Grand National Ultimate History



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Some obstacles were made less demanding this year (including the Trial fence). There were two hurdles to finish in 1838.


(Liverpool) Mo 5 Mar 1838 (2.00) 4m 4 1/2f Heavy 15.00.00 3 £55 A. McDonough

  1 Sir William(1) 8 12-07 A. McDonough A. McDonough 2/1JF   2nd when shied at the 1st (2nd element) and lost ground. In same position at end of 1C (where all 3 remained) although some way behind leader. Cast further adrift early 2C but began to make good headway from late CS and disputed lead second last. Ahead soon after. Easily.
  2 Scamp 5 11-12   Clarendon 3/1 15 Initially led but bolted in Sunken Lane & hesitant to jump 2nd element of 1st. Eventually cajoled over, well behind in 3rd and last. Headway from ABC 2C and a close 3rd at second last. Took 2nd after last. Kept on.
36 37 3 The Duke 9 12-07   Cpt M. Becher 2/1JF DIST Gifted lead 1st and went well clear. Extended advantage early 2C. Began to fade rapidly from ABC and joined second last. Headed just after. Mistake last and soon lost 2nd. Exhausted.



Unquestionably, interest and attendance was well down in 1838. The steeplechase had originally attracted merely five entries, perhaps because the amount of added (to entry fees) prize money was much reduced. This was due to Lynn's finances becoming strained and a lack of support from the Town Council (which may have been feeling pressure from animal welfare groups). It cannot have helped that this renewal was postponed from 20 February because of adverse weather which meant that, once again, it clashed with St. Albans. Following heavy rain on the days leading up to the rescheduled race the sun came out and turned the ground sticky. In the circumstances The Duke almost certainly went too fast, although there is some suggestion he may have broken down mid second circuit or temporarily lost his action later on. Scamp and Sir William, a light-made chestnut, still found the 1st demanding enough! The in and out obstacles at the Sunken Lane tended to be counted as one although not exclusively by contemporary publications which would lead to some confusion at times, palpably the second element of the jump (a ditch and bank) continued to perplex horses. Galway born Allen McDonough, who won the Tipperary Hunt Cup on his steeplechase debut, was now based in England and reckoned to be the only person capable of handling his brutish Sir William.

Notwithstanding the unsureness regarding some of the early Nationals, it is incredible that when the Aintree honours board was created (in 1894) it showed the 1838 race as being won by a non-existent horse at an already defunct course, ridden by a jockey who was 200 miles away! 



Copyright 2017 by Chris Dowling