Grand National Ultimate History



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There was much less plough this year. The gorsed hurdle was strengthened.


We 7 Mar 1860 (3.22) 4m 3f Good 9.53.00 19 £720 C. Capel

59 1 Anatis 10 9-10 H. May T. Pickernell 7/2F   Prominent. Cut corner CT 1C to move into 2nd. Close 2nd (of 14) WJ. Still in that position BB 2C. Cut corner again CT & took lead. 2L ahead ABC. Very narrow advantage last where slight mistake but momentum unchecked and rival made more serious error. Ran on but ultimately had to be coaxed home under pressure.
59 2 Huntsman(1) 7 11-08 B. Land Cpt T. Townley 33/1 1/2 Initially chased leaders. More prominent in 4th CS 1C and 3L down in same position WJ. Still 4th when very bad mistake BB 2C & rider lost irons. Recovered well and close 3rd ABC. Took 2nd entering straight. Only very narrowly behind last where mistake & rider lost one iron. Rallied under pressure but unable to quite get up.
58 59 3 Xanthus 10 10-00 C. Balchin G. Balchin 10/1 6 Prominent until led briefly after 2nd. 3rd BB 1C. Left in lead again next. Clear at ABC 1C but steadied towards Gorsed Hurdle and only a narrow advantage WJ. Not headed until outjumped CT 2C. 2L down in 2nd ABC. Dropped to 3rd entering straight. Kept on, relatively one-paced and finished tired.
  4 Redwing(2) 10 10-08   Rourke NQ 6 Mid-division. Became fairly prominent CS 1C, 5th WJ. Dropped towards rear early 2C, 11th BB. Rallied to chase leaders in 8th ABC. Good headway after it to take 4th.
  5 Linkboy   8-12   W. Bevill 12/1 20 Mid-division 1C, 9th WJ. Headway to chase leaders in 6th BB 2C. Still pursued them in 5th ABC. No impression and eased to a canter late on.
  6 Bridegroom 8 10-06 R. Day Rev E. Tyrrwhitt-Drake NQ   Mid-division. 8th WJ. 9th but chased leaders BB 2C. Continued to pursue them in 6th ABC. Unable to make any impression and divine intervention not forthcoming. Plodded on.
  7 Brunette(2) 7 12-00 H. Lister J. Kendall 100/6   Prominent. 7th BB 1C, 6th WJ. Unable to maintain position 2C and merely chased leaders in 8th BB. Still pursuing them, rather forlornly, in 7th ABC. Plodded on.
  8 Maria Agnes 6 9-08 T. Golby G. Stevens 10/1   Prominent, 6th BB 1C. Had dropped to a mid-division 11th by WJ. Improved position by taking bend onto 2C well. Chased leaders in 5th BB. Still pursued them in 4th ABC but began to fade soon after and ultimately weakened badly.
57 P Horniblow   10-10   J. Enoch NQ ABC 2C Slowly away & rearmost until BB 1C. Tailed off last WJ. Good progress early 2C and a mid-division 10th BB but struggling again by CT and eventually PU circa ABC.
  P Shylock   9-05   T. Clay 25/1 ABC 2C Chased leaders until badly hampered by the fall of Flatcatcher at the fence after BB 1C & dropped towards rear. Tailed off last but one WJ. Very minor headway early 2C but still had only one behind BB 2C and comprehensively beaten by CT. PU circa ABC.
  P Sepoy   9-00 C. Green C. Green NQ ABC 2C Chased leaders, 7th WJ & BB 2C. Then began to lose ground and struggling by CT. PU circa ABC.
  F Telegram 7 9-09 T. Taylor G. Palmer 100/7 FNC AFT BB 2C Away well & very early leader briefly. 4th BB 1C. 3rd CS 1C and close up in same position WJ. Still extremely handy when fell heavily fence after BB 2C.
58 P Little Tom 10 10-02 C. Balchin W. White 7/1 FNC AFT BB 2C Mid-division 1C, 10th WJ. Dropped towards rear early 2C and 12th when went lame upon landing over BB 2C. PU soon after.
  P Goldsmith 8 10-10 B. Land B. Land jnr 100/6 FNC AFT BB 2C Prominent until took lead circa 3rd. Still ahead when swerved & fell at fence after BB 1C. Remounted, towards rear. Well so in 12th WJ. 14th & last BB 2C. Gave up the ghost soon after.
  RO Kilcock 6 10-00   D. Meaney NQ GH Prominent. 5th BB 1C. In similar position when swerved to right & ran out at Gorsed Hurdle.
  P Sir Robert   10-02 W. Scott C. Boyce 33/1 GH Always towards rear. Dropped to last BB 1C. Completely outpaced thereafter and tailed off when PU Gorsed Hurdle.
59 F Flatcatcher   9-04 G. Eatwell G. Eatwell NQ FNC AFT BB 1C Prominent. Very much so in 2nd BB 1C. Fell heavily next.
  R Congreve   9-00   W. Gammage NQ 2ND Away well & soon led. Refused 2nd.
  R Miss Harkaway 7 9-08 C. Green F. Lotan NQ 2ND Mid to rear, refused 2nd.



The Cheltenham racing set struck again as the powerful Anatis became the third winning mare and opened a lustrum of female domination. It was a second and final Grand National training success for Harry May and undoubtedly his finest because, although a solid leaper with a turn of foot, Anatis suffered from perpetually fragile legs and had finished sore in the 1859 renewal (despite which she ran a total of eight times in 1859, performing well at Worcester and Hereford in the autumn). Furthermore, she set a new course record by 4.5s while carrying just 2lb less than had the previous holder, Abd-El-Kader, in 1850. An ingredient in the mare's fast time and victory was Tommy Pickernell's daring and expert skill in saving ground on the inside at the Canal Turn on both circuits. Pickernell numbered among those jockeys tutored by William Holman senior who had taken over May's old yard (and the latter's 1858 winner Little Charley) by early 1859.

Jockeyship played a large role in the outcome of the 1860 Grand National. Steeplechase aficionados having eagerly anticipated their return, one veteran of the Crimea, Captain Thomas Manners Townley, did not exactly cover himself in glory! Whilst Tommy Pickernell was rewarded with his first National win for repeating the corner cutting exploits he had first tried on Anatis in 1859, and which were arguably innovated by Alec Goodman on British Yeoman in 1856, Townley twice lost irons on the gallant runner-up Huntsman who was narrowly denied for the second consecutive year. Once more, Huntsman was giving lumps of weight away (to all bar Brunette, a similar hunter type) and yet again the entire blundered at the last, where Townley misplaced a stirrup. Earlier, both irons were flapping at second Becher's as a result of a terrible error by the rather clumsy partnership. In fairness to his rider, Huntsman was meant to be a mere pacemaker (hence his 33/1 odds) for stable companion Goldsmith, to whom the trainer's son had switched but was unable to restrain from leading prior to falling at the 6th. However, Townley did not ride in a National again, partly because he was banned for a period by the 4th Lord Sefton for trying to bribe Pickernell on the run in. Although Townley may have shouted in jest he was not averse to sharp practices in races, poor manners indeed! Little Tom ran as Tease and Flatcatcher as The Curate.

The reader is forgiven if expecting a hugely significant year-on-year improvement across the board in performance ratings by virtue of a new course record time being set, sometimes that may be the case but, remember, time comparison is only one element of assessing form and I have mentioned many times already the importance of pace and other factors. We do not have to compare directly to Abd-El-Kader (raw rating of -69 in 1850) because calculations for 1859 already reflect the ensuing changes (via 1854) relating to obstacles. This element and the going appear to have been roughly similar for the 1860 Grand National to what they were in 1859 and both finishes were close ones. Simply, Anatis ran 9s faster than had Half Caste (raw -73) last year while carrying 3lb more. At 3 lengths per second this translates to 30 (pounds/lengths) better which would place the mare at -43! Strictly at the weights in 1860 Huntsman emerged 25 superior to Anatis and 28 ahead of Xanthus. However, whilst Huntsman was entitled to have improved from age 6 to age 7 I do not believe he advanced from -50 to -18. Nor do I think Xanthus, whom I rated -79 with the proviso that he was eased to a canter in 1858 on Heavy, improved to -46, especially as he was essentially one-paced and now racing on Good. In fact, there are three things which explain why the winning time in 1860 was a lot quicker than that of 1859. Firstly, there was much less plough this year. Secondly, contemporary newspapers also say the pace in 1860 was first-rate throughout. In 1859 Green on Half Caste was able to take a pull at second Becher's, was then left in the lead (by Xanthus) two fences later and erred at the next (Canal Turn). In 1860 Xanthus led until outmanoeuvred by Anatis at the latter point and finished over six lengths adrift which indicates the mare upped the pace whereas it had collapsed a year earlier. This certainly reflects credit upon the principals of 1860 but not to the degree over those of 1859 suggested by the pure time comparison. And thirdly, Pickernell saved time by cutting the corner at the Canal Turn on both circuits. Tommy's action is a prime example of an advancement of jockey skill and, although the least important of the three elements having a bearing on the winning time in this case, jockey skill is a component of my concept of general athletic improvement (mentioned in 1856) which will be properly introduced in 1868. When comparing a race in which general athletic improvement is present to an earlier race it gives the performances in the more recent race an unfair advantage which must be accounted for.

So, by how much should Anatis's pure time calculation superiority of 30 over Half Caste be reduced to allow for the three factors discussed above? I will say by 24 to give her a final rating of -67. She was, after all, one of the nine stone brigade. Furthermore, if doing the comparison with Abd-El-Kader, Anatis emerges purely 11 better and only elements two (to some degree) and three apply, therefore, a deduction of 9 to leave her 2 better than 'Little Ab' seems about right. In addition, Xanthus ran a very similar race to his of 1858 apart from not being eased in 1860 thus a betterment of 9 to -70 would seem to be as far as we can go. And finally Huntsman, who was a rare light and one shining ever brighter in the National's poorest era, I think it is reasonable to assume had anything from half a stone to a stone (rather than 32lb) of improvement from 1859 in him and receives a raw rating, 8 better than last year, of -42. However, I will allow Huntsman, who could so easily have already been a dual winner, 5 for his mistakes and Townley's equipment problems. With better assistance Huntsman may well have performed to -37, threatening Bourton's -32 in 1854. Contemporary sources felt that Huntsman's effort in the 1860 Grand National stamped him as "the greatest living steeplechaser" (Sporting Life) and "without doubt the best steeplechaser we have" (The Era).     






Copyright 2017 by Chris Dowling