OUR MEMORIES
Silks – tradition


 

Silks – The colorful jacket and matching cap worn by jockeys or competitors in different types of European equestrian races.

 

Emotional Loyalty; Visual Festivity

 

1884- HKJC official colors are rich Royal blue and gold. On the flag, the Club’s badge (Bit, crop and shoe) is super-imposed in red.

 

INTRODUCTION

 

The colours worn by jockeys in races are the registered "colours" of the owner or trainer who employs them.
The practice of horsemen wearing colours probably stems from medieval times when races, games, jousts or even fights were held between knights.
However, the origins of racing colours of various patterns may have been influenced by racing held in Italian city communities since medieval times.
Such traditional events are still held on town streets and are remarkable for furious riding and the colourful spectacle they offer.

 

 

BACKGROUND

 

1762-10-04 Nineteen members of England's Jockey Club announced an agreement at Newmarket to register their racing colors for purposes of distinguishing runners among a field of horses.
"For the greater Conveniency of distinguishing the Horses in Running, as also for the Prevention of Disputes, arising from not knowing the Colours worn by each Rider,…"
In the first list of Colours registered following the resolution of the Stewards of the Jockey Club, eighteen owners shared seventeen sets of colours

Many of the important men of the Colonial era, from the Governors down, chose quiet racing colors.
Sir Henry May’s were “Brown with yellow braid”;
Sir Edward Stubbs had “Black, with gold sleeves and cap”,
Sir William Peel’s were a simple “Purple”.
Sir Newton Stabb, Chief Manager of the HSBC, selected “Yellow and brown quartered, with brown sleeves and yellow cap”.

 

 

HIGHLIGHTS

 

1850
Jardines’ as a firm have never owned or financed a racing stable.
Jardine colors were originally the firm’s colors — Blue and white; the white was later changed to silver.
The jacket has always been a dignified dark blue, its front richly braided with silver, in the Hussar fashion.
The colors of “Mr St. Leger” were “Blue and silver”

 

1872
Mr Catchick Paul Chater, as he then was, and the scanty records tell us that his China pony AVON won both the Fakei and Ashley Cups
His colors were at first “Straw jacket with mauve collar and chocolate cap”
Sir Hormusjee Naorojee Mody  raced as Mr Buxey, his colors were “Blue and white stripes”.

 

1888
It was at this meeting, and from Sassoon’s whites, creams and greys,
that the curious belief arose — widely held at one time —
that ponies of these colors were faster than others.

 

1904
Mr John Johnstone of Jardines, who made his name first in Shanghai, came down to ride in Hong Kong at the Annual Meeting.
For his own mounts, he added to the Ewo colors silver buttons and a cerise cap.
Messrs Wingard and Cire (Moller) chose “Blue and white with red anchor”.

 

Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank stable has always borne the Bank’s Chinese name (Wayfoong) and used the Bank’s colors (Red with white hoops)

 

1905
Sir Matthew Nathan, Governor in 1904-7, had one pony, named CHING, which, with Mr Mackie riding, was third in the Valley Stakes.
Sir Matthew's colors was Red, blue sleeves and cap.

 

1908
For all-time honours for sombreness, Major Parker adopted for his colors “All black”.

 

1911
Sir Paul Chater changed to a simple “Straw, with white cap”. He entered as many as 18 ponies at one Meeting.

 

1916
Mr T. E. Pearce, was owner of the fine Dynasty stable with the rich “Dark red, gold braid and sleeves”.

 

1920
Mr T. H. G. Brayfield (ship surveyor, of Messrs Carmichael and Clark) began racing as “Mr Ritchfield”.
He claimed challengingly to be Chinese and won his battle with the Railway by adopting the name “Mr Wong Sui Ngau” (Yellow Water Buffalo) which also became his stable name.
His colors were “Cream, mosquito on chest, pink cap”
This was his subtle allusion to a summons which he issued against the Railway authorities for permitting mosquitoes to breed on their property.

 

1921
Ladies were admitted to the Club as owners
Mrs Bernard also had a winning stable, calling her ponies “GRASSES” (SNODGRASS, MEADOWGRASS). Her colors were “Silver, with dark-blue sash”.

 

1927
The Chairmen of the Club Mr H. P. (Shiny) White succeeded Sir Paul Chater as Chairman.
Both Mr Dryasdust and Mr White used the same colors — White, with scarlet sash and cap.

 

1928
Parker and Mackie stable had an intriguing quartet—‘PETER, PECK, PICKLE and PEPPER. They had cheerful nursery colors — White with black spots.
Mr Charles Gordon Mackie, of Gibb, Livingston & Co., who in 1929 became Chairman of HKJC

 

1932
Mrs Pearce also had a stable, with her own colors, “Old gold, blue and white hooped sleeves”.

 

1934
Mr John Macgregor’s son, Mr J. F. Macgregor, a Steward of the Club, began racing in Shanghai about 1921.
He re-established the Strath stable in Hong Kong, and like his father has been very successful, his outstanding pony being the record.
His riders wear, with some minor modifications of arrangement, his father’s old colors — Cherry and Light Blue.

 

Perhaps more beautiful than helpful to race-goers were some of the eccentric confections:
Mr Tierce had Red, white and blue hoops — which still hold favor.
Mr Hau Un struck a new note with “Red with white stars”
Kong Brothers had “White, red star front and back, dark blue sleeves and cap”.
Messrs Grist and Beck sported “Saxe blue, with white circle front and back, white band on sleeves and quartered cap”.
Mr Ulster: Old gold, with three shamrocks and green cap
Mr Quartermaster seems to have been inspired by a shipping house-flag. He selected “Yellow, green, blue and red quartered”.

 

If the fair sex taught the sterner nothing about racing, they did set a few examples of visibility of colors.
Lady Chater chose “Mandarin yellow, with red sleeves and cap”.
Mrs Bell-Irving achieved a simple effect with “Bird’s-eye blue and claret cap”;
Mrs Forsyth, “Cerise, with purple braid and cap”;
Mrs Birkett, “Chocolate, with mauve sleeves and chocolate cap”;
Mrs H. W. Bird, wife of the Hon. Mr H. W. Bird (architect, of Palmer & Turner), had “Emerald green with yellow cross and green cap”.

 

But the men had no reason to be ashamed of their rainbow —    
Mr Hector Sassoon: Peacock blue and old gold halved, old gold cap.
Mr John Bell-Irving: Green with gold braid.
Mr R. M. Dyer: Pale blue with black cap.
Messrs Hosie and Lay: Orange and dark blue halved, sleeves reversed, orange cap.

 

Other examples of clear effectiveness were set :
Mr J. H. Taggart, Managing Director of the Hong Kong & Shanghai Hotels.
Mrs Taggart stable colors were an unrelieved Scarlet, and hers “Old gold with light blue cap”.
Messrs Tester and Abraham were content with straight Pink.

 

 

SUMMARY

 

Getting white breeches and bib, stock or cravat and jersey known as "silks" is a classic rite of passage when a jockey is first able to don silken pants and colours in their first race ride.
It has a parallel in how lawyers are spoken of as "taking silk"
At one time silks were invariably made of silk, though now synthetics are mostly used instead.
Nevertheless, the silks and their colours are important symbols evoking emotions of loyalty and festivity.

 

 

REFERENCE

 

1901 Mr G. C. C. Master asked questions about racing colors. Why, he enquired, should owners not be able to register their colors?
“I go away for two or three years, and I come back and find someone else racing in my colors.”
In response the Stewards opened a register.
1921, years afterwards, the Chairman was moved to complain that owners made no use of it.
1930, new rules provided for the cancellation of registration if colors were unused for three successive years.

 

 

EXTERNAL LINK

 

Horse Names – Word Series

 

Horse Names – Translation

 

 

 

Acknowledgement to HKJC Racing Registry for offering record data.

 

 

 


 

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