Alfred Edward Thomas Watson.

The Badminton magazine of sports and pastimes online

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heard the voice of a tiger calling like a she-cat for its young, once
far away, then nearer. The Thakin was asleep, but Moung Pu
heard — I felt him.

" * Let us appease the Nat,' he whispered ; and taking what
food there was left, he laid it under a bush ten paces off and then
crept back.

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" Thus we sat and almost fell asleep. But the ear was still
listening and suddenly jerked the bcxly into wakefulness. What
was that ? — the crack of a twig ! * Pat, pat ' — a footfall in the leaves.
* Pit, pat, pat ' — coming straight toward us ! Moung Pu groaned
softly, * Amai,^ it is a devil sent to take us ! '

** I gripped his arm to force him into silence, the fool. The
thing had not yet got our scent and was coming nearer. It stopped.
Ah, it must have found the offering, for the fireflies glimmering
round the spot rose and hovered in wider circles. There was a
sound of gobbling jaws. A snort. Then 'crash, crash, crash,* it
bounded straight away.


*' * Was it a boar ? ' you ask. I cannot say what shapes the Nats
assume, but the offering had been accepted, and from that time
I knew that the luck would turn, and fell asleep.

* * * * ' *

** * Haarh ! haarh ! — haarh ! ' We were all awake at once. It
was a barking deer close by in the valley disturbed by something.
Then, from the same direction, * Pwook ' — the sound of a heavy
hoof withdrawn from the mud. It would soon be light, for the
white finger of the dawn was already pointing skywards and the
cocks were crowing in the bamboos. We heard the beast below
climbing the steep hillside opposite, in no hurry, but with a clatter
of stones and tearing of branches as he pushed his way through the
scrub. He must have reached the top and passed over to the other
side, for the sounds ceased.

** As soon as it was light we sought for the tracks. They were
the same. Deep marked on the hindmost where it had leapt the
stream, the water trickling into them, and a crushed blade of grass
still straightening itself. But we were near, and the fewer of us the
better. So Moung Pu stayed behind and we two went on — slowly,
and inch by inch, carefully choosing footholds between the sticks
and leaves, the one foot supporting the full weight before the other
dared to move. We people know how to do it, but Thakins soon
grow tired, and their clothes brush against the bushes ; it is a
wonder they ever get near the game.

'* We must have got very close, for the smell of bison was on
the leaves, and in a pool where it had drunk there floated bursting
bubbles of green spittle. We stopped to take the wind. Ah, good
luck ! it was floating down towards us. The tracks led through the
tall, wet grass. Thakin went first, still holding his little gun, and
I behind.

^ Amai = *' Mother," an exclamation.

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** Suddenly — * Huh, huh ! * and a crashing through the grass.

Only a boar, as startled as we. But listen. Had that noise started

the bison? No sound. Silently we proceeded; I close behind, so

that the one parting of the grass should suffice for two; so close

that my face came against his back.

'* He had stopped ; for there, five paces off in an open space,
stood the king of bisons, facing us with red anger in his eyes, and
breath that came in snorts ! Slowly the Thakin raised his gun.
Oh, surely he need not take so long ! What would he say if I fired
first ? The bison did not wait, but stamped with his forefoot and
charged straight upon us. The gun spoke once, but in no way
stopped that awful rush. I leapt to one side, the Thakin fell flat,
and the beast in charging leapt right over him and was carried by
his own weight onwards through the grass. But in twenty paces
he stopped, planting his forefeet deep, and turned to come again
head down.

** ' Thakin, take this gun,' I cried.

** He pushed it aside, and kneeling, fired twice. I fired once at
the bended neck. His forelegs doubled up, and with a thundering
shock his body was carried right up to our feet. He stniggled to
rise, tearing the ground with his hoofs. * The head ! — shoot the
head ! ' The beast rolled over, eyes staring, dead. Its body
sweltered in its steam."

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{WUh Photographs taken by the Author.)

The training establishment controlled by Richard Marsh at New-
market is of the highest standing, as need scarcely be said : but it is
perhaps not so generally known that the King's trainer also manages
one of the most important breeding studs, namely the Egerton
House Farm, which is situated just behind his stables, on the
Racecourse side of Newmarket, not very far from the historic

The farm buildings occupy a considerable area, and are charm-
ingly placed in the midst of secluded paddocks which plantations
and strips of woodland render picturesque ; the boxes stand round
three sides of a well-tended lawn, broken here and there by
clumps of shrubs, the stud groom's house on the north side over-
looking the whole. Immediately to the right of his domain are the
stallion boxes with their spacious yards. The time of our visit was
April, when the season was just at its height ; and one often wonders
if even those intimately connected with the Turf ever fully realise
the vast responsibility that falls on the shoulders of the stud groom
of one of these establishments, especially at this time. In Alfred
Smallwood *' Dick " Marsh possesses a most able lieutenanti for he

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is a man who has his business at his finger-tips, the perfect order
with which everything is carried out and the condition of his
charges speaking volumes for the efficiency with which he fills his
most important position.

At the time of writing Smallwood had five very notable sires
under his care — Cyllene, Ayrshire, Common, St. Serf, and Ugly —
and the collection of matrons visiting these horses was a large and
distinguished one — almost, indeed, of priceless value.

The first of the sires led out for inspection is an old favourite,
a sterling racer in his day, Ayrshire by Hampton — Atalanta by
Galopin, and though in his twenty-first year the old horse is
looking the picture of health ; nor does he seem to have lost any of
the fire and spirit of his youth. He is a very compactly built horse



standing sixteen hands, girthing 6 ft. 4 in., beautifully let down
behind the saddle, with rare powerful quarters, and sound, clean
limbs. This bay son of Hampton was the first to carry the Duke
of Portland's black and white to the fore at Epsom, but he won
other good races, and a brief sketch of his Turf career may not be
without interest. As a two-year-old he started well by taking the
Chesterfield Stakes at Newmarket, the Prince of Wales Stakes at
Goodwood, and the Champagne Stakes at Doncaster, keeping up
his reputation by winning during the following season the Two
Thousand, D^rby, and Foil Stakes at Newmirket. Seabreeze beat
him in the St. Leger and at Manchester, but he took his revenge as
a four-year-old by securing the Royal Stakes at Kempton, and the

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Eclipse Stakes at Sandown, the mare being behind him on both

Ayrshire has proved an undisputed success at the stud, his
record as a sire being most consistent. From 1901 to 1905 his stock
have won not far short of ;f 60,000 in stakes, and a very remarkable
feature is the number of winners of his parentage. The most
notable of his progeny are Airs and Graces and Our Lassie, both
Oaks winners; Robert le Diable and Airship, winners of good handi-
caps ; Ballantrae, a Cambridgeshire winner; Gas, dam of Cicero ;
Cossack, Doctrine, Airlie, Heir Male, and a host of others.

When the next box is unlocked a treat is in store, for one of
the handsomest horses in England comes bounding out with a


snort, and draws himself up at attention. This is Cyllene, a beau-
tiful chestnut, son of Bonavista and Arcadia by Isonomy. He is a
magnificent picture of what a high-class blood sire should be, speed,
strength, and symmetry being exquisitely blended into one perfect
whole, for from his intelligent head right down to his hoofs it is
hard to find a single fault. He bears a striking resemblance to his
distinguished grandsire Bend Or, the beautiful dapples on his back

^ The way in which Friar's Balsam beat him at Ascot shows, however, how
diflferent Ayrshire's record would have been had the son of Hermit escaped mis-
fortune.— Ed.

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and quarters showing up prominently, while he is as good-tempered
and docile as could possibly be wished.

Cyllene was not found wanting on the racecourse, in fact he

was about the best of his year, and had his breeder, Mr. C. D. Rose,

entered him in the Derby he would undoubtedly have figured in the

list of winners of the great Epsom race. Out of five attempts in his

first season he caught the judge's eye on four occasions, these being

in the Sefton Park Plate at Liverpool, the Worth Stakes at Gatwick,

Forty-fifth Triennial Stakes at Ascot, and the National Breeders'

Produce Stakes at Kempton Park ; and when he met with reverse in

the Imperial Produce Stakes at Kempton he was by no means
disgraced, for he ran a good second to the smart Dieudonn6, to
whom he was giving 10 lb. As a three- year-old he won the New-
market Stakes with the greatest ease, and also added the Sandown
Foal Stakes and Jockey Club Stakes to his triumphs. The next
year he set the seal on his fame by winning the Ascot Gold Cup,
this being his last appearance on the Turf.

At the stud Cyllene was perhaps a little neglected at first, but
since then he has come to the front by leaps and bounds, his success
being quite phenomenal, and having done much to revive the glories
of the Stockwell line. Cicero, last year's Derby winner, is one of his

MO. cxxvii, VOL. XXII. — Ftbruary 1906 O

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best sons ; Polymelus, whom Lord Crewe has just sold for ^f 10,000,
is another fine colt, who should win good races for his new owner.
Then we have the speedy filly, Sweet Mary, not very far from the
top of last season's two-year-old handicap, of whom great things
are expected, to say nothing of Cyanean and other good horses.

When Cyllene passed into Mr. W. Bass's possession for the
large sum of 30,000 guineas many doubted the soundness of the
investment ; but when one takes into consideration how the horse's
services are sought after for the choicest mares, and the promise
shown by his young stock, it is no great error to state that there are
few if any sires for whom the future holds out a more brilliant

Common next claims our attention, and he strongly objected to
standing for his portrait ; when he did settle, however, a very char-
acteristic likeness of him was secured, a fitting reward for over an
hour's trouble. Bred by Sir Frederick Johnstone in 1888, Common
is a son of the great Isonomy and Thistle, the dam of Throstle. He
is a very dark brown horse of sixteen hands, and though not perhaps
a particularly handsome one, he has done decidedly well.

Big and backward as a two-year-old, the colt's breeder and his
partner, the late Lord Alington, decided not to risk his reputation till
the following year, a policy by which they benefited to a marked degree,
for Common not only won the Derby, but joined the select band of
wearers of the *' Triple Crown " by winning the Two Thousand and

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Leger, afterwards finding a purchaser in the late Sir J. Blundell
Maple at 3^15,000.

Common began stud life at Childwick, but he has been some-
what of a disappointment, the great winner to uphold his name
having not yet arrived; however, he is represented by Nun Nicer,
winner of the One Thousand, Bowery, Newsboy, Commune, The
Bishop, Cottager, Simony, and some other useful horses.

The Duke of Portland has another sire at Egerton House; this

is St. Serf by St. Simon — Feronia by Thormanby, a very powerfully

built brown standing 16 h. 3 in., well let down, with specially good

quarters and loins. St. Serf was a successful racehorse in his day,

winning the Rous Memorial Stakes at Ascot in 1890 as a three-year-
old. He has earned considerable distinction at the stud, his stock
from 1901 to 1905 having won 3^37,347 in stake money, and amongst
the animals that own him as a sire are Thais, winner of the One
Thousand in 1896, Calverley, Rice, St. Lundi, Skopos, Shaddock,
St. la, Ian, Bitters, and others. The sensational victory of
Challacombe, one of his sons, in this year's St. Leger, has also
added fresh lustre to his fame.

Lord Wolverton's Ugly, by Minting — Wee Agnes by Strathconan,
is the last of the staUions. His name was doubtless derived from

o 2

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his ugly lop ears, for otherwise he is a horse of pleasing conforma-
tion, having a strong back and loins and immense bone. He stood
the ordeal of training for seven years, and won no fewer than twenty-
two races. His speed was exceptional, and he ranked as quite a top
sawyer as far as sprint handicaps were concerned. At the low fee of
ten guineas he has been well patronised, and his stock already show
that they inherit the gift of going, some of his two-year-olds during
last season having been very useful.

We now start a tour of inspection of the mares, many of them
with young foals at foot. Not far down the drive we come to a
sheltered little paddock with only two occupants, but one a host in

herself, for it is none other than the great Sceptre. Her companion
is Skyscraper, a nice little chestnut mare of Mr. Raphael's. As
Sceptre stands with head aloft and ears pricked one wonders if she
recollects those stirring scenes 'mid the din and bustle of the race-
course of which she was the central figure ! Nothing breaks the
calm of her life now ; the firm strong muscles of the trained racer
are relaxed, the brilliant polish of her skin is now replaced by a long
and shaggy coat splashed with mud ; but there still remain the
grandness of her form, the grace of movement, and magnificence of
her proportions, which in a few years' time when she has filled out
a bit more will stamp her as a brood mare of the highest caste.

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Though it is not so long since Sceptre ran, one may be pardoned
for dwelling a brief space at the dazzling page of Turf history that
she left to be handed down to posterity.

With a pang of regret we recall the fact that she did not carry
the time-honoured yellow jacket of her breeder, the late Duke of
Westminster. Persimmon's daughter made the record price for a
yearling, of 10,000 guineas, when she fell to Mr. Robert Sievier's bid
at the late Duke's sale in 1900. Her two-year-old career opened
with victory in the Woodcote Stakes at Epsom ; this she followed
up by taking the July Stakes at Newmarket without an effort ; but
she went down, when amiss, in the Champagne Stakes at Doncaster


later in the year. In the Coronation year, 1902, considerable
surprise was expressed by some at the fact of her going to the post
for the Lincoln Handicap so early in the season, but she was only
beaten by a head, which might have been in her favour had not her
jockey been over-anxious. Then followed sweeping victories in both
the ** Guineas," and in record time as well ; but she failed hopelessly
in the Derby, her form being too bad to be true. An unsuccessful
attempt to bring the Grand Prix across the Channel followed her
triumph in the Oaks. She was returned a winner at both Ascot and
Goodwood, and also tasted defeat at these meetings. On the Town
Moor she carried off the St. Leger in smashing style : and then a

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futile effort to overhaul Elba in the Park Hill Stakes was her last
attempt as a three-year-old.

Mr. Sievier then sold his great mare to Mr. W. Bass for
;f25,ooo, and she first carried his colours in the Eclipse Stakes as a
four-year-old, when Ard Patrick beat her by a neck after a terrific
struggle. She next gave Rock Sand 15 lb. and cantered in four
lengths in front of him for the Jockey Club Stakes at Newmarket,
and ran a great race in the Duke of York Stakes at Kempton, where,
carrying top weight, and after being badly interfered with during the
race, she snatched the verdict from Happy Slave by the shortest of
heads, amidst intense excitement.


Sceptre continued her triumphal progress to the end of her four-
year-old career, but she did not retain her form the following season,
and was then put to the stud, her first mate having been Cyllene ;
and the result of the union is awaited with keen interest by all her
admirers. As the dam of Cicero, Lord Rosebery's third Derby
winner. Gas is not without interest. She is a small, nicely moulded
brown daughter of Ayrshire and Illuminata, and was heavily in foal
to Sir Visto when photographed.

Quintessence was very proud of her first foal by Orion, a
remarkably well-bred sire. In her racing days she carried Lord

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Falmouth's jacket with great success, winning the One Thousa/jcf as

well as other races, and never being beaten. Her pedigree is by

St. Frusquin — Margarine. Memoir, by St. Simon — Quiver, own

sister to La Fleche, was one of those flying fillies who brought the

great Welbeck sire to the fore. She won the Newmarket Stakes,

Oaks and St. L^er, and other good races ; but since she left the

post for the paddock her value as a brood mare has depended

almost entirely on John o' Gaunt. La Roche, by St. Simon — Miss

Mildred, is another Welbeck mare, and like Memoir on a visit to

Cyllene. The Oaks and Manchester Cup fell to her share in 1900.

The King sends two mares to the sire of Cicero : Vane, an own
sister to Flying Fox, and Laodamia, a well-known performer who is
heavy in foal to St. Simon.

Space forbids reference to all the mares at this extensive
establishment, so we must pass on with only a brief note here and
there about the most prominent, and in many cases names only
must suffice. The Duke of Portland's Tact is in foal to St. Serf and
visits him again ; then come Nenemoosha, dam of Cyanean, who
goes to Cyllene; and another mare booked to the same sire is Lady
Orme, with a bay colt by St. Simon. Idle Band, with a chestnut
filly by Winkfield, is on a visit to Common, as also are Microscope

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and Chrysomel with foals by Amphion and Ocean Wave resp)ec-
tively. On Ayrshire's list is Sophie, interesting as she has the
only Ard Patrick foal in England ; Barndoor ; Yours, dam of Our
Lassie; Autumn Rose, with a filly by Chaleureux; and others.
Some nice mares nominated to St. Serf are Butterine, Loodiana,
Golden Dream, and Kentish Cherry. The owners of Chasse Caf6,
Tertia, and Granny are patronising Ugly. Many other mares
were due to arrive, some of them of considerable note.

I must close with a hope that these few brief notes will convey
an idea of the magnitude and importance of the Egerton Stud, and
of its influence on the breeding of bloodstock generally.


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Our lake is big, beautiful, exasperating, and enchanting. I never
fish it without expecting to catch a monster, for I know that
its waters contain superb specimens of several kinds of fish, and the
quantity of its inhabitants is enormous. Bream swim about rest-
lessly in vast shoals; timid tench play sometimes near the shore and
amaze spectators by their number and size ; suspicious carp im-
ported from a neighbouring stewpond are sometimes seen, and very
rarely caught. Of course these three become quite unassailable,
honourably, in winter. Perch seem as plentiful as at Slapton Ley.
A quiet peep over the side of the boat in shallow places shows that
there are countless rudd and roach, and the ungregarious pike will run
at a bait in almost every one of the hundred acres of reed-surrounded
'water that is set in a frame of beautiful trees. The sanctum of its
owner displays superb specimens of the fish, the noblest of them
all a pike of 33 lb., a straight-backed creature, well "set up" in
more senses than one ; one might say, almost as a matter of course,
that it is a female fish, since the ladies of the Esox family seem the
predominant partners.

I chanced to begin my operations at an ill-chosen season,
rather late for bottom fishing, and early for pike. The result of
ground-baiting different swims with bushels of bran, bread, barley-
meal, and potatoes, and many hundreds of the humble creatures
that Walton did not tell us to use as though we loved them,
Mras rather disappointing. The lake merely offered samples of
its wares and refused to deliver serious quantities. A few bream,

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the biggest of them a three-pounder, were landed ; indeed, I did a
little better with the tench, for now and again, when hope and the
light had almost faded, my float played mysterious antics, and then,
after some rather leisurely rushes over a narrow area, a tench came
into the boat — not the tench of my dreams, for I had dreamt of
six-pounders, and none of them quite reached three, nor the tench
of my old experience, for these were pale bronze in colour, instead
of mysterious green, and their eyes lacked the strange pigeon 's-
blood tinge. Moreover, like all the other fish of the lake, they were
slimeless; indeed, to touch them was a pleasure, owing to their
curious smooth velvety surface. I never caught more than two at
a sitting. The perch behaved a little more kindly. One could not
try anywhere without catching little ones, and sometimes a good
fish presented itself. For instance, one evening we angled for them,
using small rudd as live bait; these we had caught with great
difficulty among the weeds, since no fish of any kind ever entered
my minnow trap, though we set it in the small outlet stream, and
baited with all kinds of luxuries. All our little baits attracted
attention. Small pike appropriated half a dozen, and three of the
rascals were landed, whilst the others bit through the gut and got
away. The best of the perch on that occasion was a pretty fish
of I J lb.

Some weeks later, during a cold north-wester I fished a swim
which I had baited up with worms for two nights running, and had
one bite, one only ; but the fish weighed 2 lb. 13 oz. by my spring
balance, 2 lb. 10 oz. by a less flattering instrument, and if we had
not already upon our walls two perch, one of 3jlb., the other a little
heavier, it would have enjoyed the honour of being set up. People
who despise *' coarse '* fish should eat a perch from our lake ; he is
almost as good as red mullet, and better than most trout. There
was quite an incident during our perch-fishing, for one day when I
struck after a bite I found there was something on my hook heavier
than perch or bream or tench, and after a few minutes dragged almost
within range of George, my gillie, a pike which caused him to give a
shout, and appeared to me to be well in its teens. We loosed the
punt from the poles and went after it with very low hopes. Twice the
fish ran into weed clumps and I got him out, each time bringing him
almost near enough for the net ; but on the third occasion, when I
was pulling gingerly for fear of breaking the gut, the villain
simplified my task by biting it into two. One has curious luck in
such matters. The next day I landed a little pike which had taken
bread-crust on a No. 14 hook whipped to 5-x gut. Once we caught
five jack on fine undrawn gut, and another time lost four hooks in
about ten minutes. Why is it that nature has given pike its seven

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hundred or so of sharp teeth to assist it in feeding on food that
it never chews or even bites into pieces, but swallows whole however
big; whilst the perch, which in the main has exactly the same diet,
has no need for the dentist, since it possesses hardly a discernible

Online LibraryAlfred Edward Thomas WatsonThe Badminton magazine of sports and pastimes → online text (page 16 of 52)