Alfred Edward Thomas Watson.

The Badminton magazine of sports and pastimes online

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to individual prognostication. The point for the present is that such
a scheme is in the air. Further, in our own country, w^e have various
corporations, notable amongst them that of Newport, inserting clauses
in their Private Bills directed against the street bookmaker, making
him liable to arrest on the spot, and imprisonment without the option
of a fine on a second conviction. These provisions would of course
go a great deal further than the local bye-laws which have of late
years been enacted, but have certainly proved powerless to suppress
the business. Then there are all sorts of rumours about Lord Davey
and the Bishop of Hereford being again on the war-path. It is said
that they contemplate bringing in a Betting Bill of a very drastic
character, no doubt encouraged by the large Radical majority in the
new House of Commons. Probably the composition of the House
will be favourable to legislation of this kind ; but it is also hinted that
a Bill is in contemplation entrusting the licensing of all racecourses
to the County Councils, thus so far superseding the authority of the
Jockey Club. One need scarcely dwell on the mischievous effects
of such an arrangement, which, however, will be almost certain
not to pass.

Even in France, a country by no means of an ultra-" goody "
character, of late years stringent measures have been taken against
bookmakers on the racecourse. This, almost needless to say, was
merely the enforcement of a law passed some years ago, and was in-

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BEtriNG 443

tended not for the suppression of betting, but in the interests of the
Pari-Mutuel, and various public institutions which profit thereby.

A good deal has of late been written in the press about the pos-
sibilities of the Pari-Mutuel coming into general use in this country.
One thing is certain : that while betting has of late years undergone
a considerable change, the change has not involved any diminution
in volume. True it is that the magnitude of betting transactions is
very much less than it was in the days of the Bentincks and the
Hastingses; the heavy plunging that went on then is not known
nowadays. The compensating feature is that betting is very
much more widely spread and more generally indulged in amongst
all classes of society : all ranks from the highest to the lowest
can now have their ** bit '* on, though it be only a small bit.

But this is not like the betting of old ; the above state of affairs
is symptomatic of an important change which for the past quarter of
a century has been coming over betting. In former days, all the bet-
ting that took place off the racecourse was ** ante-post betting," i.e.
on future events, often months before the contest came off, and at
odds which were publicly stated and advertised.

This species of betting now occupies a comparatively small place.
Where twenty years ago the Derby market for the next year would
begin after the decision of the two-year-old races at Ascot, nowadays
the list of transactions recorded on a Derby at the opening of the
year is infinitesimal. Much might be written as to the cause of the
decadence of the future-event betting ; suffice it here to point out
that the change has taken place. The betting of the present day for
the most part consists of ** starting price," and the post betting, or
taking the odds on the racecourse. It is a palpable fact that starting-
price betting has of late grown enormously in popular favour,
largely no doubt owing to the facility it offers to the small backer to
have a wager without going on to the racecourse. It brings within
his range every unimportant race of that or any subsequent day,
about which there is not and never would have been any future-event
betting. But for the existence of starting-price betting these small
races would never be within the reach of the small stay-at-home
backer at all.

Now the Pari-Mutuel is essentially, and in the most proper
sense of the term, a starting-price instrument. It no doubt
has its advantages as well as its disadvantages; for instance,
those who have studied the returns in the French sporting
papers cannot fail to have noticed how greatly the Pari-Mutuel
prices returned are in favour of the backer as compared with
those of the bookmakers. In point of fact, from the nature
of the system, the backer gets the real starting price, and not

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a mere bookmaker's quotation ; the money is divided (subject to
deductions) amongst those who actually back the winning horse. It
is of course much more available for betting in small sums than in
large ; and in this way it would be a useful agent for starting-price
betting in towns. Whether it would ever be adopted in theringsof
the racecourse is a different matter. It certainly would not do for
betting heavily there, as it is essentially a ready-money system, and
in the case of people who want to bet heavily would involve their
carrying about large sums of money in their pockets instead of send-
ing a cheque on the following Monday. If it is ever to be adopted
on the racecourse at all, it will probably be in the smaller rings only,
and not in what is commonly known as Tattersall's. Of course it is
said that at the time you put your money on you do not know what
price you are getting, so that a man who is for the moment so much
to the bad is not aware how much he has to stake in order to "get
round." But as against that he receives the full price, and probably
a better one.

From the point of view of the bookmaker, or keeper of the
machine, the advantage and disadvantage may be shortly summed
up. The keeper of the machine cannot make the large profits that
a bookmaker can — this is an obvious consequence of the fact already
alluded to, that the depositors in the Pari-Mutuel almost invariably get
better prices than they do from the bookmaker. On the other hand,
unlike the bookmaker, making his money as he does solely by per-
centages, he cannot get hit. Many a time the starting-price bookmaker
finds that he has laid heavily against a street-corner tip in London;
and the horse, not being fancied in the paddock, goes out to a very
long price at the start, on which the bookmaker has to pay. This
is obviously not a risk incidental to the Pari-Mutuel.

One word on the legal side of this question. The machine most
clearly would not infringe the Betting House Act, not even in the case
of a man who kept a Pari-Mutuel in an office, and invited customers
to come in and put their money on. Some writers in the press have
gone astray over this matter, and suggested that the Pari-Mutuel
might be held to be a ** place''; but it must not be forgotten that the
only person who is liable in this respect is the occupier or keeper of
the place, which he uses for betting with all comers. The keeper
of the Pari-Mutuel does not bet himself with subscribers; he is
merely a stakeholder ; as the name of the apparatus would show,
it is the subscribers who are betting with one another. Asfiaras
its use on the racecourse goes, there was a prosecution under the
Vagrant Act for setting up a Pari-Mutuel on the public part of the
racecourse at Wolverhampton. It was alleged that this Pari-
Mutuel machine was an instrument of wagering on a game of

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chance, within the meaning of that Act, and so it was held by the
Court. The decision was no doubt due to a misunderstanding of
the real functions of the apparatus. The Court — in its ignorance —
thought it was something like a teetotum or roulette table which
depended purely on chance, not seeing that it was really only, an
instrument for registering the actual number of bets made. It is
strange that this decision was given by Sir Alexander Cockburn, the
Lord Chief Justice, who lamented the operations of the machine as
an instance of ingenuity which might have been better applied.
This was the same Cockburn who twenty years earlier introduced
the Betting House Act into the House of Commons, carefully avoid-
ing any interference with Tattersall's and the other recognised clubs.
However, racecourse managers need not fear this aspect of the
question, as the machines would be in the enclosures, which are, of
course, private property, and the Vagrant Act only applies to gaming
in public places.

Another aspect of the introduction oi the Pari-Mutuels may
be noticed. Betting disputes would be largely reduced in numbers,
every transaction would be for ready money, so there would be
no default on the backer's part, and it would be impossible for
the keeper of the machine to abscond without settling with the
winners. There would therefore be no fear of welshing, the prin-
cipal danger that the small backer has to contend with in the
cheaper racecourse enclosures. It is also difficult to see how dis-
putes could arise as to the rights of the parties in any transaction,
as the conditions under which the apparatus works are simple enough.
A fruitful source of dispute under existing conditions — the prop)er
starting price in any given case — would no longer exist ; backers of the
winner take what is in the apparatus, minus the percentages ; no
more and no less. This, of course, is far from the case with the
ante-post betting, which, as we have already pointed out, plays but
a small part in modern speculation. Transactions of this class were
always subject to a somewhat elaborate code of rules, known as
Tattersall's Rules of Betting, which was a code drawn up and acted
upon by the members of Tattersall's Club. At one time the
committee of TattersalPs was really the hierarchy of the betting
fraternity. They decided intricate questions under the rules, and,
in a sense, acted as a debt-collecting agency for their members.
They had this control over defaulters, that if they reported a man
as a defaulter to the Stewards of the Jockey Club, he was warned
off the Turf, and thereby became disqualified from taking any part
in racing.

There was also another body which had considerable
influence in adjudicating upon betting disputes and enforcing

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betting claims. We refer to the committee of the Newmarket
Rooms. This was another betting club, which met at New-
market, probably very largely composed of the same personnel as
Tattersairs ; but it was a different club, and dealt generally with bets
contracted at Newmarket. Of late years, as betting markets, both
Tattersairs and the Newmarket Rooms have been on the wane; in
fact, Tattersairs may be said to have become extinct for some years.
Some few years ago a great change took place in the composition
of the tribunals to which we have alluded. Dissatisfaction was
sometimes felt that there was no adequate provision for backers and
bookmakers being impartially represented, as the composition of
the committees on any particular occasion was always doubtful.
At Tattersairs the bookmaker was inadequately supported: on
the committee of the Newmarket Rooms the bookmaking element
usually predominated. Not long ago the two bodies by mutual
consent amalgamated and formed a central body for the decision of
betting disputes and the enforcement of betting claims, which body
may be said to have almost a national character. It, of course, has
no legal status ; in fact, its formation took place very quietly, and
probably the majority of racing men are ignorant of its existence.
And whereas the old committee's functions were supposed to be
confined to disputes between members of their respective clubs, this
committee will now entertain complaints or disputes between any
persons, whether members of the club or not ; but, as we have said,
Tattersairs as a betting club or market has long been a thing of the
past. At the same time the old nomenclature has been preserved:
it is known as Tattersairs Committee, and its composition is such as
to inspire every confidence in the justice and impartiality of its
decisions. The Stewards of the Jockey Club give the same recogni-
tion to its report of defaulters as to that of the TattersalFs Com-
mittee of old. But if the Pari-Mutuel came into general use, this
new committee would have but little to do.

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Though so many people write on the subject of riding and hunting, I
have never seen any remarks on the art of falling ; yet it is really quite
necessary to learn how to fall, and it ought to be part of a hunting
education. Having had a rather varied experience in falls, which
must have averaged at least 250 in the first two seasons, and having
never been seriously damaged, I think my methods must have some
good qualities? To explain this rather high total of accidents is
simple. A few years ago I returned to Ireland, determined to hunt.
I had always ridden any animal that I had been able to beg, borrow,
or steal, but never had a chance of hunting, and was absolutely
ignorant about fences, or how they should be ** negotiated." One
day when I was poaching on a neighbour's bog I found a clump of
white heather, and on the strength of this good luck asked my
father (not for the first time!) to give me a hunter; when, to my
intense delight, I was presented with the sum of £20. Needless to
say I felt condescending to all millionaires, and an auction being
advertised of horses, cobs, etc., I lost no time in inspecting them,
and calmly marked my catalogue with animals that I fancied. An

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unfortunate veterinary surgeon who laboured under the impression
that I was an escaped lunatic followed me round, gently remonstrat-
ing that he could not possibly examine all the horses for mc, and
that his charge was £i is. ; which mercenary remark made my
friendship for him cool considerably.

After exasperating several farmers to the verge of frenzy by
uncomplimentary remarks on the looks of their horses, in the hope
that the price might descend to the cash in my pocket, I sadly
watched the few animals I liked knocked down to bidders at £ioo
or so. In desperation I was meditating theft, when a very shady
individual informed me in a stage whisper, " Yer honner, Ive the
crathur down the strate ye're afther lookin' for." The animal, on

{Copied from a print by H. Alken^ Jun., by pifmission of Mr. Flinty Rugby)

inspection, proved to be a three-year-old grey mare, standing over
on her fore legs, with a coat like a sheep and a mane like a door-
mat ; she was trembling all over with excitement, and looked as mad
as a hatter. To make a long story short, I bought my first hunter.
Incidentally I may say that three years afterwards she won first
prize as a hack the only time I showed her, and one of the best
judges in Ireland said she was the most beautifully-shaped mare
he had ever seen.

The only hounds within reach of me then were a certain pack
of draghounds ; the mare had not been schooled, neither had I, so
we learnt the way not to jump together. The hounds were fast,

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and needed all their speed to save their lives ; and of course I rode
full gallop at all the fences, with the natural result over a trappy
country that we were frequently down, generally, I must say, on the
right side to continue, and her wonderful speed made up for the few
seconds lost in falling. For a long time I looked upon falling as
part of the game. The riding, if peculiar, was exciting, four or five
horses often being down in the same ditch in a struggling mass ;
but no one, as a rule, was damaged. The riders held on to the back
of their saddles, shot over the fences without giving their hunters
time to follow ; slipped backwards on to the ground in a sitting posi-
tion when their steeds rose at a fence — in fact, it was the quaintest
hunt in creation ; and I learnt to fall !

(Copisd from a print by H. Aiken, Jun., by permission ^of Mr. Flint,- Rugby)

There are many ways in which a horse may fall. Generally
the mistake is made on landing, and usually either because the
horse has taken off too soon or too late. When horses blunder on to
their heads or drop their hind legs in the ditch, the best plan, in my
opinion, is to sit still — it is 10 to i you can pull them up, or they
recover themselves. On the other hand the horse may roll back or
roll over, and then is the time to slip out of the saddle when your
foot touches the ground ; if he rolls to the off side, slip over the off
side also, and avoid his legs and the crutches.

One can overdo the sitting still, but that is where judgment
comes in. I stuck to the saddle one day when the mare fell into a

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ditch, but she got up in such a series of rolls and plunges that when
she recovered her legs again I found myself hanging head downwards
on the offside, with my foot caught in the stirrup. Fortunately I had
hold of the reins, and kicked with great energy for some time before
I got clear. My advice to ladies when the horse falls is to sit still
while you can, and if you must go, depart over the off side. You
have the advantage of escaping the crutches and getting a clear fall.
The method of doing it is thus : Put your head down on the off
side, your right hand down the horse's shoulder, swing your legs
over and down, and you land on your feet with the reins in your left

(Copied from a print by H. Alken^ Jun., by permission of Mr. Flint, Rugby)

hand. If a horse is turning a somersault, or in any mishap when
he is falling over on to his head, it is very easy to do, as you merely
go with the horse. One of the secrets of good falling is to have
your muscles perfectly slack, on the principles of the South Amen-
can rough riders, who sit a bucker by balance, going easy with the
motion of the bucks. My father, who was out there for some years,
saw an Englishman trying to ride one of these buck-jumpers, striving
to sit tight and grip, and he simply got his back broken in the
saddle. One often sees " Fatal Hunting Accident" in the papers,
which generally turns out to be someone riding a tired hunter
home, on the ** 'ard 'igh road " ; the horse stumbles, and the rider

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falls heavily on to his head, generally with the result of a broken
neck ; if he had learnt to fall, he would have come oflf easily on to
his feet.

A side saddle is almost impossible to get out of when a horse is

coming over backwards; but occasionally, if you leave his head

alone and throw your weight forward, a horse may save himself by

turning on his hind legs and coming down sideways. I remember a

clever brown cob coming back with me over a slippery bank and

ditch. Two horses had come down at it first, and my effort was

perhaps rather half-hearted. The little chap got his forelegs over

the bank and seemed to me ages struggling and slipping. I knew

he would come over, but I could not get off; finally, just as he fell

{Copied from a print by H. Alftgn, Jun., by permission of Mr. Flint Rugby)

back, I managed with a wrench to fall to one side. After that we
got up again and accomplished it safely; only, to my intense disgust,
I shot clean over his head on landing. My feelings were somewhat
mollified by finding an excuse in a badly-sprained riding muscle and
a crutch straightened out like a poker; in fact, my numerous acci-
dents were rather expensive, as I got one saddle broken four times.

My little mare taught me to fall, but I spoilt her with the drag-
hounds, and was never able to teach her wisdom over fences. She
was absolutely careless, would never look where she was going, and
seemed to enjoy falling. She invariably fell over timber that would
not break, and one day we happened to be the first over a timber
gap, the only jumpable place in the fence (hounds fortunately were
HO. cxxix. VOL. xxii.— April 1906 H H

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not running). She turned a complete somersault so quickly that 1
had not time to get clear, and she lay on the top of me, of course
blocking the way. The field behind thought I was killed, and
it apparently did not enter their heads to scramble over on foot.
Fortunately my head was free, so I managed to wriggle my arms
out and get them round her neck. Then I began to kick her some-
what feebly in the ribs ; however, it had the desired effect ; she gave
a fearful groan, and rolled partly up, and I pulled myself out a few
inches more. She fell back again, which process was repeated three

(Copied from a print by Pollard, by permission o/ Mr. S. B. Darby)

times until we both struggled up together, and as long as I live the
expressions on the row of horrified faces staring at my resurrection
from the other side of the fence will make me laugh.

The mare was staked to the bone on her forearm, and we
retreated to the nearest farmhouse, where I was able to get some
carbolic. Unfortunately, while I was cleaning the wound, "her-
self" rose up, knocked the front teeth out of the man who was
holding her, and tried to eat a doctor who offered to sew her up!
We had ten miles to limp home, and top boots are not comfortable
to walk in.

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Another fall that remains ever green in my memory happened

while jumping a rotten bank in Queen's Co. The mare topped it for

once, her forefeet caught under a root, and like a flash she was

standing on her head. The sudden jerk had doubled me in two

across the crutches, and the sensation of her hind-quarters coming

over was not pleasant. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a man

galloping back towards us. When you are having an accident it is

extraordinary how long it seems to take, while really all is over in a

few seconds. On this occasion I quite thought it was all up with


[Copied ftom a print by Pollard^ by permission of Miss Darby)

both of us, but at the critical moment the root gave way, her legs
slipped on, and we righted, the man imploring me to sell '* that
dangerous brute " ; but I think very few horses would have recovered
from the position we were in.

Certainly side saddles are cruel inventions, both for the horse
and rider, and I hope in some enlightened age they will be consigned
to museums. It is, after all, merely a matter of fashion, and if the
right set of ladies would show their common sense by adopting
men's saddles it would become the rule and not the exception to see
Jadies riding astride.

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If anyone wishes to practise my methods of falling, I would
respectfully suggest a dummy horse, and something soft to fall on.
It might not be so comfortable in the hunting field, and few people
can spare the proverbial nine lives, which in my case are multiplied
by an indefinite number of ooo's.


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Mast and Sail in Europe and Asia. By H. Warington Smyth,
M.A., LL.M., F.G.S., F.R.G.S.; Royal Thames Yacht Chib.
Illustrated. London: John Murray. 1906.

It is difficult to imagine that anyone can possibly know more of
the boats of all countries than is known to the author of this work.
The amount of detailed knowledge it contains is really nothing short
of amazing, and it is recorded with much literary taste. Mr. Smyth
is indeed something of an artist, and one is inclined to say of a poet
also, many of his descriptions being remarkable alike for charm and
vigour. A previous volume from the author is called " Five Years
in Siam," and his residence in that country of course accounts for
his familiarity with the craft of those latitudes.

There is something fascinating to many minds about the
simplest of boats, as Ruskin noted in a fine essay on the ** Boating
Spirit." He was eloquent on ** that rude simplicity of bent plank
that can breast its way through the death that is in the deep sea.
There is an infinite strangeness in the perfection of the thing as
the work of human hands," he wrote ; ** I know nothing else that
man does, which is perfect, but that." The passages quoted are too

Online LibraryAlfred Edward Thomas WatsonThe Badminton magazine of sports and pastimes → online text (page 34 of 52)