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After many days : being the reminiscences of Cuthbert Fetherstonhaugh online

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for the chance of winning 5. It was not," wrote
Alexander, ' ' the money that did the mischief. It was
the inherent love of sport and of cross-country riding
bred in the man, and nurtured on tales of horses and
of riders in the merry days of the past. I have known
two boys down Warrnambool way, after a heated
discussion, as to the relative merits of their fathers'
nags (and one of them a parson's son, too), to go out
with their bridles to the paddock, catch the nags, and
have a rattling set to, barebacked over stone walls
and post and rails, to settle the question."

John Coldham came over to the Wannon soon after
the Hentys, and he and Edward Henty were great
friends.

I scored off John Coldham once at a show at Cas-
terton. He^was judge of the horses. We had at
Muntham an old grey hack of Edward Henty 's, named
Grimaldi, that had been pensioned off some years
before I went to Muntham, being over twenty years
old. He was a half-bred Arab and a beautiful horse
a perfect hack in his day. I got Grimaldi in,
pulled his tail, had him well groomed and entered
for "best gentleman's hackney." I put a bit and a
bridoon on him, tickled him a bit with the spur and
the old fellow showed himself off beautifully, and
moreover flew a flight of hurdles like a three-year-old.
Coldham duly awarded him first prize, and he was
wondering where I had picked up such a perfect
hack. He was not a little chagrined when he found



148 AFTER MANY DAYS

out that he had had his leg pulled by the youngster.
He must have known Grimaldi for over fifteen years.

I left Victoria for Queensland in 1862, and up to
that time the racing for the Great Western was con-
fined to local horses and local horsemen. Gordon had
not then ridden at Coleraine. Jemmy Wilson, Har-
coan, Johnny Brewer and the Pearsons, Bob Lear-
month, Charley Mullally, and myself supplied most
of the competing horses and riders, and very good
sport we had. Jemmy Wilson won two years on his
great horse Dayspring.

On one occasion some of the townspeople, headed
by Charley Payne, the local publican, told us fellows
who had horses that if we would stay another day
they would put up the money for an extra steeple-
chase, and the competitors could make up a sweep-
stake as well. We agreed, but next morning we found
that Payne had found that a fast flatracer called
Bonnie Dundee, could fence very well, and that there
was no doubt that the race had been got up for Bonnie
Dundee to win. The distance was two miles over
about eight fences. John Pearson and I had entered
our horses, and feeling we had been "got at" we
were very wild, so we made up our minds that Bonnie
Dundee must not win. We determined to get Bon-
nie Dundee between us and jam him on the fences.
This, I am ashamed to say, we carried out. Charley
Mullally was on Bonnie Dundee, and with all his
pluck he couldn't stand being jammed on the fences
in that way, and he had to pull back, with the result
that John Pearson won. The only wonder was that
our performance did not result in the three of us
coming down.

I had a bad fall at one Coleraine meeting. I had
promised not to ride at the meeting, but nothing
would do me but to send a pretty chestnut horse of
Tom Henty's called Merry Monarch over some of the
fences after the Great Western was run. He came
down at one fence, and I sustained a fracture of the



AFTER MANY DAYS 149

head of the thigh bone, or "femur." Old Wyman
and Dr. Molloy fixed me up. I had a pretty bad night
at Coleraine, and a worse time being driven home
next day (nine miles). The dear old doctor drove
me himself, and chaffed me all the time to keep his
spirits and mine up, for he thought then that I was
lamed for life. Eight weeks, however, saw me off my
back, and I had rather a good time of it on the whole.

Harcoan came from the seaside not far from Ettrick
(W. Learmonth's). I saw two very good paintings
at his mother's place, of his two good horses, Happy
Jack and Tramp. I once saw Harcoan 's saddle break
right in two in a race, and he won the race with the
two broken pieces of the saddle hanging down on the
horse's sides.

Happy Jack was a pretty grey horse not over 15
hands high, with a perfect temper, and as handy as
a pony. Harcoan could turn him round at a fence
to baulk another horse, and then whip him over the
fence without losing much ground. One day in Port-
land, for a bet, I jumped Happy Jack over a light
pole resting on the shoulders of two policemen, one
of whom was called the "Infant" because he was
about 6ft. 4in. high. Happy Jack popped over like
a bird. That same day I was riding a mare of John
Learmonth's in the steeplechase, and a horse in front
of me broke through one panel. I put the mare
over the next panel instead of going through the gap.
John Learmonth was greatly pleased, and the crowd
thought it was good sport, and gave me a cheer. I
won the race.

An amusing episode occurred one day on the Cas-
terton racecourse. Two or three of us had got up a
scratch hurdle race in heats the day after the annual
races. Harcoan entered a mare, very fast, but uncer-
tain at fences. There were two other entries, and I
borrowed Pearson's Tommy Racquet. At the first
hurdle, just in front of the stand, Harcoan 's niare
swerved and ran the other two right off the course,



150 AFTER MANY DAYS

and I won the first heat easily. The Pearsons and I
(Cudgelled our brains as to how to win another heat.
Harcoan's mare could run over my horse for pace,
and cogitate as we would we could come to no con-
clusion. When we started off for the second heat I
got off in the lead and Harcoan carefully followed
old Tommy Racquet, who was perfect over hurdles.
Harcoan kept quietly behind me, his mare fencing
beautifully with my lead, and execrations and abuse
of me came freely from my friends, who were watch-
ing. "The d d fool!" was the mildest expletive
hurled at me. But "hoolie hoolie, nae sae fast." As
we got to the last hurdle I pulled Tommy Racquet
right up sharp, and Harcoan's mare threw her head
up in the air and bolted off the course. I cantered
in an easy winner amid plaudits instead of maledic-
tions. I simply pulled my horse up dead. I didn't
cross the mare, but if I had Harcoan would have said
nothing, as that is what he would have done, and what
he did to me at Coleraine when riding Kinchin.

Another afternoon at Casterton Johnny Brewer
beat me in a hurdle race by a good length. I waited
on him too long. The judge had taken a good deal
of whisky, which should not have hurt him, seeing
he was a Scotchman. The fellows standing near him
shouted, "A dead heat!" and the judge, to Brewer's
great disgust, gave it so. We ran the race off almost
in the dark, and I made the running and won. It was
only a scratch race.

My last day at Coleraine was a memorable enough
one for me. I was in the saddle in all three races. I
rode Kinchin, a little brown horse from Ballarat, in
the "big" race, Old Woodbine for the Hack Steeple-
chase, and a brute called Lancaster for the Maiden
Steeplechase. That day I covered about eight miles
of country, and some seventy post and rail fences.

It was a perfect day, and I feel young again when
I look back at it. In Kinchin. I had a good mount,



AFTER MANY DAYS 151

well trained by "Old Quin," who had asked me to
ride the horse, but Kinchin had never raced over a
greater distance than three miles, and the Great
Western, four miles, found out a weak spot in him.
I can't now remember the names of any of the other
horses that ran against Kinchin that day except old
Happy Jack, ridden by his owner Harcoan. We were
all together to the top of the hill, then Harcoan and
I landed together in the lane, and out of it over five
feet of post and rail. We kept neck and neck to the
last fence but two, and then Harcoan, thinking he
was beaten, pulled old Happy Jack across me, trying
to baulk me, but I hit Kinchin a skelp of the whip
on the jaw, and he cannoned Happy Jack hard, but
got over all right, and Harcoan had to turn his horse
round to get over. I got over the last fence with a
good lead, and thought I had the race, but in the long
run home on the flat Kinchin tired, and old Happy
Jack won easily. I'd have given a good deal to have
won.

The next race was a hack steeplechase, and I got
into great disgrace, for when leading on Woodbine I
heard Bob Learmonth call out to me, "I'm stuck up,
old chap; come back and give me a lead." I never
thought of my backers, and w r ent back and gave Bob a
lead, and the ungrateful beggar beat me, and won
the race.

For the last race, the Maiden Steeplechase of about
three miles, Harcoan started, a raw-boned, one-eyed
King Alfred, called Young Camel, and Bob was up
on Dominie. I forget the others, but I was on a
horse called Lancaster, belonging to Mordaunt Smal-
page. My old friend, De Lancy Forth, had trained
the horse, which had given him a heavy fall, and
broken a rib. A few days before the race at Mun-
tham, I got on Lancaster, and, with Ford flogging
him with a stock-whip, I found it hard to get him
over the second rail of a slip-rail. But I told his



152 AFTER MANY DAYS

owner that as he was entered he might as well start.
He was fast on the flat, and it might take weight off
him. I said I'd pull up at the first fence, which 1
was sure Lancaster would not get over. I must here
mention that about four days before the race I was
driving my father with a tandem home from
Casterton, and, the shaft horse going badly, I lost my
temper, and when we got to the top of the hill going
down to Muntham House, I asked my father to get
out, which he wisely did. The hill was a very steep
one, and I flogged the horses down it. We upset at
the bottom, and I sprained both wrists so badly that
I feared I could never ride Kinchin for the big
steeplechase. My arms turned black half way up
from the wrists. However, we kept cold water ban-
dages on them, and Dr. Wyley bandaged both arms
beautifully from writs to elbow, and I was able to
ride, though Kinchin was a hard puller.

To return to Lancaster and the Maiden Steeple-
chase. Instead of pulling up, I let him go, and he
smashed through the first fences, which were through
the gardens and back yards, and not stiff. He broke
the top rail of the first big fence, and got through,
and he never turned his head, but followed Young
Camel and Dominie, breaking through most of the
fences, and jumping some till we reached the last
fence but one a nasty one in a lane. Here the
crowd pressed in on us, and though Harcoan got over,
Bob's mount and mine refused. I called to Bob,
"Let us go at it together," hoping we would break
through if not over. Dominie got over, but the sub-
sequent proceedings interested me no more, as Lan-
caster fell and lay on me, and I got concussion of
the brain and a broken collarbone. A local medico
was just about bleeding me when my great friend,
Dr. Wyley, came up with a wet sail and waved him
off. No other lancet but his would he allow into my
arm. I came to about two o'clock next morning, and
\\ as none the worse of it.



AFTER MANY DAYS 153

We took accidents very coolly in those days, for
when I came to next morning I found myself with
eight others in a big room which I had occupied the
previous night; 110 one had sat up with me. Nowa-
days I'd have a trained nurse and goodness knows
what else. In all the accidents I have had I never
have had a nurse in fact I only lay up twice, once
when I hurt my hack and again when I broke my
thigh.

Jack Brewer, on Bonda, is credited with having
cleared a great distance crossing the lane in one of
the Great Western steeplechases. The lane was just
twenty-two yards wide. Bonda landed in the lane,
took one stride, and then landed clear in the next
paddock over the biggest fence on the course. He
was a wonderful fencer. Brewer could "thread" a
fence with him; that is, he could jump alternate
panels, over and back for more than a dozen panels.
My first meeting with Brewer was at Apsley, in South
Australia. I went on there with Old Woodbine, and
I fully expected to win the steeplechase with him.
I rode over from Kadnook with Mordaunt Smalpage,
whom I have mentioned in a former chapter. Smal-
page said to me, "This will be a 'wet' meeting.
There are a number of hard-drinking men in the
district, mostly Highlanders, and they will be drink-
ing champagne, not whisky, and just remember what
I tell you. Every glass of champagne you drink, top
it with soda water, and it will not affect you." I
replied: "I can't afford to drink much of anything,
as I am going to ride." However, I followed his
advice and found it quite correct. It was a wet
meeting and no mistake! The ordinary shout was
half a dozen bottles of champagne. I saw bottles
go away full with the corks drawn no doubt to
re-appear for the next shout. One old Highlander's
bill came to 300. This same old gentleman danced
the sword dance on the dinner table with the dessert,
and all the bottles of champagne on it, Two sons



154 AFTER MANY DAYS

of a squatter from Harrow had a tent which they
never left, and just cut a hole in the tent so that they
conld see what horse had won. There were two days
of really good racing and two dances, too.

I made pretty sure of the steeplechase with Old
Woodbine, but the local people were very sweet on
Bunda, and with good reason. We had to go twice
round, and I told my friends that if I held up my
whip the first time past the stand they could put
their money on. First time round I felt confident,
and held up my hand, and the money was planked
on, but Brewer beat me after a hard tussle. It was
his first race, and he got off after he passed the
winning post, and of course should have been dis-
qualified. I would not enter a protest, but my
backers insisted on the stewards looking into the
matter. Brewer said he had hurt himself, and the
stewards gave him the race, and I was very glad they
did, as he had won it fairly after a good race.

Lindsay Gordon rode a horse called Clansman in
this race a nasty tear-away brute just to Gordon's
taste.

The last time I met Lindsay Gordon was in a steeple-
chase at Branxholme. There were only five of us in
the race, which was run in one and a half mile heats.
Bob Learmonth was riding Soutar Johnny, a King
Alfred and a perfect fencer. Billy Bailey was on a
grey Port Fairy mare, Gordon was on a nasty tem-
pered brown, and I was on old Robinson Crusoe. I
can't remember the fifth. At the third fence in the
first heat, Gordon's horse came down, and Gordon
nearly baulked the rest of us as he stood right in the
gap, looking dazed. As we raced at the last fence a
two-railer Bob called to me to steady a bit or we'd
both go down. I said, "That's what I am after; it's
my only chance to beat you;" and I turned the whip
on Crusoe. He took off too far away, and jumped
with his two forelegs between the rails. The course
was sandy, and two panels came up out of the ground.



AFTER MANY DAYS 155

Crusoe and I rolled over and up again without my
coming off, but I cut my leg in the fence and the old
horse hurt himself, too. Of course Bob won that
heat and the next, too.

That day as I weighed out I was far too light, and
there was no time to lose, so I took the weights off
the weighbridge and rolled them up in a saddle cloth
and strapped them on in front of me, and it was these
that cut my leg.

I met Bailey some years afterwards at a memorable
race meeting at Rockhampton, particulars of which
will be duly recorded when I come to my Queens-
land reminiscences.

Shortly after I went to Muntham I stayed a day
at Chirnside's Mount William Station, and I heard
a good deal of talk about ' 'the Delapre mare, ' ' known
afterwards as "Alice Hawthorne." She became
pretty well the champion of Victoria, though an aged
mare before it was- found out that she could race.
She was a grey mare, 15.1 hands high, and it was
Robert Christison (afterwards so well known in
Queensland when owner of Lammermuir), who "dis-
covered" Alice Hawthorne. She had been used by
a Chinaman to carry rations, and had contracted a
fistula. When she got well, being very handy, she
was given to Robert Christison to use as a "school
mistress" in breaking in the young horses.

There was a little mob of very flash blood young-
sters running on the outskirts of the Mt. William
run; they had been missed at the last muster. Bob
Christison started out for ,them one day on the
Delapre mare. As soon as he sighted them they
cleared off as hard as they could in the opposite direc-
tion to the yards. Among the colts were three
Sultan, The General, and Gilbert that afterwards
won some good races for Mr. Chirnside. (I had the
honour of beating The General some years later on
in a hurdle race at Fiery Creek, now Streatham.)
Do all they knew, the colts could not get away from



156 AFTER MANY DAYS

the Delapre mare, and, after a long and fast run,
Bob Christison yarded them at the home station.
The mare had acquitted herself so well in this run
after the flash youngsters that Christison begged Mr.
Chirnside to put her in training, and, on his refus-
ing, tried to buy her, but Mr. Chirnside would not sell
any of his "doorkey" brand.

The end of it was that at Christison 's instance the
Delapre mare was given a trial against Miss Camp-
bell, a mare that had won races at Ballarat for Mr.
Chirnside. With everything against her, the Delapre
mare simply ran away from Miss Campbell, and that
night there was a change. Miss Campbell was
deposed, and the Delapre mare, with the best cloth-
ing in the stable, was installed in her place.

Hogg, Mr. Chirnside 's trainer and jockey, picked
on the name of "Alice Hawthorne" for the mare,
and soon after she won the four principal races at
the Grange (now Hamilton). My father, then Police
Magistrate at the Grange, presided at a champagne
supper given in her honour. Next she raced at Caster-
ton, and easily won the first race of one and a quarter
miles ten stone the minimum weight. "Then after
lunch," Christison says, "under a bough shed a large
bullock bell rang the competitors up for the next
race of two miles. This race Hogg won on the mare
'hands down.' ' Next day she won two more races
in one of which she carried seven pounds over the
top weight, and in the second, a Ladies' Bag
amateur riders, three miles, with Christison up, carry-
ing eleven stone seven pounds she won easily. After
this the mare won many races at Geelong and Mel-
bourne; nothing in Victoria could beat her. She
was a great mare to stay a distance, and despised
weight. She won a Ladies' Purse in Melbourne,
carrying thirteen stone seven pounds, beating good
performers. Almost her -last race was a match for
1000 a side against the New South Wales gelding,
Veno, by Waverly, bred by Mr. Clarke, of Coolah,



AFTER MANY DAYS 157

in 1849. This match was run over Plemington
course, a distance of three miles. Johnny Higgin-
son rode Veno, then eight years old, and Steve Mahon
rode the mare, then twelve years old. She had done
years of hard station work, and had also reared a
foal, and the match should never have been made.
The mare lost, but for all that a few days afterwards
with Johnny Higginson "up," and carrying twelve
stone four pounds, she beat Cardinal Wiseman in a
two and a half mile match 1000 to 5000.

The time in the great match, viz., six minutes ten
seconds, appears nowadays to have been ridiculously
slow, but it must be remembered that the courses
were much slower then, and the weights carried,
especially for three miles, were mostly welter weights.
However, in my time in the far Western district six
minutes for three miles was considered a good per-
formance on the flat. At date a horse that could
not get his three miles over hurdles in less than six
minutes had better be kept at home. Jemmy Har-
t-can's constant and well-known three mile horse,
Tramp, seldom got the distance under six minutes.

Rataplan's time in England in 1857, for three
miles, was given at 5.24, but most people were incre-
dulous. However, three miles has been since covered
in Victoria a shade under Rataplan's reputed time.

Another fine grey mare that used to race over
hurdles in those days was Modesty, bred out Dande-
nong way by the Wedges. It was lovely to see
Modesty flying the hurdles.

I have mentioned Christison running in some flash
colts with the Delapre mare, amongst them one after-
wards called The General. On one occasion when
taking a mob of Muntham horses to Ballarat for sale,
I arranged the trip so as to hit off a race meeting at
the Fiery Creek. I took Robinson Crusoe with me
for the hurdle race, and spelled for three days before
the races at Willie Macpherson's Nerrin Nerrin
Station. Two days before the races in schooling my



158 AFTER MANY DAYS

old horse he hit a post very hardly. One knee swelled
tremendously, and Tom Clibborn, who was with me,
and I were up for the best part of two nights foment-
ing the swollen knee. In spite of all we could do,
Crusoe's knee was as big as a man's head on the
morning of the race, and the horse was lame. Know-
ing how game he was, I started on him for the hurdle
race amid derisive laughter from the crowd. Chirn-
side horse, The General, well trained and in first-
class condition, was favourite at evens. The bookies
would only give 8 to 1 against Crusoe, in spite of his
big knee, and we were not game to back him. Poor
Old Crusoe could, with difficulty, bend the knee to get
over the hurdles, but, to everyone's surprise, he won
after a hard and close tussle up the straight with
The General.

CHAPTER XII.

My favourite horse at Muntham was Pannikin, a
little black, clean-bred Robin Hood horse, not over
14.3. I never remember his being tired, and I have
ridden him eighty miles in eleven or twelve hours.
He had beautiful paces, always free and willing, and
an angelic temper; was a first-class stock horse, and
fast, and for a horse very intelligent. He was a
great fencer, and, though only a pony, carried me
more than once over fences five feet high. Pannikin
thoroughly enjoyed a bit of fun, and many a bit of
fun he and I had together. I never loved a
horse in my life as I did Pannikin. He was just a
dear old friend, and I know I shed tears when I
said good-bye to him. He was kindly, true and cheer-
ful, and willing and able, too, and what can be said
more for man or horse ? As Gordon puts it :

No slave, but a comrade "true is this"
Is the horse, for he takes his share,

Xot in peril alone, but in fervent bliss
In the longing to do and dare.



AFTER MANY DAYS 159

I sent Pannikin at a fence one wet day ; he slipped,
and seemed to me almost to hit the fence before he
rose at it and cleared it too in a buck. I went back,
and I found the track of his two front feet right
under the bottom rail of the fence, yet he had
cleared it.

Many a good time dear old Bob Learmonth, on
Tommy Racquet, and 1, on Pannikin, had together,
and no harm in them, though there may have been a
little risk. His groom used to dread the sight of me
at Tahara; he said there was sure to be some "divil's
game" on. One dark night I had to return to Mun-
tham, and the Wannon was in flood, and had to be
crossed at Hilgay, some five miles away. Bob came
with me to see that I got safely across. When we got
to the river I said, "Look here, Bob, you are never
going to let me go across by myself." I made him
come over, but when we got to the other side he
remembered he had some work to do in the morning,
and insisted on my seeing him back safe over the
river, and finally I had to re-cross alone.

When I had settled to go to Queensland I went to
Tahara to say good-bye to Bob, and at night, when
I started for home (it was moonlight), we decided
we would have a lep or two by way of farewell. I
was on Pannikin, and Bob was on old Tommy Rac-
quet, both good fencers. We got over the horse pad-
dock all right, and then into Dr. Russell's cultivation
paddock, when down came Tommy Racquet over a
heap of stones, and Bob lay on the ground stunned,
with his face cut and all over blood. It would not
do to let Parson Russell know about our pranks, so
I jumped Pannikin back out of the paddock and
hung him up a bit away, and went back to Bob, who
by this time had come to, but was quite dazed. To
mend matters, I saw a man coining towards us from
the house. I bundled Bob on his horse, and gave the
animal a cut of my whip, sent him over the fence,
and Bob disappeared, When I went for my horse



160 AFTER MANY DAYS

he was gone, and I had to walk back to Tahara.



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