Grand National Ultimate History



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The 3rd obstacle on each circuit in 1837 was known as the Trial fence, it consisted of a wide ditch attached to a 6ft high bank with a small hedge on top. There is no mention of a WJ and there were three hurdles to finish this year.


(Liverpool) We 1 Mar 1837 (1.30) 4m 4 1/2f Good 14.20.00 4 £150 T. Chawner

36 1 The Duke 8 12-00 W. Sirdefield H. Potts 6/1   Chased leader in 2nd until refused 1st (2nd element), kept going well behind. Joined refusing trio at 3rd where also initially declined, however, kept going at second attempt and temporarily left alone. Well clear (3 remained at end of 1C) and eased to trot latter stages.
  2 The Disowned 7 12-00 A. McDonough A. McDonough 3/1 12 Chased leader until refused 3rd. Eventually kept going, utterly tailed off. Far too much to do but allowed to close the gap by easing winner late on.
  3 Dan O'Connell(1) 7 12-00 J. Knaresborough J. Knaresborough 4/5F DIST Immediately led and still ahead when persistently refused 3rd. Eventually ridden around the outside of the obstacle. Continued in vain, beyond utterly tailed off.
  U Zanga 7 12-00   J. Devine 12/1 4TH Chased leader until refused 3rd. Eventually kept going, utterly tailed off, only to wilfully UR next.



It is unclear whether or not Lynn meant for the race title to be changed but it was most commonly referred to in the contemporary press as just Liverpool without the Grand. There were only 4 runners because he scheduled the race too close to (a day after) the St. Albans fixture. Furthermore, Liverpool still could not be reached by rail from the midlands and points southwards. It was easier for Dan O'Connell, probably the best current Irish chaser, to visit Aintree. Another consequence was the absence of the leading jockeys, only one of last year's riders returned. Welshman Henry Potts was the lucky beneficiary. The Duke, leased for the day by Thomas Chawner, was clearly a fortunate winner in 1837 (having been the initial horse to refuse), however, the first dual victor was deemed as good as any steeplechaser in the north. The Duke's winning time was 52 seconds quicker than the previous year's despite his initial reluctance and later being eased, therefore, the ground, reportedly in excellent order (apart, of course, from the sections of plough), must have been a lot better than the Heavy going of 1836. 

Although well attended on the day (circa 10,000) the small field of 1837 and the rather farcical race that ensued may have contributed towards less interest and anticipation being displayed for the 1838 renewal.  

































Copyright 2017 by Chris Dowling