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The Leinster Leader 28 October 1939




Mr. Harry Beasley, the "Grand Old Man," of the Irish Turf and doyen of gentlemen riders, passed away at his residence, Eyrefield House, Curragh, on Thursday last, 18th October. He was in his 88th year, having been born in 1852 at Salisbury House, Athy. He was the last surviving member of the famous quartet of "Beasley brothers" ― Tommy, John, Willie and Harry ― whose deeds as amateur riders, more especially in the 'chasing field, are writ large in the pages of Turf history in Ireland, England and France. There was a fifth brother, James, who in his young days, rode in public now and again, but he did not continue riding, and eventually adopted a commercial career.
At the baptismal fount, the late "Harry" Beasley was given the name of Henry Herbert Beasley but, for well over sixty years he has been known affectionately to thousands of followers of the "Sport of Kings" as "Harry" Beasley and by that familiar diminutive he will, doubtless, ever be recalled.
It would take a bulky volume to record in full the eventful career of "Harry" Beasley, and to do anything like justice to his notable successes as the leading "Corinthian" of his day is, within the scope of this notice, frankly impossible. The writer once suggested to Mr. Harry Beasley that he should write a book of reminiscences, but, though the suggestion was received with a certain amount of interest, the writer is not aware that Mr. "Harry" ever undertook the task. What a wonderfully interesting book that would have been!
From his association with the late Henry E. Linde (the "Wizard" of the famous Eyrefield Lodge establishment) dates the commencement of Harry Beasley's triumphant Turf career. In 1876, Harry had his first winning ride ― the venue being Baldoyle and the horse was Mr. Livesay's Straffan, in the Hunters' 'Chase. Coincidence stretched out its long arm when in 1935, Baldoyle was the scene of Harry Beasley's last public appearance in the saddle, though on this occasion the mount was not a winning one. It was on Whit Monday, 1935, in the Corinthian Plate at Baldoyle, that this gallant veteran ― then 83 years of age ― donned silk for the last time, his mount being his own mare, Mollie. On that occasion, "Harry" was unplaced but, as he passed the crowded stands he received an ovation V the unstinted tribute to undaunted courage and to the memories of a glorious past.
But it is with the records of Punchestown and Aintree that the name of Harry Beasley is most inevitably associated. At Punchestown he was well-nigh invincible. Year after year he won races at the great Kildare meeting, sometimes on horses deserving of the title "great," often on horses described as "good," and even more often on horses that were merely "average." It was frequently said, with truth, that Harry Beasley could win at Punchestown on practically anything. He had an almost uncanny knowledge of the Punchestown course ― he knew it like the palm of his hand. He never failed to "go the shortest way round" and it was a revelation to watch Harry "stealing" lengths by using his unrivalled and expert knowledge of the tricky Punchestown circuit. He had many wonderful triumphs there, especially in the Conyngham Cup, but it is not unlikely that the Punchestown success which gave him the greatest personal pleasure was his last win at that venue. This was in 1923 when, at 71 years of age, he rode his own mare, Pride of Arras, to victory in the Maiden Plate. The scene after the race will ever be remembered by those present on that occasion. The huge crowd "rose" to the wonderful veteran in a spontaneous tribute unparalleled in Irish racing. A mighty roar of cheering followed Pride of Arras past the post and the scenes of enthusiasm in the paddock when horse and rider returned to scale beggars description. There was a further outburst of almost unrestrained enthusiasm when "Harry" was borne into the reserved enclosure to be congratulated by the then Governor-General, the late Mr. "Tim" Healy, K.C. Nobody relished a joke more than "Tim" and his delight was obvious when "Harry," thanking him for his congratulations, remarked, with a sweep of his arm to indicate the course ― "I'd rather be riding out there than facing you in the law courts."
His victory on Pride of Arras was "Harry's" last winning ride.
At famed Aintree, also, Harry Beasley gained the highest laurels. He rode in thirteen Grand Nationals; though on only one occasion did he succeed in winning the "Blue Riband of Chasing." This was in 1891, when he scored on Mr. W. G. Jameson's Come Away, from Cloister and Ilex. Come Away went lame a few days prior to this "National" and, indeed, won practically "on three legs." In his other Grand National essays, "Harry" was second three times and third once. "Harry" won the Grand Sefton Chase at Liverpool on no less than five occasions ― in 1879, 1880, 1881, 1883 and 1885. He won the Paris Hurdle on Seamon in 1881 and the Paris Steeplechase twice ― on Too Good in 1883 and on Royal Meath in 1890. But, as written earlier in this brief contribution, it would need a book to record fully the feats of Harry Beasley in the saddle.
Deceased owned and bred many useful performers and, until a few years ago he trained his own horses at Eyrefield House. Still strong and virile, he rode out to "exercise" till a couple of years back ― a really wonderful example of a veteran who refused to be conquered by "Anno Domini."
Mr. Harry Beasley married Miss Field, of Shanganagh Park, Shankhill, Co. Dublin, and the three boys born to them ― William, Henry Herbert and Patrick ("Rufus") ― has each made his mark as a jockey. Patrick, who for many years has been riding with marked success in England, recently married Lady Alexandra Egerton.
The passing of "Harry" Beasley may be said to write "finis" to one of the most glorious chapters of Turf history. In that chapter this Irish gentleman, member of a Co. Kildare family with many generations of historical associations, has played a "star" part. His death, widely and sincerely regretted, creates a void which cannot be adequately filled.
The funeral took place (following Requiem Mass, celebrated by Rev. T. Ryan, C.C., in St. Conleth's Parish Church, Newbridge) to the New Cemetery, on Friday morning last. There was a large attendance, including a big number of prominent Irish Turf personalities. Gathered round the grave where, within a few short miles of Punchestown (scene of some of his greatest triumphs), the remains of the great Irish horseman were laid to rest, were the representatives of several generations of sporting folk.
Very Rev. L. Brophy, P.P., V.F., officiated at the graveside, he being assisted by Very Rev. N. Barry, O.P., (Prior, Dominican College, Newbridge), Rev. E. J. Carey, C.F., Curragh Camp, was also present.
Chief mourners were ― Mrs. K. Beasley (widow), William, Henry and Patrick (sons), Mrs. D. Mooney and Miss L. Beasley (daughters); Mrs. H. H. Beasley, Lady Alexandra Beasley (daughters-in-law); Patrick and Timothy Field (brothers-in-law), Elsie Field (sister-in-law), Roderick Mooney (grandson).
The attendance included: ― F. Harold Clarke (Turf Club), Capt. D. Ruttledge, Fred Clarke (Foxrock), Senator J. J. Parkinson, Senator W. Cummins, Capt. J. Vernon (Messrs. R. J. Goff and Co)., F. S. Myerscough (do.), M. de Landre (do.). G. O'Rourke, solr. (Messrs. Brown and McCann), Robert Gannon, Major J. Hannon, Capt. C. Ellison, A.M.S., T. H. Griffin, V.S. R. P. C. Griffin, V.S.; E. Brophy, P. O'Shaughnesy (Hibernian Bank) and Mrs. O'Sullivan, H. W. L. Grennel (National Bank), J. Cosgrove, V.S.; M. Cosgrove, Dr. J. Roantree, J. Mallick, P. Connolly (Turf Club, Curragh), J. T. Tyrrell, Thos. McHale (Clontarf), John Storey (Monasterevan), P. Blacker, Mrs. F. Blacker, W. J. Hilliard, J. A. Mangan, J. W. Osborne, J. T. Rogers, Cecil Brabazon, Aubrey Brabazon, F. W. Maxwell, R. Featherstonhaugh, M. C. Collins and Mrs. Collins, T. Burns and Mrs. Burns, E. M. Quirke, J. Moylan and Mrs. Moylan, John Doyle, C. Burke (Kildare), J. J. Byrne (Kilcullen), J. Morrissey (Secretary, Newbridge Coursing Club), T. Higgins, P. Pallin, T. J. McCabe, P. J. Cox, F. J. Dowling, M. J. O'Connor (Brownstown), Jer. O'Keefe, Eyrefield Lodge; Chr. Sylvester and Mrs. Sylvester, the Misses Brannan (Stepaside), Miss K. Kelly (Newbridge), J. G. Counihan, R. Russell Weller ("Leinster Leader"), T. J. Kearns, T. Sex, C. P. Ryan, F. Corrigan, Sergt. T. Armstrong, G.S.; L. Kelly, J. Whelan, Martin Whelan, R. Holohan, Mrs. Unlaeke, J. Connolloy (Co. Librarian), P. Flanagan, John Kelly (Town Clerk, Droichead Nua), T. O'Neill, A. Moore, Jes. Hunter, T. M. Flood, P. Sheridan, W. White, P. Walshe etc., etc.


An article from the Leinster Leader on the death of Harry Beasley, doyen of the Irish Turf, re-typed by Chris Holzgräwe

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