Grand National Ultimate History



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There was a still greater quantity of non-grass fields this year.


We 7 Mar 1855 (4.25) 4m 3f Soft 10.25.00 20 £730 J. Dennis

  1 Wanderer 10 9-08 J. Hanlon J. Hanlon 25/1   Prominent 2nd. Disputed lead VB 1C. Handy 5th (of 19) WJ. Took 3rd before Proceed's Lane and 2nd towards 3rd fence 2C. Led approaching BB. Joined briefly shortly after VB. Still in front at ABC. Headed soon after, rider took a pull and dropped to 3rd. 2L down in that position last. Pounced just after 2 rivals blundered at final hurdle and ahead halfway up the run in. Ran on well, cosily.
  2 Freetrader 6 9-04   D. Meaney 50/1 2 Prominent 2nd. 5th VB 1C. Chased leaders in 6th WJ. Same position very early 2C. Rapid headway to lead before 3rd fence 2C. Headed approaching BB where 2nd. 3rd VB, 2nd again ABC and took 2L lead soon after. Quickly joined and a very close 2nd when mistake last. Shaken off halfway up the run in. Kept on.
51 52 53 54 3 Maurice Daley 10 9-06 T. Olliver R. James 20/1 Prominent 2nd. 9th VB 1C. Chased leaders in 7th WJ. Same position early 2C. Progress to be 2nd VB. A close 3rd ABC. Soon made further headway to dispute lead. Very narrowly ahead last where mistake. Struggled to regain momentum, soon headed & relegated to 3rd. Slightly faded.
  4 Janus 7 9-10   H. Lamplugh 33/1 DIST Chased leaders 2nd. 7th VB 1C. Fore of mid-division in 10th WJ. 9th early 2C. 7th VB 2C and further progress CS to be a close 4th ABC. Unable to go with first 3 after. Plodded on very one-paced to finish a bad 4th.
  5 Dangerous   9-00 W. Fowler W. Fowler 6/1   Prominent 2nd. 8th VB 1C. Same position, in fore of mid-division, WJ & early 2C. 5th VB and close up in that position ABC. Tired and weakened badly thereafter. Finished well behind Janus.
54 6 Burnt Sienna   9-00 S. Bradshaw T. Burrows 50/1   Slowly away. Towards rear BB 1C. A midfield 13th WJ. 8th VB 2C. Still mid-division in 7th ABC. Lumbered on. Never nearer.
  The Nugget   10-04 H. Wadlow W. White 50/1   Initially mid to rear. Fore of midfield in 11th WJ. 9th VB 2C. 8th but in rear-division ABC. Laboured on well tailed off to win private bet versus Garland.
  8 Garland   10-02   R. Sly jnr 33/1   Disputed lead from 2nd until headed after CT 1C. 4th VB 1C and struggled on heavy plough CS but rallied to dispute lead again Gorsed Hurdle and leapt 1/2L ahead WJ. Dropped back to 4th before Proceed's Lane. Continued to fade and under pressure by CT 2C. 9th but in rear-division ABC. Laboured on well tailed off but lost private bet versus The Nugget.
  9 Boundaway 6 10-00 J. Hanlon J. Byrne 50/1   Prominent 2nd. 6th VB 1C. Handy 4th WJ. Took 2nd before Proceed's Lane. 4th again VB 2C. Headway to dispute lead briefly shortly after but dropped back again mid CS. Continued to fade badly and ultimately eased to a walk. Completely tailed off.
  P Trout   10-12 H. Wadlow J. Tasker 3/1F BEF LAST Disputed lead from 2nd until headed after CT 1C. 3rd VB & WJ where very close up. Dropped to 5th before Proceed's Lane. Still prominent when mistake at fence before CT 2C, knocking down a post. 6th VB. Began to weaken CS, still 6th but in midfield ABC. Continued to fade and PU well before last.
  P Bastion 7 10-04 T. Olliver T. Olliver 15/1 BEF LAST Chased leaders 2nd. Headway to dispute lead from VB 1C until outjumped & 1/2L 2nd WJ. Regained lead going out onto 2C. Headed before 3rd fence 2C but still very prominent when slipped & fell next. Remounted, tailed off, and under pressure by CT. Unable to get back into it and PU well before last.
52 53 54 P Maley 8 9-06 J. Grierson Fulman 50/1 BEF LAST Initially mid to rear. Fore of mid-division in 12th WJ. 10th VB 2C. Dropped towards rear CS and PU well before last.
  B Escape 7 10-04 W. Saunders J. Knott 50/1 FNC BEF CT 2C Initially mid to rear. Fore of mid-division in 9th WJ. Similar position when BD by the post dislodged by Trout at fence before CT 2C.
  B Little Charley 7 9-04 H. May D. Wynne 20/1 FNC BEF CT 2C Mid-division BB 1C. Had dropped towards rear by WJ where 15th, however, rallied and had regained midfield when BD by Escape at fence before CT 2C.
  F Needwood 8 11-02 B. Land W. Feek 12/1 FNC BEF CT 2C Chased leaders 2nd. Badly hampered mid 1C and towards rear in 17th WJ where slow jump. No significant improvement when fell fence before CT 2C.
52 53 F Miss Mowbray 10 11-06 J. Scott S. Darling jnr 4/1 BB 2C Mid-division BB 1C. Had dropped towards rear by WJ where 16th. However, good progress early 2C and 5th when took off too soon & fell BB. Broke neck & back. Dead.
54 P Peter   11-04   T. Ablett 20/1 EARLY 2C Mid to rear. Fell at fence before CT 1C. Remounted, last but one WJ. PU early 2C.
51 54 P Half-And-Half 12 10-04 C. Rolph G. Darby 50/1 EARLY 2C Towards rear BB 1C. 19th & last WJ. Broke down & PU early 2C.
  P Cutaway   9-10 A. Sait C. Boyce 50/1 EARLY 2C Mid-division 1C, 14th WJ. Broke down & PU early 2C.
  P Pimpern   9-08 H. May E. Weever 50/1 GH Fell & remounted 3 times 1C. Utterly tailed off and mercifully called it a day before reaching Gorsed Hurdle.



The twentieth edition of the Grand National undoubtedly featured the worst field to have started to this point. The poor quality of the 1855 renewal, one that took place in the rain having been postponed for a week due to a snowy and frosty winter, was exacerbated, as would be the case in many future Nationals, by the calibre of the finishers being lower than the whole. The three horses who fought out the finish, well clear of the rest, were all in the mid-9 stone range. Nothing with any pretension to decent ability got round, the highest weighted horse to complete the course (bothering to do so merely to win a wager) being The Nugget carrying 10st 4lb. (Bastion, under the same weight in the form of Olliver, may have been unlucky because a slip caused the horse to fall.) Dangerous, a well beaten fifth, was just 6/1 - on his Jumps debut! Of those who didn't finish, Half-And-Half, persisted with when going lame early on the second circuit following an injury absence last year, was clearly a crock for he broke down again at roughly the same spot (thankfully this time being pulled up). Bearing in mind this was the National's weakest era, Pimpern's performance of consistent ineptitude arguably marks him down as the race's worst ever runner. And the winner, Wanderer, only took part to keep his stable companion Boundaway in good humour (the pair had different owners whom, however, may well have been related). Astoundingly Wanderer, benefiting from a mature ride by his trainer John Hanlon, jumped and stayed best, and this despite being described by a correspondent of Bell's Life as a "rough, undersized, common looking hunter"!

The 1855 Grand National was marred by the death of the former victor, and top weight, Miss Mowbray, the first previous winner to subsequently be killed in a later renewal. The mare's jockey, Sam Darling junior, was knocked unconscious in her fall but brought round when tapped on the back of his neck by a following horse! Rated -46 for her runner-up effort of 1853 (the year following her triumph) on reasonably similar ground to that of 1855, Miss Mowbray was not out of contention when falling fatally, however, she would have had to improve again to successfully give 26lb to Wanderer based on computations involving Maurice Daley. Whilst I rated the latter -79, only 15 (pounds/lengths) inferior to Miss Mowbray, in 1852, Maurice Daley had failed to replicate the mare's later betterment and neither did he in 1855. In fact with this year's going, Soft overall composed of grass that was on the easy side of Good and plough that was sticky and holding, being vastly different to the Good ground of 1852 and there being lots more plough than that year, there was genuine concern that Maurice Daley (who carried the same weight in both years) wouldn't stay. And, notwithstanding that he looked in better condition than ever, he did indeed finish weakly. Therefore, I believe Maurice Daley at best ran a similar race to his of 1852, should again receive a raw rating of -79 and thus this figure can be employed as a basis to calculate the value of the performances in 1855. At the weights Wanderer emerged 6 superior to Freetrader and 9 better than Maurice Daley but it is not entirely that straightforward. The latter and Freetrader both erred at the last so I will uprate each of them 1 while Wanderer won cosily, therefore, I will award him an extra 2. This produces final ratings of -78 for Maurice Daley, -75 in respect of Freetrader and -68 for Wanderer. Theoretically, then, at the weights Miss Mowbray would have finished four lengths behind Wanderer whose effort, nevertheless, was the worst best performance in any National so far.    





Copyright 2017 by Chris Dowling