Grand National Ultimate History



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There were two more ploughed up pieces than last year.


We 1 Mar 1854 (3.46) 4m 3f Good 9.59.00 20 £795 W. Moseley

52 53 1 Bourton 11 11-12 H. Wadlow J. Tasker 4/1F   4th at 2nd. Chased leader in that position VB 1C, fruitfully as only 2L down in 2nd at Gorsed Hurdle. 4th again WJ (where 18 remained). Took 3rd early 2C. Travelled well and close up in 3rd ABC. Soon disputed lead and went ahead well before last. Won as liked.
  2 Spring 6 9-10   W. Archer 20/1 15 Chased leaders from 2nd, 5th VB 1C. Headway approaching Gorsed Hurdle, 3rd WJ. Dropped to 7th early 2C but close up in 4th ABC. Took 2nd just before last. Kept on but no threat to winner.
53 3 Crabbs 10 9-02 W. Fowler D. Wynne 10/1 10 Away well, disputed lead 1st then took up the running. Led until a bit before BB 1C where 2nd. 6L down in that position VB 1C. Faded into fore of mid-division by ABC, 6th WJ. Headway to dispute lead very early 2C. 2nd from 2nd fence 2C, close up in same position ABC. Soon disputed lead again but headed well before last where had dropped to 3rd. Weakened further.
52 53 4 Maley 7 9-10   J. Thrift 50/1   Away well & disputed lead 1st but only 6th at 2nd. Chased leaders in that position VB 1C. 5th from WJ, close up in same position ABC 2C. Plugged on one-paced to finish an indifferent 4th.
  5 Lady Arthur 8 9-10 T. Donaldson T. Donaldson 50/1   5th at 2nd. Took 3rd CT 1C, 12L off the pace VB. Closer in same position at Gorsed Hurdle. Gained lead with a big leap WJ. Joined immediately and disputed poll position until after the 1st fence 2C when dropped to 4th. Close up in 7th ABC. Plugged on very one-paced.
51 6 Half-And-Half 11 10-08 T. Olliver C. Green 8/1   Mid-division 1C, 12th WJ. Went lame early 2C and dropped to rear of midfield. Beaten in 9th ABC. Laboured on.
  7 Burnt Sienna   8-12 S. Bradshaw T. Burrows 25/1   Away well & disputed lead 1st, 2nd at 2nd. Keen and took lead a bit before BB 1C. 6L clear VB 1C. Advantage reduced to 2L by Gorsed Hurdle and outjumped WJ where a very close 2nd. Disputed lead again immediately and went back in front after the 1st fence 2C. Clear once more by BB. Began to fade mid CS and only narrowly ahead ABC. Soon headed, weakened very badly and lost several places.
  8 Geraldus 7 9-08   J. Debeau 50/1   Chased leaders 2nd. Hampered & caused to refuse by La Gazza Ladra at fence after BB 1C. Kept going, rallied and headway approaching Gorsed Hurdle, mid-division in 8th WJ. Effort told eventually 2C and a beaten 10th ABC. Continued to persist, may have finished lame.
49 50 51 52 53 9 Peter Simple(bay) 16 12-00 T. Olliver C. Boyce 12/1   Mid-division 2nd, still midfield in 9th WJ. 8th early 2C and headway to be close up in 6th ABC. No further progress and broke down badly in off fore a quarter of a mile from home. Limped on.
  P Peter   10-12 H. Oseland R. Sly jnr 20/1 LATE 2C Mid-division 2nd, still midfield in 11th WJ. 10th early 2C. Collided with Oscar fence before BB. Chased leaders vainly in 8th ABC. PU circa last.
52 P La Gazza Ladra 8 10-00   T. Abbot 50/1 LATE 2C Chased leaders 2nd. Refused fence after BB 1C causing mayhem. Kept going towards rear, 15th WJ. No impact of any kind 2C and PU circa last.
  P Star Of England 7 9-10   W. White 50/1 LATE 2C Rear of mid-division 2nd, further towards rear in 16th WJ. No impact 2C and PU circa last.
51 52 53 P Maurice Daley 9 9-10 T. Olliver T. Olliver 5/1 ABC 2C Always towards rear. Under pressure in 14th WJ. A beaten 11th ABC 2C. PU very soon after.
52 F Bedford(1) 8 10-04 G. Eatwell G. Eatwell 50/1 VB 2C Rear of mid-division 2nd. Mid to rear 13th WJ. Never a factor. Fell VB 2C. Broke leg. Dead.
  P Pride Of The North 7 9-08 T. Olliver R. James 50/1 MID 2C Towards rear 2nd. Had made modest headway when hampered & caused to refuse by La Gazza Ladra at fence after BB 1C. Kept going towards rear. Last but one WJ. PU mid 2C.
  P Shillibeer 6 9-04   E. Southwell 50/1 MID 2C Towards rear 2nd. Tailed off last WJ. PU mid 2C.
  F Cockcrow 6 9-08 R. Prince W. Maher 25/1 FNC AFT BB 2C 3rd at 2nd. Unable to hold position but chased leaders in 7th VB 1C and same position WJ. 6th early 2C. Fell at fence after BB 2C.
53 F Oscar 9 11-12 G. Dockeray S. Darling jnr 15/1 FNC BEF BB 2C Mid-division 2nd. Effort to chase leaders in 8th VB 1C but only a midfield 10th WJ. 9th early 2C and similar position when hampered by Peter & fell at fence before BB 2C.
  R Timothy 7 9-06 A. Sait H. Lamplugh 40/1 FNC AFT BB 1C Chased leaders 2nd. Hampered & caused to refuse by La Gazza Ladra at fence after BB 1C.
  R Royalty 5 9-04   J. Ennis 50/1 FNC AFT BB 1C Towards rear 2nd. Hampered & caused to refuse in melee fence after BB 1C.



Bourton's performance (alluded to in last year's discussion) apart we are now entrenched in a period of about a decade that is the worst in Grand National history. Steeplechasing in general had increased in popularity, indeed the crowd in 1854 was estimated at 30,000, however, a by-product of this was an array of issues that were exacerbated by the continued lack of a governing body. Due to clerks concerned only with profit making there were too many meetings, often badly organised and some on unsuitable courses. Expanded opportunity to race attracted rejects from the Flat and this further lowered the already declining overall quality of Jumps horses. A growing unwanted rowdy and criminal element came to prey on the crowds of Jumping enthusiasts. At Aintree, the behaviour of these rogues caused attendance to fall off a bit in some years. In 1854 the well fancied former winner and runner-up Miss Mowbray was scratched a little over an hour before the National, much to the indignation of the public and trainer George Dockeray, because she had been got at, her near fore blistered, by malevolent forces present on the track. The course itself contained a majority of small obstacles (see 1849) and there remained plenty of plough. Three quarters of the field for the 1854 renewal carried merely 10st 4lb or less. The low weights (no minimum, actual handicap mark allowed) played against the hunter-type of horse and favoured ex-Flat animals. Realistically, it was becoming near impossible for most of the top Jump jockeys to have a mount, they could not humanly waste the severe amount required. Furthermore, the Crimean War, which would break out later in 1854, depleted the stock of hunting/racing man traditionally associated with the Grand National. Even the brook at Becher's contained no water this year (and may have been narrower).

On Ash Wednesday, the now 16-y-o bay Peter Simple lined up for a sixth time, equalling the appearance record of his grey namesake. On unfavourable going he was always outpaced and, shamefully, persisted with until and after breaking down badly. We must now return again to the skirmish at first Becher's in 1852. After a year's absence from the Grand National the likely instigator of it La Gazza Ladra was back and there is a deep suspicion the horse was at it again, on this occasion at the fence after said Brook! Here La Gazza Ladra refused hampering Timothy, Geraldus, Pride Of The North and Royalty causing them to do likewise. In effect the chance of all five horses was ruined. Meanwhile, Bourton, who faded tamely following his involvement in the 1852 barging match and appeared so disenchanted by Aintree because of it that he refused in 1853, seemed a reformed character. The horse, who had once been called Upton, looked beforehand in improved condition in 1854 for his new trainer Henry Wadlow whom heretofore had not had many steeplechasers in his charge. In becoming the first clear favourite to win the National Bourton impressively gave 30lb to runner-up Spring and won by 15 lengths in the commonest of canters.

In reality Bourton beat very little. However, on similar Good going and facing an equal test of jumping his time was just half a second slower than that of Miss Mowbray in 1852 (raw performance rated -66) whilst carting 22lb more than had the mare. In addition there was much more plough in 1854 than two years earlier. A basic rating of -39, therefore, seems about right for Bourton. Furthermore, contemporary accounts suggest he had half a stone in hand so I will award Bourton a final mark of -32 for his effort, the best rating since St Leger's -24 in 1847 (beating Chandler's of the following year by 3 (pounds/lengths)). True, Half-And-Half, rated -74 in 1851, must have emerged at least that inferior to Bourton in the 1854 Grand National, however, the former ran with the recurrence of the injury that had caused his more recent absence for almost the entire second circuit. At the weights Bourton also came out a very healthy 45 superior to Spring (-84) and a whopping 63 better than Crabbs (-102).

Sadly, having been retired and sold as such after his great success Bourton was undeservedly forced to race again in 1855 by his new owner whereupon he suffered a fatal fall at Warwick. And this only six weeks following the death, as a result of a spill at the same course, of his partner in victory at Aintree, John Tasker. He was just 26.



> There is no mention of Royalty in any contemporary newspaper or modern source beyond Bell's Life's reference to the horse being towards the rear at the 2nd. However, a process of logical deduction suggests it is extremely likely that he was caught up in the melee at the fence after BB 1C and, like Timothy, did not continue. This is because the pair were the only animals not still going at the WJ and although not named (whereas the others involved in the incident were) Bell's Life refers to there being at least one other horse who refused at the fence after BB 1C.            





Copyright 2017 by Chris Dowling