Happily chosen the courses for the Blue Ribbon of the cross-country world. A real hunting one. Well, the race was run on Saturday at Horton, near Northampton. Such a jolly big crowd present. Awfully nice weather prevailed, so there was no occasion to trust Providence for a gate. By the way, it should mentioned that the venue was the Horton Estate kindly placed at the disposal of the National Committee by the executors the late Mr. Pickering Phipps and Mr. H. Manfield. Very decent old chap is the Horton stationmaster, and his two pencils bristled out from behind each ear like the quills on the back of the fretful porcupine. Had such a pleasant chat on the platform with Mr. Bletsoe glad to hear that his horses are doing well for the National. That good gee Grudon, who has been placed each time in the thirteen races run, is quite the pet of the countryside. Such a long uphill toddle to the start.
Come now, on arrival there so gratified to find North and South good pals, May the time be far distant ere a cloud should appear on the horizon to mar that good fellowship which now exists. First to cross palms S. J. Robinson, of the Northampton A.C., and the Finchley crack C. Bennett. Both men looked in the best of fettle, the former very fine. Jack Meakins the trainer, was all right; likewise Higgs, of Olney. Just to take a glance round and jot off a few who were present. Lady Manfield. Mr. C. Bucke, Mr. Thorpe and party, J. H. Hardwick, J. Foden (London and North-Western Railway, Manchester), Willie Cox, John Malone, S. Cook, J. H. Jones, Ralph Gale, Albert Neck, Saunders per et fils, S. C. King, Pik, Garnham, C. J. Kerr, Colonial Warrener, Gordon Innes, Randall, Upsher, Monte Billmore, J. H. Bennett, J. E. Dixon, Wigg, G. Turk, A. Taylor, who will shortly join his brother in South Africa, Tom Ireland, M'Kay, one of the old brigade in E. C. Lodge, A. Larner, W. W. Alexander, H. J. Rothery, Harry Manfield, W. T. Allen, Trott, M'Larty &c.
Thanks all round are due to Mr. John Porteous and Mr. John Douglas for the excellent accommodation provided for the competitors. Under their combined direction two spacious marquees were erected, hot water and excellent baths on hand, and the turf carpeted with clean, crisp straw. So good of C. Ottway to journey down from London to assist in laying the trail in co. with J. O. Lord, of Northampton, unfortunately, the latter could not sport the black and gold jacket of his club. Police-constable West proved a most efficient and courteous Man at the Tent. The order of the Press was bit of pale blue ribbon. Coming events cast their shadows before. Reminded one of old times when viewing the mounted stewards. The days of Tom Shore and Grey Momus. Nice looking iron grey that Mr. W. S. Spark, of the Angel Hotel, Northampton, threw his leg over and clever handfull Mr. Brown's, of the Bull Hotel, mount. But, to turn to the race itself. Many old familiar faces amongst the members of the various clubs. Of course, one or two brand new ones. A sigh of regret went round on finding that George Martin, of the Essex Beagles, was down with influenza. So this popular athlete was missing from the ranks of the black and yellow. One cannot speak too highly of the Essex Beagles. Although defeated by the Salford Harriers by no manner of means disgraced. But two points divided them. Had Martin been spinning it is our opinion that they would have come out top of class. Been amongst them more than once has that plucky athlete, Tommy Bartlett. Good old fellow! A gamer display than he made has never been witnessed since the championships were originated.
Quite cock-a-hoop the Turkey reds, headed by their able pioneer Mr. J. H. Hardwick. Yet, curiously enough, the Birchfield ruled the favourites on what market there was. How Salford just beat the Beagles 2 points is now matter of history. It is not often that clubs are split by such narrow margin. Just within ace of coming off the Beagles, you see. Well run, indeed, and so said all of us. Nothing in coincidences, is there? Here is one, any way. J. J. Crook, of the Salford Harriers, has thrown six twice, for he finished in the same position this year as did last. On the other hand, J. D. Marsh went down three. Gallant old Finchley rubbed out the stag-bearers, otherwise the Birchfield. So sorry that P. Bourne came cropper. The Ambulance Corps, though, soon picked him up, and he quickly became himself again. Bennett ran a great horse, as was anticipated. Got tied up in hedge. This entanglement of his ten toes spoilt his chance. Well run J. H. Robinson, likewise S. C. King. That astute trainer, Fred Jenny, expects great things of both in the sweet by and bye. But the proudest coach of the lot was Harry Martin that genial youth who declined to knock down a pheasant even to oblige a prince of the blood.
The Essex Beagles have much to thank him for. Cannot quite make out Harrison's running. Last year, for his regiment, he came in Number 14, the occasion under notice such a surprise to find him pop third. A very smart athlete is he, nevertheless. There is music in the name when one writes it, and that is Tommy Birch. Verily the Colonel of Grand Nationals. Good old Tommy, still running like the Brook. And that goes on forever. Manchester carried the white and gold creditably. Not in the same way though as they did Trafford Park. Well, better luck next year. Bravo! Tee To-Tum A.C. faced the music like the plucky spinning-tops you are. Hats off to you. Walker ran (this is not derogatory, only bit of fun) as true for his club as the soldiers of our Queen for the honour of old England. And the tight little island is far from being effete yet. How often it happens that the first man home finds his club so far astern in the matter of points. S. J. Robinson came out gloriously number one. But his club only placed seventh on the score sheet. What ho for the Irrepressibles! Conspicuous by his absence that zebra of grit, C. E. Haydon. Likewise that thorough sportsman and Junior's champion, A. J. Fowden. However, the latter on arrival at Northampton hired a one-horse shay to convey him to the course. But he reckoned without his host. For the Jehu was not a Christopher Columbus. Could not find his way even in his own territory. This the genial Fowden discovered to his cost. In future he'll prefer a railway train. If the mountain won't come to Mahomet, you know, Mohamet'll come to the mountain.
Oh! it was with regret we heard that Mr. Leonard Boyne, who has run that catching piece 'Sporting Life' with such success, had met with an accident when out with the Pytchley. May he soon recover from the effects of his tumble. No larks or linnets on the ground. But fine show of whelks and oranges, and sandwiches of that thickness which would delight the heart of the hungry pilgrim. Taken all round the championship proved triumph for the good sportsmen of Northampton. Thanks to their kindly efforts once again, North and South are one. Not going to the devil, as one gentleman chose to phrase it, via Rotterdam and the Rhine. Ahem both those talented artists, Mr. J. J. Proctor, of the Penny Illustrated Paper - so ably piloted by Mr. John Latey - and Mr. A. Muggeride, of Sporting Sketches, were on snap. And there will be living pictures for you in their issues later on.
The officials and the Fourth Estate were provided with a platform on a waggon. By the way, it was graced the presence of a lady. Very pretty sight it was when the men lined for the start. Almost fancy that you were looking the Rowley Mile. Harrison the first break the line, with S. J. Robinson close at hand. As the men ran by the official waggon for the first time the order of the leaders read H. Harrison, S. J. Robinson, C. Bennett, T. Bartlett, E. Barlow, J. Crook (Captain Salford Harriers), A. Meacham, J. C. Marsh, N. Day, J. Cooper, T. H. Robinson, F. Hewson, E. Morris, W. Hamer, Gulliver, W. Holmes, W. Clark, J. Walker, E. Jones, Tommy Birch with No. 1, W. Brade, 76, the last man.