Grand National Ultimate History



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Posts and rails were added to the gorsed hurdle situated before the WJ. The jump into the Sunken Lane was removed (leaving only the jump out of it which was now reduced to basically just a hedge) and the height of the lane raised somewhat (it would gradually become levelled out entirely).


We 28 Feb 1849 (4.00) 4m 3f Heavy (Soft places) 10.56.00 24 £825 F. Mason jnr

  1 Peter Simple(bay) 11 11-00 Tommy Cunningham Tommy Cunningham 20/1   Benefited from shambolic start and immediately led. Soon clear and increased advantage further between BB & CT 1C. Lead dwindled after ABC 1C and only 2L ahead WJ (where 21 remained). Well clear again by BB 2C. Still led TTJ. Ran on well, always holding runner-up. Comfortably.
  2 The Knight Of Gwynne 10 10-07 Cpt G. D'Arcy Cpt G. D'Arcy 8/1 3 Chased leaders 1C, 7th WJ. Same position BB 2C. Headway after VB and 2nd TTJ. Could procure no extra straight, always held.
  3 Prince George   10-10 T. Mason T. Olliver 4/1F DIST Benefited from shambolic start but held on to. Fore of mid-division WJ. 3rd BB 2C and took 2nd soon after. Had dropped back to 3rd by TTJ. Weakened badly soon after it. No more to give so eased.
  P Alfred 5 10-06 D. Wynne D. Wynne 12/1 LAST Prominent by ABC 1C, less so WJ. Up to 5th BB 2C. 4th TTJ. Weakened, slowed to a walk. Could have finished 4th but did not bother to jump last.
48 P Chandler 13 12-02 T. Eskrett Cpt J. Little NQ LAST Became prominent by WJ where 5th. 6th BB 2C. Remained in contention until CS then began to fade, heavily eased and did not bother to jump last.
48 P British Yeoman 9 11-04   C. Bevill 12/1 LAST Mid to rear 1C. Unable to get into serious contention. Towards rear BB 2C. Laboured on until eased and did not bother to jump last.
  P Mulligan 5 11-02 L. Keegan W. Ford NQ ABC 2C Handy by ABC 1C, less so WJ. Became very prominent early 2C and in 2nd, behind clear leader, BB. Began to fade not long after and PU circa ABC.
  F The Victim   10-11   W. Taylor NQ 2 FNCS AFT VB 2C Fore of mid-division WJ. Became more prominent early 2C, 4th BB. In similar position when fell mid CS.
  F Arab Robber 6 11-02 D. Wynne W. Phillips NQ MID CS 2C Initially towards rear. Mid to rear WJ. 9th and last of those remaining BB 2C. Fell mid CS.
48 P Khondooz 9 9-10   H. Rackley NQ BB 2C Mid to rear WJ. Further towards rear and well beaten when PU BB 2C.
48 F The Curate 9 11-11   H. Powell 7/1 4TH FNC 2C Disadvantaged by shambolic start. Rousted and fore of mid-division WJ. Became more prominent early 2C. 2nd when fell 4th fence 2C. Broke back. Dead.
48 F Wolverhampton(1)   11-05 B. Bretherton B. Bretherton 12/1 4TH FNC 2C Hampered 2nd. Mid to rear WJ. In similar place when fell 4th fence 2C.
  F Equinox   9-12   W. Maloney NQ 3RD FNC 2C Prominent in main pack chasing clear leader after BB 1C. Took 2nd mid CS 1C. Closed on leader after ABC 1C. 2L down in 2nd at WJ. Still towards fore when fell 3rd fence 2C. Broke back. Dead.
  F Chatham 10 10-06   J. Frisby 20/1 3RD FNC 2C Became prominent by WJ where 3rd. Still fairly handy when fell 3rd fence 2C.
47 B Ballybar 9 9-12   H. Bradley NQ 3RD FNC 2C Became prominent by WJ where 4th and still fairly handy when BD by Equinox 3rd fence 2C.
  F Coriander   10-06   J. Daly NQ 3RD FNC 2C Mid to rear 1C. Midfield when fell 3rd fence 2C.
47 48 B Jerry(2) 15 10-04   J. Walker NQ 3RD FNC 2C Mid-division until refused Sunken Lane fence. Kept going, towards rear, and had regained some ground when BD by Ballybar in melee at 3rd fence 2C.
  P Napoleon 6 10-08   W. Archer 50/1 EARLY 2C Prominent until became a clear 2nd in pursuit of clear leader after BB 1C. Began to lose position late CS 1C, 5th or worse ABC. Mid to rear WJ. Faded further, tired & beaten when PU early 2C.
  P Sir John(1) 11 10-10 V. Sharkey V. Sharkey NQ EARLY 2C Unable to get properly into race. Towards rear WJ and PU early 2C.
  P Tipperary Boy(1) 5 10-09   G. Darby NQ EARLY 2C Unable to get properly into race. Towards rear WJ and PU early 2C.
  R Proceed   11-11   Cpt W. Peel 7/1 SL Benefited from shambolic start and prominent in main pack chasing clear leader after BB 1C, 6th WJ. Persistently refused jump out of Sunken Lane.
  P The Iron Duke 5 11-00 D. Wynne T. Abbot NQ TTJ 1C Towards rear until PU TTJ 1C.
  F Kilfane   11-00 T. Harrison J. Neale NQ 4TH Rather keen and very prominent when fell 4th. Broke thigh. Dead.
48 B Sparta   8-12   C. Wakefield NQ 4TH Benefited from shambolic start. Tracked leaders until BD by the prone Kilfane at the 4th.



What a shambles! A group of over enthusiastic jockeys tried to anticipate the fall of the flag. The starter, the 3rd Lord Sefton, recalled them. Whether some of them didn't hear him due to crowd noise or whether some just plain disobeyed him is uncertain, however, whilst those who had not initially misbehaved and those who had trangressed but now heeded Sefton's invitation to a conference milled around an unidentified person gave a starting signal and all partnerships set off. Recall methods completely failed this time and to say the field was fragmented is an understatement. A distinctly unfair advantage was gained by the few who had not come fully back from the original break. The chief beneficiaries appear to have been Peter Simple, Prince George and Proceed. It was unquestionably a false start and the 1849 Grand National should have been declared void but it seems either no such provision existed in a still unregulated sport or if one did nobody had the guts to apply it. There is no record that trainer/jockey Tom Cunningham and his colleagues who also jumped the gun were disciplined in any way.

In contrast, Captain D'Arcy on the runner-up, The Knight Of Gwynne, was banned from future Liverpool meetings by Lord Sefton for attemping to bribe the winning jockey on the run in. Cunningham, who would die in a riding accident in 1871, would have none of it. His mount, the bay Peter Simple, had a touch of the slows but, having stolen a march, jumped excellently and galloped relentlessly to victory. Peter Simple relished the going, however, the winning time indicates it was not as testing as that of 1848. The impression is gained that several of the horses disadvantaged at the start used up all their energy endeavouring to catch up and had nil left at the business end. Others who were unjustly left on their back hooves could not get into the race at all. There was a melee at the third fence on the second circuit (the second obstacle on the first), to further clarify: the ill-fated Equinox and Chatham were very prominent when falling independently; having been just behind, Ballybar tumbled over the prostrate Equinox; Coriander then fell while midfield; Jerry was brought down by Ballybar. For the second consecutive year there were, unfortunately, three fatalities. At least four of the six deaths occurred at mere eighteen inch high banks. The dual theory was advanced that these obstacles were the same colour as the fields leading to them (horses are colour blind) and were arguably too small to be worthy of the respect of animals familiar with the larger jumps elsewhere on the course. However, little appears to have been done about it.

The farcically chaotic beginning to the 1849 National renders the form vitually worthless. For example, Chandler, had both not pulled up at the last, would have emerged superior to British Yeoman as he had done in 1848 and it's extremely likely that both were well beaten this year purely due to the unfair advantage gained by Peter Simple so no year on year comparison can be made. Similarly, The Knight Of Gwynne came out 10 (pounds/lengths) inferior to the sham 1849 winner but can only be rated at least Peter Simple's equal. The quality of steeplechasing was beginning to decline and the National weight range continued to trend lower as a whole. Bearing this in mind and glancing to the future my best judgement is that Peter Simple (bay), and, therefore, The Knight Of Gwynne, was about a stone inferior to his grey namesake - this despite the bay version ultimately triumphing twice and Peter Simple (grey) not having tasted National success. As I rated the latter -26 this makes Peter Simple (bay) and The Knight Of Gwynne -40.



> Contemporary reports, and thus modern historians, are particularly severely at odds with each other regarding certain aspects of this renewal. I have mainly placed my faith in Bell's Life, the trade paper, as opposed to a regular newspaper such as the Morning Advertiser. The latter, for example, appears to totally omit the 2nd to 7th placed horses when listing the order at the WJ, marking it as unreliable in the extremis. Some historians believe there were three more finishers: 4th Alfred, 5th Mulligan, 6th The Iron Duke and the official record (quoted in Reg Green's 1988 book) has: 4th Alfred, 5th Chandler, 6th British Yeoman. However, my interpretation is as follows. Bell's Life is quite clear that Alfred "could have been fourth but walked in with Mulligan and The Iron Duke." This implies that Alfred did not jump the last hurdle because his trainer/jockey, Denny Wynne (who also trained The Iron Duke) had decided not to see the race out, instead preferring (as Bell's Life earlier puts it) to be joined and come up the course together with two horses who had pulled up. Mulligan began to fade as early as second Becher's and was, I believe, PU circa ABC 2C while The Iron Duke "stopped" (according to Bell's Life which consistently uses the word in respect of other horses who pulled up and did not continue) at the adjacent Table Top Jump a circuit earlier. It is not inexplicable that The Iron Duke hung around that spot, waiting for the field to come round again, before walking in but it is impossible to credit that, having not been listed by Bell's Life among the nine remaining runners at BB 2C (a list that makes sense based on what we know happened before and after that point), he came from an out of sight position, caught and passed several horses and wound up disputing 4th with Alfred. But why, I hear you ask, does the official record have not only the latter beast but also Chandler and British Yeoman as finishers? The explanation is that the Distance Judge would record all the horses he could see (in the finishing straight) at the moment the leader passed him. He was making an early call and in this case did so anticipating those three horses would jump the last. And while he went off for a stiff brandy or something the trusty Bell's Life reporter stayed put and watched the jockeys on the trio all decline to leap it! Furthermore, the fact that the Distance Judge at the time he made his call could see Alfred, Chandler and British Yeoman but obviously not Mulligan and The Iron Duke confirms the latter pair had already pulled up. Nice of Alfred to wait for them.

> There is a possibility that Wolverhampton fell at the 3rd fence on the second circuit rather than the next.                              





Copyright 2017 by Chris Dowling