The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 29
Sporting Notes. — Racing
he racing season of 1876-77 may be considered as over, and taken throughout has hardly been so good as that of many former years.
This may, in a great measure, be attributed to the scarcity of both owners and horses, and it is to be hoped that next season the large amount of added money throughout New Zealand, may induce some of our wealthy colonists to take part in the sport. Following on to Oxford and Greymouth, which meetings I noticed in your last issue, came a pleasant fixture at. Oamaru. The racing itself was not of the very highest class, but was noticeable for two or three reasons. The first, being the success of Mr. Delamain's stable, which up to this time had had but an unfortunate year. At Oamaru, however, five events fell to him, of which Titania was credited with three, Templeton and Pungawere were landing the other two. The second was the meeting of Templeton, Guy Faux, and Fishhook, in the Publicans' Handicap, when the latter, after a good race, disposed of his two old antagonists by half a length from Templeton, who finished the same distance from Guy Faux. The third was the very different figure cut by O'Brien's horse in the Flying Handicap, a performance which led to his immediate disqualification; and after some consideration to that of Derrett, his jockey, also. The North Otago Turf Club evidently mean business, as they are taking steps to improve their running ground, and next season this fixture promises to be a most successful one; and in saying so, I see an opportunity of complimenting the Club upon the beauty of their course, which is certainly the most picturesque in New Zealand. Apropos of Oamaru, a fairly successful Steeplechase Meeting came off there in May, in which Tommy Dodd scored a couple page 184 of wins for his new owner, and Grey Momus won the Maiden for Mr. H. Lunn. At Taranaki, on April 4th and 5th, the Annual Meeting came off. The racing seems to have been good, and Bide-a-Wee, who was fated to distinguish himself later on at Auckland, won the Jockey Club Handicap of 150 sovs., in which he beat a fair field, comprising—Opawa, Firetail, Ada, and Elsa. Opawa, on the second day, won the Railway Stakes carrying nine-four, and the Consolation and Forced Handicaps fell to Ada and Resolution respectively. The performance of Bide-a-Wee in the latter even hardly makes him first-class, as he did not even succeed in running into a place with eight-three on his back. The Christchurch Autumn Meeting was held on April 17th and 18th, and here Mr. Redwood's stable was in great force, for most of the principal events, the Champagne excepted, fell to Chokebore Lodge. The first item on the card was the Leger, which was a mere canter for Puriri, who had but Dead Heat to meet. This race has never been a success here since its first establishment, when Kakapo beat Templeton after a rattling finish; and I am glad to see that in consequence of an arrangement between the Canterbury and Dunedin Jockey Clubs, the Leger will after next year be run in Dunedin, where for many reasons it is more likely to become the important event that it ought to be. The Champagne showed us that the trainer of the Bush Inn held the "Trump Card" among the two-year-olds, as after losing any amount of ground at the start he just managed to beat his stable companion Jangler by a head, with Tell Tale from the same stable a fair third. Oberon, Foul Play, and Mireille made up the field, and of these the former is on the small side, but with good quality, Mr. Mallock's colt has plenty of size and fair fashion, while Mireille, who started the favourite, looks like doing a good thing later on, though she cut up badly on this occasion. The Great Autumn Handicap brought out a dozen, and in many quarters nothing would go down but Bribery, though both Punga and Fallacy were freely supported. As is so frequently the case, public opinion was correct, for Bribery won easily all the way; Punga running, as she did all through the meeting, very gamely, got second, and the constant Guy Faux third. The winner, by Traducer, from Ethelred, is a very plain looking mare, and was purchased by Mr. Redwood from Mr. Griffith, her breeder, some short time previous to the Wellington Meeting, where however, she did not appear. Her only appearance in public, previous to the Autumn Meeting, was in the Dunedin Derby, for which she started first favourite; but as this event was won by her stable companion Puriri, it may be supposed she was not wanted on that day. On this occasion the stable made no mistake, and the filly landed a good stake for her owner, and the followers of the black and red. The ball on the second day opened with the Steeplechase, for which four were saddled. Mousetrap was a strong favourite, more especially when it was seen that Eclipse was scratched, and that the little grey was to have the assistance of Dan O'Brien in the saddle. The veteran, Tommy Dodd, however, had friends, while the other two were never mentioned. The race was really a good one, and after a grand finish Tommy Dodd's superior pace, and a mistake on the part of Mousetrap's rider, enabled the old one to pull through by a neck. In the Flying Stakes which followed, Bribery landed her second win, Punga again being her nearest attendant, and Jangler, who was greatly fancied, running into a place. The race, however, was won with enough in hand to justify backers in supporting the winner for the Easter Handicap on the same afternoon. On this occasion, however, she was destined to defeat, as Punga at the third effort page 185 got home a head in front, while Cloth of Gold obtained the barren honours of a situation. The field was a good one, comprising no less than a dozen. The Selling Race, which preceded it, resulted in Foul Play defeating six others, of which Mr. Walters' Isaac Walton was the most fancied, and in the Consolation Handicap the outsider Maritana effectually settled the pretensions of her half dozen opponents. This wound up the Christchurch Autumn fixture.
The Timaru gathering, which was the next on the racegoers list, showed us Mr. Logan's hitherto unlucky colours in front for the two principal events. On each occasion they were carried by the uncertain Cloth of Gold, who won both the S.C. J.C. Handicap and Timaru Cup. In the first event he polished off Mr. Delamain's two—Templeton and Punga, while in the second he disposed of Eclipse, Templeton, Danebury, and Titania; the ex-hurdle-racer, with a light impost running into second place. In the Flying Handicap on the first day, Danebury was made a strong favourite, but after a good race the judge's verdict was Elfin King first, with Danebury second, and Titania third; the Chief, a cast off from Mr. Redwood's stable was fourth, and the unprofitable Dead Heat occupied the rearmost position. On the second day, after the Timaru Cup had been decided, we were treated to a good Hurdle Race, between Eclipse and Mousetrap, the former winning by a length; the grey, however, was the best favourite at starting, but a stumble at the last hurdle lost him what little chance he might have had even had he landed on equal terms with his opponent. Danebury easily beat Punga and the Chief for the Tradesmen's, and Mr. Delamain's filly won the Consolation in equally easy fashion.
At Ashburton on May 3 and 4, Eclipse distinguished himself by winning the Ashburton Cup, for which he was so leniently treated by the handicapper as to render the event a "moral" for him. The company he met was but indifferent, and he consequently won any-how. In the Hurdle Race Grey Momus upset a pot upon Mousetrap, and shaped well in this his first appearance over sticks. The other events on the first day were fairly contested. On the second, Eclipse again did good service to his party by romping in for the Publicans' Purse, and then defeating Maritana, Grey Momus and Co., for the Free Handicap. This latter was a fairly good performance.
Birthday meetings were numerous, those at Dunedin and Auckland being the best. At the former place, Camelia, a complete outsider defeated Eclipse, and the very old Kildare over hurdles; while the Maiden Plate went to Lady Ellen, a daughter of Knottingly. In the Birthday Handicap which came next, Eclipse was again saddled, and this time he added another winning bracket to his list after a desperate struggle with Cloth of Gold. Tadmor, who had been supported being third, and Haphazard last. The weights carried by the winner and second were 7st. 7½lb. (including 5½lbs. over weight) and 8st. 3lb. respectively. Fourteen trotters then occupied a considerable time in getting over 3 miles, more or less, but the issue was never in doubt after the first mile, as Mr. Swanson's Tommy won very easily by 200 yards. These illegitimate events should not be introduced into the programme issued by a leading Jockey Club. Haphazard beat a numerically good field in the Selling Race, and the Tradesmen's brought out six, Elfin King—who had been specially reserved for it—being backed ta page 186 even money against the field. He, however, only managed to run into a place, being beaten by both Sir William and Cloth of Gold, who finished in the order named. The Consolation fell to Elfin King, who like many of Mr. Delamain's horses, seems at home in these contests. At Auckland on the same day Venus Transit, the first of Peeress' progeny, won the Champagne Stakes from three others, Longlands, the favourite, who was second in the race, carrying six pounds over weight. In the Tradesmen's Plate Mr. Walters was again successful, this time with Isaac Walton, who, favoured by a light impost, beat four others. A good Hurdle Pace was won by Shaughraun by a head from Butcher Boy, the old chestnut however giving the winner a lot of weight. In the Birthday Handicap Ariel was pulled out, but failed to concede a year and 18lbs. to Bide-a-Wee, who won a magnificent race by a head. On the second day Hippocampus virtually walked over for the St. Leger, and Venus Transit again proved her superiority to Longlands and four others by winning the Flying Stakes. Perfume carried off the Steeplechase for the second time on this course, and the Autumn Handicap was won by Hippocampus, who beat Bide-a-Wee at one pound for the two years by half-a-length. Isaac Walton won the Selling Race easily, and Shaneen credited his owner with the Consolation. Mr. Walters, it will be seen, was in great luck throughout the meeting.
On the Queen's Birthday also came off some good cross-country events at Wanganui. The principal race of the day was the Wanganui Grand National Steeplechase, for which Te Whetumarama and Gazelle were the most fancied. The winner turned up in the useful Victor after a chapter of accidents to almost every horse engaged. Don Juan and Jonathan Wild ran second and third, the former carrying top weight. Jonathan Wild improved his position in the Maiden for which he was placed second, being beaten however in a walk by an animal named Greyhound. Four tried conclusions for the Consolation, and Te Whetumarama ran home first in front of St. Albans, Don Juan, and Gazelle.
The Canterbury Jockey Club have issued their programme for their Spring Meeting, and there is a noticeable difference in the amount of added money. £500 is now added both to the Cup and C.J.C. Handicap, and a second Steeplechase has been substituted for the Publicans' Handicap. The remainder of the programme stands as before. It is probable that the increase in the stakes of the two big races may induce Australian owners to put in an appearance, the more so as £500 Cups are to be offered this season at several of the principal meetings.
Of course the breaking up of the Spreydon Stud created great interest amongst sporting men, and the attendance of buyers on the day fixed was large, although foreigners were conspicuous by their absence. The results will have been long ere this familiar to your readers through the medium of nearly all the New Zealand papers; but I may say the cheapest lots in my estimation were Blue Boy, Idalia's foal, and considering the grand stud of English marcs possessed by the purchasers, Traducer himself. The Middle Park Company purchased the majority of the imported mares, and it is a matter of congratulation that the whole lot remain in New Zealand. At Mr. Nosworthy's sale held some days before satisfactory, and in one instance sensa- page 187 tional, prices were realised; of course in the latter instance I allude to "Le Loup.' He is at present in work under the able tuition of Mr. Webb, and should he fulfil the expectations one might naturally form of him from the performances of his own brother and sisters, he will probably be a remunerative investment to his purchasers. Mr. Nosworthy has since purchased Albany and Korari as sires.
The Canterbury Hunt Club have, so far as they have got, had a fairly successful season. The meets in the various parts of the Province have been well attended, and the runs seem to have given satisfaction. The drag in several cases has been run over country which has proved too much for the majority of horses and riders, and I would suggest that for the present an easier line should be as often as possible selected. This would induce more novices in the hunting field to put in an appearance.
The Pheasant Shooting, which will be over by the time this paper goes to press, has scarcely been so good as last year. There cannot be the slightest doubt that, in Canterbury at any rate, the birds were extensively slaughtered before the season commenced. In addition to this, the cocks were far wilder than last year, and probably more scattered over the country. Few large bags have been made, and I know of many instances where men who can hold straight, and shooting over good dogs, have come home after a long day, on what was last season capital ground, with next thing to an empty bag. The duck shooting about the Lake and elsewhere has been as good as usual.