ATTENTION ! This website does NOT sell cards anymore. Site content is for informational purposes only, NOT for commercial use!

cigarette cards


1000's of images



EXPANDED catalogue




Friday, 6th June 2008

t takes a great deal for a jockey to be remembered by the general public. Lester Piggott, gets to be remembered as much for his prison sentence as riding horses, Dick Francis is better known as a writer, I suspect. We all remember Red Rum though, and not because his name is the mirror image of murder, more likely because he entered the Grand National five times, winning it three times and coming second on the other two occasions.. Lucky for us that cigarette cards ensured a few Jockeys of yesteryear are remembered.

Players, Racing Caricatures [1925] 40 cards in the set is the focus for this article. The cards are arranged in alphabetical order. Quite why there are only forty cards in the set I do not know. It could well be there were only 40 jockeys of enough stature to be included in the set. I must say that seems unlikely but I cannot think of another explanation in a world dominated by sets of either 25 or 50 cards.

do not be tempted to arm wrestle them

This is a caricature set plain and simple, skilfully drawn by 'The Tout'. For more information on the artists, go see All the 40 cards are vertical format, which is a blessed relief for framers, although one of the cards is upside down, intentionally I add, the rider having been thrown from his mount (nopbody said these jockeys were any good). The jockeys wear a variety of expressions, either on or off a horse. Although the color scheme of the set does not make it stand out from the crowd, or perhaps it does, it is pleasingly detailed and the zen qualities of the colour scheme soothes the soul. Yes I have spelt colour two different ways, and I stand by the decision.

This is not the only set which deals with jockeys and check out the Horse Racing in close up section if you want to see some more (click this link later to get you there)

The set kicks off in fine style with John Randolph Anthony, winner of the 1911 Grand National on Glenside, riding as an amateur he was the only one to complete the course without incident. A feat which is also remembered in the Players, Grand National & Derby Winners set. Inspiring him to the ranks of the professionals he won the National again in 1915 on Ally Sloper and then in 1920 gained his third victory on Troytown. As this example show there is a good deal of cross-over between this set and the Derby winners set.

I do not intend running through this list of jockeys I will leave that joy for those who have the set.

Card 2 shows just how international the business of horse racing was even in 1929, George Archibald being an American. Before the war he was successful in Germany but afterwards soon settled into a winning streak in Britain, winning the Casarewitch on the French horse Rose Prince.

There is something else to note about a jockey, they are in the saddle for a remarkably long time. It is not really a young man's sport, which is good to know. However card 4, Harry Beasley, does draw attention that what you do need to be a jockey. His riding weight was about 8 stone 2 pounds, considered overweight by Jack Townsend, card 36, at 7 stone 7 pound, one of the horses he rode to victory was called, 'Dry Toast' which seems apt. Edgar Crickmere on card 11 must have feared high winds as he weighed in at 6 st 7lbs. However a word of advice, if ever you meet a 4 foot nothing jockey in a pub (bar) do not be tempted to arm wrestle them, they will snap your arm clean out of its socket and beat you with the soggy end. Consider them a tough lot.

Lester Piggott's race career spans 5 decades, with 5300 worldwide wins to his name, this includes a record 30 classics.

Card 6, Henry Bryan Bletsoe is another jockey who won the Grand National in one of those fairy tale rides. His horse, Rubio had been pulling the hotel bus at Towchester before running in the National. That year his stable companion came second in the National, making the trainer a happy man. The reverse of the card mentions this was probably the happiest day of the jockey's life. If that was the case, I can only hope the caricature was not done on that particular day otherwise I would not want to seem him when fed-up. Again this win gets a mention on the Players set already mentioned.

Frank Bullock was an Australian who came to Britain and had some success. He then accepted an offer to ride for the Kaiser and as the card says was fortunate that his contract ran out a year before hostilities began. He gets a mention because the name vaguely amused me; so infantile. No not Frank that name is not funny in the slightest thankyou.

Details from Card
Steve Donoghue
The finest jockey on the Epsom course since the days of Fred Archer, has few equals over any other course. Born in Lancashire in 1884, he was apprenticed to the Kingsclere stable, and after various vicissitudes because the most famous jockey of his time. He has never had to waste in order to keep down to a reasonable weight. Steve headed the winning list from 1914 to 1922 inclusive, and was equal first with Elliot in 1923. He has won the Epsom Derby on Humourist, Captain Cuttle and Papyrus, and the War Derby at Newmarket on Pommern and Gay Crusader.

Steve Donghue was the Lester Piggott of his day. In 1925 he enjoyed his sixth Derby win, which equaled the record set by Jem Robinson which has been subsequently beaten by Lester Piggott. Steve Donoghue died in 1945. He retired in 1937. Steve does remain the only jockey to have won the Derby three successive times.

Card 18 has Robert Gordon on display, from the caricature you can tell he is perhaps a little different to the rest. To start with he has a smile on his face, and a rather cheeky look about him and instead of wearing racing silks seems to be decked out in a rather large overcoat. It turns out that he trains and rides his own horses both over fences and hurdles as well as a fair degree of success under National Hunt Rules.

The card also notes he has a nice taste in 'dress-wear' Finally to round of this bit of complier hero worship, it turns out he is pretty good 'riding to the front with the hounds.'

I have mentioned two jockeys which were riding in Germany before the war but fortunately were back in England when war broke out. Fred Lane on card 25 was not so fortunate and he was one of a group of jockeys who were interned at Ruhleben during the war.

Players, Racing Caricatures

Card 29 shows Edwin George Piper who was the jockey riding Aboyeur in the 1913, Derby. The horse actually came second too the favourite Craganour. However Craganour was later disqualified by the stewards and the race given to Aboyeur. The card does actually make mention of this incident, which is more than the card for the same year in the Grand National and Derby set does. Sorry to keep harping on about the other set but they make natural stable mates.

Everyone was bewildered by the decision until it was discovered a certain Ismay owned the winning horse, a name forever sullied by the sinking of the Titanic and the owner, Ismay, scrambling into a lifeboat. Although it does mention this it fails to mention the fact a woman threw herself in the path of a horse dying in the process, a fact the Derby &c does mention.

I know I've mentioned it again, could it be I have too many of the set (No, you can never have to many cards).

Card 31 is the one I mentioned earlier, the rider, Lewis Bilbee Rees is caught in the process of being dismounted quite why he drawn like this is not alluded to on the reverse of the card and as we can assume this set is compiled from the premier jockeys of the era there seems no reason for it. Fun though.

Joseph Shatwell, a fantastic name if ever there was one, but not one I would want as a school child. Just to prove he is not mentioned just because of his name, he was another jockey interned in Germany at the outbreak of World War One. See nothing gratuitous about that.

The best place to start is at the beginning, conversely the best place to finish is at the end. Card 40, Harry Wragg, gets a mention as the the jockey for His Majesty the King. It is afterall, the sport of Kings.