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class handicap-Q. B. D. philhippophy? The odds were 15 to 1 on Australian.
* Rules concerning Horse Racing in General --concerning Bets-Rule 37 : A horse walking over or receiving forfeit, except for a match, shall be deemed a winner”--Let A and B get up
" The Beer Shop Sweepstakes of 1,000 sovs. each, 999 forfeit, for all ages, Queen's Plate weights”-and keep quiet until 59 minutes 59 seconds past 11 P.M. of the day appointed to close. Then, when the trio named appear in the Calendar, and in the market--the Real Diggings being at 20 to 1 on him, no backers for Snail or Hop-and-go-One-take the crack to a thousand ; it will do him good, and give a keener appetite-for a revenge...." Dilly duck, dilly duck, come for a pluck. That's my sequitur—the leader, commentary, or exposition, ran in this wise
“ It would appear after all that forty-eight hours would have given a different termination to the great Doncaster event, for West Australian must have been unfit to run” (here's my non sequitur) " when he accorded a share of the 200 sovs. Sweepstakes to Cobnut, the latter then coughing,” (how was W. A. to know that on Friday? was it because the Ring had put its foot in it forty-eight hours before ?) Friday at Doncaster ; hence, when Cobnut once more came to oppose the St. Leger winner for the Grand Duke Michael Stakes, the stable of the former were too happy to compromise matters by according a third of the stakes to Cobnut, to be spared a contention, by being allowed to walk over, in which performance the effects of a stimulation of the horse's throat was sufficiently evident" (the nominative case is here obscure ; to be grammar, the reading is, " a stimulation of the horse's throat was sufficiently evident"); "and it is more than probable that we should have had a race minus West Australian had anything besides Cobnut persevered in an opposition.”
Seeing that Cobnut was “coughing," and West Australian only just recovered from an attack of the odds, it appears difficult to account for nine others having presented them with $100 apiece, to divide upon the best terms they could make. Assuming that West Australian evidently laboured under some severe bronchial malady, it strikes one as strange that the Sittingbourne savants should give away £50 (to save nothing), and the chance of winning the Grand Duke Michael
, having moreover the "crack’s” lines upon the very best authority. Still more extraordinary does it seem that surprise should be felt that a Yorkshire stable picked up a sum of thirteen hundred pounds, simply on condition of carrying it away, without further trouble. This is putting all the points into my construction ; but, if the “evident stimulation of the horse's throat” merely refers to the action of bronchial excitement consequent upon a liberty taken with the lungs, it was but a natural result ; for the "walk over” was a rattling split across
" the Flat,” where many a courser of fair renown ere now has cried " bellows to mend.” Apropos of indisposition-Olympian “unfitness"--when the issue which it involves is over, out comes the bulletin, “Slowcoach was disappointed of a certainty for the Cozenage Handicap, being amiss when he started.... ... Via Cambridge to Newmarket, the Eastern Counties out-EasternCounties the Eastern Counties.....
In reference to certain uncourteous comments put forth against the policy adopted by the winner of the Newmarket St. Leger, I take occasion again to solicit attention to the embarrassingly crude construction
of racing law. At the same time, it is as well to suggest that writers founding charges upon it adopt "the letter" rather than suffer themselves to be carried away by " the spirit.” So closed September-the legitimate—the leather-plating was sharp practice to that end.
With October, and the cholera, the autumnal sports set in, “by Deva's pleasant banks:"—something about "pranks” finishing the poet's rhyme and reason. All that need be chronicled anent the doings is, that, in addition to the ordinary dodges for which the Roodee is renowned, the ceaseless rain considerably augmented the amphibiambiguity of the meeting...Having alluded to the presence of cholera in the latter portion of the past year, as a chaos of opinion exists touching its source and origin, perhaps it might be prudent to inquire whether it may not be attributed to the prevalence of handicapping ?...... On the second Monday of that genial month commenced the second week of that ilk on Newmarket Heath. It did not dawn propitiously. Forfeit was the predominant principle, bitter bad weather the predominant practice of the
The equestrian spectacle, moreover, was a most lowly average, and running ground rank with vegetation as a willow bed. The Clearwell was a close shave, of which Lord Exeter's Miranda had the best, and Haco, with fifty to one against him, won the Cesarewitch. On the heels of this handicap-for which Teddington couldn't get a place-came The Challenge for The Whip : Teddington backed to beat Kingston and Weathergage, at 2 to 1 on him, which he didn't. As novelty commands patronage and popularity in these progress times, a series of “Steam-engine Triafternoon Sweepstakes” would prove a
To give additional interest to such engagements, the spurs and whips in which they shall be ridden should be handicapped. The great public boon, which realizes the axiom that “the race is not always to the swift” (but rather to the slow, whose qualification is—in handicaps- -a hundred per cent. in his favour), was demonstrated in the issue of the Whip Challenge. There three horses of value and character started for a good old-fashioned race, 10st. each, Beacon Course, and two of the party finished cripples. Racers at a “pony” a-piece are the cattle for a modern turf establishment. The subsequent morning loomed with clouds-exchequer ; but it don't signify : Olympic finance is a liberal system-receive when you "may get it,” pay when you can no longer “chisel.” The weather grew worse as the day grew older. The Town Plate-fifty--was a gruelling affair ; and so were the handicaps, the two last in especial. Thursday, being honoured by the presence of certain Derby aspirants, was in fair favour. But it is premature to prophesy ; by-and-bye the oracle shall work
"perque omnia sæcula formâ,
Si quid habent veri vatum præstigia—Vivem !" (Dervish will be worth the money-mum!) Friday was a "beef-day" -last course. The winner of the Prendergast is in the Oaks.
The intervening week dismissed with the note that it was industriously discussed in the provinces, we come to the ultimate legitimate of the season-the Newmarket Houghton Meeting. It opened with apathy. The Criterion was won by one of Lord Exeter's Derby division-doing better than the Ring gave him credit for by several points ; but, at the best, the performance was mediocre. Tuesday, of course,
prised in the Cambridgeshire, with a field of nine-and-thirty. Speculation--un-ghostlike-had plenty in its eyes, much of which was dust. The winner was “Little David." He didn't win the Derby, seeing that Sst. 7lb. is a good colt's weight ; but he won the Cambridgeshire, inasmuch as 5st. lõlb. is about bokicking balance. It didn't suit the aristocratic circle, in any sense of the word. The remainder of the week was occupied in miscellaneous “ winding-up. The light-fingered gentry had to put their “Houses” in order to depone that they snapped their fingers at the Bill, and “ draw" for 1854. The Club, let us hope, devised a practical plan for premeditated improvement-moral and material. Something must be done for the “ book” interest ; and surely the Heath is not to be abandoned to its existing déshabillé. What is to prevent a sound scheme of betting enterprise being made available for the service and protection of those who can pay and will pay? Your millionare can take care of himself-he has only to say “done ;" your middle-man, with half-a-dozen "fivers" in his pocket, is obliged to beg a bargain, and is done-sauve qui peut. Bull has had a long doze ; but the time has come when he must *up and at it." The Czar-o'-wits-he must be settled ; " the Derby” must not be overlooked...... Let his motto be“ Peace and Plenty”. .." Horn, corn, wool, yarn,” and—THE TURF.
BADGER CATCHING IN WINDCLIFFE WOOD,
A few autumns have passed away since I had the opportunity of spending a very pleasant evening with Francis Oakly, who had the management of extensive woods in the neighbourhood of Windcliffe. I was accompanied by an old friend from the metropolis, to whom a visit of this description was a treat of more than ordinary character ; and my own gratification was enhanced by seeing him so highly interested and delighted. Frank Oakly was a strong hale man of some five feet eleven inches in height, remarkably athletic, and capable of wielding a felling-axe with the best man in the district. But he was not only active and energetic in the use of this formidable instrument, making the wood ring again with the sound of his powerful stroke; but he possessed an intimate acquaintance with planting, pruning, draining, and the general management of extensive woodlands ; and, consequently, the fame of Frank Oakly, as a woodman, was spread through all the country around. But he was also a generous-hearted fellow, and took a great delight, as the winter season was approaching, in entertaining his friends at his own social board. There was a great pleasure, particularly to my London friend, in sharing in these woodland enjoyments. Exclusive of the heartiness and liberality of the woodman, his cottage had also peculiar attractions. It was placed on rising ground-indeed, on the highest part of the sylvan domain, a situation so retired from the busy world, so characteristic in itself, looking the whole scene, surrounded by a sea of summer foliage, with its ten thousand ripples, and so different from the generality of residences in the country, that there was a novel charm in visiting the spot beyond the pleasure in sharing the conversation around his cheerful parlour hearth. Even the room itself was likewise peculiar. The walls were as white as snow, and decorated with rare specimens of the woodland inhabitants--owls and hawks of all descriptions, jays and woodpeckers, kites and ravens, and the vermin of the woods of all sorts. A large wood fire, intermingled with the cones of the fir, blazed in the grate with all the cheerfulness of a happy home--as if, indeed, the preserved specimens, which decorated the walls, were about to flutter in their cases with the consciousness of life and liberty.
The woodman himself, the picture of robust health and manly vigour, was seated in his ancient arm-chair, an heir-loom of the family, with its higlı back curiously carved, and occupied one side of the hearth : liis faithful partner tlic other. In the centre stood an oak table, crowded with foaming tankards of stout October, and dishes of liazel-nuts, chestnuts, and beech puts, from the wood, and apples from the orchard, and wild-crabs from Blacker Lcas riding. Amid such a truly woodland scene the conversation turned upon subjects connected with the surrounding locality, its inmates and productions, interesting to the lover of the chase, the student in ornithology or botany, the enthusiast in natural history generally, and the admirer of woodland scenery in particular, including our friend from “ the village'' itself. Frank Oakly was a careful observer of all surrounding objects, animate or inanimate, and was considered a high authority in these matters, especially with regard to the habits of the fox, the weazel, the stoat, the polecat, and the badger, without mentioning the rapacious birds, and the summer songsters from other lands. Our metropolitan friend was particularly anxious to learn something of the habits and propensities of the badger, which, he was well aware, had become nearly exterminated. Frank Oakly immediately complied with the request.
“ The badger, like the fox,” said the woodman, “ leaves his earth about ten or eleven o'clock at night in search of his prey, unless the weather be particularly wet and stormy. Unlike Master Reynard, he never travels to a considerable distance. Indeed, his means of locomotion are not so effective, in point of speed, as those of his brother minion of the moon. He is equally courageous, but not so cunning as the fox : more resolute than the latter when put to extremity, and far more affectionate to its young. Badger hunting," he continued, " takes place at midnight, with a staunch pack of hounds; and it certainly presents a striking contrast to the pursuit of the fox by day. It requires more enthusiasm on the part of the lover of hounds ; more resolution, too, as the loud echoes of the midnight wood are aroused by the roar of the pack, and reverberate again and again through the deep gloom to its utmost extremity. Badger catching, on the contrary, is far more solitary." Our attention was aroused by these observations, and we were anxious to receive more information upon the subject, which was perfectly new and interesting to our southern friend.
“Some years ago," said the woodman, relighting his pipe, “ Tom Ashton, who was chiefly employed here as a bark-stripper, was a noted hand at badger-catching ; and many are the adventures that he could relate upon the subject. Tom was a woodman of the old school : nonc
of your modern workers, who mingle their occupations, and ohange their abode from season to season--one time employed on the railway, cutting through hills, raising embankments, and forming viaducts, and at another period trenching the ground for draining, or filling up the time in gripping, or hedging and ditching, or · felling' occasionally. No ; Ashton was a thorough woodman, and never spent either his days or his strength in what he termed 'cadging for a job. He knew every intricacy of the wood, every bye-path, every turn and twist in the most dense or uneven parts ; so that he could find his way even in the darkest night. He knew the age of every tree, the quality of every part of the soil, whether the clearings had been properly filled up with young plants; and, than himself, none could fell a tree in more admirablo style. Nor was he a careless observer. IIo could tell in the snow the footmarks of every description of vermin, from the round dot of the fox, to the long trail of the foumart ; whether the charcoal-burners had properly piled their pyramids and lighted them at the top, and whether their wigwam had been dexterously built, close at hand, warm and dropdry. No man could better wield the axe, apply the brushing-bill, or tighten the chains of the cuts.' He also paid strict attention to birds, watched their habits, and learned their history, not from the
of books, but from the great page of Windeliffe Wood.”
We felt interested in the painting of this portrait of a practical woodman, and desired Oakly to proceed.
“Well,” he continued, “ Tom Ashton had an assistant in his vocation, an Irishman of the name of Larry O'Hale, who, like the generality of his conntrymen, was anxious to be mixed up with any adventure, 110 matter how strange or dangerous it might prove. On one occasion, after repeated solicitations, Ashton consented to let Larry accompany him in an enterprise of badger-catching, on condition that he should implicitly obey his instructions. Larry, of course, promised ; and the time of meeting was fixed. Ashton, armed with a stout stick, and carrying a sack, hoop, and cords, was joined by his companion, who also took especial care not to be destitute of a shilalalı
. About midnight they entered the wood at a particular point, all the intricacies of which, as I have before observed, its ridings and cross-ridings, turnings and twistings, were quite familiar to Ashton, but rather strange to his companion. Larry did not at first much relish the scene. The thick darkness clung to his bewildered imagination ; and, at times, his whole frame trembled with fear, especially at the unearthly noises which prevailed around, the hooting of the owls, the cry of the night-hawks, and the horrid croak of the night-ravens--a concert for which Larry had no taste, and he wished himself in some other place. Consequently, he stuck to his guide as closely as he possibly could. Procceding along one of the narrowest paths, a strange rustling sound smote Larry's attentive ear.
". Och, thin, and what's that entirely ?' asked Larry.
"Ochi, faix! and a mighty ginteel cat he must be to be fond o'game at this blessed hour o'the night: jist the thing for the next clection for Dublin, anyhow,' said Larry.
“The wood was now becoming more intricate. It was, indeed, the very spot where the most game abounded ; and Ashton, suspicious that some poaching fraternity might be abroad, desired Larry to keep his