© Chris Woodland
Martinis longest running show – Dargan’s Grey re-joins
the show – Skurthorpe accepts the challenge
Meanwhile Sydney newspapers were building up the excitement of the coming event with releases of items of interest which explained to the readers that there would be electric light illuminating the tent and that seating was to be provided by George Hudson and Son.
On 22 December, the day after the opening night, an advertisement appeared saying that the event was a genuine Australian exhibition, that it had been packed to the doors and that there would be fresh horses and horsemen for tonight’s show. If a rider could sit on Bobs for five minutes they would receive £100, or £2 for two minutes. Good seating was supplied for three shillings, two shillings and 1 shilling.
While Martini was enjoying packed houses night after night in Sydney his rival Skuthorpe was entertaining Brisbane. The Brisbane Courier published the following advertisement on Saturday 6 January 1906:
Tonight and Every Night
BOYS FROM THE BUSH
Tonight and every night. So come early.
Best Buckjumping Show That Has Ever Visited Brisbane.
On 9 January 1906 Martini’s advertisement in the Sydney Morning Herald gave many names of the unfortunate riders who had been thrown from Bobs in New South Wales and: 6 of Queensland’s Best Horsemen.
Later in the month the almost forgotten Dargan received a mention in the press. Martini has obviously decided that the grey would never be able to perform as the great buckjumper he once was, but that he could display him and cash in on his reputation.
The Parramatta newspaper, the Cumberland Argus of Saturday 20 January, quotes Billy Waite speaking of why Bobs is such a difficult horse to ride:
He isn’t like any other horse I ever rode. It isn’t the come-back or the rolling buck, or the way he jerks one way with his hindquarters, but everything together. And he has such a lift he rises like a jumper; it’s like riding a springboard. And he comes down with his legs like solid bars ……. Waite adds: It’s heart a rider wants and head as well. If I ride it’s because I’m not frightened of a horse. I’ll hop on anything, and if it throws me I don’t care. Because I’ve been riding all my life.
And, in the unenlightened lexicon of the day, the reporter said:
Billy is a half-blood, a jolly tall chap, with a 14-inch chest, splendid thighs and calf muscles. He then spoke of his fine jaw and chin.
The Sydney press continued to acclaim Martini’s performances and performers. Miss Vera Rae was mentioned for abilities on the bicycle and wire-walking and Ernie Vantell is a champion on the triple bars. Waite continues to receive multitudes of flattering tributes:
no finer or more graceful horseman ever sat in the pigskin’ as does Bobs.
Bobs was also described as:
an equine earthquake and a snorting Bucephalus.
Martini was still performing well:
Martini himself contributes a remarkable clean-limbed and able performance on the horizontal bars.
Pitt street, opp entrance to New Railway Station
TO NIGHT AND EVERY EVENING
MARTINIS BUCKJUMPING SHOW.
10th Week in Sydney
HUNDREDS TURNED AWAY ON SATURDAY NIGHT
SEVERAL EXCITING CONTESTS TO NIGHT,
WEDNESDAY NIGHT, FEB 14
Jack Pendergast, the NSW Champion, v Bobs
FRIDAY NIGHT, Feb. 16.
Full Benefit to Sydney Hospital Martini will pay
DON’T MISS THE FUN TO NIGHT
Electric Light. Good Seating. Prices 3s 2s 1s
This advertisement from the Sydney Morning Herald on 13 February, and similar ones in other papers, brought comments because of the bottom line, which advised there is good seating at Martini’s shows. Light-hearted remarks claimed that those unsuccessful riders – the band aids – would certainly not have good seating!
A man by the name of Jigger Lavell travelled from Melbourne to ride the outlaw Bobs. He rode Bobs for about 3 seconds and then gave:
… a neat, though voluntary exhibition of tumbling on the sawdust thoughtfully provided by the management.
Two nights later Lavell’s second attempt was thwarted because of Bobs having a slight accident. A few nights later, following Bobs recuperation, the ever-hopeful Lavell was ejected from the saddle in seven seconds.
A few days later Skuthorpe announced that he was now in Sydney and would stage his buckjumping exhibition at the Haymarket Hippodrome on 24 March. Among the events there was to be a riding contest for £100 and a prize of £20 for the best buckjumper.
Meanwhile Martini’s Buckjumping Show continued to attract lots of flattering comments such as the statement saying that the show had been in Sydney for twelve weeks and was as strong as ever and always crowded:
Bobs maintains his prestige. No one has been able to sit him yet.
On 3 March there was a riding contest between Pendergast and Lavell, and O’Donnell from the Abercrombie River would attempt to ride Bobs. For the first time a performer called Saltbush Bill, the Whip King, from Victoria’s Gippsland, joined the show and was to give exhibitions in the cracking of a variety of whips, including stockwhips and at least one bullock whip of 55 feet (16.8 m) in length. Later there would be a court case between Martini and Saltbush Bill regarding the ownership of this extraordinary whip.