John Kent.

Racing life of Lord George Cavendish Bentinck, M. P. and other reminiscences online

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of the White Canons of Easby surveyed of yore


from his study window. A stone that had once
been the crosiered tomb of a Cardinal, but had
gradually mingled with the ruins, and then served
as threshold to the box where Weatherbit now
stands, is built into the wall to mark the spot ;
and thus to a certain extent Frank Buckle's last
Derby winner is canonised."

In Mr Langley's ' Reminiscences of Easby,' full
justice is done to Emilius's extraordinary career
at the Stud ; and it is recorded that " Mr Jaques
hired him for 100 for the season of 1847, and,
owing to his great age, insured his life the first
policy of the kind ever issued by the office for
that amount, which, curiously enough, fell in,
owing to the horse dying in the August of that
year, aged twenty-seven."

His Lordship's partiality for stayers was not
gratified when he purchased Bay Middleton.
Nevertheless he managed to win some races
over two or three miles of ground with two-
year-olds got by that famous son of Sultan. It
was one of their characteristics that they stood
less in need of severe training than the young sons
and daughters of other sires. When Lord George's
horses went from Danebury to Goodwood, he
imagined that they would stay better if trained
more severely. After experimenting with some of
them in this way, I found that long and strong
gallops, often repeated, had the effect of making
them worse and worse, until at last they lost even


such form as they possessed, through tiring from
weakness. His Lordship soon came to the same
opinion as that inculcated after long experience
by my father, and now repeated by me after sixty
years of familiarity with the Turf in all its depart-
ments. If there be any art in training race-horses,
it consists in knowing when they are perfectly fit
to run the distance for which they are destined
by Nature. Such knowledge can only be gained
by close observation and practical experience. I
could enumerate a vast number of horses which,
within my knowledge, have been sacrificed from
lack of judgment and skill in ascertaining what
was their best distance and what their constitu-
tions required. One instance I will mention which
will perhaps be remembered by some who read
these remarks, as it happened in 1865.

In that year Mr Padwick had a three-year-old
called Kangaroo, who stood at Drewitt's stable at
Lewes, but was under my supervision. With
Kangaroo I won for Mr Padwick the Abbot Stakes
at Chelmsford on March 28, 1865 ; the Craven
Handicap at Lewes on March 30 ; and the New-
market Biennial on April 18. In the last-named
race Kangaroo beat a field of nineteen starters,
scattering them in such a manner after making
strong running that the Marquis of Hastings gave
Mr Padwick 12,000 guineas and contingencies for
the horse, upon the strength of his having easily
defeated the Duke of Beaufort's Koenig, whom


Lord Hastings and other patrons of the Danebury
stable backed very heavily, taking 7 to 4 to thou-
sands of pounds.

Kangaroo was a very powerful muscular horse,
and appeared to those who eyed him superficially
to be not half-trained when he won at New-
market. When I delivered the horse to John
Day, he told me that he should give him a couple
of good sweats, and try him before he ran for the
Two Thousand, distant a fortnight from that day.
John Day added that by so doing he expected to
improve Kangaroo a stone in a fortnight. My
reply was that I doubted whether he or any one
else could make the horse an ounce better than
he was that day. In addition to severe daily
gallops, such as Danebury has always been famous
for, Kangaroo had two long and distressing sweats,
and when tried was a worse horse by two stone
than when he beat Koenig and a large field so
easily. In point of fact, Kangaroo never won
another race, although he ran at last in very
inferior company. He was practically ruined by
an injudicious attempt to make him better.

Precisely the same thing happened in 1855 with
Oulston, a fine upstanding colt, son of Melbourne
and Alice Hawthorne. Oulston did not start for
the Derby which Wild Dayrell won, and for which,
in point of fact, Oulston was not trained. He was
brought out by Mr Pad wick, his owner, to run
for the Queen's Vase at Ascot in the expectation


that, having done very little work at Findon,
where he was trained by old John B. Day, he
would not get half-way. To the astonishment of
both owner and trainer, Oulston won the Vase in
a canter, and before night Mr Pad wick sold him
to Mr Elwes for 6500 guineas, who sent him to
Danebury. At York August Races Oulston was
brought out to oppose Wild Dayrell for the Ebor
St Leger, the latter carrying 6 Ib. extra for win-
ning the Derby. It was notorious that Wild
Dayrell pulled up lame after the Derby, and
having a bad leg he had done little or no work
before meeting Oulston at York. Infirm and un-
trained, however, as he was, the extra 6 Ib. did
not prevent his giving Oulston a stone beating,
as in two months the latter had become a con-
firmed roarer, and almost worthless.

I have no hesitation, as the result of my long
experience, in saying that more horses are ruined
by over-training than in any other way. To assist
Nature is all that a trainer can effect ; but to im-
pose a greater strain on a horse than Nature can
bear, is to defeat the purpose for which the animal
is put into training. When I add that every horse
requires to be trained in a different way the dif-
ference being sometimes grave and sometimes in-
finitesimal it will be seen what observation, at-
tention, and vigilance a trainer must exercise who
has one hundred horses under his care. Another
fatal mistake often perpetrated is to get a horse


fit to run, as the phrase has it, " for a man's life,"
two or three weeks before the day when his race
is due. To keep a horse at concert -pitch for
twenty, or even for fourteen days, will try the
skill of the very ablest trainer. I may add, at the
end of a long life, that I could never have gone
through what I did at Goodwood, between 1841
and 1848, but for the constant support and en-
couragement so generously accorded to me by my
two noble masters, the fifth Duke of Richmond
and Lord George Bentinck.

The construction and wide extension of railways,
the facility, rapidity, and safety with which horses
are conveyed in boxes to the scene of action and
back to their training stables, and lastly, the elec-
tric wire, have revolutionised the whole system of
racing and of training, early maturity and quick
returns being at present the order of the day.
Nowadays a vast majority of horses terminate
their racing careers at an age at which they com-
menced it in my youth, the result being that mod-
ern trainers are subjected to much less work and
much less anxiety than their predecessors under-
went. Such, moreover, is the richness of the prizes
now within reach of a good horse during the first
two years of his racing career, that enormously in-
creased prices are given for thoroughbreds of all
ages, although in my opinion these prices cannot
and will not be sustained. Lord George Bentinck
was one of the first to pay long prices for horses.


He gave, for instance, 1500 guineas at the sale of
Sir Mark Wood's stud, in 1837, for the famous
brood-mare Camarine, and 1010 guineas for her
yearling colt, Glenlivat, by Rowton or Cetus. As
a rule, modern purchasers of thoroughbred year-
lings have not the same opportunities of looking
over the youngsters which they think of buying
as were afforded to their predecessors fifty or sixty
years since. At that time yearlings were almost
invariably purchased by private contract, and
auction sales were almost unknown. Formerly
Lord George and other purchasers would pay more
than one visit to the best-known stud-farms, such
as Riddlesworth, the seat of Mr Thornhill ; Euston
Park, the seat of the Duke of Grafton ; Underley
Park, near Barrow- in -Furness, the seat of Mr
Nowell ; Bishop Burton Hall, near Beverley, the
seat of Mr Richard Watt ; Sledmere Park, near
Malton, the seat of Sir Tatton Sykes ; Rock-
ingham House, Malton, the home of Mr Allen,
who bred Rockingham and Canezou. Before
buying a yearling (whom he had probably seen
as a foal), Lord George would run round the
paddock after him, rattling a stick inside his
hat, and closely observing the youngster's action
and style of going. In those days, moreover,
yearlings were not fattened up like prize oxen
before they were sold, and their condition was
such that their trainer had not to strip them of
fat before they were fit to gallop. I remember


to have heard Tom Dawson say that Mr Copper-
thwaite, an Irish gentleman, sent him a yearling
to train who was as fat as a pig. Six months after-
wards Mr Copperthwaite went to Middleham to
inspect his colt, whom he found to be not half as
heavy as when he last saw him. " Good heavens ! "
he exclaimed to Tom Dawson, " half the horse is
gone already, and if I leave him here any longer,
the other half will soon follow ! " To prevent such
a catastrophe, the colt was taken away next day.

Vast as is the change which racing has under-
gone since Lord George Bentinck's day, I have no
manner of doubt that he would have reaped a
rich harvest by following his old system of early
training and early trying if he had been living
now. It was his uniform practice to find out the
form of his yearlings before he engaged them ; and
I do not think that many of the fatted youngsters
which are now knocked down at prices varying
between one thousand and six thousand guineas
would have had much chance with Lord George's
picked colts and fillies, bred by himself regardless
of expense, and brought up with every care so as
to fit them to be running machines of the highest

I never remember any wealthy patron of the
Turf who was so obstinate or so blind to his own
interests as the late Earl of Glasgow. It was his
Lordship's custom to make a lot of matches every
year with Lord George Bentinck, seldom winning


one of them. In 1843, for instance, these two old
antagonists ran a lot of matches against each
other, all of which resulted in Lord George's
favour, with the exception of one which ended in
a dead heat. This match, run at Goodwood, was
between Lord George's brown filly Alva by Bay
Middleton, and Lord Glasgow's brown filly by
Retainer Purity. Immediately afterwards Lord
Glasgow characteristically changed his trainer,
and in order to test the capacity of the trainer
whom he had left, he insisted upon making pre-
cisely the same lot of matches over again to be
run in the following year. To this Lord George
greatly objected, as some of his animals were so
bad that he had no desire to keep them in training
for another twelvemonth. Lord Glasgow, how-
ever, insisted, and to oblige him Lord George gave
way. Curious to relate, the result of all the
matches in 1844 was the same as in 1843, including
that between Alva and the Purity filly, which
again ended in a dead heat. The only difference
was that Flatman rode the Purity filly in 1843,
and Job Marson in 1844, Sam Rogers being on
the back of Lord George's filly on each occasion.

There was certainly a fatality attending Lord
Glasgow's numerous matches, for however bad the
animal of his opponent might be, Lord Glasgow's
was sure to be worse. Again, when Lord Glasgow
got hold of one that could run a little, his
opponent's almost invariably proved to be a little


better. In 1843 Lord Glasgow was beaten in
nineteen matches, received forfeit in three, and
ran one dead heat. In 1844 he was defeated in
twenty matches, won one, received forfeit in two,
and ran one dead heat. Notwithstanding his lack
of success as a match - maker, Lord Glasgow's
constant aim and ambition was to pit his horses
against those of Lord George Bentinck, and to
make heavy additional bets when the matches
were made. Under these circumstances, no sports-
man that ever lived, with the exception of Lord
Glasgow, would have insisted upon running off the
match when it had been made patent that his
animal was worthless, and the animal he was
about to oppose had shown some form. By paying
forfeit, Lord Glasgow would have annulled the
unprofitable bets he had made. He was not
" built that way," however, as nothing could ever
induce him to pay forfeit unless his horse was
dead or a hopeless cripple.

Mr Langley adds : " One of the most extra-
ordinary matches ever conceived, for particulars of
which I am indebted to a literary friend of long
acquaintance, originated as follows. After a heavy
and late debate in the House of Commons, Lord
George fell sound asleep next day in the drawing-
room at White's Club, so that all attempts to rouse
him proved unavailing until the usual afternoon
visit of Lord Glasgow, who was at once informed
of these fruitless efforts. ; Oh, I'll soon wake him ! '


remarked Lord Glasgow, and walking up to the
chair in which the sleeper was ensconced, called out,
' Bentinck, I want to make a bet with you ! ' The
effect was so magical that Lord George instantly
opened his eyes, and replied, ' With pleasure,
Glasgow ; what is it ? ' 'I want to back the pro-
duce of Miss Whip against that of any mare you
name for the Derby of 1848.' 'Done; I name
Crucifix for how much ? ' ' Five thousand ! ' The
bet was made, Crucifix being at that moment in
foal with Surplice, and Miss Whip with a brute
called Whipstick."

The history of Lord George Bentinck's Farintosh
will further show how atrociously bad Lord Glas-
gow's luck was. Farintosh, by Bay Middleton out
of Camarine's dam, was a magnificent yearling,
and, contrary to his usual practice, Lord George
engaged him very heavily before he was broken.
Among his engagements was a match for 200
sovereigns, half-forfeit, in which Farintosh under-
took to give Colonel Peel's Murat 5 Ib. at the July
meeting of 1842. Long before that date Farin-
tosh had turned roarer ; indeed I never knew a
worse one of his age. Nevertheless, I had instruc-
tions to take him to Newmarket, where I arrived
the day before his match with Murat, which was
also the day upon which the July Stakes was to
be run, in which both horses were engaged. When
Farintosh was brought out for the match, his
appearance was so formidable that at the last


moment Colonel Peel paid forfeit. I then implored
Lord George not to run Farintosh for the July
Stakes, as no one was aware that the horse was a
bad roarer, and I felt persuaded that if the secret
was well kept, Farintosh would receive forfeit in
some of his other matches, and might even be
allowed to walk over for some of his smaller
engagements. Lord George, however, was firm,
and Farintosh accordingly started for the July
Stakes, in which he met Murat at even weights.
The race was won by Mr Thornhill's brown filly
Extempore, Lord Exeter's Jerry filly being second,
and Colonel Peel's Murat third, beating Farintosh
(who was last) by twenty lengths.

Unfortunately Farintosh had several engage-
ments and matches for the following year. One
of the last (for 300 sovereigns, half- forfeit) was
against Lord Glasgow's Sister to Pathfinder
(A.F.) I was instructed to keep Farintosh in
training for this match, which it would have been
impossible for him to win, as he could not have
galloped " across the flat " to save his life. Even
under these circumstances Lord Glasgow's luck
would not permit him to win such a match, as
shortly before the appointed day his filly died.

Lord George never forgot the lesson taught
him by Farintosh, whom he entered for thirty-
three engagements before he left the paddock.
The forfeits for these engagements amounted to
nearly 3000, which served at any rate to awaken


his Lordship to a sense of the impolicy of engaging
yearlings before they had been broken and tried.
As early as 1833 the Hon. E. M. Lloyd Mostyn
was alive to the advantage of trying his yearlings.
In that year he discovered that his superlatively
good yearling filly Queen of Trumps was a " flyer,"
although, like all the Velocipedes, she was heavily
fleshed and very robust of constitution, with bad

In those days there were few two - year - old
stakes, and it was dangerous for a colt or filly of
that tender age to travel long distances on foot.
Mr Mostyn, therefore, engaged Queen of Trumps
in but one two-year-old race the Champagne at
Holywell Hunt Races, which took place close to
her training quarters. This race she won without
an effort, and her next appearance in public was
for the Oaks at Epsom. Here she met and de-
feated Mr Greville's Preserve, on whom 2 to 1
was betted, as previously recorded. So favourably
was Lord George impressed with that performance,
that he gave Mr Mostyn very valuable advice,
which resulted in the Queen being moved from the
sandy gallops at Holywell to the fine downs at
Hednesford, to be trained for the St Leger.

The mention of Queen of Trumps reminds me
that a more honest, industrious, capable, and trust-
worthy man than John Blenkhorn, her trainer,
never entered a stable. He enjoyed Mr Mostyn's
confidence to the full, and it was a pleasure to see


employer and trainer agreeing and understanding
each other so thoroughly. Sometimes it happens
that all the integrity of an owner, all the skill
and devotion of a trainer, are baffled by the dis-
honesty of a jockey. Many such cases have I
known in my time ; but I cannot resist going out
of my way to put on record what I know of El-
nathan Flatman, one of the most honourable
and meritorious men of his class that I ever en-

Flatman, better known by the abbreviated
sobriquet of "Nat," was born in 1810 at the
village of Holton, or Holton. St Mary, in Suffolk.
His father (a small yeoman farmer) gave him a
good education at a school kept by a clergyman
near to the house in which Nat was born ; but in
a few years the father failed, and the boy, a pigmy,
less than 4 stone in weight, gravitated to New-
market, where in a fortunate moment for himself
he obtained employment in the stable of William
Cooper, one of the most upright trainers and best
men that ever lived. I have often heard Colonel
Peel say that when Nat knocked, as a boy, at
William Cooper's back-door, he carried all his
worldly goods in a bundle slung to a stick, thrown
over his right shoulder. In 1825 there were plenty
of stables at Newmarket and elsewhere in which
the atmosphere was far less pure than that of the
establishment into which Nat was inducted, and of
which Colonel Peel was for many years the pre-


siding genius. The boy's rise in his profession was
rapid and unintermitted. His first mount was on
Lord Exeter's Gold Pin in 1829; his last, curi-
ously enough, upon the Duke of Bedford's Golden
Pippin in 1859. Being able to ride 7 st. 5 Ib. and
to keep down to that weight, he soon got more
mounts than any other jockey, and for seven years
(from 1846 to 1852, both inclusive) he headed the list
of winning jockeys. When he died in 1860, having
been riding for just thirty years, he left behind
him the modest sum of 8000, and, in addition, he
gave his sons and daughters two of whom were
drowned when the Princess Alice came into col-
lision with, and was sunk by, the Bywell Castle
on the Thames in September 1878 an excellent

Never was there a more faithful or honest
servant than Flatman proved himself to all his
employers. The masters for whom he rode at the
commencement of his career may be set down in
the following order : First, William Cooper and
his stable, including Colonel Peel, General Yates,
Captain George Byng (afterwards Earl of Straf-
ford), and Captain Gardnor ; second, Mr Payne
and Mr Greville ; third, Lord Chesterfield ; fourth,
the Goodwood stable ; and fifth, Lord Glasgow.

From William Cooper no retaining fee was ever
accepted by Nat ; and from Colonel Peel he would
never take more than 20 per annum, and 50
from Mr Payne. His last list of masters, accord-


ing to ' Bell's Life/ included Mr Cooper, General
Peel, Lord Strafford, Mr Payne, Mr Greville, Lord
Chesterfield, Lord Wilton, Lord Ailesbury, and
Lord Stradbroke. In addition, he was frequently
employed by Lord Zetland, General Anson, Lord
Derby, Sir Charles Monck, Sir Joseph Hawley, Mr
Bowes, Mr A. Nicol, and John Scott.

Nat's chief characteristics were that, more than
any other jockey of my acquaintance, he rode
scrupulously to orders ; and, secondly, that it was
at all times difficult to induce him to stand 5 or
10 on his mount, or on a "good thing" from any
of the stables for which he rode. One instance I
remember of a race which he lost from not under-
standing the sluggishness of the horse upon which
he was mounted! In 1847 he rode Mr Mostyn's
Crozier, by Lanercost out of Crucifix, in a Produce
Stake at Ascot, over the Old Mile, against Mr
Harvey Combe's Trouncer. The betting was 5 to
4 on Crozier, and Flatman's orders were to make
strong running, as Crozier was an extremely lazy
horse and a good stayer. To my great surprise
and disappointment, Trouncer waited upon Crozier,
and beat him easily by a couple of lengths. Two
days later Crozier and Trouncer were in another
sweepstakes at the same weights, and among
others they were opposed by a smartish horse
called Epirote, who belonged to Colonel Anson.
Mr Cynric Lloyd, who acted for Mr Mostyn,
thought it quite useless to start Crozier again ;



but I persuaded him to do so, as I was not
satisfied about the former race, and was prepared
to give W. Abdale the mount upon Crozier, and
to let Nat ride Epirote for Colonel Anson. When
Nat saw that Crozier was being led about the
course, he came up to me exclaiming, " Surely you
are not going to run Crozier again, are you ? " I
replied that such was my intention, but that I
would not interfere with his mount on Epirote, as
Abdale would ride Crozier, " and," I added laugh-
ing, "would win upon him." The little man was
obviously stung by my remark, and said to me in
a low voice, and with a very serious manner, " Do
you mean to imply that I did not try my best to
win upon Crozier the day before yesterday ? " "I
imply nothing of the kind," I replied ; " but I
think the horse deceived you, and that you did
not make as strong running as you might have
done." " Then I insist upon riding him again," he
rejoined. " Certainly," I answerd, " and I will
tell you how I want him ridden. When the flag
is down take him by the head, touch him with
the spurs, and make the pace as strong as you
possibly can every inch of the way." Nat looked
very serious, but obeyed his instructions to the
letter. The betting was 5 to 4 against Trouncer,
6 to 4 against Epirote, 5 to 1 against Bucks ton ;
Crozier not mentioned. The latter was never
headed, and won cleverly by half a length Epirote
second. Trouncer third, the rest beaten off.


After the race I said to Flatman, " Well, what
do you think of Crozier now ? " "I think him
the hardest horse to ride that I ever sat on. In
fact, he requires two men to get him out, and
make him show his true form. Henceforward I
will ride more strictly than ever to your orders, as
I am now quite conscious that I lost the race on
Tuesday." I have often heard him say that there
was no stable for which he rode with greater
pleasure and confidence than the Goodwood stable,
as he always found our horses to be just what they
were represented to him before the race. One
further trait I must mention, which was, in my
opinion, greatly to his credit. No jockey ever
rode in more trials than Flatman did, but not a
word as to the results ever escaped his lips. He
would stop, for instance, at Bretby, on his way
back from Malton, where he had been riding trials
for Colonel Anson and John Scott. Although
Colonel Anson and Lord Chesterfield were brothers-
in-law, Nat would never consent to say one syl-
lable to Lord Chesterfield, of whom he was very
fond, and for whom he had ridden for years, as to
the trials in which he had taken part. It is
greatly to be regretted that the fidelity, silence,
obedience to orders, and general integrity of Flat-
man are not more closely copied by his modern
successors, some of whom amass in ten years ten
times as large a fortune as by steady industry

Online LibraryJohn KentRacing life of Lord George Cavendish Bentinck, M. P. and other reminiscences → online text (page 9 of 29)