'As about half of the 24 starters left the post as if they were only going to run a few hundred yards, they were necessarily soon done with. Aitken, gradually coming through all these, had the best of the race until one field from home, when Wyatt and Scott, who had been gradually creeping up, ran level. They jumped the last fence together. Wyatt, who landed on firmer ground, was quickest on his legs, and ran in a comparatively easy winner; there was a tremendous struggle for the second place, which was just obtained by Aitken.
'The time, according to the present notion of running, must no doubt have been slow, but the ground was deep, the fences big and all the competitors were heavily handicapped by wet flannels bedraggling their legs.
'Of the flat races, which were held in Port Meadow, on un-levelled turf, no authentic record has been preserved of the winners of all the events. The hurdle-race was won by E. Knight, R. F. Bowles being second. The 100 yards by Wyatt, and he also won one or two of the other shorter races; but for the mile he had to carry some pounds of shot in an old-fashioned shot-belt round his loins, and ran second to Aitken, who won. Listen to this, ye handicappers of the present day!
'Such is the history of the first set of athletic sports. But now a word or two as to the original patrons and performers, for we would not have the athletes of the present day think that the last generation were altogether "unprofitable servants."
Marcus Southwell, R. F. Bowles, and Geo. Russell (now Sir Geo. Russell, Bart., of Swallowfield), were perhaps more patrons than performers. But Southwell was a fine horseman, and could walk six miles in the hour without training: he, alas! was killed when on a tour in America by a horse falling on him. Bowles and Russell could both row, play cricket, and run a bit, and they perhaps were the most energetic in getting up the first edition of sports. There is a longer record of services against the name of James Aitken, beyond winning the mile race, and being second for the two miles. As a cricketer he played in the Eton eleven, at Oxford in the University eleven against Cambridge in 1848, 1849, and 1850, and was captain of the eleven in 1850. As an oarsman he rowed against Cambridge at Putney in 1849, was one of the Oxford eight and four that rowed over for the Grand and Stewards at Henley in 1850, rowed in the Oxford eight that beat Cambridge at Henley in 1851, and won the Goblets together with the present Mr. Justice Chitty. He was ordained soon after leaving the University, and has had neither time nor opportunity for following up rowing or cricket to any great extent, but he has worked as hard and conscientiously in his parish as he did at No. 5 thwart in the University boat, and they say that even now, at lawn tennis, few of the young ones can hold their own against the Rev. James Aitken, vicar of Chorleywood, in Hertfordshire.
'Halifax Wyatt, another of the performers, was born in the "Duke's Country" - no doubt a point in his favour - and in his younger days was known to the noble editor of the Badminton Library, both in the hunting-field and on the tented sward, when I.Z. used to play at Badminton. At Oxford he won, as stated, the two miles and some of the shorter races in the sports. He played against Cambridge in the University eleven 1850, 1851, and in his college eleven in 1849, 1850, 1851. He rowed in the O.U.B.C. eight-oared races in 1849, 1850, 1851, in the O.U.B.C. fours 1849, and O.U.B.C. sculls 1850. Since leaving Oxford he has played a great deal of county cricket, in Gloucestershire, Devonshire, and Cheshire, and is an I.Z., M.C.C., Harlequin, etc. He did but little afterwards in running, but when quartered with the 4th Battalion Devonshire Regiment, at Limerick, he ran a 100 yards match for 50l. against a Canadian in the 89th Regiment, and beat him. H. Wyatt retired from the Devon Regiment as Lt. Colonel, and has now for some years past managed the Earl of Sefton's extensive estates in Lancashire, and is a first-rate hand in "looking on" at all those sports in which formerly he took such an active part.
Stewards. - R. F. BOWLES, ESQ., J. A RROUGHTON. ESQ.
Secretary. - H. C. GLANVILLE, ESQ.
Clerk of the Course. - H. RANKEN, ESQ. Judge. - MR. RANDALL.
The Welcome Sweepstakes, of a quarter of a mile: -
The Bancalari Sweepstakes, 300 yards and a distance. Heats: -
Mr. Kroughton ., Page ,, Glanville ,, Bowles ,, Wyatt
Mr. Winwood ,, Aitken ,, Marshall ,, Manley „ Terry
The Jonathan Sweepstakes, 100 yards: -
Mr. Paul ,, Todd ,, Medley ,, Wyatt ,, Knight ,, Yonge
Mr. Stubbs ,, Aitken 2 ,, Venables ,, Stent ,, Gresson „ Wingfield
A Hurdle Race, over 10 flights, at 10 yards apart, 140 yards: -
Mr. Chapman ,, Bowles ,, Knight „ Broughton ,, Wyatt ,, Cheales
Mr. Venables ,, Stent ,, Wilson ,, Norman ,, Aitken
The Scurry Stakes, 150 yards, to name and close on the day of the races.
The Aristocratic Stakes, of 60 yards, to name and close on the day of the races. The Consolation Stakes, for beaten horses, 100 yards.
'This is a slight sketch of the men who "set the ball rolling," but though their first meeting was evidently popular, the thing went slowly for a time. In 1851, Exeter College followed up the autumn meeting of 1850 with a summer meeting on Bullingdon, and we think that both a high and broad jump were introduced in the programme. In these sports both C. A. North and J. Hodges distinguished themselves, the latter, by the way, not long after for a wager riding 50, driving 50, and walking 50 miles in 24 consecutive hours. Lincoln College, Oxford, was the next to take up the idea and held some sports. Then a college in Cambridge. After this the thing went like wildfire, spreading simultaneously on every side; and after Colleges and Schools, first in London and then in the provinces clubs were formed for the promotion of athletic sports.