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Related article: m i5 ".». * i89^] 367 The Turf and its Tipsters. On the night of Sunday, April 9th, there passed away an old man who for many years has been a familiar figure on most racecourses, especially those in the north. There are few habitues of racing grounds who have not seen the banner inscribed ** Old Jack Dickinson," or seen that worthy make a slow, if somewhat triumphal, progress over the un- enclosed parts of the course, selling his tips broadcast. For years Old Jack had made an excellent living out of tipping winners, and he was himself a living example of the fallacy of trying to diagnose the future, for whether he backed his own tips or those of somebody else, the fact remains that, in spite of his large gains, he was a very heavy loser. He ran through three or four " competencies," and could never manage to retain the money which poured into his pocket on the occasion of the great meeting. Not less than ;^2oo or ;^300 came to him at meetings like Doncaster, and then, when he was in great feather, he would buy a low-priced horse, generally the outcome of a selling race, but his steeds as a rule were badly placed, and Mr. Jack Dickinson's name nevftr figured among the winning owners. Jack, in his way, however, knew a good deal about horses, he had a marvellously retentive memory, and could retail nu- merous anecdotes about races, the horses which competed for them, the men who trained them, and the jockeys who rode them, and anybody who got hold of Old Jack out of business hours spent a by no means unentertaining time in listening to the old tipster's reminiscences. He tho- roughly enjoyed racing, and VOL. Lxxi. — NO. 471. would even sometimes, when a race is what is known as " open," forego the pecuniary advantage of seHing a certain number of marked cards in order to clamber into some place where he could obtain a good view of the contest. Old Jack Dickinson, however, though frequently himself un- successful, was very far removed from being one of the fraudulent brotherhood who make a living Buy Vaseretic Online by selling tips. No matter how early horses might be out at exercise. Old Jack was there before them. He knew book- form himself thoroughly, and had his own ideas as to how far public performances accorded with what was in the book. He did his best to gather up all scraps of infor- mation, and there is not the least doubt that his tips were based on some sort of knowledge, in- efficient though it often was. Old Jack Dickinson's prices neces- sarily varied according to the state of his finances and the status of the purchaser ; but for a shilling one would generally obtain the best that Old Jack had to sell. When the racing tipster first came into existence it were per- haps hard to tell, but certainly not until bookmakers became fairly plentiful, and the general public had an opportunity of putting on their pence, shillings and pounds. Nor was it until the days of sporting papers that tipsters greatly came to the front, for until publicity was given to their existence by advertisement they would necessarily have flourished unseen, since the practical racing man was not likely to pay for information which was unques- tionably inferior to that of which he was himself possessed. 26 368 BAILY S MAGAZINE. [Mat In the fifties, however, we find the tipster issuing advertisements. Through the undying columns of Beirs Life we find John Playfair informing backers of horses that he could be communicated with by letter, and would send full particulars to anybody who en- closed a stamped and directed envelope, while later on the talent was strenuously recommended to try ** Fairplay's Long Shots.** In the comparatively non-racing neighbourhood of I ps wich — though one must not forget that at one time there were Ipswich Races — there lived a certain Mr. John Stamford, who professed himself willing to divulge **the Golden Secret " gratis, and in putting forth his advertisement we ob- serve that from his position in the sporting world he was always in possession of the best informa- tion with respect to the great events in the Turf market. If this had been true Mr. Stamford might have saved himself an infinity of trouble by acting upon this, amassing a fortune, and then retiring, but instead of so doing he kept advertising and tipping, though apparently he never really parted with his '* Golden Secret." Perhaps one of the most allur- ing baits was that cast by a tipster who placed his gains no higher than ;^2oo a year. Through the medium of the Press the public were informed that a gentleman who for some years had realised that income by a novel system of betting was wil- ling to impart his secret to a select number of subscribers. The system was described as being simple, safe, and certain, while it had the additional merit of entailing neither trouble nor risk, and could be carried on with a capital of no more than Four Pounds. Whatever income this person may have realised by his betting, it was certainly greatly augmented by his gains as a tip- ster, and he was eventually able to take a nice house in the neighbourhood of Brentford, where he lived in great comfort and almost luxury, but he ap- pears to have been one who, unlike poor old Jack Dicldosffii, never backed anyone's tips, not even his own. Bashi-Bazouk, who won the Liverpool Cup in 1857, started at 7 to 1, but a tipster of the time professed to have sent the horse to all his subscribers when he was