All The King’s Men; All The King’s Horses
Jardine, Ewo, John Peel are different names under the same family tree,
All of them have been involved and influential in the racing history of Hong Kong and even of China.
Almost continuously throughout the history of Hong Kong racing there has been a Jardine man among the Stewards of HKJC.
1842, Jardine Matheson & Co shifted to use “Ewo” as their Chinese name.
1845, Jardine brothers was recorded in a letter about planning to race in Hong Kong.
1854, John Peel, passed away, as an English huntsman with a legend in a song.
Promising newcomers from Jardines appeared, young Mr Magniac, scion of one of the founders of Jardine & Co.
Another contemporary owner-rider who scored some spectacular successes was Mr Mackenzie.
From the fact that he piloted many Jardine entrants it seems that he too belonged to the old firm.
He was apparently a Shanghai racing man who came down Hong Kong regularly.
From the beginning, Jardine, Matheson & Co. provided a continuous succession of competent gentlemen jockeys.
Of the three brothers, David, Joseph and Robert Jardine, the last-named (afterwards Sir Robert) was apparently the best.
Chefoo Racing Club appealed for help from Shanghai and Tientsin.
There were no races in Chefoo for two years. There were simply not enough racing ponies.
This was immediately given, and combined with local people’s determination to enter, a highly successful meeting was held. William Keswick, taipan of Jardines, sent LALMAHAL.
“Mr St. Andrew” was still racing.
Of all the riders at the Valley the most forceful was Mr T. F. Hough. From Marlborough he enlisted in the 8th Hussars and became Riding Master. He served in India, and from there came out to Shanghai to take a job with Jardine, Matheson & Co.
Paul Chater had 9 wins in 3 days, the Jardine stable 7 wins between them.
The racing name of “John Peel” was adopted permanently. The stable won innumerable races.
CONQUEROR won the Champions for the first time; then for three more years in succession the big race was a John Peel triumph.
Jardine Matheson personnel were always prominent in racing events, the Ewo Cup — the company’s Chinese name
— being a feature of the races at several places, with Jardine men themselves racing for it.
Of the more recent heads of Jardines’ who donned silk in Hong Kong a name recurrent for some years is that of Mr W. J. Gresson.
He had a very successful racing career in Shanghai and other northern ports prior to riding in Hong Kong.
The family names flow smoothly through the scene both in China and Hongkong races:
Dallas, Maitland, Forbes, Burkill, Liddell, Marshall, Soares, Sassoon, Arnhold, Ostroumoff, Moller….
The teams such as brother, father and son or couple, uncle and nephew as the case may be.
First there were the Jardines themselves, then all the descendants of Jean Jardine bearing other surnames but forming a family succession:
Johnstone, Keswick, Bell-Irving, Paterson, Gresson, Landale….
They left racing legend which only a few racing families could rival later.
Mr John Johnstone of Jardines’, who made his name first in Shanghai, came down to ride here at the Annual Meeting.
For his own mounts, he added to the Ewo colours silver buttons and a cerise cap.
November, John Johnstone, riding for F.B. Marshall, who was a Steward, won four races for him in succession.
WILLOW TREE, PERSIMMON TREE, CYPRESS TREE, and CHERRY TREE won the Criterion Stakes, the Fah Wah Stakes, the St. Leger, and the Autumn Cup respectively.
As if this was not enough, John Johnstone went on to win the Eclipse Stakes on the Ewo (Jardine) pony, DRUMLITHIE.
New Steward came the Hon. Mr C. H. Ross of Jardines.
Mr A. J. P. jong , “Johnny” to all his friends, made what seems to have been his first appearance on the Hong Kong course, when he rode for John Peel.
Later he settled permanently in Hong Kong, being a member of Jardines’ staff.
Newcomer to managing HKJC was Mr B. D. F. Beith, of Jardines, who became a Steward.
Other new Steward was Mr C. E. Anton of Jardines.
“Ewo Handicap”, unofficial, graced the programmes at the Extra Meetings. The riders were all of the Ewo personnel; but sometimes champion jockeys were quite formidably mounted on borrowed steeds.
Mr W. E. L. Shenton of Deacons (later the Hon. Sir William) raced in partnership with Mr F. C. Hall of Jardine’s.
The Hong Kong Race Club created itself by the Japanese to succeed the Hong Kong Jockey Club
—but the Jockey Club lived on regardless.
1942-02-09 a meeting of the surviving Stewards was held in the internment camp at Stanley.
Mr Percy Tester was in the chair.
Mr Tester as the senior surviving Steward became acting Chairman and with his team set about restoration of the Club and the Racecourse, and resumption of racing.
1945-11-17 a general meeting was held of all persons who were members of the Club on December 25, 1941.
Mr Tester presided and there was a good attendance.
The Club suffered a saddening loss, on 1950-04-23, Mr Percy Tester passed away, aged 70.
The Jardine legends in Hong Kong keep going in the stewardship and the trophy race.
The omnipresent Jardine members still run an Ewo Cup.
That used to be held for Jardine personnel only, enjoyable for those who raced, a hazard for those who did not, because all Jardine men were expected to enter for the race.
Those who did not own a racing pony had to borrow one, and the last rider in received a wooden spoon with a bowl large enough to hold a pint of whisky.
Hong Kong racing has been in the era of profession but the English schoolboy tradition dies hard.
Pantagruel, son of the two fictional giants in adventures, was stigmatized as obscene in a social climate of increasing religious oppression. The novel was treated with suspicion, and contemporaries avoided mentioning it.
The original book is a single novel consisting of five volumes, they were published from 1532 to 1564.
Drumlithie is a village in the northeast of Scotland. The name Drumlithie is thought to be derived from the old meaning of a Drum, being the ridge of a slope or hillside, and Lithie could possibly mean “Grey Place”.
Acknowledgement to HKJC Racing Registry for offering record data.