Juliette (“Daisy”) Low’s husband, William Mackay Low, was, as the Times of London put it in 1906, “a gentleman well known in sporting circles.” For Daisy, this was not a good thing. “Sporting” usually implied gambling, and Willy was no stranger to the gaming table or the racetrack. When the Lows purchased Wellesbourne House, in Warwickshire, England, its stables and pastures were its chief attractions for Willy. He needed somewhere to shelter and exercise all the many horses he owned.
The horses were not a happy part of Daisy and Willy’s marriage. She fretted that he would break his neck every time he rode in the dangerous steeplechases. When Willy turned his horses over to a jockey for other types of races, Daisy noted with increasing exasperation that Willy’s horses seldom won. Despite the social nature of racetracks, he forbade her ever to go to a particular course. At important moments in their life together he was absent–off selling or buying horses instead of at her side.
Even at the end of his life, as he lay dying, Willy Low summoned enough strength to sell a horse. And not simply any horse. He sold Imari, the thoroughbred who had just won the Chester Cup.
|Imari, from a cigarette card.|
Because Imari won the race, held at the Chester Racecourse in Chester, Cheshire, Willy Low was richer by £2,000. In 2011 money, that is approximately $80,500.
After the race, Willy Low sold Imari for £2,000.
How do we know this? Daisy Low, with Willy’s sisters, contested his will. The estate of Willy Low was owed the worth of the Chester Cup stakes and the price of the horse’s sale. Imari thus appears in the newspaper coverage about the will. Daisy and her sisters-in-law tried to prove to the court that the will Willy made should not be carried out because he was not in his right mind. The judge insinuated that Willy’s having profited on Imari–not once, but twice–just weeks before he died suggested that he was in full possession of his faculties. “There is more in this case than meets they eye,” retorted Daisy’s attorney. There certainly was. But that’s another, longer story–one I hope you will read in February, when Juliette Gordon Low: The Remarkable Founder of the Girl Scouts is published.
Quotes: “Robertson v. Low and Bateman,” The Times, 20 March 1906, and “Robertson v. Low and Bateman,” The Times, 25 July 1905. With thanks to Dr. Dan Weinbren.
Photo of Imari from the New York Public Library, http://digitalgallery.nypl.org/
Photo of the racetrack from artvalue.com