Grand National Ultimate History



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Posts and rails were added back to several of the small bank fences.


We 12 Mar 1862 (3.29) 4m 3f Good (Good to Firm places) 9.30.00 13 £910 Viscount de Namur

59 60 1 Huntsman(1) 9 11-00 H. Lamplugh H. Lamplugh 3/1F   Always fairly prominent. 4th BB 1C. Took 3rd just after ABC 1C, 4th again (of 8) WJ. A close 2nd early 2C. 3rd once more approaching ABC, however, left 2nd again immediately after. Waited with. Customary error at last but quickened straight after and soon ahead. Very comfortably in common canter.
60 61 2 Bridegroom 10 10-13 R. Day B. Land jnr 10/1 4 Away well, disputed lead 1st and always very prominent. 2nd BB 1C & WJ. Gifted lead 1st fence 2C. Joined very briefly ABC but left in lead again immediately after, however, twas on sufferance and comprehensively outpaced after last.
57 3 Romeo 12 8-12 C. Bennett C. Bennett 100/8 20 Chased leaders, 6th BB 1C. Became more prominent after VB 1C, 3rd WJ. Remained very handy and took 2nd approaching ABC 2C where came to dispute lead briefly until went wrong side of flag immediately after. Retraced steps and rallied to give game but vain pursuit, however, did get back up for 3rd run in.
58 59 60 61 4 Xanthus 12 9-08 C. Balchin R. Sherrard 25/1 2 1/2 Away well, disputed lead 1st. 3rd BB 1C, 5th WJ. Outpaced from before CT 2C but still 5th CS. Left a distant 3rd soon after ABC. Plodded on but lost that position run in.
  P Harry 6 9-05 T. Golby G. Stevens 10/1 AFT ABC 2C Prominent, 5th BB 1C. Good headway CS, took lead ABC 1C and still ahead WJ. Bad mistake & headed 1st fence 2C. 4th but outpaced from before CT. Mistake & went lame TTJ. Lost action & PU not all that long after.
59 60 61 P Anatis 12 10-12 H. May T. Pickernell 9/1 LATE CS 2C Chased leaders, 7th BB 1C. 6th WJ. Outpaced from before CT 2C and PU late CS.
  P Bucephalus(2) 7 10-09 T. McGrillon T. McGrillon 100/7 CS 2C Slowly away & towards rear 1st. Well so when very badly hampered by the refusing The Tattler at the fence after BB 1C. Tailed off last but one WJ. Last on 2C until eventually PU CS.
  P The Poet 6 8-12   C. Gaff NQ END 1C Dwelt & already well rearmost when refused 1st. Kept going, well tailed off in last. No change by WJ and PU at end of 1C.
  F Playman   10-08 J. Nightingall J. Nightingall 25/1 GH Mid-division, 9th BB 1C. Good headway starting CS 1C, especially after ABC, to become very prominent Gorsed Hurdle but took off too soon there & fell heavily.
  B Willoughby   10-00 T. Golby H. Lington 20/1 GH Away well, disputed lead 1st. Led by BB 1C. Headed ABC 1C & dropped to 4th. Very bad mistake Gorsed Hurdle & knocked over by the following O'Connell when unbalanced.
  B O'Connell 6 9-08 P. Doucie J. Wynne 33/1 GH Mid-division, 8th BB 1C. Similar position when collided with Willoughby on landing at Gorsed Hurdle & BD. Jockey's chest crushed when O'Connell dropped upon him when attempting to rise. Wynne never regained consciousness & died at 8.00 that evening.
  R The Tattler 8 9-08 C. Balchin C. Boyce 100/8 FNC AFT BB 1C Slowly away. Refused 3rd. Kept going, well towards rear, until refused again at the fence after BB 1C, colliding with Bucephalus in the process.
  R Thomastown 9 10-04 James Murphy J. Murphy jnr 6/1 2ND Slowly away & well towards rear when refused 2nd with great obstinancy.



A Grand National marred like no other by the fatal injuries sustained by debutant Joe Wynne, son of the late Denny, in a melee at the Gorsed Hurdle. It is poignant almost beyond belief that Joe had that morning learned of the death of a sister yet bravely chose to attempt to emulate his father's success (of 1847), Denny having himself died as a result of a riding accident less than nine months after competing in the 1858 National. Sporting newspapers immediately started a charitable fund for Joseph's mother and other siblings.

The same section of the press, having long ago tired of the annual plethora of National runners who carried light weights, was more scathing than ever in its criticism of Edward Topham's handicapping. Just one by-product of E.W.'s folly was the milking of the ante post market by several owners and trainers. Many horses, including Jealousy, The Dane and Brunette, were late withdrawals in 1862 because connections had secured attractive odds on another of their quadrupeds, prices that were available when the later withdrawn beasts had seemed likely to take part. These shenanigans go a long way to explaining why the field was the smallest for a Grand National since 1841 (though it did not deter another record crowd). In future Topham would be required to submit his workings to the stewards (who, naturally, included his landlord the 4th Lord Sefton!) for approval. The Wizard's spell had well and truly lost its magic.

For such a small field on a vast racecourse there were an incredible number of coming togethers in the 1862 renewal. One of these occurred between Ben Land junior on Bridegroom and the young owner/trainer/rider of Romeo shortly before the latter combination went too wide and the wrong side of a flag at the bend just after the Anchor Bridge Crossing on the second circuit. The detour might well have cost Romeo the position of runner-up but in defence of Bennett he may have felt intimidated by the vastly more experienced Land, who was undoubtedly desperate to beat Huntsman, formerly trained by his father.

It was not to be as, albeit overshadowed by tragedy and skullduggery, the still entire Huntsman, who had been dropped 8lb, gained an overdue and deserved triumph. Having been sold to a French nobleman and trained/ridden by the exiled Harry Lamplugh, Huntsman's win was the first non-British/Irish one in the Grand National. A deal of credit must go to Lamplugh who may have slightly further improved a creature who was the best horse of a bad era. Contemporary sources agree the horse had never looked better. While Xanthus and Anatis were clearly past their best and the inexperienced horses in the 1862 renewal struggled with the beefed up obstacles, Huntsman smashed the course record and did so toting over a stone more than the previous two record holders had carried. The going must have been on the quick side of Good, likely due to the later date currently established for the race and drying ground on the day, because the tale of the clock in 1862 makes a mockery of Good going time comparisons. Strictly at the weights Huntsman (formerly rated -37) emerged 5 (pounds/lengths) superior to Bridegroom (formerly rated -57). However, Huntsman won far more easily than the margin of victory indicates and Bridegroom probably improved again too, therefore, I am inclined to rate the latter's performance at -51 and award Huntsman -32 to establish his effort as equal to that of Bourton in 1854 and the joint best since St Leger's -24 in 1847. Sadly, Huntsman would break down badly in his next race at Doncaster, just two days later!       






Copyright 2017 by Chris Dowling