Why is £500 known as a ‘monkey’ in betting slang?

Why is £500 known as a 'monkey' in betting slang?  An excellent question, but one to which there appears to be no definitive answer. In common with other colloquial betting terms, ‘monkey’ is believed to be derived from Cockney slang, rhyming or otherwise, but more than that is difficult to say.

One hypothesis suggests that during the days of the British Raj – that is, British colonial rule of India between the mid-nineteenth and mid-twentieth centuries – the 500-rupee banknote bore a depiction of a monkey. Thus, ‘monkey’ was adopted as a slang term for 500 rupees and, hence, for £500 when occupying soldiers returned to Britain.

However, the term was known to be in use in Britain several decades before the British Raj and, while coins bearing religious motifs – possibly including Hanuman, the monkey commander of Hindu mythology – were minted in the pre-colonial era, no legitimate coins or banknotes from the suggested period really fit the bill. So-called ‘temple tokens’ did exist, but they were not legal tender and, more often than not, were devoid of any denomination.

More likely, perhaps, is that ‘monkey’ is derived from the phrase ‘to have a monkey up the chimney’ which, in late-nineteenth century Britain, was a slang term for having a mortage. At the turn of the twentieth century, the vast majority of properties in Britain were rented rather than bought, but a three-bedroom terraced house in London could be bought for around £300; £500 would, at least, be in the right ball park as the amount required to buy a house of some distinction.

What is a weight cloth?

What is a weight cloth?  In any horse race, a jockey must, subject to any weight ‘claim’, carry at least the weight shown on the racecard. Accordingly, jockeys ‘weigh out’, along with all the equipment they will carry in a race, including the saddle, in front of a racecourse official known as the ‘Clerk of the Scales’. In the event that the combined weight of the jockey and his/her equipment is lighter than the weight shown on the racecard, additional weight, in the form of thin lead weights supplied by the racecourse, is added to make up the difference.

In this case, the horse is question wears a special cloth, known as a weight cloth, beneath the saddle. The weight cloth fits securely underneath the saddle and typically has two or more pockets into which lead weights can be placed to distribute the additional ‘dead weight’ evenly. Most racehorse trainers prefer their horses to carry as little ‘dead weight’ as possible, on the grounds that it is more difficult to carry than the ‘live weight’ of a jockey, which can move relative to the horse. Nevertheless, in situations where the weight of the jockey doesn’t closely match the weight allocated, a weight cloth is an unobtrusive solution, which creates no distraction for horse or rider.

Why Does a Jockey Use a Whip?

Why Does a Jockey Use a Whip?  Basically, there are two reasons a jockey uses a whip: to steer and make the horse go faster.

In bygone days of horse racing, you may well have seen a jockey use the whip much more vigorously than today.

Animal welfare was in its infancy and the desire to win come at all costs. The whip was used as a ‘tool’ to encourage a horse to go faster. In essence, punished to run faster, the goal to win.

The whip has been associated with animal cruelty.

These days, the spectacle of a horse being hit countless times is a less common sight.

In 2011, the British Horse Racing Association changed the whip rules nearly halving the number of times a horse can be struck to 7 strokes for the Flat and 8 for the National Hunt. And a maximum of 5 strokes in the final furlong or after the last obstacle.

Whip rules include:

1) The manner in which the whip was used, including the degree of force

2) The purpose for which the whip was used

3) The distance over which the whip was used and whether the number of times it was used was reasonable and necessary

4) Whether the horse was continuing to respond

If a jockey is in breach of the rules the stewards will give a penalty for the offence resulting in suspension of days racing and/or monetary fine.

These rules are updated on a regular basis.

Thankfully, the days gross abuse of the whip are a thing of the past but animal welfare is an important subject for the protection of horses within racing and the how the use of the whip is viewed and perceived.

There are races which do not allow the use of the whip called ‘hands and heels’ and even if a whip is carried it may only be used in cases where a horse is out of control.

There is scientific evidence that whipping a horse doesn’t make it run faster although others considered the data biased. (It was funded by the RSPCA)

Perhaps the day will come when the use of the whip is abolished.

How many times did Bill Shoemaker win the American Triple Crown?

How many times did Bill Shoemaker win the American Triple Crown?

William Lee ‘Bill’ Shoemaker, a.k.a. ‘The Shoe’, rode his first winner on April 20, 1949 and his last on January 20, 1990. On September 7, 1970, Shoemaker broke the world record for winners ridden by a professional jockey, 6,032, set by English-born Johnny Longden four years earlier. Indeed, at the time of his retirement, Shoemaker had amassed 8,833 career winners, thereby setting a record that would stand until December 10, 1999, when broken by Panamanian-born Laffit Pincay Jr.. Pincay Jr.’s record has since been beaten, nay obliterated, by Canadian-born Russell Baze and, subsequently, by Brazilian-born Jorge Ricardo. Even so, three decades after his retirement from the saddle, Shoemaker remains the fourth most prolific jockey in horse racing history.

However, for all his success, it may come as a surprise to read that Shoemaker never won the American Triple Crown. He won each of the individual Triple Crown races – namely the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes – more than once, but never all three races in the same season. In fact, the closest Shoemaker came to doing so was aboard Damascus who, in 1967, finished third behind Proud Clarion in the Kentucky Derby before winning the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes. All told, Shoemaker won the Belmont Stakes five times, in 1957, 1959, 1962, 1967 and 1975, Kentucky Derby four times, in 1955, 1959, 1965 and 1986 and Preakness Stakes twice, in 1963 and 1967.

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