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In 1837 he started 9 times, won three, and received two matches
70 55 105 150 100
£1,290 Birdcatcher was trained and generally ridden by Mathew Foley. As a racchorse his chief merit was speed. Many of the oldest and best judges thought him the fastest horse that ever ran in Ireland.
Birdcatcher has continued from the time of his first appearance on the Curragh up to the present in the possession of Mr. Disney, of Lark Lodge, Kildare, who bought him at a month old ; but the horse has now been hired for several years, season after season, by Mr. R. M. Jaques, of Easby Abbey, Richmond, Yorkshire. Like his sire, Sir Hercules, his value as a stud horse was first tested in Ireland ; one of the earliest of his stock being Ballinkeele, who in 1841 won the Angleseas over the Curragh, and afterwards went on to England with much fame attending his reputed prowess. Hawk came out the same season, and won a race the following one at Newmarket ; while amongst others that testify to Birdcatcher's renown in the Irish calendar, we find Oh Don't, The Poacher, Sangaree, Honest Ned, Patriot, Eagle, the Cook, Beatrice, The Baron, Osprey, Plover, King Fisher, Bryan O’Lynn, Caurouch, Chanticleer, Trap, tlie Bright Star, Calcavella, Pickpocket, Justice to Ireland, Miss Chance mare (Lord Waterford's), Miss Fortune, Wee Mickey, the Wren, The Chief Baron, Marquis, Bewick, Cockcrow, Marquis of Carrabas, The Oaks, and Peri. Of these, again, The Baron, Caurouch, and Chanticleer, did still more for their sire's celebrity on this side of the channel ; The Baron winning the St. Leger and the Cesarewitch ; Caurouch also a winner of the Cesarewitch, and Chanticleer of several good things, including the Goodwood Stake, and Doncaster Cup. Justice to Ireland was imported with less success.
Irish Birdcatcher came over himself in 1846, and stood that season at Messrs. Barrow's Paddocks, Newmarket, to which he returned for one more season in 1851. In 1847 and 1850 he was with his owner in Ireland ; the remainder of his time has been passed at Easby Abbey. His winners here include Birdeen, Bourra Tomacha, The Baron, Duc-an-Durras, Flirt, Carouch, Chanticleer, Rose Pompon, Cranberry, Creeping Jane, Falcon, Give-and-Take, Hard-Shot, (afterwards Rienzi), Eighen, Mischievous, The General, The Marquis, Agnes Wickfield, All's-not-Lost, Augur, Bird-on-the-Wing, Bird-Trap, Claverhouse, Countess, Lady Agnes, Merry Bird, Paddy Bird, Pelopidas, Songstress, Stratagem, Audubon, Augusta, Caracara, Daniel O'Rourke, Exact, Fledgling, Gossamer, Isabella, Merlin, Pit-Fall, Sprig of Shillalah, Varmint, and Vaultress. No one sire, perhaps, could ever boast of such a show of two-year-olds as Birdcatcher in 1851. In the number were Augur, Bird-on-the-Wing, Claverhouse, Daniel O'Rourke, Cockcrow, Gossamer, Merry Bird, Paddy Bird, and Songstress ; and if success be the test, they quite realized the promise in the following season--a winner of the Derby in Daniel O'Rourke ; a first second, and third for the Oaks
in Songstress, Bird-on-the-Wing, and Gossamer ; while the winner of the St. Leger, Stockwell, and the third for the Derby, Chief Baron Nicholson, are by his son, The Baron.* The young ones of this last
year out, evince but little decline, with two such clipping fillies as Exact and Vaultress to be called in evidence ; and we may even expect better to come, for last season nearly all the picked mares of England were sent to him, while his subscription for the ensuing, at fifty guineas each, has long been full.
Birdcatcher's stock speak for themselves. We may add, however, that they are generally considered to possess in a very eminent degree those two grand qualifications for a race-horse, speed and stoutness. They are often perhaps more useful than "good-looking,” and have not always the evenest of temper ; but they are a sound hardy sort, equal to run in any company and over any ground. Public performance declares them amongst the best we have ; and by the same high authority their sire Birdcatcher as the best stallion of the day.
OUR LEICESTERSHIRE BUDGET.
The unprecedented Wet Season-State of the Country-Difficulties and Perplex
ities–Mishap of Captain Campbell: a Sportsman's Description of it-Sailing to Cover - The First Meet at Kirby Gate-State of Melton-Comparison between Mademoiselle Clari and the new Débutante in the Hunting Field, &c.
Sir,—It has not been “ for lack of argument " that my pen has been “ sheathed,” with regard to sport in Leicestershire. I have been idle, and it is best to confess it. But when I observe your respectable and interesting pages filled with reports from almost every other sporting country, and yet silent about this—the jewel of them all—I am impelled to resume my old practice of sending you a monthly budget.
To say that the season has hitherto been an unprecedented one would only be to convey a truth which is widely known. From our opening day at Kirby Gate (Nov. 1) to this present not an hour's frost, not a flake of snow has hardened or whitened the fair face of Leicestershire. Jupiter Pluvius has had it all his own way. That the country has been heavy, and the work tremendously hard both for horses and hounds, may be imagined by those who have not flung foot in stirrup. Rivers and rivulets, ditches and drains have generally been brimful-often, indeed, submerged and lost in the wide
waste of waters yeleped the Maidstone Deluge.” On clay lands, especially where undrained,
" ' the adhesiveness of the soil, the deep delving of the horses' hoofs, and the reiterations of splash! splash! splash! have been such as the oldest sportsman does not remember. Terrible have they been to
* Tired hound and spattered horse." Drained and undrained fields could be distinguished by a blind horse, or a blind horseman. The vagaries, difficulties, and peculiarities of scent have been, and still are, such as never before fell under my notice.
* In 1851 there were 29 recorded winners out by Irish Birdcatcher; and they won 75 races. In 1852, 24, with 53 races divided amongst them. The amount of money won by his stock was £8,668 in 1851, and £17,052 in 1852.
Hairbreadth escapes by flood and field have been a necessary contingent of this state of the ground. One is worth recountirg. Captain Campbell was on a visit at Beaumanor, and joined the chace from day to day with true Caledonian ardour. He had gone to a fixture on the eastern side of the Quorn country, on one of those days when the floods were highest. He had not arrived at Beaumanor at the usual dinnerhour at seven o'clock, and the hospitable host of that model of an English mansion considerately sent to Quorn Hall for tidings of his missing guest. The good baronet had arrived two hours. Did he know what had become of Captain Campbell ?
“ Why,” replied Sir Richard, “ I can give a good account of the fox ; but as to accounting for men, especially when the run is in water instead of on land, 'tis quite out of the question. However, now I think of it, I did see Campbell floating down the Whissendine Brook, and his horse water-logged in mid-channel--but further deponent knoweth not, for the hounds were in full cry. But, no doubt, Campbell reached the shore in safety, or I should have heard of it. His dead horse I saw lying on the bank on our return. Tell the ladies at Beaumanor to play • The Campbells are coming !' and, no doubt, he will soon reach the Hall !!!
Sir Richard was right. At eight o'clock the lost hunter calmed all anxiety about him by appearing in propria persond.
To tell of all the mishaps caused by this incessant down-pouring and consequent flooding would be tiresome. But the rains above and the floods below never once deterred the brave-hearted master of the Quorn from keeping his fixture. When the meadows and roads between Barrow and Quorn were impassable, the Soar was crossed at Cotes, the van conveying the pack, his carriage Sir Richard and the Misses Sutton, and Old Day and “ Young-Eyed Day" and the whips swimming the torrent; while the carriage-doors were set open to give the water free course, and avoid the chance of an overturn.
But I am running on in Redias mes, as a misquoter-ignorant of the language he wished to quote- lately said. How is the Hunt flourishing? What is the report of Melton? What sort of a gathering did Kirby Gate present at the first meet ? and what has been the subsequent sport? In the hands of Sir Richard Sutton foxhunting is reduced to one of the arts ; if you will permit me to say so--one of the Fine Arts. “ Practice with Science” has rendered the excellent baronet a thorough proficient, a "mighty hunter," a regular devotee of St. Hubert: where every accessory to success, such as unlimited wealth, a first-rate country, exquisite judgment in men, horses, and hounds, and enthusiastic love of sport all combine, it would be strange not to secure it.
At no previous time, then, was the Hunt ever more flourishing. Melton has been fuller, but it never had more real sportsmen ; and I shall add, it never had more real gentlemen. Instead of the members of the Hunt being, as at one time, somewhat troublesome by their vagaries to the quiet townsfolk, there is no inhabitant who would not testify to the good order of the place, and to the advantage its public charities and private societies derive from the circumstance of its being the head-quarters. I stated in a former budget the cause to which I conceive this salutary change is ascribable.
The first fixture at Kirby Gate-for time out of mind the opening
day-was a spectacle, and nothing less. Seated on the famous tumulus on which Sir Francis Burdett wrote his celebrated letter on “ The Manchester Massacre,” I observed a well-known artist sketching the brilliant scene—and I will hope that it may glow on canvass with other far-famed Meltonian pictures. The old ruin ; the undulating and beautifully-timbered park, with the splendid pack-and such a group of horsemen and horses as no other country but England, and no other county but Leicestershire can show-formed a subject worthy of Grant, Ferniley, or Alken! or, indeed, of our own Loraine ! The appointments of the huntsmen and whips were greatly admired ; but I cannot say I can reconcile myself to their white collars. They are distinctive, certainly ! but, to me, scarlet velvet is enough so, and it is in much better harmony.
Of the sport from that meet till this present I will merely say, that it has been glorious under most trying circumstances. Amongst other improvements Sir Richard has adopted a mode that, to a great extent, prevents mobbing, and gives every chance of a fine start. For coverts near populous places, where a crowd of foot-men was a regular sequitur, he takes care to name a somewhat distant place for the meet, and thus baffles the stockingers. Thus for Bunney, Costock has been a frequent fixture ; for the Wymeswold and Willoughby coverts, Widmerpool ; and for Stanford Park, Kegworth Station. The plan succeeds; but
; of course a few long-nosed knowing pedestrians manage to get the tip.
There are several new performers, but none that has created such sensation as a graceful equestrian of the gentler sex. When first I saw this paragon, I was strongly reminded of the beautiful and musical Mademoiselle Clari, who was the cynosure of neighbouring eyes the days of Sir Harry Goodricke. Of that accomplished votaress of St. Cecilia and Diana, Mr. Gardiner (in his 3rd - I hope not last volume of “ Music and Friends ”) says: “ Well mounted, with an ostrichfeather in her beaver, she flew like Camilla, with a host of flatterers in her train. On the fox breaking cover, those old in the sport shot away like lightning, leaving the captivated beaux entangled in the toils of love, so great is the charm of beauty's power.” The picture drawn of Clari may save our interesting débutante a sitting. In my next I hope to enter more into particulars : for the present these jottings must serve.
Your faithful Servant, Leicestershire, Dec. 21, 1853.
THE BEACHMEN OF YARMOU TH.
BY WHIZ. This sea-girt isle of ours is as variable in soil and climate as it is barren or picturesquely beautiful on its eastern and western shores. The bold rocks look down on the pretty seaside towns on the Devonshire coast in rapture, enlivened by the sunny blue sky which blesses them from above ; whilst the stern eastern shore, studded with its numerous
shoals, sand bars, and lighthouses, warn the mariner of impending danger, and forms a striking contrast with its fashionable rival. The decrepid invalid seeks the valley of rocks as a final resting place, borne down by that insatiable tyrant-consumption : the fisher and the fowler seek the coming morn to punt along the estuaries of the counties of Norfolk, Suffolk, and Essex. The fine roadstead of Yarmouth opens its vast expanse as you round the Ness at Orford, and skirting Lowestoff,
you enter the harbour, and the tide drifts you up the river Yare. It is a large seaport town, intersected with rows or courts, rich and poor being mingled together in one maze of chaos ; erected on the sandy Denes, bounded on one side by the river with its busy quay, and on the other by the German Ocean, and has the appearance of a Flemish town ; it has no steyne or esplanade to guile away the time of fashionable promenaders ; it is the birthplace of the beachmen of Yarmouth—a hardy race, who in the most tempestuous weather are ready to lend a helping hand in protecting life and property. Fishermen's boats are drawn up on the beach ; life boats on their rollers ready for the gale ; and all along the coast are the look-outs, hung around with sea muskets, cutlasses, and pistols : the old preventive man, with glass in hand, keeping guard on the heights, or walking to and fro with his hands in his capacious pockets, feasting his eyes on the Scroby sands until he reconnoitres the cockle lightship. There are argosies passing to and fro from Russia, and colliers from Sunderland, interspersed with fishing cutters on their return from the Dogger Bank. On proceeding up the river towards Norwich, you dive into the fens, intersected with huge dykes and armaments of reeds, forming one great decoy for the myriads of wild fowl which congregate in winter. The tottering windmills strive in vain to excel the more powerful reclaimer of land-the steam-engine-splashing away the foaming current as it seeks to return to its native stream. The rivers are navigable for the Norwich small craft; and a rustic steamboat, for 9d., in three hours deposits you in the City of Bombasins. There is a transcendent solitude of scene as you pass the large herds of cattle grazing on the marshes, and the fishermen's punts creeping up its banks, interrupted only by the flapping of the ducks as they rise in flocks, or the dash of the otter as he hies from his hiding place in the old withy pollard. As the mackarel season wanes the herring fishery begins ; and the Barking smacks put out for turbot and sole for the North Sea. Here cod, whiting, haddock, ling, and gurnard abound, and afford excellent sport in autumn, not forgetting the bloaters, which are caught in great quantities along shore. The soft-roed or male herrings are the best, and may be dis. tinguished from the females by their superior size and depth of body ; they are cured either white or red, and their flavour consists in their very agreeable nature, steamed with the fumes of the oak-loppings. A seaport town is always amusing ; men from all nations meet under one bond of friendship, and fight under one flag for one purpose-Commerce-reciprocating the American Cavendish for the Yarmouth Stingo. Say not after this, ye bitter disputants in Congress, that Oregon is the bone of contention. Let us both feast on it, and drink our claret instead of wasting it. You feel at home in your shooting-coat, gaiters, and highlows, emancipated from the fashionable despotism of society, as you stroll along the sands, looking for amber or cornelians with child