From the Illustrated Dramatic and Sporting News of May 18, 1878:
An influential, if not very numerous, meeting of the Jockey Club, held at Newmarket last week, has very properly left it to the Stewards to decide what steps shall be taken in the matter of suburban meetings.
Wise determinations will doubtless be come to, but Lord Hartington emphatically hit the right nail on the head when he stated that it was the intention of himself and his colleagues to “call the attention of gentlemen undertaking the office of stewards of racemeetings to the responsibility they incur for the proper management of the meeting;” and his lordship went on to express a hope that “gentlemen would not accept the office unless they intended to be present, or were fully satisfied as to the arrangements for the conduct of the meeting.”
This last saving clause, however, appears to us to take a deal of very desirable “sting” out of the suggestion which precedes it, and we do not see why stewards should be recommended to take anything for granted after recent experiences of even tolerably-respectable meetings going utterly to the bad.
The office of steward seems lately to have been regarded as a sinecure, and those who are pleased to undertake it do so without any ideas of its duties.
It is all very well to “see oneself in print” as a Steward of the Grand International Diddlesex Meeting, to swell about stands and enclosures, and to run a horse or two for the sake of “patronising” the affair; but seekers of such distinction seem to limit themselves to swaggering – if, indeed, they turn up at all on the scene of action – and somehow are never to be found when a case arises necessitating action on their part.
It is high time all this was altered, and that people lending their names should also make a point of being present in person. A few really energetic men, content to act without fear or favour, might work wonders in the repression of those nefarious tricks which bring racing into evil repute; but the mere appearance of their names on the top of the card will not act as a deterrent to evil-doers, who must be stamped out by stronger devices than these.