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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 69

The Anniversary Races (1849)

The Anniversary Races (1849).

The anniversary races, 1849, are thus advertised in the New Zealander, of January 24, 1849: Anniversary of the foundation of the colony. Auckland races, 29th January, 1849. and 30th January, 1849. Patron, His Excellency the Governor; clerk of the course, Mr. H. Hardington; treasurer, Mr. Hyam Joseph." It will be seen from the above quotation from the advertisement that neither His Excellency the Governor nor the early settlers of Auckland had any doubt as to the date of the anniversary of the colony. Racing had progressed since 1841, for the programme for the first day consisted of Maiden Plate, Innkeepers' Purse, Pony Race, Ladies' Purse, Produce Stakes, Native Race, the last being for horses the bona fide property of, and ridden by, aborigines—caten weights. The second day's events comprised the Metropolitan Plate, Hack Race, Garrison Plate, Carthorse Race, Consolation Stakes, and Hurdle Race. The prize-money ranged from £0 to £40.

From the files we learn "the sports at Epsom were remarkably well attended. His Excellency the Governor-in-Chief, Sir George Grey, was present to enjoy them. The editor, apparently, undertook to do the first day's racing, and he gets the report into about a dozen lines, as follows:—For the Maiden Plate the first horse, Cantab, was distanced in the first heat, his rider being thrown before arriving at the weighing stand. In the next, page 32 Pensioner, the winning horse, was disqualified, his rider having lost three-quarters of a pound weight. The race was eventually won by Mr. Wynyard's Gussey. The Innkeepers' Plate and the Ladies' Purse were both taken by Mr. Hargreave's grey gelding, Zaccho, which proved to be quite a Jorrocks', junior." He ignores the Pony race, Produce Stakes, and Native race altogether.

The road to the scene of action is described "as strewn with vehicles of all sorts and sizes, and covered with equestrians and pedestrians of all hues and complexions. The course was in excellent order save the keeping of a few mounted policemen being required to apprehend the drunken ruffians who got up extemporary races for their own amusement, but the endangerment of other people's lives."

On the second day the "Phaeton" of the period relieves the editor and devotes thirteen lines to the day's races, or one more than his chief. He says:—"Yesterday's races afforded great sport. The Metropolitan Plate was taken by Mr. Crummer's bay mare Verjuice, the only real blood that showed, and that, consequently, left everything else hopelessly behind. The Hack Race was won by Mr. Young's Alderman. The Garrison Plate by that capital gelding Zaccho. The Carters' Race was such a glorious higgledy-piggledy that we have not heard which won. The Consolation Stakes were taken by Mr. Codlin's bay gelding Jack; and the Hurdle Race was also won by the same high mettled racer." He gives the editor away about the "drunken ruffians," etc., by stating that the races passed off' with the greatest decorum, and that the 58th, who had extensive leave, "conducted themselves in a most orderly and honourable manner." A number of men-of-warsmen from H.M.s. Fly chartered sundry carts (for hansoms and omnibuses were unknown in those days), and, with banners flying, made the trip out and home in ship-shape and truly characteristic style.