William Day.

Reminiscences of the turf, with anecdotes and recollections of its principal celebrities online

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well-known sportsman, Lord Howth, of Howth Castle,
Dublin. He kept but few horses, but no man under-
stood racing much better than he did. In his small stud,
the two animals most worthy of mention were Wolf-Dog
and Peep o' Day Boy. The former was the winner of
many races, and the latter of the Chester Cup in 1848,
as a four-year-old, beating thirty- three others. His lord-
ship had also the half of all the horses out of Foinviella
that ran in Hill's name. He betted but little ; but it is
a proof how thoroughly he knew what he was doing,
that when he backed anything, you might be sure the
animal would win, or be very near the winner.

I think he raced more in Ireland than here, and no
one knew better the form of Irish horses. He made my
father buy St. Lawrence, which won him many races ;
and I can't forget that it was through Lord Howth's
acuteness in finding out Sultan, and his kindness in
writing to me and saying, ' He is a charming horse ;
come and look at him, and I am sure you will buy him,'
that I secured that animal for Lord Anglesey. In con-
sequence of this invitation, I went over to Howth Castle,
where I was received with much kindness, and treated
with true Irish hospitality. I saw Sultan at Slane Castle,
Lord Cunningham's seat, and paid 1,000 sovereigns for
him ; Lord Howth, I remember, was good enough to
send on his groom with him to Woody ates. The horse
was about the only good animal Lord Anglesey ever
possessed, winning the Cambridgeshire for him, beating
Mary second, Dame Judith third, and a large field very
easily. Soon after this Lord Howth had a filly to sell,
called Termagant, good for little, or was thought so, I
should suspect. He parted with her for 1,000 sovereigns
to Lord Anglesey, but, be it said to his praise, without


mentioning the matter to me in any way. I was lucky
enough to win the Chesterfield Cup at Goodwood with
her, after which she soon changed hands, which was even
more fortunate, as it was, I believe, her sole victory.

Lord Howth was not one of those who want to see
their horses run every day ; nor did he wish to see their
names amongst the list of winners unless he had backed
them. He would abide his opportunities, even if he had
to wait years for them ; and when they did come, he
seldom made a mistake. In short, he was a model of
sagacity in turf matters. He usually stood in ' a pony '
with me on anything I backed of my own for a handicap ;
but as a rule he preferred it should be on one of the long
races at Newmarket or Goodwood.

His son-in-law, Sir Charles Domville, lived at Boveridge
House, near Cranbourne, Dorset, which he rented, with
the shooting, from Mr. Brounker. Sir Charles was fond
of hawking, and often would make use of my downs at
Woodyates for the enjoyment of the sport. It is a sport
that always, at least, looked dangerous work, because to
follow it you have to ride fast whilst intently watching
the hawk and his quarry in the air. Yet I never heard
of any serious accident from it. On one occasion Lord
Howth came to Woodyates on his way to visit Sir Charles
and Lady Domville, his daughter. After looking at the
horses, and having a long chat, he invited me to shoot
with him next day, which I did. I must confess that I
was at first struck with his lordship's 'get-up.' He was
dressed in a light suit of clothes, and trousers that came
no lower than his knees, leaving his legs bare to his
boots, into which his socks, if he had any on, must have
disappeared. I never saw the like of the dress before or
after ; yet I am not sure that it is not a good one for its
special purpose. For in walking after rain or heavy dew


through high turnips and rape or clover-heads, you might
as well be walking through a river so far as the use of
any description of leggings may serve to keep out the wet.

His lordship was a fair shot, and walked well for his
age, which was then about sixty. The first partridge
that got up between us, I left to his lordship ; but before
he could shoot, to my astonishment, the keeper fired and
killed it. This was repeated several times, until I could
hold my tongue no longer.

' My lord,' I said, ' if I had a keeper, he would not do
such a thing a second time.'

' Oh,' was the reply, ' he is a spoiled old servant, who
has lived many years with Sir Charles, and is allowed to
do pretty much as he likes.'

We had a good day's sport, and before parting his
lordship said :

' William, Sir Charles does not care about the shooting,
and is not going to keep the house another year ; so, if
you like, you and your friends may come whenever you
please. The keeper won't interfere with you, as he is
going to another place of Sir Charles's directly.'

I thanked him, and had some good afternoons' sport
over the property, it being close to my own house, and
showing a variety of game in fair quantities partridges,
pheasants, hares, rabbits, and particularly woodcock, for
which the coverts were noted.

Lord Sligo was little known on the English turf ; for
he was content to keep one or two horses at a time. He
had Wedge, Winter, and Wire, but not many other good
ones ; and, of course, out of so small a stud, anything
beyond a win now and then could hardly be looked for.
And this was about all he ever accomplished in England.
He kept a larger stud in Ireland, but with what success
I do not know.


Lord Glenlyon, a Scotch nobleman, commenced racing
at Danebury in 1843, in my father's name, with Ben y
Ghlo and brother to Pharold, which were both winners.
The next year he raced in his own name, and had, besides
the two horses referred to, Hotspur, The Mountain, Glen-
croine, Lycuryus, and several others, which he ran with
fair success. Ben y Ghlo alone won him no less than
three cups, as many Queen's plates, and six or seven
other races. After his lordship's succession to the duke-
dom of Athole, he raced but little, and, so far as I know,
did nothing worthy of record. I never saw him ; in fact,
he never was at Danebury the whole of the time he
trained there. But I have always heard him spoken of
in the highest terms of admiration, as a nobleman who
raced neither for money nor anything else but the pleasure
of the sport.

Mr. Pryse-Pryse, of Buscot Park, Aberystwith, a con-
temporary of Mr. Biggs before mentioned, was one of the
earliest patrons of Danebury, if he did not, like Lord
Palmerston, train with my grandfather at Houghton
Downs. He commenced racing in 1811, and between
that year and the time of his leaving the turf, in 1848,
had the following amongst many horses : Grimaldi,
Caliban, Bobtail Colt, Frances, Duplicate, Dr. Eady,
Cardinal Puff, and Buscot Buck. Of these the three
last named were probably the best, and won him many

Mr. Balph Etwall, another gentleman associated with
my recollections of Danebury, was for many years the
representative of Andover in the Liberal interest. He
was born in or near the town, about the year 1802, and
was the most ungainly person, and for a gentleman the
most uncouth, that I ever saw. His brother William,
brought up as a Bluecoat boy, was little, if any, more


polished than himself. Yet I suppose the fault was not
due to want of education, for their parents possessed two
or three freehold estates of five or six hundred acres each
in the neighbourhood. Mr. Kalph Etwall, it would appear,
soon ran through his property, as a consequence of the
cost of his election contests ; for in those days the Liberals
stopped at few things to secure a seat. He was fond of
field-sports, and kept an extensive establishment, which
in itself was ' more than his faint means would grant
continuance.' Yet he hunted, raced, and coursed, and
managed to do all three for more than fifteen years a
result due, I believe, to his success in racing rather than
to anything else.

He commenced racing in 1832, and continued with
varied success until about 1849. His earliest horses
were Caleb, Goldfringe, Maid of Underly, and Revenge,
amongst others ; and later on he had Hill Coolie, Thistle
Whipper, Rustic, Auburn, Palladium, Passion, Discord,
and the last Ira. The following races were placed to his
credit by Thistle Whipper: the Champagne Stakes at
Bibury ; Two-year-old Stakes at Stockbridge ; a, Sweep-
stakes of 50 sovs., half ft., at Newmarket Houghton
meeting ; and the horse also ran second for the Criterion
Stakes at Newmarket. Revenge won him 80 and 20 at
Bibury ; 60 at Stockbridge ; the King's Purse, 45 and
65 at Winchester ; the King's Purse, 180 and 90 at
Salisbury ; and the Warwick Cup and 30 at Abingdon.

I do not know that his love of coursing proved very
costly, for though he kept a large kennel, he kept it with
fair success. I don't think he ever won the coursing
blue ribbon, the Waterloo Cup at Altcar. He was, indeed,
best known in the south, at Everley, Amesbury, and
Ashdown Park, at which meetings most of the best
trophies fell to his share.


An amusing account can be given of his purchase of
two greyhounds. *A friend of my brother John's had
two to dispose of, and said he would willingly give a trial
beforehand. So a day was fixed to suit Mr. Etwall, and
the place Danebury. Before the dogs were put in the
slips Mr. Etwall asked :

' Have they ever seen a hare ?'

'Yes,' was the curt reply 'twenty-four, and killed
them all without a miss.'

This was being asked to swallow too much ! In fact,
the effect of the confident statement was so great that
the dogs would have been returned untried had not my
brother John said : *

'Try one, anyhow.'

' Yes,' replied the owner, ' and put your best dog with
him, or he won't see which way mine goes.'

The suggestion was complied with ; a hare was started,
the dogs slipped, and, after a long course, the stranger's
dog killed his hare, just entering the rings one hundred
yards in front of Mr. Etwall's dog. The surprise of the
latter gentleman may be more readily imagined than de-
scribed. But, recovering himself, he volunteered to have
a trial with the stranger's other dog, asking the owner
which he thought the best of the two.

' There's no difference/ was the answer. ' Sometimes
one kills and sometimes the other.' Then the man
added, in absolute seriousness, ' Now do put your best
dog with him this time,' a request Mr. Etwall was not at
all slow to comply with. For this second course a good
hare was started in a capital place; and, after a long
slip, Mr. Etwall's ' best ' dog did not gain a point, and
the other killed single-handed in splendid style, never
giving the hare a chance.

At this result Mr. Etwall was even more astounded


than at the previous one. Here was a man with only
two greyhounds, brother puppies, and both able to beat
his best dogs easily ! It was a most extraordinary thing,
and naturally created in Mr. Etwall a most ardent desire
to become the possessor of the treasures. However, he
proceeded cautiously in his purpose ; and, after chatting
matters over, he asked quietly :

' How much do you want for them ?'

1 A lot of money,' was the brief reply.

'But how much? and what do you call a lot of
money ?' was inquired again.

1 Fifty pounds the brace, and not a shilling less,' said
the man, evidently thinking he had put the wealth of the
Indies on them. Of course they were bought without
the shilling abatement being suggested ; and a few weeks
after Mr. Etwall won 800 in stakes, beside bets, the
latter not a large addition to his winnings, as betting on
coursing was not so much in vogue in those days as it is
now, or he might have won as many thousands with
them as he did hundreds.

I have said that Mr. Etwall hunted ; and when I was
a boy of about ten, and weighed about 3 st. 4 lb., he
made me a present of a red hunting-coat, top-boots, and
leather-breeches, of which costume I was not a little
proud. Indeed, I followed the hounds with him for two
or three successive seasons with enthusiastic delight,
well looked after by his watchfulness.

He was peculiar, as I have said, and one of his
peculiarities was, that he never would allow you to give
any of his servants the smallest gratuity. He used to
say that he paid them, and that that was enough.
Acting strictly on the same principle, he would never
give anything to anybody else's servants, no matter what
they might have done for him. Nevertheless, on one


occasion, when leaving Danebury late on a very dark
night, he was tricked into departing from this rigid rule.
The man that held his horse, knowing his oddity, kept
walking before him with a lighted lantern. This natur-
ally elicited an inquiry as to what he was looking for.

' Sir,' answered the man gravely, ' I have dropped that
shilling, if you gave it me.'

This had an electrical effect, and in an unguarded
moment Mr. Etwall parted with the memorable coin.
But never before or afterwards, to the best of my know-
ledge, was he committed to so indiscreet an act of

Mr. Etwall was a great friend of Mr. Popham, of
Littlecote Park, the owner of Wild Day r ell. The horse
was trained privately by Mr. Bickaby, Mr. Etwall having
the entire management of him. Wild Day r ell did most
of his work in Lord Craven's park at Ashdown, in sum-
mer, or on the Downs adjacent. Mr. Popham had but
two or three horses, none of which were good enough to
lead Wild Dayrell in his work ; so Mr. Etwall purchased
Jack Sheppard of Mr. Ewbank for the purpose. But,
like the rest of the horses that galloped with Wild
Dayrell, he was found, with John Charlton the jockey on
his back, unable to extend the crack, leading the latter's
sanguine friends to say that such a wonder had not been
seen for years, and that winning the Derby would be as
easy to him as winning a 50 plate. Wild Dayrell won
the race ; yet, in my opinion, he had to thank Aldcroft,
who rode Lord of the Isles, for his victory rather than
any merit of his own. Mr. Popham did not after this
keep many horses, nor did he do any good with those he
kept, his luck having come all at once or ' all of a
lump,' as the old woman graphically described it when
she found the sixpence.


I do not suppose Mr. Etwall won much on the race,
for he very shortly afterwards had to give up racing and
coursing, and left England heavily in debt. He lived
many years in seclusion in France, only running over to
visit some old friends occasionally, and then in strictest
incog. He outlived his brother William, the breeder of
Andover, winner of the Derby, who died a young man in
straitened circumstances, and who had led a life of
celibacy. Mr. E. Etwall paid me a visit at Cholderton
Lodge in 1882 ; the chief object in doing so was to tell
me of a letter that he had written anonymously to the
papers, saying how much he liked 'The Racehorse in
Training' a letter I never saw. He was then in
straitened circumstances. He lived till over eighty,
earning his livelihood by his pen, as a contributor to the
papers. He came of a long-lived family, his mother
dying a few years before him, at the patriarchal age of
ninety- eight.

Lord Dorchester had but few horses. He bred, in
1841, the celebrated Little Bed Eover mare, who, for
want of being christened, remained nameless to the day
of her death, in 1858. She was out of Eclat, by Edmund
out of Squib, by Soothsayer. Her first produce, The
Chase, by Venison, won his lordship a race at Ascot.
Then came the celebrated Cruiser, who ran second in the
Criterion to the Duke of Bedford's Para in 1854, and
Bracken and Buccaneer. Of these two, his lordship sold
Bracken to Mr. Gully, and Buccaneer to Lord Portsmouth.
The latter, by Wild Dayrell, was a real good horse ; and,
after winning the Two-year-old Stakes at Stockbridge,
the July Stakes at Newmarket, and the Molecomb at
Goodwood, became a favourite for the next year's Derby.
He was, however, beaten easily ; and rumour asserted
that he had been poisoned, many people believing that


he was. But I should hardly myself take it to have been
the case, judging from his running so soon afterwards at
Goodwood, where he won ; and at Newmarket, when
Thunderbolt only just beat him, as he could many others.
However, his victory in the Eoyal Hunt Cup, in 1861,
was sufficient to prove his speed ; and Mr. Cookson was
very fortunate in securing so good a horse as a stallion,
though more unlucky in parting with him to the foreigners
before his worth at the stud was known.

Cruiser, the horse notorious as unfit for anything, be-
cause of his dreadful temper, became, under Mr. Earey's
treatment, as quiet as a lamb in the stable. But though
he made his tamer's fortune, he remained useless for
practical purposes, for I never heard of his winning, or
even running, anywhere afterwards. Mr. Earey made
10,000 in one sum by disclosing his secret to a select
number of gentlemen and trainers, anxious to add to their
store of knowledge, and pay 25 for the privilege. In
other words, there were 400 persons who paid for the
information. But I am told that even Mr. Rarey could
never understand how, out of America, such an intelligent
body of men, at such a price, could have been got to-

I have now enumerated amongst the stanch supporters
of the Danebury stables in my father's time, Lord Glen-
lyon, afterwards Duke of Athole ; Lords Palmerston,
Dorchester, Sligo, and Howth; Sir J. B. Mills, Sir
Edward B. Baker, and Sir Lewin Glyn ; and Messrs.
Biggs, Farquharson, Wreford, Pryse-Pryse, and Etwall.
Surely these supporters were enough to have kept him
from lack of horses to train, even without the aid of Lord
George Bentinck ! Of my father himself, in his profes-
sional capacity, I may, in closing this special reference to
the patrons of Danebury, say a few words. To him his


business was a pleasure. He was never away from it
when he could be there. His whole thoughts were
absorbed in it, until it became an enjoyment, as real as
lasting, of which he partook without stint. He brought
it, by indefatigable labour and arduous study, to a pitch
of perfection in all its bearings to which it had never
attained before. Once at Danebury, in reply to a noble-
man who asked him if he hunted, he replied laconically :

1 Yes, I hunt every day, my lord, with my horses
that's my hunting.'

Nevertheless, in fine weather, when the hounds met
at Clatford Oakcuts, a cover close by, he would about
two or three times in the season meet them, mounted
on a thoroughbred, and wearing a greatcoat. Directly
they found, he would ride to the tail of the hounds ;
but at the first check, which was often caused by his
over-riding, he would take out his watch, and say to
those that might be near him : 'It's half -past twelve,
gentlemen, and I am off to my dinner,' and would gallop
a good part of the way back again, and this comprised
the whole of his amusements, outside of his home and
stable, for the year.



Origin Takes to the turf ; shrewdness and reticence His first c coup
with Mr. Merry's Chanticleer Horses Weatherbound in the Cam-
bridgeshire ; extraordinary trial J his confidence and the Admiral's
disbelief Sir Joseph Hawley's opinion of Beacon ; beat by Bevis
The match with the baronet ; the latter pays forfeit : diamond cut
diamond Brocket run for Ruby ; how Ruby was kept Derby
favourite Exposure of a dishonest trainer.

Character Employment of touts ; generosity ; business capacity


The Burton Brewery How we parted Attitude to his trainer
Rectitude Non-interference Instances of coolness Love of a good
story Examples Adaptability Prudence Last days.

FEW more remarkable figures have appeared upon the
turf in recent times than Mr. Fred Swindell. His
career, whether as a struggle against initial disadvan-
tages, as a success in varied undertakings, and specially
in a line that he had made his own, or as preserving
to the end the idiosyncrasies of a peculiar temperament,
is an interesting tale to be told. Mr. Swindell was born,
I believe, in Derbyshire, not far from Buxton. His
parents were of the labouring class, from whom he could
have received few, if any, of the advantages of education.
He was married twice, his first wife being one of his own
earlier rank in life, more studious of her husband's com-
fort than of appearances. His first occupation was to
clean out engines, for which purpose boys of about twelve
years old were generally employed. He did this so well,
and with such untiring energy, that in a short time he
had saved enough to promise himself a treat. This treat
was to walk on foot to the races, about thirteen miles
from the scene of his work, intending to win something,
or lose what little he had laid by by his early industry.
Fortune favoured his selections with such unwavering
success that when he returned home at night he at once
determined to leave the cleaning of engines to others,
and to follow racing, and become a backer of horses.
Like every other adventurous person, he soon left his
native place and the scene of his early success for
London, and, like Johnson and Garrick, reached it on

He entered on his new occupation " full of youthful
hopefulness, and no long time elapsed before he became
a man in request as a commission agent. He possessed


certain sterling qualities that led to this success. Not
least of these was the dogged determination which caused
him in early life to lose no opportunity to secure a prize,
however small, when within his reach. He was always
to be seen at his post at the Corner, or at the Club,
or any other public resort of betting-men. Here his
shrewdness and perseverance brought to a successful end
any business which he undertook, combined as these
qualities were with sobriety, and, above all, with re-
ticence. In this particular he seemed to have laid to
heart the moral law of the Persians, which taught ' that
however a man might be deficient in the qualites re-
quisite to actual excellence, the negative virtues at least
were in his power; and though he perhaps could not
speak well if he was to try, it was still easy for him not
to speak.' And being a temperate and discreet man, he
was well fitted to keep secrets he had committed to his
charge, as expressed by Francis :

' And let not wine or anger wrest
The entrusted secret from your breast.'

I never saw him riding on horseback perhaps he
never saw a horse until the eventful and lucky day on
which he first visited the races nor ever wearing a great-
coat. He would drive to the meetings and station him-
self in one part of the ring, whilst his satellites were
doing the work in another, bringing him from time to
time information as to where and how the commissions
entrusted to them were executed. George Armstrong,
his faithful henchman, was his constant attendant and
great ally, through whom, in the latter part of his life,
all matters of business were conducted. Poor George,
poor and honest, and a puppet in the hands of his
friend and patron, was a gentleman and a dandy. Fred


Swindell himself, on the other hand, dressed always in
a funereal suit of black, as though in mourning for some
animal whose death-blow had been administered by his
skilful hands. Like Mr. Padwick, in his frock-coat, black
satin stock, and tall hat, he could be easily distinguished
from all other members of the ring.

The first great ' coup ' that Mr. Swindell brought off
was for Mr. Merry with Chanticleer. His shrewdness in
this case was remarkable, and to it Mr. Merry probably
owed his success. He executed the commission, which
was a large one, to his own satisfaction, and to that of
his employer. A second was given with a like result ;
but, strange to say, the horse became no better favourite.
This strongly excited Swindell's suspicion, and he said to
Mr. Merry :

' There is something wrong. What it is I don't know,
but we must find it out somehow.'

Bumby was to ride the horse, and it was suspected
that the bookmakers knew more than the commissioner,
and indeed the upshot of the matter can lead to no other
conclusion. Swindell, therefore, suggested that Mr.
Merry, on his return from Edinburgh to attend the race
at Goodwood, should bring with him a spare cap and
jacket. This was done, and they were handed by Mr.
Swindell to another jockey, C. Marlow, on the morning
of the race. Bumby was then informed that he was not
wanted to ride Chanticleer that day, and the murder was

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Online LibraryWilliam DayReminiscences of the turf, with anecdotes and recollections of its principal celebrities → online text (page 15 of 27)