Various.

Lippincott's Magazine of Popular Literature and Science Volume 26, September, 1880 online

. (page 10 of 20)
Online LibraryVariousLippincott's Magazine of Popular Literature and Science Volume 26, September, 1880 → online text (page 10 of 20)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


two or three exceptions, the principal turfmen of France. The comte de
Juigné and the prince d'Aremberg, both very rich, and much liked in
Paris, have formed a partnership in turf matters, and the colors they
have adopted, yellow and red stripes for the jacket, with black cap,
are always warmly welcomed. In 1873, with Montargis, they won the
Cambridgeshire Stakes, which were last year carried off by the American
horse Parole, and in 1877 they renewed the exploit with Jongleur. The
count, on this latter occasion, had taken no pains to conceal the
merits of his horse, but, on the contrary, had spoken openly of what he
believed to be his chances, and had even advised the betting public to
risk their money upon him. As the English were giving forty to one
against him, the consequence of M. de Juigné's friendly counsel was
that the morning after the race saw a perfect shower of gold descending
upon Paris, the English guineas falling even into the white caps held
out with eager hands by the scullions of the cafés that line the
Boulevard. One well-known restaurateur, Catelain, of the Restaurant
Helder on the Boulevard des Italiens, pocketed a million of francs, and
testified his satisfaction, if not his gratitude, by forthwith
baptizing a new dish with the name of the winning horse. The comte de
Juigné himself cleared three millions, and many members of the club
were made the richer by sums ranging from one hundred to one hundred
and fifty thousand francs. The marquis de Castellane, an habitual
gambler, who happened to have put only a couple of hundred louis on the
horse, could not hide his chagrin that his venture had returned him but
a hundred and sixty thousand francs. Jongleur won the French Derby (one
hundred and three thousand francs) in 1877, besides thirteen other
important races. He was unfortunately killed while galloping in his
paddock in September, 1878.

The Scotch jacket and white cap of the duc de Fitz-James, owner of the
fine La Sorie stud, and the same colors, worn by the jockeys of the duc
de Fézenzac, have won but few of the prizes of the turf, and another
nobleman, the comte de Berteux (green jacket, red cap) is noted for the
incredible persistency of his bad luck. M. Édouard Fould, whose mount
is known by the jackets hooped with yellow and black and caps of the
latter color, is the proprietor of the well-known D'Ibos stud at the
foot of the Pyrenees, one of the largest and best-ordered
establishments of the kind in France; and it is to him and to his
uncle, the late Achille Fould, that the South owes in a great degree
the breeding and development of the thoroughbred horse. M. Delâtre
(green jacket and cap) raises every year, at La Celle St. Cloud, some
twenty yearlings, of which he keeps but three or four, selling the rest
at Tattersall's, Rue Beaujon, to the highest bidder. They generally
bring about six thousand francs a head, on an average.

The feeling against Germany after the war led to a proposition to expel
from the club all members belonging to that country; and it was only
the liking and sympathy felt for one of them, Baron Schickler, a very
wealthy lover of the turf and for a long time resident in France, which
caused a rejection of the motion. Baron Schickler, however, has
nominally retired from the turf since 1870, and his horses are now run
under the pseudonyme of Davis. His colors are white for the jacket,
with red sleeves and cherry cap. Another member, Mr. A. de Montgomery,
the excellent Norman breeder and the fortunate owner of La Toucques and
of Fervaques, has also given up racing under his own name, and devotes
himself exclusively to the oversight of the Rothschild stables. The
good-fortune which the mere possession of this distinguished name would
seem sufficient to ensure has not followed the colors of Baron Gustave
de Rothschild in the racing field, where his blue jackets and yellow
caps have not been the first to reach the winning-post in the contests
for the most important prizes. He buys, nevertheless, the best mares
and the finest stallions, and he has to-day, in his excellent stud at
Meautry, the illustrious Boïard, who had won, before he came into the
baron's possession, the Ascot Cup of 1873 and the Grand Prix de Paris.
The Rothschild training-stables are at Chantilly. Boïard, as well as
Vermont, another of the grandest horses ever foaled in France, and a
winner also of the Grand Prix de Paris, was formerly in possession of
M. Henry Delamarre, who in the days of the Empire enjoyed a short
period of most remarkable success, having won the French Derby no less
than three times within four years. His choice of colors was a maroon
jacket with red sleeves and black cap. He had some lesser triumphs last
year, at the autumn meeting in the Bois de Boulogne, where his mare
Reine Claude won the Prix du Moulin by two lengths, his horse Vicomte,
who up to that time had been running so badly, taking the Prix
d'Automne, while the second prize of the same name was carried off by
Clélié, thus gaining for the Delamarre stables three races out of the
five contested on that day. All M. Delamarre's horses come from the
Bois-Roussel stud, belonging to Comte Roederer.

There remain to be mentioned, amongst the number of gentlemen who are
in the habit of entering their horses for races in France, a Belgian,
the comte de Meeüs, one of whose horses was the favorite in the race
last mentioned, and though beaten, as often happens with favorites, he
and other animals from the same stables have this year carried away
several of the provincial prizes; M.L. André, owner of this season's
winners of the steeple-chase handicap known as the Prix de Pontoise and
of several hurdle-races; M.A. de Borda, who was unsuccessful in the
present year in three at least of the races in which he had entered;
M.E. de la Charme, who in June, 1879, took the Grand Prix du
Conseil-Général (handicap) at Lyons, and in September won at Vincennes
the hurdle-race Prix de Charenton; the marquis de Caumont-Laforce,
whose colors were first this summer at Moulins in the Prix du
Conseil-Général, and in the third Criterium at Fontainebleau, as well
as in the grand handicap at Beauvais last July; M.P. Aumont, who has
been not without some good luck in the provinces during the past
season; M. Moreau-Chaslon, whose successes of late have hardly been in
proportion to his numerous entries, though he won the last Prix des
Villas at Vésinet, the Prix du Jockey Club (three thousand francs) at
Châlons-sur-Saône and the Prix du Mont-Valérien at the Bois de
Boulogne; and, to bring to an end our long list of devotees of the
turf, we add the name of M. Ephrussi, who, amongst the numerous races
in which he has entered horses in 1879, has been victorious in not a
few - for instance, in the steeple-chase handicap at La Marche, called
the Prix de Clairefontaine, in L'Express at Fontainebleau, in the Prix
de Neuilly at the Bois de Boulogne, and in the handicap for the Prix
des Écuries at Chantilly, as well as in a race for gentlemen riders
only at Maison-Lafitte. Besides these and others, he gained last August
the Jockey Club Prize (five thousand francs) at Châlons-sur-Saône, the
Prix de Louray at Déauville for the like amount, another of the same
figures at Vichy, and the six thousand francs of the Grand Prix du
Havre. Most of the gentlemen last named are the owners of a
comparatively small number of horses, which are, perhaps without
exception, entrusted to the care of the famous trainer Henry Jennings
of La Croix, St. Ouen, near Compiègne.

Henry Jennings is a character. His low, broad-brimmed beaver - which has
gained him the sobriquet of "Old Hat" - pulled well down over a
square-built head, the old-fashioned high cravat in which his neck is
buried to the ears, the big shoes ensconced in clumsy gaiters, give him
more the air of a Yorkshire gentleman-farmer of the old school than of
a man whose home since his earliest youth has been in France. He is one
of the most original figures in the motley scene as he goes his rounds
in the paddock, mysterious and knowing, very sparing of his words, and
responding only in monosyllables even to the questions of his patrons,
while he whispers in the ears of his jockeys the final instructions
which many an interested spectator would give something to hear.
Beginning his career in the service of the prince de Beauvan, from
which he passed first to that of the duc de Morny and afterward to that
of the comte de Lagrange, he is now a public trainer upon his own
account, with more than a hundred horses under his care. No one has
devoted more intelligent study to the education of the racer or shown a
more intuitive knowledge of his nature and of his needs. It was he who
first threw off the shackles of ancient custom by which a horse during
the period of training was kept in such an unnatural condition, by
means of drugs and sweatings, that at the end of his term of probation
he was a pitiful object to behold. The pictures and engravings of
twenty years ago bear witness to the degree of "wasting" to which a
horse was reduced on the eve of a race, and the caricatures of the
period are hardly over-drawn when they exhibit to us the ghost of an
animal mounted by a phantom jockey. When people saw that Jennings was
able to bring to the winning-post horses in good condition, whose
training had been based upon nothing but regular work, they at first
looked on in astonishment, but afterward found their profit in
imitating his example. Under this rational system it has been proved
that the animal gains in power and endurance while he loses nothing in
speed. The same intrepid trainer has ventured upon another innovation.
Impressed with the inconveniences of shoeing, and annoyed by the
difficulty of finding a skilful smith in moving from one place to
another in the country, he conceived the idea of letting his horses go
shoeless, both during training and on the track; and, despite all that
could be urged against the practice his horses' feet are in excellent
condition. His many successes on the turf have not, however, been
crowned, as yet, by the Grand Prix de Paris, though in 1877 he thought
to realize the dream of his ambition with Jongleur, whom he had trained
and whom he loved like a son; and when the noble horse was beaten by an
outsider, St Christopher, "Old Hat" could not control an exhibition of
ill-humor as amusing as it was touching. When Jongleur died Jennings
wept for perhaps the first time in his life, and he was still unable to
restrain his tears when he described the tortures of the poor beast as
he struck his head against the sides of his box in the agonies of
lockjaw.

Let us close our list - in which, however, we have endeavored to
enumerate only the principal figures upon the French turf - with two
names; and first that of the young Edmond Blanc, heir to the immense
fortune gained by his late father as director of the famous
gaming-tables of Monaco. The latter, like a prudent parent, forbade his
son to race or to play, and Edmond, obeying the letter of the law - at
least during the lifetime of his father - was known, if known at all
upon the course, under the pseudonyme of James. At present, however, he
is the owner of an important stud and stable which are constantly
increasing, and which bid fair before long to take rank amongst the
principal establishments in the country. Waggish tongues have whispered
that when he had to make choice of colors he naturally inclined to
"rouge et noir," but finding these already appropriated by M. Lupin,
the representative of "trente et quarante" was forced to content
himself with tints more brilliant perhaps, but less suggestive. But let
him laugh who wins. The annals of the turf for 1879 inscribe the name
of M. Blanc as winner of the Grand Prix de Paris. It was his mare,
Nubienne, who first reached the winning-post by a neck in a field of
eleven horses, M. Fould's Saltéador being second, with barely a head
between him and the third, Flavio II., belonging to the comte Frédéric
de Lagrange.

This latter proprietor, the most celebrated of all - in the sense of
being the most widely known and the most talked about - I have reserved
for the end of my catalogue. Comte de Lagrange made his début upon the
turf in the year 1857, now more than twenty years ago, by buying
outright the great stable of M. Alexander Aumont, which boasted at that
time amongst its distinguished ornaments the famous Monarque, who had,
before passing into the hands of his new owner, gained eight races in
eight run, and who, under the colors of the comte, almost repeated the
feat by winning eight in nine; and of these two were the Goodwood Cup
and the Newmarket Handicap. Afterward, at the Dangu stud, he achieved a
fame of another sort, but in the eyes of horsemen perhaps still more
important. Never has sire transmitted to his colts his own best
qualities with such certainty and regularity. Hospodar, Le Mandarin,
Trocadéro were amongst his invaluable gifts to the comte, but his
crowning glory is the paternity of the illustrious Gladiateur, the
Eclipse of modern times. Gladiateur, said the baron d'Étreilly, recalls
Monarque as one hundred recalls ten. There were the very same lines,
the same length of clean muscular neck well set on the same deep and
grandly-placed shoulders, the same arching of the loins, the same
contour of hips and quarters, but all in proportions so colossal that
every one who saw him, no matter how indifferent to horseflesh in
general, remained transfixed in admiration of a living machine of such
gigantic power.

The first appearance of Gladiateur upon the race-course was at the
Newmarket autumn meeting of 1864, where he won the Clearwell Stakes,
beating a field of twelve horses. He was kept sufficiently "shady,"
however, during the winter to enable his owner to make some
advantageous bets upon him, though it required careful management to
conceal his extraordinary powers. His training remains a legend in the
annals of the stables of Royal-Lieu, where the jockeys will tell you
how he completely knocked all the other horses out of time, and how two
or three of the very best put in relay to wait upon him were not enough
to cover the distance. Fille-de-l'Air herself had to be sacrificed, and
it was in one of these terrible gallops that she finished her career as
a runner. Mandarin alone stood out, but even he, they say, showed such
mortal terror of the trial that when he was led out to accompany his
redoubtable brother he trembled from head to foot, bathed in sweat. In
1865, Gladiateur gained the two thousand guineas and the Derby at
Epsom, and for the first time the blue ribbon was borne away from the
English. "When Gladiateur runs," said the English papers at this time,
"the other horses hardly seem to move." The next month he ran for the
Grand Prix de Paris. His jockey, Harry Grimshaw, had the coquetry to
keep him in the rear of the field almost to the end, as if he were
taking a gallop for exercise, and when Vertugadin reached the last turn
the favorite, some eight lengths behind, seemed to have forgotten that
he was in the race at all. The public had made up its mind that it had
been cheated, when all at once the great horse, coming up with a rush,
passed all his rivals at a bound, to resume at their head his former
easy and tranquil pace. There had not been even a contest: Gladiateur
had merely put himself on his legs, and all had been said. These three
victories brought in to Comte de Lagrange the sum of four hundred and
forty-one thousand seven hundred and twenty-five francs, to say nothing
of the bets. Gladiateur afterward won the race of six thousand mètres
(two miles fourteen furlongs) which now bears his name, and also the
Great St. Leger at Doncaster. He was beaten but once - in the
Cambridgeshire, where he was weighted at a positively absurd figure,
and when, moreover, the track was excessively heavy. After his
retirement from the turf he was sold in 1871 for breeding purposes in
England for two hundred thousand francs, and died in 1876.

Like M. Fould and several other brethren of the turf, Comte de Lagrange
felt the discouragements of the Franco-German war, and sold all his
horses to M. Lefèvre. Fortunately, however, he had retained in his stud
at Dangu a splendid lot of breeding-mares, and with these he has since
been able to reconstruct a stable of the first order, though the effort
has cost him a very considerable sum. Indeed, he himself admits that to
cover expenses he would have to make as much as thirty thousand pounds
every year. Four times victorious in the French Derby before 1870, he
has since repeated this success for two successive years - in 1878 with
Insulaire, and in 1879 with Zut. His colors (blue jacket with red
sleeves and a red cap) are as well known in England as in his own
country. Within the last six years he has three times won the Oaks at
Epsom with Regalia, Reine and Camelia, the Goodwood Cup with Flageolet,
the two thousand guineas and the Middlepark and Dewhurst Plates with
Chamant. On the 12th of June, last year, at Ascot, he gained two races
out of three, and in the third one of his horses came in second.

But the count is by no means always a winner, nor does he always win
with the horse that, by all signs, ought to be the victor. He has
somehow acquired, whether justly or not, the reputation of being a
"knowing hand" upon the turf, and all turfmen will understand what is
implied in the term, whether of good or of evil. His stable has been
called a "surprise-box," which simply means that the "horse carrying
the first colors does not always carry the money;" that people who
think they know the merits of his horses frequently lose a good deal by
the unexpected turn of affairs upon the track; and that the count, in
short, manages to take care of himself in exercising the undoubted
right of an owner, as by rule established, to win if he can with any
one of the horses that he may have running together for any given
event. Nothing dishonorable, according to the laws of the turf, has
ever been proved, nor perhaps even been charged, against him; but as
one of his countrymen, from whom I have just now quoted, remarks, "He
is fond of showing to demonstration that a man does not keep two
hundred horses in training just to amuse the gallery."

These repeated triumphs, as well as the not less frequent ones of MM.
Lefèvre, Lupin and de Juigné, have naturally set the English
a-thinking. They have to admit that the time has passed when their
handicappers could contemptuously give a French horse weights in his
favor, and a party headed by Lords Falmouth, Hardwicke and Vivian and
Sir John Astley of the London Jockey Club has been formed with the
object of bringing about some modifications of the international code.

A war of words has ensued between Admiral Rous and Viscount Daru, the
respective presidents of the two societies, in the course of which the
admiral has urged that as English horses are admitted to only two races
in France, the Grand Prix de Paris and the D[/e]auville Cup, while
French horses are at liberty to enter upon any course in England, it is
quite time that a reciprocity of privileges were recognized, and that
racers be put upon an equal footing in the two countries. Not at all,
replies M. Daru; and for this reason: there are three times as many
race-horses in England as in France, and the small number of the latter
would bring down the value of the French prizes to next to nothing if
the stakes are based, as they are in England, upon the sum-total of the
entries. In France the government, the encouragement societies, the
towns, the railway companies, all have to help to make up the purses,
and often with very considerable sums. Would it be fair to let in
English horses in the proportion of, say, three to one - supposing the
value of the horses to be equal - to carry off two-thirds of these
subscriptions? To this the Englishman answers, not without a show of
reason, that if the foreign horses should come into France in any great
numbers this very circumstance would make the entrance-moneys a
sufficient remuneration to the winner, and that the government, the
Jockey Club and the rest would be relieved from a continuance of their
subventions. The discussion is still kept up, and it is not unlikely
that the successors of MM. Rous and Daru will keep on exchanging notes
for some years without coming nearer to a solution than the diplomats
have come to a settlement of the Eastern Question.

I have said that the Jockey Club of Paris grants subventions to the
racing societies of the provinces, which it takes under its patronage
to the number of about forty-five, but it undertakes the actual
direction of the races at only three places - namely, Chantilly,
Fontainebleau and Déauville-sur-Mer - besides those of Paris. Up to
1856, the Paris races were run on the Champ de Mars, where the track
was too hard and the turns were very sharp and awkward. In the
last-mentioned year the city ceded to the Société d'Encouragement the
open field at Longchamps, lying between the western limit of the Bois
de Boulogne and the river Seine. The ground measures about sixty-six
hectares in superficial area, and this ample space has permitted the
laying out of several tracks of different lengths and of varying form,
and has avoided any necessity for sharp turns. The whole race-course is
well sodded, and the ground is as good as artificially-made ground can
be. It is kept up and improved by yearly outlays, and these very
considerable expenses are confided to Mr. J. Mackenzie-Grieves, so well
known for his horsemanship to all the promenaders of the Bois.

The race-course at Longchamps enjoys advantages of situation and
surroundings superior, beyond all question, to those of any other in
the world. The approaches to it from Paris are by an uninterrupted
succession of the most charming drives - the Champs Élysées, the grand
avenue of the Bois de Boulogne, and finally through the lovely shaded
alleys of the Bois. Arrived at the Cascade, made famous by the attempt
of Berezowski upon the life of the czar in 1867, the eye takes in at a
glance the whole of the vast space devoted to the race-course,
overlooked to the right by a picturesque windmill and an ancient
ivy-mantled tower, and at the farther extremity by the stands for
spectators. To the left the view stretches over the rich undulating
hills of S[\e]vres and of Meudon, strewn with pretty villas and towers
and steeples, and rests in the dim distance upon the blue horizon of
Les Verriéres.

The elegant central stand or tribune, of brick and stone, is reserved
for the chief of the state. In the time of the last presidency it was
almost always occupied by the marshal, a great lover of horses, and by
his little court; but his successor, M. Grévy, whose sporting
propensities are satisfied by a game of billiards or a day's shooting
with his pointers, generally waives his privilege in favor of the
members of the diplomatic corps.

The stand to the left of the track is the official tribune, very gay
and attractive in the days of the Empire, when it was filled by the
members of the municipal council of Paris and their families, but
to-day rather a blot upon the picture, the wives of the Republican
ædiles belonging to a lower - though, in this case, a newer - stratum of
society than did their imperial predecessors. The Jockey Club reserves
for itself the first stand to the right, from which all women are
rigorously excluded. The female element, however, is represented upon
the lower ranges of benches, though the ladies belonging to the more
exclusive circles of fashion prefer a simple chair upon the gravel of
the paddock. It is there, at the foot of the club-stand, that may be
seen any Sunday in spring, expanding under the rays of the vernal sun,
the fresh toilettes that have bloomed but yesterday, or it may be this
very morning, in the conservatories of Worth and Laferrière. The
butterflies of this garden of sweets are the jaunty hats whose tender
wings of azure or of rose have but just unfolded themselves to the
light of day. My figure of "butterfly hats" has been ventured upon in
the hope that it may be found somewhat newer than that of the
"gentlemen butterflies" which the reporters of the press have chased so
often and so long that the down is quite rubbed from its wings, to say
nothing of the superior fitness of the comparison in the present case.
In fact, the gentlemen do but very rarely flutter from flower to flower
within the sacred confines of the paddock, but are much more apt to


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 10 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20

Online LibraryVariousLippincott's Magazine of Popular Literature and Science Volume 26, September, 1880 → online text (page 10 of 20)