“We’ve wopped ’em once on the flat, and we’ll wop ’em yet across country,” he once said at Meadow Brook.
It was with this end in view that Chukkers, then a kid-jockey from the West, had crossed the ocean in Ikey’s train, and first carried to victory the star-spangled jacket which for the past twenty years had caused such heart-burnings among the English owners, trainers, and jockeys, and such mingled enthusiasm and indignation in the uncertain-tempered English crowd.
In that twenty years Ikey, if he had never yet achieved his end and won the Grand National with an other-than-English horse, had given the Englishmen such a shaking as they had never experienced before.
All over the world, wherever horses were bred, from the Punjab to the Pampas, and from the Tenterfield Ranges to Old Virginia, he had his scouts and his stud-farms. It was said that if a wall-eyed pack mule, carrying quartz in the Nevadas, showed a disposition to gallop and jump he would be in Ikey’s stable in a fortnight, and, if he made good, at Dewhurst within six months.
It was, of course, with the Walers that the little Levantine came nearest his desire. He imported them into the old country on a scale never before dreamed of. Some of them proved themselves great horses, the equals of the best the English could bring against them: all were good. And it was only by an act of God, as the enemy English declared, that Boomerang, the king of them, had failed to win the National and consummate his owner’s long-delayed end.
But Ikey, that merry little rogue, the cup of victory dashed from his lips, never for a moment lost heart.
As he truly said,
“If I haven’t yet found the horse, I’ve found the jockey that can beat their best.”
And in time he would find the horse, too.
He believed that. So did America.
The Fat Man
It was notorious that the Three J’s (or, to be more exact, Ikey) not only had their scouts out all over the world, seeking what Monkey Brand called “black diamonds,” but that they had their eyes everywhere in the Old Country, watching enemy stables. And Joses was the Eye that watched all the stables on the South Downs from Beachy Head to the Rother—and Putnam’s most of all.
When tackled further on the subject by Monkey Brand, the tout admitted the fact without demur and even with pride.
“Yes,” he swaggered. “I’m a commission agent. A very honourable profession, too.”
“Not ha hartist at all?” queried Monkey, chewing his quid.
Joses laughed and spread himself, throwing back his gingery curls.
“I was at Oxford,” he said, “and I’ve all the tastes of a gentleman. Art and poetry are my specialties—when my professional duties allow me time.”
The little dark jockey turned in his lips, eyeing the other with bland interest.