subsequently distinguished herself by becoming the dam of a Derby winner, albeit an extremely bad one, in Sir Visto. Althorp, too, won the Ascot Cup the year after taking the Metropolitan, but he was probably the worst horse that ever carried off that trophy, and bad the luck to meet two extremely poor opponents.
The Chester Cup, first run in 1824, was for many years one of the most important handicaps of the year. Entries were made many months before the race, and betting on it was heavy and continuous throughout the winter. Alice Hawthorn, Leamington (twice), St. Albans, Tim Whiffler, Beeswing, Paul Jones who seems to have been admiringly called " The Steam Engine " by his friends Knight of the Garter, and other good horses have won the Chester Cup. The day on which it was run used to be a holiday all round the district and along the borders of North Wales; but for some reason or other the race diminished in interest, and the number of starters fell off. When Joe Miller won in 1852 no fewer than forty-three animals went to the post, and it is said that they had to be started in two rows ; of late years, however, the fields have not seldom failed to reach double figures ; Prudhomme in 1882 and Merry Prince in 1885 met only six opponents, and Biserta in 1883 had only five. Eastern Emperor, who carried the Duke of Beaufort's colours, the disappearance of which has been so sincerely regretted by lovers of the Turf of all classes, must be reckoned as a good horse, for previously to winning the Chester Cup in 1886 he had carried off the Royal Hunt Cup at Ascot, thus showing himself to be possessed of both speed and stamina. Next year Carlton, who ran in the colours of the Duke of Beaufort's son, the late Lord Edward Somerset, won the race before making a great name for himself by his success in the Manchester November Handicap, carrying the great weight of 9 st. 12 lbs. Tyrant, who won in 1890, was also a good horse, the Chester Cup being one of a skilfully planned succession of victories. The Duke of Westminster has always taken a strong interest in the meeting, which is held in the neighbourhood of Eaton Hall, and Mr. R. K. Mainwaring, the handicapper, has sedulously devoted himself, with satisfactory results, to the revival of Chester. It is never, perhaps, likely to be all it once was, for the reason that there are so many rival meetings of importance, and unfortunately for Chester, one of these takes place during the same week. This is at Kempton Park, where the feature is the Jubilee Handicap. As the name implies, this was started in 1887, and few races in the Calendar have ever so speedily made their way to popularity. Good fields invariably go to the post, and some notable horses have carried heavy weights to victory. In the first year of the race it was won by Bendigo with 9 St. 7 lbs. on his back, and the fame of this achievement was surpassed next season when Minting won in a field of nineteen with 10 st. Amphion, one of the handsomest horses the contemporary Turf has seen, sustained the character of the Jubilee in 1889 by his victory with 7 St. 1 lb. in the saddle, a heavy weight in view of the fact that he was only a three-year-old, and the race was run at the beginning of May. Next year, however, The Imp, a moderate animal who afterwards belonged to the Prince of Wales, lowered the class of the list of winners ; but it was sustained again by Euclid, 3 years, 7 st. 4 lbs. ; Orvieto, 5 years, 9 st. 5 lbs. ; Avington, 4 years, 8 st. 1 lb. ; and Victor Wild, an extremely good horse over this course, who won in 1895 as a five-ear-old with 8 st. 4 lbs., repeated his victory in the ensuing season with 9 St. 7 lbs., and was only beaten a length in 1897 with 9 st. 9 lbs.
The Manchester Cup is noteworthy for the fact that Isonomy in 1880 made a great stir in the Turf world by his success in a field of twenty-one, carrying the huge weight of 9 st. I z lbs. The performance had been deemed well nigh impossible until it was accomplished by that good horse. To go into the history of this race, however, it may be said that Isonomy was very lucky to win ; a colt called The Abbot, who was only just beaten, could not have lost but that his jockey rode with a most total disregard of the orders that had been given him ; nevertheless the latter was in receipt of a great amount of weight from Isonomy, whose performance would still have been memorable even had he just been beaten. But there is naturally a glamour about success. Between defeat and victory there is only, in many cases, a difference really of a very few inches—a pound or two, if it be calculated in weight ; a little luck in the course of the race would have turned the scale 3but the horse that is just beaten is apt to seem a very inferior animal to the horse that just wins. It was supposed that the gallant little Bard would have taken this Cup in 1886, but the lightly-weighted Riversdale, with 6 st. 1 lb. to carry, just had the best of him, though this defeat scarcely diminished the prestige of The Bard, who carried 8 st. 4 lbs. over this mile and three quarters. Carlton, a good sound stayer, as he showed in the Chester Cup and the Manchester November Handicap, won here in 1887 with the respectable burden of 8 st. 9 lbs., and L'Abbesse de Jouarre, the year after her Oaks victory, was successful with 8 st. 6 lbs.
Like so many other long distance races, the Ascot Stakes has fallen off of late years. The stake was originated in 1839 and won by a three-year-old mare called Marchioness, who carried the indefinite light weight described as a "feather." There was at this time no minimum, and indeed in the following year the Stakes was won by Darkness, with only 5 st. 4 lbs. on her back. That good stayer, Musket, who has done such admirable service at the stud in Australia, won in 1870 with 8 st. 12 lbs., a very heavy burden for a three-year-old, though for some reason or other the field consisted of only four runners. There have indeed seldom been many starters for this race ; twenty-three ran in 1848, when Vampyre won the first time (he was successful again the following year), but on no other occasion have the runners exceeded eighteen. The late Sir Joseph Hawley in 1870 won with Rosicrucian, who three years previously had been regarded as good enough to win the Derby, in which he was beaten by his stable companion, Blue Gown. The remark, "horses for courses," has already been noted, and it is remarkable how often there seems justification for it. Thus Pageant won the Chester Cup twice, as did Dalby and Dare Devil. Ivanhoff was twice successful in the Manchester Cup, Shancrotha won in 1893, and was not beaten—he ran a dead-heat-in 1894. Vampyre, as just remarked, twice carried off the Ascot Stakes ; Teviotdale did so in 188o and 1881, and Lord Lorne in 1889 and 1890. Previously to the success of Dan Dancer in 1888, he had been jumping hurdles, as had Billow before she won in 1892, and, it may be added, Prudhomme, before he won the Chester Cup. There is generally supposed to be some derogation in character when a horse runs over hurdles, though to this rule, if it be one, there are some notable exceptions, Hampton himself having been a hurdle jumper before he gained fame for himself and fortune for his owner. Class was found again in the Ascot Stakes in 1895, when Ravensbury carried off the Cup with 9 St. 9 lbs. It went to France by the aid of Arlequin in 1896, and of Masque in 1897.
Of all handicaps throughout the year, perhaps the Cambridgeshire is universally regarded as the most important ; but the Royal Hunt Cup at Ascot runs it close. This race was originated in 1843 and has always attracted large fields and usually brought out horses of good class. Of late years, indeed, it has rather increased than diminished in interest. See Saw, who won in 1869, was in all respects a creditable example of the English thoroughbred, though the same cannot be said for Judge, successful in the following year. Judge had been bought for a very few sovereigns, but his light weight enabled him to get home before animals of better class. That extraordinarily speedy horse Lowlander, by the way, was also a hurdle-racer, and won the Hunt Cup in 1874. There was a sensational race in 1881, when the five-year-old Peter, with 9 st. 3 lbs. on his back, stopped to kick and was left far behind after the field had gone some way. That Archer should have persuaded him to gallop, and that he should subsequently have won with his heavy weight, assuredly stamps him as a remarkable animal. Such an event is unprecedented under the circumstances. The distance is only a mile ; to be accurate, it is short of that measurement by 74 yards; considering the speed at which horses gallop, and that the pace is always good in this race, it will be readily understood how very little time there is to lose on the journey. Morion, three years old, 7 st. 9 lbs., showed what a good horse he was by winning in 1890. No animal of his age had successfully carried so heavy a weight before, though his record was broken two years later when Suspender, also three years old, won with 7 st. 10 lbs. in a field of twenty-five. Suspender was never beaten, and there is no saying how good he may have been; unfortunately it could never be ascertained in public, for he fell one of the many victims of the hard ground at Ascot, and was never able to run again after his victory in the Hunt Cup. That good miler, Victor Wild, gained one of his many victories here in 1894, and notwithstanding that he did not win in 1896, he ran an extra-ordinarily good race, being only just beaten by Knight of the Thistle, a four-year-old who had proved himself to be something more than useful, and who was in receipt of no less than 2 st. 7 lbs. from the winner of 1894. The Wokingham Stakes, run over six furlongs, is a species of minor edition of the Hunt Cup, and, as good animals are nearly always found in the field, success here adds much to a horse's reputation ; except of course that if an animal does not fairly "get a mile " his character as a racehorse, having regard to the assumed aim and object of racing, does not rank high.
At Goodwood there are two noteworthy handicaps : the Stakes, first run in 1823 over a distance of 2 miles, and therefore a test of staying, and the Stewards' Cup, run over the T.Y.C., which, as elsewhere noted, is here six furlongs. The same remark that has been made about the Metropolitan and the Ascot
Stakes applies to Goodwood. Horses of class and character are rarely found in the Stakes ; and what has been said about "horses for courses " also comes in here, as Stumps and Orelia both won twice. This, by the way, is still more remarkable in the Chesterfield Cup at the same meeting, for Coomassie won it in 1876 and 1877, Victor Emmanuel in 1880 and 1881, and Vibration in 1882 and 1883. Hampton won the Stakes in 1876, and that he too liked the course is demonstrated by the fact of his having carried off the Cup in the following year. Bay Archer, who has done good service to the stud in France, won in 1879, and that good mare Corrie Roy was not stopped in 1883 by her 9 st., a weight that was also carried successfully by Carlton in 1887. How little competition there has been for long distance races of late years is made evident by the fact that in 1885 the race was void for lack of entries ; and the next year it resulted rather curiously, for the Duke of Beaufort's Winter Cherry, who had only been started to make running for Sir Kenneth (belonging to Lord Hartington, now Duke of Devonshire), carried off the prize. An anecdote may here be interpolated to show how Turf " certainties " are upset and how totally unexpected results occur. The present writer chanced to drive up to the course in a fly with the Duke of Beaufort ; as we were getting out of the carriage the fly-man obviously had something to say. An opportunity being afforded him, he begged to know whether the Duke had any fancy for his mare, which the flyman, for some mysterious reason, said he thought was sure to win. The Duke overheard the question, and with characteristic kindness said, " No, my man, don't waste your money on her ; she has no chance whatever." Walking to the stand he remarked to his companion, "I am only starting my mare to make running for Hartington ; Sir Kenneth, he thinks, cannot be beaten. I have backed him and should advise you to do the saine." It was never supposed that Winter Cherry could possibly win, the idea being that she would fade out before a couple of miles had been covered. Her jockey was only told to jump off at the best pace he could and come along all the way ; and he did this so effectually that she was never headed. The flyman met his fares after the races with a somewhat reproachful look, evidently feeling that he had been put off a good thing, and the kindly Duke felt the man's disappointment much more than the loss of his own money, though an extra sovereign consoled the would be backer of Winter Cherry.
The late Alec Taylor was about this time extraordinarily successful in the preparation of horses for long distance races. In four successive years from 1886 his stable carried off the Goodwood Stakes, with Winter Cherry, Carlton, Stourhead, and Ingram ; he won the Metropolitan with The Cob in 1887, with Parlington in 1890, and with Ragimunde in 1891. The Northamptonshire Stakes fell to the Manton trained Claymore in 1889. Eastern Emperor and Carlton won the Chester Cup in 1886 and 1887 respectively ; Ragimunde won the Cesarewitch in 1891, and The Cob should have done so in 1886 ; Carlton won the Doncaster Cup in 1887 as did Claymore in 1889; and four times in five years from 1886 the stable carried off the Manchester November Handicap, with Stour-head, Carlton (20 runners) Claymore (18), and Parlington (19).
Returning to the Stewards' Cup at Goodwood, there is comparison with the interest which the contest annually awakens. It is, indeed, rather as a medium of speculation than as a great race that the Stewards' Cup has to be considered. Some notably speedy horses have won Oxonian, Trappist, Herald, and Peter. Another horse who went a great pace ought to have won in 1888. This was Bismarck, whose jockey, however, after he had passed the distance, turned round to grin derisively at his followers, whom he supposed he had easily beaten, when his horse seized the opportunity of swerving and running right across the course, leaving a half-bred five-year-old mare from Danebury, Tib by name, to carry her light burden of 6 st. 7 lbs. first past the post by a short head. After Goodwood, what is called the " Sussex fortnight " is completed at Brighton and Lewes. The Brighton Stakes dates from 1824. The race used to be over two miles; it was afterwards reduced to a mile and a half, and subsequently to a mile, the usual difficulty having been found of getting good fields for a long distance. The Brighton Cup has been reduced in the same way. , Some good horses have won this latter, including Caller Ou, Dollar, Ely, Speculum, Albert Victor, Lilian, Marie Stuart, and Isonomy ; but in 1883 there was nothing to oppose Border Minstrel. Fields for the previous dozen years had not averaged four in number, and the distance was consequently' lessened to a mile. Brag, a speedy horse belonging to Mr. Leopold de Rothschild, carried 8 st. 10 lbs. in 1885 in the exceptionally short time of r min. 39 sec. The Baron, who had started an odds-on favourite for the Derby (he had consistently shown himself a bad horse), succeeded here in beating three opponents in 1889. For some reason or other it seems impossible to find starters for this race even now that the distance has been diminished, and the average is much what it was previously. The same story of reduced distance has to be told about the Lewes Handicap, though only half a mile has been taken off the length of this course, and it is now a mile and a half instead of two miles. Lord Harting-ton's Rylstone carried out the principle of " horses for courses " in notable fashion by winning three times running, the only handicap that has fallen in three consecutive years to the same horse. For the rest, there is nothing particular to be said about the race, which is contested as a rule by average handicap horses. Much the same may be written of the Great Yorkshire Handicap, which is one of the features of the Doncaster Meeting. It has fallen to good and bad animals in turn. The Portland Plate at Doncaster is one of the most popular of short races, the distance being 5 fur. 152 yds., and as the field is nearly always numerous, success here is a genuine test of speed. Oxonian, Lollipop, Hackthorpe, are three horses that have carried off this stake, which in 1881 was secured by Mowerina, who was presently to win fame as the dam of Donovan. This was one of the races won by Goldseeker, with whom a succession of victories had been very cleverly planned. The horse, it may be incidentally remarked, injured his friends by winning once too often. This was in the following year at Epsom. Goldseeker started for the City and Suburban, and there can perhaps be little harm at this time of day in saying that those connected with him had neither hope nor desire of victory, though it must be distinctly understood that in saying this no sort of implication is made as to the integrity of those concerned. They thought the race would do him good, and help towards preparing him for the Jubilee Handicap at Kempton Park, for which they had backed him very heavily. Tom Cannon, junior, had the mount at Epsom, and was put up without any instructions as to how he was to ride; he jumped off, and was never headed from start to finish, backward in condition as the colt was. The effect of this was to earn for him a substantial penalty for the event at Kempton Park. He had not been backed for a shilling at Epsom, and his penalty cost him the other race, for which, however, so good had his chance been esteemed, that he started first favourite in spite of the additional 14 lbs. L'Abbesse de Jouarre, the Oaks winner, won with 9 st. in 1890, and the Duke of Portland's very speedy horse, Greyleg, one of the few greys that have run of late years—Eastern Empress was another—was successful in 1894. Whiston, who went wrong in his wind and speedily sank to plating, won in 1895, and Grig, a mare belonging to Mr. Leopold de Rothschild, who galloped at a great pace, was successful the year afterwards.
Of the Great Eastern Handicap and the New-market October Handicap there is nothing special to be said except that they are popular races ; but the Cesarewitch is one of the great contests of the year. Class is better represented in this race than in any other of the long distance handicaps, and the field is almost invariably good. It is run over a severe course of two and a quarter miles, and though a moderate animalhas occasionally got home with a light weight, it usually takes a really good horse to win the Cesarewitch. The race dates from 1839 and several interesting chapters might be compiled about it. The success of Prioress in 1857, after a dead-heat with two other animals, El Hakim and Queen Bess, was one of the first victories gained by American horses in England. She was brought to this country by the late Mr. Ten Broeck, a keen sportsman who met with varying fortune on the Turf. 1866 was a very sensational year. The race fell to the Marquis of Hastings' Lecturer, and the owner won a large fortune at a time when, there can now be no harm in saying, the money was sorely needed. The horse was trained at Danebury by the late John Day, and did so well in a trial with Ackworth and others that Day could not believe that the result was true. After a short interval the gallop was repeated, with precisely the same result, and it then became apparent that the colt, a three year-old, not by any means leniently weighted with 7 st. 3 lbs., could scarcely fail. John Day's brother, William, who had taken the race in 1860 with Dulcibella, and knew well what was required to win the Cesarewitch, believed he had a horse which could not be beaten ; but when the two brothers compared notes on arrival at Newmarket, William was convinced that he could have no possible chance, and that the money he had invested on his own horse was as good as lost. He had time, how-ever, to secure himself, the Marquis of Hastings having very generously let him stand £25 at the odds of 40 to I which he had at first been able to obtain about his horse. A terrible scare arose in the Danebury camp shortly before the race when it was remembered that Lord Hastings had struck out all animals entered in his name; but by an extraordinary piece of good luck Lecturer chanced to have been entered for the Cesarewitch in the name of a friend, Mr. Peter Wilkinson, so that he was able to run, and he won at his ease. 1876 was notable for the fact that Rosebery, who won this race, after-wards carried off the Cambridgeshire, the first horse that had ever secured the two. One can-not pass the name of that good honest stayer, Chippendale, without a word; he won in 1879 with 7 st. 5 lbs., ran well next year with 9 St. 4 lbs. and was second both in 1881 and 1882 with 8 st. 12 lbs. In 1880 the Cesarewitch was memorable for the victory of Robert the Devil, who carried the great weight for a three-year-old of 8 st. 6 lbs. It had been supposed by many that no horse of this age could win with so heavy a burden ; but there was never any doubt as to the result after the flag had fallen. Another American, Foxhall, won with 7 st. 12 lbs., he being a three year-old, in 1881, and followed Rosebery's example in carrying off the Cambridgeshire. The success of Corrie Roy in 1882 is worthy of note from the fact that she never had what is called "an orthodox Cesarewitch preparation." There is a generally well founded idea among trainers that no horse can win the Cesarewitch who has not previously been galloped on several occasions over the full distance ; but there are exceptions to every rule, and Corrie Roy's trainer well understood that such treatment would not suit her; her gallops were seldom much over a mile, but she won decisively. Robert the Devil's exploit was surpassed in 1884 by St. Gatien, who won with 8 st. 10 lbs. on his three-year-old back ; in the following year none of the English horses could hold their own against Plaisanterie, who came from France and had things all her own way.
It may be noted that her son Childwick repeated his dam's success nine years later. Stone Clink won in 1886 by a piece of good fortune. A game, sturdy little horse called The Cob, belonging to the Duke of Beaufort, and noteworthy for the fact that his dam, The Roe, was twenty-four years old when he was born, had been prepared for the race by Alec Taylor, who, with every justification for the opinion, believed that he could not be beaten. Like many other good horses The Cob was very lazy, and before the race it was repeatedly impressed upon his jockey that he must ride quite past the post. " If you drop your hands on him he will stop directly " his rider was told again and again by both the Duke and his trainer. The Cob led his field a rare gallop across the flat, and had practically won the race ; but the jockey, believing that victory was secure, dropped his hands as he had been so earnestly cautioned not to do, the result being that The Cob stopped, and Stone Clink crawled home by a neck. The French carried off the race again in 1888 with Ténébreuse, and in 1890 Sheen beat all records by winning with 9 st. 2 lbs. in the saddle, though, of course, having regard to the scale of weight-for-age, the success of a five-year-old with this burden was less remarkable than the victories of Robert the Devil and St. Gatien, it being estimated that over this distance in the month of October a five-year-old is a stone better than a three. How greatly owners may be mistaken about their horses is proved by the fact that Red Eyes, who ran a dead-heat with Cypria in 1893, had been given away to his trainer, Joseph Cannon, as worthless, after having been beaten in selling races.
The Cambridgeshire, run at the Houghton Meeting, was also originated in 1839, and, as has been already remarked, is generally considered the most interesting and important handicap of the season. Until the year 1887 the Cambridgeshire was run up the hill to the finish at the Criterion Course post at the " top of the town," and accounts of the race used always to contain a description of what was happening at the " Red Post," a post painted red which still stands at about the distance ; but from 1888 the course has been altered and the race is now run over a distance of a,000 yards, finishing at the Rowley Mile stand. The story of Catch-'em-alive's victory in 1863 has been so often told that it need not be here repeated. The scales were tampered with, and it seemed that the winner must be disqualified until the malicious attempt was fortunately detected. French owners have been specially keen to win the Cambridgeshire, and succeeded in 1873 with Montargis, in the following year with Peutêtre, with Jongleur in 1877, with Plaisanterie in 1885 (the third animal that has carried off both this and the Cesarewitch), and with Alicante in 1890. La Merveille and La Flèche, who won in 1879 and 1892, were English-bred horses in spite of their French names. In 1878 Isonomy, undoubtedly the best three-year-old of his year, and who might have won the Derby had his owner pleased for Sefton could have had no sort of chance with him was specially kept for the Cambridgeshire and won the race with 7 st. I lb. on his back. Foxhall's penalty raised his weight to 9 st., which it was supposed by not a few practical judges he could not possibly carry, especially as he had a field of notable excellence to beat, and his achievement was consequently a great one. 1882 is remarkable for the fact that the race had to be postponed in consequence of a terrific storm. Fog and frost may lead to postponements, but for wind and rain to do so is an altogether exceptional occurrence. The horses had gone to the post when the Stewards decided that the race could not possibly be run, and Mr. Arthur Coventry, the present starter, offered to go down on his hack to convey this intimation. The crowd, meantime, knowing nothing of this, waited for the field to come in sight, the delay being made exciting by the circumstance that several flies and carriages were blown over, their wheels revolving at a tremendous pace in the hurricane that was blowing. After a time the first of the horses that had been taken to the post returned a long way ahead of everything else, the jockey's colours indistinguishable in consequence of the saturation they had received. It appeared that something had won very easily indeed, but no one could say what, and when the others appeared at wide intervals an idea prevailed that this was the most extraordinary race ever seen but presently it became known that it had not been a race at all. Hackness won the next day, when there were no fewer than thirteen races. Bendigo's success in 1883 was altogether unexpected. The horse's throat had been dressed and he was really not fit to run, but 6 st. 10 lbs. was a burden under which he could not be beaten, though he gave his opponents every chance, as towards the finish he swerved right across the course, from one side to the other ; and it was only by a head that he succumbed to Florence (four years, 9 st. 1 lb.) next year.
The Cambridgeshire of 1886 was perhaps the most sensational on record. Possibly the true story of it will some day be told, but the time has not arrived to tell it yet. Carlton was favourite, and his party at Manton had the most implicit belief in him. St. Mirin was trained in the same stable, the two had been tried together, and of the superiority of Carlton there seemed to be no possibility of question but Archer, who was to ride St. Mirin, notwithstanding the trial maintained that he was sure to beat the other, and for reasons that have never yet been explained he did so. The Derby winner Melton ran in this race, and in spite of the heavy weight he carried was going so well when they neared the Red Post that Archer began to race with him, making his effort sooner than he otherwise would have done. This no doubt took much of the steel out of St. :Minn, who, however, seemed to have the victory assured when the despised Sailor Prince suddenly challenged him, a desperate finish ensued, and Archer, weakened by wasting in order to ride the weight, was beaten a head. Three-year-olds had a run of luck from 1887, when Gloriation won, which has only been interrupted by the success of the four-year-old Veracity in 1888 and of Molly Morgan (four years, 6 st. 7 lbs.), in 1893. La Flèche's performance of winning with 8 st. s0 lbs. on her back in 1892 was a notable one ; considering sex allowance it was more than equal to that of Foxhall, as he only won a short head, and the gallant mare cantered home with her ears pricked. That good horse Best Man was a strong favourite in 1895 in spite of the 9 st. he had to carry, but he could only get second to Marco (7 st. 9 lb.), who was probably much the best of the three-year-olds of his season. The handicapper in 1896 committed a grave error in letting in so good a colt as Winkfield's Pride with so little as 6 st. s0 lbs., and of course the horse had no difficulty in winning.
The Liverpool Autumn Cup and the Manchester November Handicap are other races which may be mentioned. Sterling, the sire of Isonomy, won the former with 9 st. 4 lbs. in 1873, a great achievement, especially considering that the minimum weight at this time was 5 St. 7 lbs. Master Kildare, the sire of Melton, won in 1879, and Melton, following in his sire's foot-steps, was successful next year. Lady Rosebery, who had a great partiality for this course, won in 1888 and again in 1890, being successful also the following year in the Spring Cup, another instance of " horses for courses " ; and in 1893 La Flèche ended her Turf career, with the exception of one essay a little later at Manchester, by a brilliant success with 9 st. 6 lbs. Belphoebe won both these races in 1878 ; Carlton's performance with 9 st. 12 lbs. in 1887 has already been mentioned, and Ravensbury, who would have had such a brilliant career on the Turf if he had lived in almost any other year except that which made him so unfortunately the constant opponent of Isinglass, won with 9 at. 4 lbs. in 1894.
" Nurseries," it should here be added, arc handicaps for two-year-olds exclusively, and they are frequent items on race cards during the last three months of the season, for by the Rules of Racing no " Nursery " can be run before the 1st of September.