To catch a tartar

to lay hold of, or encounter, a person who proves too strong for the assailant.

See also: Tartar

Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary, published 1913 by G. & C. Merriam Co.
References in periodicals archive ?
Unlucky to catch a tartar last time at Windsor, but pulled clear of third and fancied to go one better with race conditions in his favour.