Alfred Edward Thomas Watson.

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handled by Birch, as Turf history
records, won by eight lengths from
Kirkland, who was giving him three
pounds. He started at the long
odds of 25 to I, and a few good
judges backed him for the reason
that they had been struck by the
style in which he went at the three
jumps that come close together
on the Sandown Course. As to
Moifaa's appearance, his picture
heads this article, and readers may
judge for themselves; but his capa-
city is undeniable. ** We think

Ireland has horses that can lep," a practice spin

an enthusiastic Irishman exclaimed

as Moifaa returned to the paddock after the race, "but I never
saw one that could lep like this one!" In the big steeplechase
at Manchester subsequently Moifaa did not greatly distinguish
himself, and has not won since March, 1904.

When Mr. Gollan was approached by Lord Marcus Beresford
with an offer for the horse nothing was said as to the identity of the
would-be purchaser. Lord Marcus being largely interested in the
purchase and sale of bloodstock, it did not strike Mr. Gollan that
His Majesty was looking for something to replace Ambush II.
Moifaa, however, was sold to the King, and sent to Egerton House,
where one may be very sure that Marsh, an old steeplechase jockey,
who long since knew everything about the game that could possibly
be learnt, devoted his very best attention to his charge. He had
won Two Thousands, Derbies, and Legers for his royal Master, and

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to win a National al?o would have been a special triumph ; but the
big horse had ways of his own which his friends at Epsom — Hickey
and Page, together with his owner — perfectly well understood, and
for some unknown reason he did not seem to get on at Newmarket.
Before the Grand National last year, the King's jockey, Anthony,
having had a fall which it had been feared would incapacitate him,
George Williamson was engaged to ride, but he had the bad luck to
be severely kicked shortly before the race, and Dollery wore His
Majesty's colours. Moifaa started first favourite at 4 to i, which

(Photograph by Clarence HaHey, Neumarket)

shows beyond all doubt that a great many people put faith in his
capacity, though others, including those who knew most about him,
would not have him at any price, and argument ran high as to whether
he was merely a high-blower, a whistler, or an unmitigated roarer.

For the National of 1905 seven-and-twenty horses went to the
post, and no fewer than twenty of them fell or were pulled up,
Moifaa being one that fell. It was thought after the Liverpool race
that the last had been seen of him ; but happily this was not the
case, for he came out in the Grand Sefton Steeplechase in November,

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and with 12 st. 5 lb. on his back finished sixth in a field of sixteen,

the useful five-year-old Hack Watch winning. Although Mr. Gollan

had parted >vith Moifaa he was not without hopes of securing the

National for the second time with Seahorse II., an imported son of

Nelson and Moonga. Seahorse II. had 10 st. 7 lb. to carry, Moifaa

II St. 12 lb., and at the weights Mr. Gollan fancied that the chestnut

would have the best of the brown ; but in the National all sorts of

things happen. A loose horse ran across Seahorse as he was coming

to a fence, interfering with him so seriously that his chance was

completely destroyed ; and O'Brien, seeing that perseverance was


hopeless, pulled him up; but Seahorse lives to fight another day,
and is likely yet to do something to justify his importation.

To describe Mr. Spencer Gollan's successful achievements in
other branches of sport would far exceed the limits at command,
but something must be written about the famous row from Oxford
to London. Some years ago, before locks had been erected, and
when consequently the frequent delays on the river, now inevitable,
did not take place, half a dozen enthusiastic Guardsmen had done
the journey in sixteen hours, and it occurred to Mr. Gollan to see
whether, in spite of the locks, this record could not be reduced ; so
he pressed into service two professional scullers — Towns and

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Sullivan, both good men — and set to work to try. Towns Mr. GoUan
tersely describes as ** the man to put money on/* for one of the few
things he does not know about sculling is when he is beaten. On
one occasion his boat split in the course of a race and gradually
filled with water, Towns continuing to struggle on against the
almost impossible handicap. After a certain amount of practice
the trio started with three pairs of sculls, and Mr. Gollan accom-
plished what he describes as the hardest day's work he ever did in
his life. Sullivan was so far from fit that he actually lost i6 lb. on
the journey, but though slightly delirious fifteen miles from home
finished well. The three struggled on, and, including the tedious
waits, finally reached their destination in 13 hours 55 min.

Mr. Gollan is so much occupied with practical affairs that he
has little time to write, which is the greater pity as* he possesses a
very happy knack of narrative. I cannot resist reproducing here an
extract from a letter he kindly wrote me some time since, though I
have previously published it in other pages. He was telling me
about the famous son of Musket who did such great things in
Australia, and whose sons and daughters have distinguished them-
selves in this country. ** Carbine," he writes, ** whom I knew well,
was a wag. He started racing life in the training stable of his
owner, Dan O'Brien, of Riccarton, New Zealand ; O'Brien bought
him at the annual yearling sale at Sylvia Park, near Auckland.
Breaking came easy to the good-natured colt, but his laziness was
abnormal, and he had almost to be dragged. When his first two-
year-old race came, O'Brien was absent in the North, and the head
lad had charge. The lad's telegram to the owner was as follows:
* Colt left at the post. Won a head.' The next day Carbine was given
another spin, the wire this time reading: *Colt left again. Won
easily.' As a three-year-old Carbine migrated to Australia, where he
won most of the good things, and incidentally all hearts. To watch
him go to the post was worth a sovereign at least. * Old Jack' could
see no good in a preliminary pipe-opener, so stuck up in a passive-
resister kind of way and waited for his trainer to arrive and threaten
him with the slock whip — it was only a threat, and the horse knew
it ; still, he jogged on another hundred yards to repeat the scene.
Sometimes his trainer, Walter Hickinbotham, would chase him
with a willow branch ; in wet weather an umbrella suddenly opened
provided the incentive. In any case the old chap had his fun and
got his cheer. But when he turned to race, what a change! Cool
and resolute, fast and a stayer, six furlongs or three miles, good
going or in the deep, no excuses had to be made for the champion.
And when the great Finis crowned the Opus, winning the Melbourne
Cup with lost, sib., two miles in the fastest time on record —

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MR. SPENCER GtO^lj^j^ ^

how they rose at him! Folks don't cheer here, but ihe^' do in

To talk to Mr. Spencer Gollan, and observe his placid, seJf-
possessed, courteous manner, with a quiet vein of humour at
intervals marking his utterances, one would not feel inclined to
suspect that he was so essentially a man of action ; but c:>Tie must
be extraordinarily good at any of the numerous games he pJays in
order to have anything distantly approaching a chance with him.
He would be a very bad man to fight and certain to catch you if
you ran away. If the Colonies contain many such sportsmen, the
Old Country has reason to be proud of its offspring.

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The shooting season which is now drawing to a close has, generally
speaking, proved the best for partridges since the bumper years
of 1885 and 1887, and at Holkham Lord Leicester's friends enjoyed
the best week ever known, a short account of which and the methods
employed to obtain these good results may be of interest to the
readers of the Badminton Magazine.

Holkham has been celebrated for the excellence of its shooting
ever since the middle of the eighteenth century, but the present
Lord Leicester, who is a past master of all branches of the art, has
perhaps done more than any of his predecessors to add to its fame,
and we were all very glad indeed to see him well enough to come
out and superintend the operations this year from his pony-cart.

With regard to partridges this is an ideal estate, as the extent
is great, the soil not too light, i.e. good barley land ; it is highly
farmed ; the fences are good, and, generally speaking, fairly high ;
vermin are well kept under, and rabbits are not tolerated ; a very
good breeding stock is left on each beat ; there are practically no
foxes (as it is not a hunting country).

A great many owners and lessees of shootings have obtained
very big bags by a good deal of artificial help, and it is in this that
Holkham differs from the majority of partridge estates ; no artificial
aid has ever been given either in the way of hand-rearing, Hun-
garian eggs or birds turned down, *' remises," or even artificial
shelters for the guns to stand behind, specially planted crops, etc. ;
and as the partridges are never driven until November, and on some

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occasions later, they are full-grown, well-feathered, and strong on
the wing ; in fact, it is a genuine wild shoot of the best description.

The ground carries a lot of hares and many wild pheasants ;
these would be a nuisance when driving, so Lord Coke goes over the
ground in October accompanied by a large party of the tenants for
the purpose of killing down the hares before they have done damage
to the root crops, and also shooting every pheasant that is unwise
enough to breed outside the park wall.

This hare-shooting has several advantages, as, independently of
the benefit to the farmers and their enjoyment, it shows what sort of


stock of partridges there is on each beat, and also exhibits the
natural flight of the coveys when disturbed. On the Warham beat
this year 314 hares were killed in one day in this way early in October ;
if those hares had been left till November, what a lot of damage they
would have done to the tenants' root crops, and what a nuisance
they would have proved on the big days' partridge-driving !

Independently of the " driving " ground proper, there are several
outside beats on which ** walking up '* and ** half-mooning " is prac-
tised throughout the latter end of September and October ; by this
means 1,500 brace were accounted for in 1905.

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The driving beats, four in number, are known as Warham,
Quarles and Egmere, Wighton, and Branthill and Crabbe; each
beat consists of about 2,000 acres of highly-farmed land. Joyce,
the head keeper, besides having a pheasant beat in the park, is
responsible for Branthill and Crabbe ; he has under him a vermin-

Symons is a partridge keeper pure and simple, and he looks
after Warham and Wighton, well over 4,000 acres of land ; I saw
scarcely any work of rats or vermin, not a rabbit, and the efficient
way he supervises his great stretch of country can be judged by the
bags obtained off it. I may add that he is a bit of a pessimist by
nature, and will seldom allow that he has any great number of birds
on his beat, so that this year when he admitted that he had ** some "
we expected to see something out of the common, and we did.

Quarles and Egmere is looked after by Baker, who also has
Waterloo and Crabbe. There are four keepers with three under-
men in the park ; two keepers entirely for partridges outside the

From the above it will be seen that the Holkham keepers have
plenty to do, and the fact that they never change goes to show that
they like their work and are comfortable and happy.

As the driving does not take place till November the country is
of course bare ; there are hardly any roots, the birds are very strong,
and so the drives must be long in order to bring in the country
properly. The fields are large, averaging over thirty acres ; the plan
generally adopted is to begin with one or two down-wind drives
towards a general centre, and then to work the whole beat as much
as possible towards that centre throughout the day. The drivers
are all employes of the estate and thoroughly know their business,
they are good walkers and make no noise.

It is too dark to shoot after 4.30 p.m. as a rule on a November
day, so the start is early, the first shot being fired shortly after
9 a.m. by the day (9.30 Holkham time, as the clocks are kept half
an hour fast). By this means about twenty long drives are included
in the day. As there are no heaths or bracken, and hardly any
roots, it is rare for any one gun to get a very heavy drive such as
is obtained elsewhere from heaths or remises, but the birds scatter
more and there is plenty of shooting all along the line. The birds
are much packed, and very often these packs do not get broken up
by the last drive. But however many birds may break out and
escape, the ground is never shot over a second time ; by this means
a very good ** unpricked " stock is certain to be left, and year after
year good bags are obtained. So much for the advo^ntages of
leaving a good stock.

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I will now try to give a short account of the hig dsty at
Warham. It was a beautiful morning with a light south wind, and
as Synnons had reported that he had some birds, we expected a more
than ordinarily good day. The party consisted of Prince Frederick
Dhuleep Singh, Lord Coke, Colonel Coke, Colonel Custance, Major
C. Willoughby, Mr. W. Forbes, Mr. W. Barry, and the writer;
there was no weak spot through which birds might escape.

At Holkham everyone makes up his own lunch and puts it into
a little bag ; only bread, cheese, beer, whisky, and soda, etc., are
sent out, and we always lunch in the open under a stack or hedge ;
it is by no means considered the principal function of the day,
although plenty of time is allowed for it.


A three-mile run in a motor brought us to the meeting-place,
we had soon taken our places for the first drive, down-wind,
and the beaters were seen bringing in a very big bit of country. It
was interesting to watch a covey get up far away, pick up one or two
more as it came along, and then pitch in a small piece of thin roots
some 250 yards in front of the guns. Hardly had they done so
when another lot coming over the field disturbed those that had just
pitched, and they and many other coveys, making a noise like
thunder, came swishing down on the right-hand guns, a most nerve-
trying ordeal to go through for a start. A very large pack broke
out to the left of the guns without coming within shot, then a few
coveys dashed over, and the drive was finished — not a very prolific

NO. cxxvi. VOL. xxiL— January 1906 B

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one, as they came over so packed and many crossed out of shot.
Still, they had all gone in the right direction, either into the third
drive, or else away across a narrow grass valley and to the North
Point, a strip of arable land which runs out into the sea, the ^i^c^
dc resistance of this beat, as any coveys that go there are pretty well
bound to come back to their own home again.

Directly we had picked up our birds from the first drive we
moved on to the second stand, almost at right angles; here the
second lot of drivers brought in some stubbles and fallows over a
thick double hedge. One big pack broke out to the right and


i ^ >»- i.

^ I DrukA \

Roots \


^ • t' ♦



crossed on to the North Point, another fine pack came right over
the centre guns and got well tapped, a few more coveys came over,
and that drive was finished. We had now got a great body of birds
into the driving-ground proper of the day. The third drive, down-
wind and across a road, with a dazzling sun straight in one's eyes, was
a very pretty one ; two very big packs came over, and many coveys,
79 birds being accounted for. It may be as well to say here that at
the end of each drive the keepers whose business it is to collect
the birds take them to the game cart, where they are counted
before being hung up; by this means a fairly accurate account of the

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total for each drive is obtained, a list of which accompanies this

The next drive was to be from the North Point, and on look-
ing at it it was difficult to believe that a good result could be obtained
from those bare stubbles and fallows. There was one root field
away to the right, but that was not included in this drive ; all the
birds were brought over from a huge fallow field. We had hardly got
to our places when the horn was blown, and the first birds appeared
over a nice high hedge, with trees here and there. At the beginning,
a few birds disturbed by the right flankers came over the left-hand
guns, then there was a sound like the surf breaking on the beach
after a storm at sea, and an enormous pack dashed over the centre
guns, some of them breaking off and swinging right down the






















SO/ ,







line and then back over the drivers' heads, away to the salt marshes
on the edge of the sea, to remain there in safety for the rest of the
day. Those who were favoured with the attentions of the big lots
found that turning round to shoot birds which had passed was
even more fatal than usual, as the very bright sun completely
blinded one.

This was a model specimen of a partridge drive ; every gun had
plenty of shooting, the birds were much packed, and twisted and
turned in every direction ; 168 was the number picked up. Lord
Leicester arrived in his pony carriage just as the drive began,
and took the keenest interest in the proceedings, Lady Leicester
telling him the results of our efforts. The plan of operations now

B 2

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was to drive backwards and forwards across the strip of marsh land
running between the North Point and the rest of the beat, there
being two separate drives off each end of the North Point; this
gave time for the birds to collect, fresh ground being brought in
from the flanks now and then. Lunch came fairly early, at about
a quarter to one, and by that time rather over four hundred brace
had been picked up. After lunch so many birds had broken back
on to the ground that we started on in the morning that it was
decided to go back there and bring them in again ; this entailed
half an hour's quick walking, but the result was worth it, as when
the first drive of the day was repeated there appeared to be almost
as many birds as before ; these were brought into the main ground,
and half a dozen more drives to and from the North Point were
successfully brought off. The last drive of all took place just after
the sun had gone down and the light was beginning to fail ; but the
partridges, still fresh and a good deal packed, played the game
splendidly right up to the finish. The rough total of each drive was
as follows: 47, 46, 79, 168, 88, 102, 74, 132, 41, 112, 71, 136, 42, 27,
III, 66, 37, 92, 80, 45 = 1,596; besides this, about forty dead and
wounded birds were either picked up by the retrievers or found by
the drivers and keepers when moving between the drives; and on the
following day Symons and a few men with retrievers searched the
hedges carefully for dead and wounded, and brought the total up
to 1,671 partridges. He reported a splendid stock still left on the
ground to provide another first-rate day next season.

The second day's beat was over ^uarles and Egmere. There
were a nice lot of birds on the higher end of the beat, but we could
not do much with them in the morning — we had twenty-two drives
on this day, and the total came to 515 brace, the best drives being
58, 61, 52, S^, 80, 67, 89, 51, 48, and 57.

The third day, on the Wighton beat, an enormous lot of birds
broke out to the right of the guns during the first drive, and as they
went on to the next day's beat we saw no more of them at the
time. This pack consisted of about four hundred birds ; and they
must have been joined by many hundreds more during the day, as
they kept breaking over that particular hedge, and it was hoped that
they would assist us on the morrow, so were left undisturbed. In
spite of this we had most excellent sport, getting 647 brace, in-
cluding the pick-up. The drives, twenty, were as follows: 34, 95,
68, 71, 72, 39, 38, 37, 90, 115, 80, 70, 43, 62, 37, 63, 67, 49, 44,
and 63.

The last day was over Joyce's beat, Branthill and Crabbe. On
this ground it happens that there are very few stubbles this
year, and there were not so many partridges as on the other

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THE HOI^^HAM partridge Week


beats; however, we hoped to brin^ in the larf^e packs that had
escaped us on the previous day. These hopes were disappointed, as
we had the mortification to see the whole pack get up and go
straight back in the beaters' faces, and rising high in the air they
flew two miles down wind and were lost. Joyce and Lord Coke
took this very philosophically, as they said, ** What a grand
breeding-stock they will make for next season ! " Owing to this
disaster the bag was considerably lighter than it would have been,
and we got only the comparatively light one, for Holkham, of
377 brace !

Thus ended the best week's partridge-driving ever known in
this country. No special effort was made to obtain a record, but it
came all the same ; and not the least enjoyable part of it was to
note the evident delight of Lord Leicester at the successful outcome
of his plans, which also reflect the greatest credit on his keepers,
drivers, and flankers.

[The photographs which accompany this article, which have been taken by

Mr. Davidson, a resident on the estate, show a glimpse of another phase of sport to be

enjoyed here. The lake, which lies close to the house, is the winter headquarters of

thousands of duck, teal, widgeon, and rare sea birds of every description. There is

also a large flock of Canada geese, who fly about all over the country, but never mix

themselves with the genuine wild geese (I^inkfoot and Bean geese), enormous flocks of

which inhabit the marshes by day, and feed on the uplands by night. In hard weather

the wild ducks on the big lake may be seen making their way to the Obelisk and other

woods to feed on the ilex acorns, of which they are very fond. They afford most

exceJJent flighting on these occasions; on one morning some three or four years ago

four guns brought in ninety-five wild duck at breakfast time ! A real good morning.]


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(Photograph by Miss L. E. Bland)



Even the most unobservant of Englishmen on going to Ireland
must be struck with the great difference between that country and
his home. The longer he remains across the Irish Channel the
greater will that difference appear, and this is certainly no less
remarkable in the hunting field than in other spheres of life.

Probably the first thing that the stranger will notice is the
entire absence of gates. The ordinary English wooden gate is
unknown ; there are a few iron gates which are generally fastened
up with a chain or rope, and are quite unopenable on horseback ;
but the entrances to most fields are blocked up with loosely-built
stone walls, called " stone gaps,*' or with ploughs, old donkey carts,
logs of trees, or any kind of rubbish which will keep in the cattle,
and can be opened up with more or less ease when the stock have
to be shifted to other pastures.

Consequently, to hunt in Ireland, fences, and lots of them,

Online LibraryAlfred Edward Thomas WatsonThe Badminton magazine of sports and pastimes → online text (page 2 of 52)