H. J Chinnery.

Sporting recollections online

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Mr. Medley said to him : " What is it, Tom ? " and
he replied : " I have had a cheque returned for
^^40,000, and the beggars have got my stock." I
said : " It is alright ; I have just got ours back,
and I think if you adopt the same course that I
did you- will get yours." It appeared that one per-
sonal encounter was enough for the clerks, and they
handed him his securities back, much to his delight
and relief

I told this story the other day when I was visit-
ing Parr's Bank to the manager, and he said :
" What curious times for doing business they must
have been." They were, of course, very different,
and much more primitive forty years ago than they
are now.


The First Point-to-Point Race.

While I was secretary of the Whaddon Chase
Hunt, I think it was about in the year 1885 that I
started a point-to-point race for the Hunt. It was
one of the first of the kind that was ever held, and
quite the first in the Vale of Aylesbury. There
were two classes, and both started at the same time
— light-weights I2st., heavy-weights I4st. The
course selected was a very stiff one, and we did not
know anything about it until the morning, when we
were told to meet at a place called Burston, and
then we were told to make the best of our way to
Creslow Great Ground, where we should see a flag-
staff, which was our winning-post. There were 17
starters, and among them was one lady. After two
or three fences we came down to a double out of
the road. Mr. Gerald Pratt, who was certainly one
of the best men in the Vale, and I believe is so
still, turned away to the left, followed by the whole
of the field, except myself and one other. Mr.
Pratt knew of a thin place in the double where
they all followed him through pretty speedily. I
was not so fortunate, and it was not until after
riding up and down the road that I found a place,
and bored a hole through, followed by my friend,
who reproached me for leading him astray. How-
ever, at the next fences there was another double
and when we reached it we found that the whole of
the field had got in and could not get out. My


horse was a good double jumper, and went in and
out like a shot, and I was leading. Three fences
ahead we came down to the Creslow Brook, quite a
big place, but a fair jump. I suppose I rode at it
carelessly, for my horse whipped round, and before
I could have another go Gerald Pratt came
down at it and jumped it in fine form. My horse
did it the second time. Notwithstanding the delay
this caused, no one was within a hundred yards of
us, and we finished in that order, Mr. Pratt winning
the light-weights, carrying I2st, and I the heavies,
carrying I4st.

The following year I again won the heavy-weights.
This time the course was on Mr. Leopold de Roth-
schild's land, and it was not such a wild and sport-
ing course as the first one. I rode the same horse.
Cricket. I started later on that season in the
Point-to-Point Race near Banbury, open to all the
Midland Hunts, and among the starters w^ere Capt.
Bay Middleton and Mr. Gordon Cunard, with other
fine sportsmen. It was a very wet day, the course
was a big one, and the ground slippery. I led for
about half-way, and my horse then slipped up at
a double and fell, but I did not lose much time,
and although I was now last in three or four fields
I caught them, and again assumed the lead. Two
fields from home, however, when my horse was
going strong, he dropped his hind legs into a grip
almost covered with grass in the middle of the field,


and broke his back. Soon afterwards a similar
misfortune at the same place happened to Mr. Cecil
Boyle, whose horse had divided with mine the
honour of being first favourite for the event. Mr.
Boyle was one of the bravest and hardest men ever
seen, and, as everybody knows, distinguished him-
self greatly in the Boer War, and fell fighting for
his country. Few people know how Cecil Boyle
met with his death. Some of our men, com-
manded by the late Lord Chesham, had sur-
rounded a lot of Boers, and they hoisted the white
flag. Our men went on, and one of the Boers fired
and killed poor Cecil Boyle Lord Chesham told
them that if they did not give up the murderer he
would shoot the lot. They handed the man over,
and he was shot then and there before them all.

Pleasures of Hunting.

The following year I again won the heavy-
weights at the now annual point-to-point races of
the Whaddon Chase, this time riding a horse
called Chapman, that I bought of Bob Chapman,
a well-known dealer of Cheltenham, who supplied
me with most of my horses. This horse carried
me well for two seasons, and then developed
navicular. The local vet. advised me to send him
to the hammer, but I took the opinion of Mr.
Hunting, the present veterinary surgeon to the
London County Council, who said : " Why don't


you nerve him ? It makes no difference." I took
his advice, rode the horse for two seasons, and
won the Heavy Weight Steeplechase with him at
Aylesbury, Gerald Pratt riding.

I only rode in one more point-to-point race, and
was not successful in that, as I got into the brook
and stayed there some time. However, three wins
out of five starts was not so bad.

The hardest and best men in the Vale in my
time were the Hon. Kenelm Bouverie, Percy
Saunders and Gerald Pratt, the latter being much
the most finished horseman. It was customary
when any stranger came to the Vale to have a
ride with either the Rothschild Staghounds or the
Vale for us to see to it that the stranger did not
bear off the honours of the day. I remember on
one occasion Capt. Bay Middleton came with
several friends from Leicestershire for a day with
the stag, and this was Percy Saunders' day. We
had a fine gallop, and Saunders kept half a field
in front of Bay Middleton the whole time, and do
what he could he was unable to catch him. He
appeared to be a little chagrined, and his criticism
on the performance was that he had seen the best
horse and the worst rider he had ever met with.
This highly amused Mr. Saunders.

I also remember when Lord Marcus Beresford
and the present Lord Ebury, then known as the


Hon. Beau Grosvenor, came for a day with the
stag, and on this occasion the members of the hunt
had to take a back seat, as we none of us could
catch the two strangers. Lord Marcus was mounted
on a well-known horse called Mr. Poole, belonging
to Mr. Cyril Flower, afterwards Lord Battersea,
and Beau Grosvenor rode his own chestnut horse,
one of the best.

My experience is that there is no pleasure in life
equal to cutting out the work over a big country
with a large field of people behind one, and it has
sometimes been my good fortune, more perhaps by
the luck of riding an exceptional horse, to do this.

When I first went to the Vale I was about four
and twenty, and my chief idea w^as to get over the
fences. On one occasion I jumped into the road
nearly on top of VVhyte Melville, for whom I had
the greatest respect, and who was always very kind
to me. I proceeded to apologise profusely, but he
said : " Go on ; I wish to goodness I could do it."
So I turned my horse, jumped out of the road, and
went after the hounds. He was beginning to fail
then, and rarely rode hard to hounds.

I first began hunting in Buckinghamshire in the
year 1872, as I think I have mentioned before.
Leighton Buzzard in those days was a fashionable
centre for hunting, Baron Meyer de Rothschild
keeping open house. The Hunt Hotel was kept


by a mail named Shearman, who was quite a
character, and usually he would be on the platform,
carrying rugs and cloaks for those going by the up
train, and " Your grace " and " My lord " would
always be in his mouth. The late Duke of Devon-
shire, then Lord Hartington, often used to hunt
from Leighton Buzzard, also the Duke of Rox-
burghe, the Earl of Clarendon, and many others.
The Hon. Robert Grimston, however, was the
principal personage in the Hunt. Shearman had
stabling for about a hundred horses, and of course
the boxes were not always let, but he could never
let any box without first getting Mr. Grimston's
permission. On one occasion he came to Mr,
Grimston while we were at tea, after hunting, with
a letter in his hand, and said : " If you please, sir,
I have an application for six boxes." " Who
from ? " was the question rapped out. " The gen-
tleman's name is Goldberg." Grimston said : " I
don't like that name; what is he.-*" "He is a
very rich man, I believe, and is a toy merchant, I
think," was the answer. " Certainly not ; I won't
have him here," was the uncompromising way in
which Grimston closed the matter. As, however,
he did not offer to take the boxes himself, I
thought that was rather hard lines on poor Shear-
man, but Grimston was quite an autocrat.

Mr. Grimston had a groom who had been with
him for many years, and had become very deaf.


I remember riding into the yard with Mr. Grimston
after hunting, and he had had an indifferent day.
He had had a couple of falls, and had not been on
good terms with his horse. His groom said to him

" How has he carried you .? '^ " D d bad," was

the answer. The groom, not understanding him,
responded : " Very glad to hear it : I always said
he was your best horse." The groom, as was his
custom, then produced his slate for Mr. Grimston
to write down what he wished to say to him, but
he turned to me and said : " How can you write

fool on a slate ? " Those expressions of his

were quite harmless, but they came out with a
very amusing effect because Mr. Grimston was of a
most venerable appearance ; in fact, he might have
been taken for a Bishop or even an Archbishop ;
but that idea would not long remain after he had
something to disturb him, for he had a very short
An Amusing Character.

There was rather an amusing character living in
the Vale of Aylesbury at that time, who rejoiced
in the name of Affable Stevens. He was a nephew
of a yeoman farmer, named Straw, who had a nice
place at Aston Abbots. Stevens used to do a little
horse-dealing. There was a Mr. Swire, the father of
the present Master of the Essex Hounds, who lived
at Leighton Buzzard, and he was a very liberal
and generous man, and liked a deal when possible


with the farmers for any animal he might require.
He wanted a pony for his Httle boy, and Affable
Stevens said he had the very article It was a
little Shetland pony, and the price asked was £^^.
The pony was sent, and the money paid, but Mr.
Swire soon found out that the pony was very vicious,
and quite unsuitable for the boy. He was rather
annoyed, and a few days afterwards, when out
hunting, he met Affable Stevens and told him it
was too bad. and that he should send the pony back.
The Affable one replied : " I am very sorry, Mr.
Swire ; you may send the pony back if you like,
but I have spent the money." No more was to be
said, as there was no chance of extracting the cash
from Affable.

While I was in the Whaddon Chase country, by
dint of collecting subscriptions and using funds of
my own, I planted some five or six fox covers,
which have since turned out of the greatest use to
the Hunt. In addition to being secretary to the
Hunt, I was acting field master for seven seasons,
but it was in my position as secretary that I think
I had the most amusing incidents. A gentleman
once sent me a cheque for his subscription, which
was returned by the bankers with " No effects "
against it. I did not receive any reply to the
numerous letters I wrote to him, but to my
astonishment, towards the end of the season, I dis-
covered my friend who had given me the " stumer."


I went up to him and told him he must go home.
He said he should do nothing of the kind, and that
he was going to have his day's sport. 1 said: "I
think you will go home, because hounds won't draw
until you do, and I shall inform the field that you
are the occasion of the interference with their
sport. There is a brook at the end of this field you
can see, and I do not know whether you can swim,
but I have little doubt that your powers will be
tested if you remain much longer in this field."
He replied " You are no gentleman," and turned
his horse and rode off.

I recommend this recipe to secretaries of Hunts
who have difficulties with customers of this kind.
It is really an awkward position for them when a
man refuses to pay, and also refuses to go home,
but few people would have the hardihood to stand
the indignation of a whole field of hunting men,
and face it out. It is obvious that to carry out
this course of action you must have the Master of
Hounds loyally on your side, and I was fortunate
enough to have this experience. Mr. Selby Lowndes
always backed me up in anything that I did and
we were great friends for many years, and although
we do not often meet now, we are always glad of
an occasion to talk over old times.
The Late Edward Wroughton.

One of the most amusing men in the Vale of
Aylesbury, a fine horseman, and most popular with


all classes, was the late Edward VVroughton. Durin^r
his bachelor days we arranged for a party of men
who hunted in the Vale to go down to see the Grand
National run, and Wroughton invited us all to dine
with him at Long's Hotel, then kept by a welU
known host whose name was Jubber. We all as-
sembled for dinner, and sat waiting for Wroughton.
In about twenty minutes he arrived and apologised,
remarking: "It is a lucky thing that you fellows
will get any dinner to-night at all, for when I was
coming into the hotel Jubber waylaid me and said :
' Mr. Wroughton, I have not seen the colour of
your money for three years, and you are always
staying in this hotel, and unless you give me a
cheque now your friends shan't have dinner in my
house' He annoyed me very much by this speech,
and it was not until I had taken him into his back
parlour and stood him a bottle of his own brown
sherry that he recovered his senses, and let things
go on as they are now. I need not say that I did
not draw a cheque."

It was always my ambition to win the Ascott Cup
at Aylesbury Steeplechases, and I had several tries
for it. In the early days it was called the Ment-
more Cup, as it was presented by the Earl of
Rosebery, who about tvventy years ago retired in
favour of Mr. Leopold de Rothschild, and the cup
was then called after Mr. Leopold de Rothschild's
place, Ascott, instead of Mentmore Towers, Lord


Rosebery's scat. I had a horse called Wizard, that
I bought of a farmer, and he was a fine hunter and
jumper, but was not quite clean bred, and not quite
a racehorse. I entered him for the Mentmore Cup,
and Mr. Leopold de Rothschild defeated him with
a horse that he had had in training, and who was
ridden by the best gentleman jockey of the day.
I think Mr. Leopold only entered his horse for the
sake of the sport of the thing, to make a field, and
I really believe that he regretted winning. At any
rate, I do not think that he has ever started a horse
of his own since in any races at Aylesbury, but
everybody is pleased to see that his sons are taking
to riding there, and last year one of them rode a
very plucky race in the light-weights, finishing
second after having what looked like being a nasty
fall. I made several other attempts to win the
Ascott Cup without success until this year, when
my son won with a horse called Countryman, by
Amcricus, and I received a charming letter of con-
gratulation from Mr. Leopold de Rothschild.
Lawn Tennis.

I used to play a good deal of lawn tennis when
the game first came in. Those were the days of
Lawford and Renshaw. Some of your readers will
remember that those men were very evenly matched,
although Renshaw was perhaps a little the better
Both used to visit me at the house I had then at
Teddington, called the Weir House, where I had a


first-rate lawn. We had many

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Online LibraryH. J ChinnerySporting recollections → online text (page 3 of 3)