StewballPosted: March 28, 2018
Samuel Sidney [The Book of the Horse, 1875, repr. ed. Bonanza Books, 1985] stated Skewball “…won a great number of plates and prizes in England, and one famous match in Ireland.” The Irish turf callendar says he won six races worth £508 in 1752, when he was eleven years old, and was the top earning runner of that year in Ireland. The match became the subject of a ballad, Skewball, which has endured, in varying forms, to the present day.
The match celebrated by the ballad is listed in Pond’s Racing Calendar of 1752. It was held at the Curragh in Kildare, Ireland, on Saturday, March 28, with each participant putting up 300 guineas. Arthur Marvin (also Marvyn, or Mervin) owned Skewball, who carried 8st. 7lb. His opponent was “Sir Ralph Gore’s grey mare,” carrying the heavier weight of 9 st. Skewball was a gelding, which explains why he was still running at age eleven; although it was not uncommon for horses to run to ages 9 or 10 during that period, successful stallions were usually retired from the turf to commence their stud careers. He won the 4 mile race in 7 minutes and 51 seconds.
Whatever just noting that it’s the 266nd anniversary of a run by a horse in a race that people are still singing about.
They don’t seem to run many four mile horse races anymore. Some history on these “real stayers.”
Sir Ralph Gore, owner of the grey mare, was born at Belle Isle castle.
During the Battle of Lauffeld on 2 July 1747 all his superior officers were killed or severely wounded, so command of the battalion fell to Gore, who performed so well, that on the following day he received the thanks of the British commander Prince William, Duke of Cumberland.
(Remembering now that I stopped there once to visit the Irish National Stud)
and one more from Leadbelly:
Check out the bowties on The Hollies: