9 months ago

Fitzgerald's Town

distance Goodyear

distance Goodyear [jockey] let the latter out and went up with Backbiter to the leader, Lyndon trying the same but failing, and Wildboy taking fourth place. The three leaders from this ran neck and neck with Wildboy two lengths in rear, a magnificent race ensuing throughout the last half mile. It was impossible to tell which horse was ahead, and the excitement became intense. Passing the distance, the whips were resorted to, and each horse in turn was named as the winner, but until the last hundred yards no clear lead could be awarded to either. Backbiter was then showing in front, and by a game effort passed the post half a length ahead, a neck intervening between Tantrum and Bobby, and Wildboy well up. This meeting brought to a close an exciting period of sporting activity in Canterbury which had been enhanced by the Prince of Wales who had visited Christchurch earlier that year Another meeting held in December 1870 seems to have been the last racing occasion held at or near the Wheatsheaf Hotel for no further reports of succeeding events have been found. On 1 January 1870 residents of Lincoln held their own race meeting. 15 It was a successful day, run on a good course, and was open to all horses in the district. The first race, a sweepstake for which five horses were entered, was for untrained horses over a distance of 1½ miles. The prize for the winner, Mr Baker’s bay mare ridden by Spinks, was ten shillings, and the entrance fee was returned to the owner of the second horse home, A.M. Arklie’s chestnut mare ridden by Blair. H. Moffat’s grey mare was disqualified for running off the course. There were only three entries for the second race, again a distance of 1½ miles, but one horse was scratched because it was thought to be so much better than the other two! The third race, the Consolation Stakes, was run for any horse beaten in the previous races. Three horses were entered: Haydon’s chestnut mare, ridden by the owner, Moffat’s mare, rider White, and W. Tod’s black pony, ridden by D. Tod. The course took Moffat’s horse past its stable, forcing the rider to struggle to keep the horse on track, and resulting in a win for Haydon’s mare. The fact that Moffat’s horse had to be forced to pass its stable suggests that the event took place in the general area of the Lincoln flour mill in south east Lincoln and probably on Tod’s farm. The day finished with foot races and other activities that ended a great day for spectators and competitors alike. 134

A year later the Lincoln folk decided to make athletic competition the major focus of the New Year sports meeting although horse races were usually, but not always, included in the programme. This meeting, held on 2 January 1871, attracted about 600 people who were orderly enough, despite some drunkenness towards the end of the day. There were no police in attendance, and it was hoped that this omission would be corrected at future events; police were certainly present at later meetings, but for the most part had little to do. The Lyttelton Times report complimented the committee for the success of the day, but did note that better crowd control would have prevented people from wandering across the track when races were in progress and that the strong wind, and the dust which accompanied it, were the only flaws in the day. 16 Athletic events included a half-mile flat race, a 100 yards sack race, the high jump, long jump, a three-legged race, a hurdle race of 250 yards, 50. Report of the New Year’s Sports Meeting held 2 January 1871 at Lincoln. Lyttelton Times. 4 January 1871. Courtesy of Papers Past. tilting at the ring, tossing the caber, and climbing the greasy pole. First prizes were usually one pound or ten shillings, although a leg of lamb, in addition to a cash prize of ten shillings, was awarded to Charles Thompson for being the first to climb the greasy pole, and a live lamb plus two shillings and six pence was the prize for V. Miles who won the vaulting competition. The only unsuccessful event, the last of the day, was that of jumping for a roll soaked with treacle; competitors were too tired to make much effort and no prize was awarded. 135

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