Grand National Ultimate History



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We 2 Mar 1859 (3.40) 4m 3f Good 10.02.00 20 £820 Willoughby

  1 Half Caste 6 9-07 C. Green C. Green 7/1   Prominent. 5th at 1st, 4th BB 1C. Chased leaders in 6th ABC 1C, 5th (of 16) WJ. Headway to lead very early 2C. Took a pull & 3rd BB. Left ahead again 2 fences later. Mistake & knocked off top rail CT but still led ABC. Joined just before last. Narrowly prevailed following neck and neck battle.
56 57 2 Jean Du Quesne 11 9-09 H. Lamplugh H. Lamplugh 10/1 SHT NK Chased leaders 1st. 5th BB & ABC 1C, 4th WJ. 5th again BB 2C, inherited 3rd CT. Took 2nd soon after ABC. Ridden to challenge approaching last where disputed lead. Just lost out following neck and neck battle.
  3 Huntsman(1) 6 11-02 B. Land B. Land jnr 100/8 1 Chased leaders 1st, 8th BB 1C. 7th ABC 1C, a mid-division 9th WJ. 6th BB 2C, left 4th CT. Took 3rd soon after ABC and close up when poor jump last. Ran on.
57 4 Midge 9 9-04   D. Meaney 33/1 3 Chased leaders 1st, 6th BB 1C. Had dropped to a mid-division 10th by WJ. Headway early 2C and inherited 5th CT. Took 4th after ABC and every chance towards second last. Kept on relatively one-paced.
  5 Anatis 9 9-04 H. May T. Pickernell 25/1 6 Away well, 3rd at 1st. Chased leaders in 4th ABC 1C. 3rd again, 3L down, WJ where dropped hind legs in. 4th BB 2C. Left 2nd CT and same position ABC. Then began to weaken & fairly soon dropped to 5th. Finished sore.
  6 Orkousta   9-00 H. Hadley G. Stevens 33/1   Mid-division 1C, 11th WJ. Chased leaders BB 2C. 6th when mistake TTJ. Kept on to finish close up to 5th.
  7 Ghika 6 9-12 Hickling C. Boyce 20/1   Mid-division 1C, 8th WJ. 9th BB 2C, unable to make any impression on leaders and ultimately eased to a canter.
55 57 58 8 Escape 11 10-05   T. Donaldson 20/1   Rear of mid-division 1st. Became more prominent by BB 1C. Still fairly handy ABC 1C but only mid-division in 7th WJ. Very one-paced. 8th BB 2C. Ultimately weakened and finished tailed off.
  9R Ace Of Hearts(1) 5 9-12 Weatherall J. Ryan 25/1   Mid-division, tendency to carry head high. Headway after ABC 1C, 6th WJ. 7th BB 2C. Fell either at next or one after. Remounted well behind. Tried to rally but ultimately eased and finished tailed off.
55 56 57 58 10 Little Charley 11 10-11 W. Holman snr T. Burrows 14/1   Mid-division 1st. Always well outpaced and rear of same in 14th WJ. Lacked the speed to get into it, ultimately eased and finished tailed off.
  11 Jealousy 5 9-08 H. Lister J. Kendall 10/1   Prominent, 6th at 1st. Soon outpaced and a mid-division 13th WJ. Lost further ground 2C. Ultimately eased and finished tailed off.
  P Border Chief 7 9-10   R. Watling NQ LATE 2C Rear of mid-division 1st. Headway to chase leaders BB 1C but had dropped back to a midfield 12th WJ. Faded completely away 2C and eventually PU.
  F Gibraltar 5 9-00   T. Armstrong NQ VB 2C Rear of mid-division 1st. Fell into brook VB 1C. Remounted, tailed off, only to be badly hampered by The Brewer at next. Tried to rally but still tailed off WJ where left last. Fell VB 2C.
  B Flatcatcher   9-00 G. Eatwell T. Holmes NQ CT 2C Chased leaders 1st. Headway to be 3rd BB 1C. Same position ABC 1C. Soon disputed lead and did so at Gorsed Hurdle & WJ. 2nd BB 2C and still so when BD by rail dislodged by Half Caste CT.
58 F Xanthus 9 10-07 C. Balchin G. Balchin NQ FNC BEF CT 2C Away well, 2nd at 1st & took lead 2nd. Joined soon after ABC 1C, disputed lead Gorsed Hurdle & WJ. Headed very early 2C but allowed to go on again BB. Still ahead when fell heavily fence before CT.
58 P Claudius 7 10-00 J. Enoch T. Olliver NQ EARLY 2C Had bandaged leg. Slowly away, last 1st & raced alone in rear, totally outpaced. 15th WJ. Broke down & PU early 2C.
  F The Brewer 6 9-10   W. White 100/30F WJ Away well & led 1st. Headed 2nd and dropped into chasing group, 7th BB 1C. Chased leaders until fell fence after VB 1C & bridle came off. Reattached & remounted, tailed off. Well so in last approaching WJ where fell into the water.
  P Gipsy King 8 9-00   J. Edmunds NQ AFT ABC 1C Very free to post. Rear of mid-division 1st but keen and pulled way into 2nd BB 1C. Still 2nd ABC 1C. PU abruptly very soon after.
57 58 P Weathercock(2) 8 10-13 H. Hadley J. Enoch 33/1 ABC 1C Not look well & heavily bandaged. Rear of mid-division 1st and no impact made when broke down badly & PU ABC 1C.
54 F Spring 11 8-07 W. Tempest J. Nightingall 40/1 FNC AFT BB 1C One-eyed. Away well, 4th at 1st. Soon outpaced & had dropped to 9th by BB 1C. Fell heavily next.



The finish of the 1859 Grand National, enjoyed by all accounts by another record crowd, was the closest so far and there was drama too in the build-up to the race. Maybe it was unsurprising given the trends afflicting steeplechasing in the 1850s that there were those who wished, and acted upon their desire, to either remove or lessen the severity of some obstacles. The 4th Lord Sefton endeavoured successfully to correct this unruly mob action. Perhaps they were supporters of Half Caste because the horse had fallen on his only previous appearance in a chase! Equally inexperienced was the favourite The Brewer, a decent stayer on the Flat, who looked rough in his coat and performed as if he was wearing one! In contrast, Jean Du Quesne never looked better and managed to stay on faster going than that for his earlier attempts. Flatcatcher was unfortunate, most of the posts and rails had been done away with in 1848 yet the horse's encounter with a loose rail followed the incident in 1855 when Trout knocked down a post that tripped up Escape who in turn brought down Little Charley. The latter was totally outpaced on this year's ground, Sod's law for Burrows who was reunited with him. Claudius was an inglorious final National conveyance for Tom Olliver. Half Caste, who gave trainer Chris Green, patient and determined, his second winning ride, never ran in the National again or indeed do much of anything apparently. He was an entire but also a half breed and there is no record of him going to stud. Once again, the runners in 1859 were not a great bunch overall, however, looking ahead, Jealousy had suffered an overreach in training and probably shouldn't have run while Anatis may have injured herself at the Water and under 9st 4lb was very probably unlucky. And the pertinently-named Huntsman looked a proper steeplechaser and one of potential. He may well have won but for fluffing the last and came out decisively the best horse at the weights. The gradual return of sporting men because the Crimean War and Indian Mutiny were both over also gave hope for the future.

Huntsman's advantage was 20 (pounds/lengths) over Jean Du Quesne, 22 over Half Caste and 29 over Midge. Anatis finished sore so it is unfair to compute her performance. Of the subjects I mentioned in 1856, general athletic improvement will remain largely irrelevant until the quality of animal taking part in Grand Nationals recovers, however, whilst the -20 bottom rung of my Scroll Of Merit will not be threatened for roughly a decade the 1859 renewal serves as a good opportunity for a preamble about time comparison. It is only one element to consider when assessing form relatively but nevertheless a useful one, especially in the absence of collateral lines. All ratings, most certainly including mine, it's worth remembering are subjective best guesses. I have used a formula of 1lb = 1L even for the extreme distance of the Grand National because some leading modern ratings services do likewise (by my perusal). Other experts argue for 2/3lb or 1/3lb per length. But then there is disagreement too over the length of a horse! I have plumped for the generally accepted 8ft, some folk use 10ft. Confusingly, the official modern day calculation of how far horses are beaten has been called flawed, it's been said that a length is actually a unit of time masquerading as a distance and that computations do not take into account the different speeds at which horses finish. It is generally accepted that a horse travels 5L per second, however, at the National trip I'm aware of people using 4L, 3L and 2 1/2L. I tend towards the lower figures. 5L is a good overall guide but at the end of a staying race when distances are measured horses are certainly not travelling at that rate. The pace of a race, ease of victory and course changes are among the many factors that must be taken into account and, because distances and times are affected by the type of going, I find it best to employ time comparisons only between races run on a similar type of ground.

The 1859 renewal of the Grand National was one for which no serious collateral lines of form can be brought in, therefore, I will compare it with that of 1854, the most recent previous National also run on Good. Half Caste was 3s slower than had been Bourton (raw rating of -39) in 1854, at 3L per second a deficit of 9, and carried 33lb less for a total of 42. Thus Half Caste's potential mark is -81. However, two factors must be considered. Firstly, there was a little more plough in 1859 compared to 1854 and, more crucially, contemporary reports suggest the pace was rather moderate overall in the 1859 National. This is born out by Half Caste being able to take a pull before second Becher's, him being left ahead shortly afterwards and the first three home having plenty of running left in them late on. True, several horses were outpaced but this occured mainly on the first circuit, very possibly the going was on the quick side of Good (which might also help explain why Jean Du Quesne stayed so well), whereas there was a collapse in pace on the second. Of course, if the grass surface was on the fast side it slightly eradicates the extra plough factor but I feel the pace is the key and, on balance, I will allow 8 for the factors outlined to produce a raw rating for Half Caste of -73. This places Huntsman at -51, Jean Du Quesne at -71 and Midge at -80. Finally, I will uprate Half Caste 1 to -72 for his error at the Canal Turn and Huntsman 1 to -50 for his crucial poor jump at the last. I am satisfied these ratings reflect the general feeling gleaned from contemporary accounts.        





Copyright 2017 by Chris Dowling