Foreigners accuse the English of claiming every good-looking horse, and every well-built carriage, met on the Continent, as their own, but we think that few would be ambitious of laying claim to the honour of supplying France with jockeys or racehorses. Mr. Jorrocks, indeed, indifferent as he is to the affairs of the turf, could not suppress his “conwiction” of the difference between the flibberty-gibberty appearance of the Frenchmen, and the quiet, easy, close-sitting jockeys of Newmarket. The former all legs and elbows, spurting and pushing to the front at starting, in tawdry, faded jackets, and nankeen shorts, just like the frowsy door-keepers of an Epsom gambling-booth; the latter in clean, neat-fitting leathers, well-cleaned boots, spick and span new jackets, feeling their horses’ mouths, quietly in the rear, with their whip hands resting on their thighs. Then such riding! A hulking Norman with his knees up to his chin, and a long lean half-starved looking Frenchman sat astride like a pair of tongs, with a wet sponge applied to his knees before starting, followed by a runaway English stable lad, in white cords and drab gaiters, and half a dozen others equally singular, spurring and tearing round and round, throwing the gravel and sand into each other’s faces, until the field was so separated as to render it difficult to say which was leading and which was tailing, for it is one of the rules of their races, that each heat must be run in a certain time, consequently, though all the horses may be distanced, the winner keeps working away. Then what an absence of interest and enthusiasm on the part of the spectators! Three-fourths of them did not know where the horses started, scarcely a man knew their names, and the few tenpenny bets that were made, were sported upon the colour of the jackets. A Frenchman has no notion of racing, and it is on record that after a heat in which the winning horse, after making a waiting race, ran in at the finish, a Parisian observed, that “although ‘Annette’ had won at the finish, he thought the greater honour was due to ‘Hercule,’ he having kept the lead the greater part of the distance.” On someone explaining to him that the jockey on Annette had purposely made a waiting race, he was totally incredulous, asserting that he was sure the jockeys had too much amour-propre to remain in the rear at any part of the race, when they might be in front.
X. SPORTING IN FRANCE
PROGRAMME DES COURSES DE CHEVAUX
QUI AURONT LIEU AU CHAMP-DE-MARS LE DIMANCHE A UNE
EN PRESENCE DE LL. MM. LE ROI ET LA REINE, ET DES PRINCES DE LA FAMILLE ROYALE