Sport An exhibition of material from the Monash University Library Rare Books Collection Introduction




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Horse racing.

48. Smurthwaite, Henry, (ed.)

Racing illustrated. (London The Sportsman 1895-1896) 3 v.



This magazine was the predecessor of Country life illustrated, which became Country Life.


It is an important source for information on the social scene surrounding racing in the 1890s.

49. Victoria's greatest races : With full descriptions of the Melbourne Cup 1921, Caulfield Cup 1922-3, Melbourne Cup 1922-3; biographical sketches of leading owners, trainers, jockeys / compiled and ed. by H. Michell. (Melbourne : British and Australasian Publishing Service, [1924?])



This was a similarly presented publication to the British Sports and Sportsmen series, albeit on a smaller scale.


!923 was Bitalli’s cup, and the book is open at a photo of the finish. As well as detailed descriptions of the Cups of 1921, 1922 and 1923 the book includes biographical entries of many of the prominent owners, trainers and jockeys as well as some of the “leviathan” bookmakers, chapters on each of the major clubs, including Williamstown, and “The history of the turf in Victoria”. There are also many aerial shots of the courses and a chapter on “Air photography”.

50. Racehorses in Australia / edited by W.H. Lang, Ken Austin and Stewart McKay ; with paintings by Martin Stainforth. (Sydney : Art in Australia Limited ; London : Constable, 1922)



This was one of the Art in Australia special publications. Martin Stainforth (1866-1957) was an English artist who came to Australia in 1908 to stay with his cousin on a cattle station in north Queensland. In 1911 he settled in Sydney and began a career as painter to the racing fraternity. He painted many Melbourne Cup winners, before returning to England in 1930; later settling in New York, in 1934. He continued painting racehorses, and is credited as one of the first artists to introduce realism to the genre.


Racehorses in Australia has articles on the history of horse-racing in Australia and an essay, “Martin Stainforth – an appreciation”, by Dr. Stewart McKay.

51. Levey, William.

The Victorian ruff, or, Pocket racing companion for 1866 / compiled and edited by William Levey. (Melbourne : W. Levey, 1866)

39. The Australasian turf register : containing a full report of the past season's racing, and entries for coming events. (Melbourne : Published for the proprietors of the Australasian by Stillwell & Knight, 1867)

52. Miller, J. J.

J.J. Miller's Sporting pamphlet and official trotting record. (Melbourne : Miller and Sayers, [1883]- )

53. Miller, J. J.

J.J. Miller's Sporting annual and athletic record. (Melbourne, Vic. : J.J. Miller, -1968) 1943 issue

54. Victoria Racing Club.

Rules of racing / Victoria Racing Club. (Melbourne : Sands & McDougall, 1904)



These are examples of various official and semi-official publications we hold. Among the items on display are the first numbers of The Australasian turf register (1867) and Miller’s sporting pamphlet (1883)


55. Blew, W. A. C.

Racing : famous racehorses, horse owners, ... / by W.A.C. Blew. (London : R.A. Everett, 1900)



As with most racing books, this is a fund of anecdote. In his chapter on “Trainers” the author writes of “nobbling” and the opportunities afforded “some accomplished scoundrels” of doping favoured horses. But there are other ways of pulling off betting coups. The case of “Jerry’s St. Leger” is given as an example,


The horse was as sound as the proverbial fiddle, and the St. Leger seemed entirely at his mercy, yet in the betting market there was a continual set against him, which neither Mr. Gascoigne, his owner, nor Croft, his trainer, could understand. In consequence, “Jerry” was watched night and day most carefully, and so great were the precautions taken, that it seemed impossible that he could be nobbled by anybody, yet still the bookmakers kept laying against him. One evening, just before the race, Croft dropped into the betting room at Doncaster, and was astonished to find the hostility which prevailed against his horse. Driven out of his senses with all sorts of imaginations, he took a long walk on the North road, and eventually came to a turnpike gate. As he approached it a post-chaise dashed up. The light from the windows of the toll house and an inn opposite plainly revealed their faces of the occupants of the “bounder”, and to his surprise, yet at the same time consolation, he saw inside Edwards, the jockey who was to ride “Jerry,” and Bob Ridsdale, a not too honourable character. Croft had seen enough to tell him what was the matter, and hurried off to Mr. Gascoigne to tell him the news. Croft himself took care that the horse should not be drugged, and he and the owner decided that Edwards had been bribed to lose the race. Both the trainer and the owner came to the conclusion that no good turn would be served by taking active steps, so nothing would be done till the very last minute. In due course Edwards, one of the greatest thieves who ever rode, dressed, and put on his cap and jacket; but just as he was about to be tossed into the saddle, Croft came up and tapped him on the shoulder, and said, “Not to-day, Mr. Edwards, thank you; we shall not require your services,” and thereupon Ben Smith had the mount. As soon as the change of jockeys was known there was a perfect revulsion in the market, and in the end “Jerry” bore out the estimate that the owner and trainer had formed of him by winning the St. Leger of 1824. (p. 92-94)

56. Nightingall, Arthur.

My racing adventures / by Arthur Nightingall. (London : T. Werner Laurie [1907])



Nightingall was the top steeplechase jockey of his era, winning the Grand National in 1891, 1892 and 1894.

57. Scobie, James, 1860-1940.

My life on the Australian turf / by James Scobie ; chronicled by Khedive. (Melbourne : Specialty Press, 1929)



James Scobie was a Victorian trainer who began his career, in 1880, as a jumps jockey, winning the Australian Steeplechase at Caulfield aboard Blue Mountain in 1887.


As a trainer, he won four Melbourne Cups (1900, 1922, 1923 and 1927) and seven Victoria Derbys, as well as winning the VRC Oaks four times, and the Grand National Hurdle and Steeple. Although a specialist in training of stayers, he also took out many of the major two-year-old races, such as the Maribyrnong Plate, which he won five times. From 1892 onwards, he was the trainer for Sir Rupert Clarke and his brother Ernest.

58. Muggridge, William.

How to train a racehorse : Australian horse talk for horsemen / by William Muggridge. 2nd ed. (Sydney : William Brooks, 1925)



We have a good collection of books on how to handle horses. It is difficult for us to realise how all-pervasive the horse was before the advent of motor cars. It was the main form of transport, and most families had a stable in their back yard with one or two horses.


Training and looking after racehorses is a specialised business, though most devotees of the turf have strong opinions on such matters. William Muggridge, himself a successful jockey and trainer, acknowledges in his Introduction that “In undertaking this work I fully recognise that I lay myself open to a deal of criticism.” His advice is unfailingly practical, and he has a shrewd grasp of both equine and human nature.


His chapter on “Lameness” begins,


It is a remarkable fact that a trainer is slow to acknowledge that a horse under his care is showing signs of soreness, or that, when the animal limps a little, it is slightly lame. It is always a terrible blow to a horse-preparer to see a horse displaying their first indication of unsoundness, no matter how insignificant the ailment may turn out to be. The fear of “break-downs” continually haunts him, and thus it is that the business of a public trainer has, perhaps, more worry attached to it than any other trade or profession. (p. 114)


He even has a chapter on the problems consequent upon “Masturbation” among entires. Apparently, once it becomes a habit, it is almost impossible to break. It has a weakening effect and makes the horse difficult to train. They lighten in condition, “and become so sore all round that the trainer is compelled to ‘throw them out of work.’” (p. 116)

59. Delaware

Betting to win with a small bank / by "Delaware" (Mosman, N. S. W. : C. G. Simons, [1930?])



Many and varied are the supposedly infallible betting systems which have been devised and peddled to the gullible. “Delaware” has his own system to put forward, which involves a formula for wagering different amounts on the first, second or third favourites depending on the starting prices.

What is interesting though is the first chapter, “The average man at the races”, described almost with a novelist’s eye,


The citizen, astute enough in his everyday avocation or business, is nowhere seen to less advantage than when he is attempting to pick winners.

We are all familiar with the sight of the buoyant, eager thousands on their way to Randwick, each man very “knowing” and confident of good fortune – and we all know too, how the greater proportion of these punters come home with depleted pockets, volubly explaining how they “got put off” this or that “good thing,” or how with any luck in running their fancy would have romped home in front, instead of making his dash too late and just missing a place.

Of course, they are not disheartened – they have noted one or two horses which should be certain winners next time; and the following Saturday will see them setting off, just as jaunty as before – with the same old result, in all likelihood, at the end of the day. (p. 5)

60. Jumps racing -- a preventable abuse : the awful truth about jumps racing in Victoria. [Melbourne? : s.n., 2002] 1 sheet



This flier was produced as part of the campaign by animal liberationists against jumps racing in 2002. Racing over obstacles, i.e. hurdles, or, in steeplechases, fences, takes place in Australia in Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia.


As a result of the campaign, authorities have modified the type of obstacle the horses have to face, and falls in the past year or two have become much less common.

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