Grand National Ultimate History



prev . next


We 7 Mar 1866 (3.38) 4m 4 1/2f Soft (snowy) 11.05.00 30 £1,600 E. Studd

  1 Salamander 7 10-07 J. Walters A. Goodman 40/1   Initially held up. Inconvenienced at 2nd & 3rd. Nevertheless, a fore of mid-division 8th at fence after BB 1C. Headway to be 6th (of 17) WJ and up to 3rd by VB 2C. Took 2nd towards end of CS, 1L down after ABC. Ahead before entering straight. Full of running and romped away, eased to a common canter late on.
  2 Cortolvin(1) 7 11-06 C. Green Johnny Page 8/1 10 Held up in midfield. Inconvenienced at 2nd & 3rd. Nevertheless, a fore of mid-division 9th at fence after BB 1C. 11th WJ. Progress into 4th by VB 2C. Slightly checked & had to be switched to take 3rd entering straight. Took 2nd at second last. Ran on terrifically well but no threat to winner.
  3 Creole 7 10-10 J. Stephenson G. Waddington 15/1 4 Away well. Left in lead 2nd, clear by BB 1C. Still ahead when harried by loose horses (Hall Court & Philosopher) after ABC 1C, particularly at Gorsed Hurdle & WJ. Nevertheless, retained an advantage at the said artificial brook and, despite repeated further hindrance courtesy of the former on the 2C, 1L in front after ABC. Decisively headed before entering straight, however, and dropped to 3rd at second last. Kept on relatively one-paced.
65 4 Lightheart   11-05 J. Peace E. Jones 50/1 6 Away well but inconvenienced at 2nd & 3rd and only a fore of mid-division 10th at fence after BB 1C. Back up to 7th WJ and 5th VB 2C. Lost ground towards end of CS & dropped to 7th again. Rallied & came with a rattle towards finish to nab 4th.
65 5 Merrimac 9 10-07 W. Burbidge Cpt A. Tempest 25/1 6 Midfield. Inconvenienced at 2nd. Nevertheless, a fore of mid-division 6th at fence after BB 1C and up to 5th WJ. Further progress to be 2nd VB 2C. Dropped to 3rd towards end of CS. Continued to fade and passed by horses running on well in straight.
  6 The Doctor 5 10-00   G. Stevens 20/1   Inconvenienced at 2nd & 3rd but a fore of mid-division 12th at fence after BB 1C. Jumped well and up to 8th WJ. Took 6th towards end of CS 2C. Thereafter weakened and ultimately eased to a walk.
61 7 Frank 11 11-08   Cpt P. Lawrence 50/1   Inconvenienced at 2nd but a fore of mid-division 5th at fence after BB 1C. Had dropped to 10th by WJ, however, applied self resolutely and took 5th again towards end of CS 2C. Thereafter weakened and ultimately eased to a walk.
  P Effenberg 8 12-08 R. Twiddy R. Twiddy 50/1 ABC 2C Towards rear when very badly hampered at 2nd or 3rd. Nevertheless, a rear of mid-division 19th at fence after BB 1C and up to a midfield 13th WJ. Effort and weight told, no impact 2C and PU circa ABC.
  P The Tavern 6 10-10 T. Parr J. Holman 50/1 ABC 2C Away well but soon held up and mid-division at fence after BB 1C. A fore of midfield 9th WJ. Headway early 2C until hampered by a loose horse 3rd & dropped back to from whence came, dispirited. Began to fade after VB and PU circa ABC.
65 P Mistake 6 10-09 Briggs J. Knott 25/1 ABC 2C On toes before race. Away well & prominent, 3rd BB 1C. Left 2nd at fence after VB 1C and retained that position WJ. Began to fade before reaching CT 2C and PU circa ABC.
63 64 P Real Jam 7 10-00 David Hughes David Hughes 12/1 ABC 2C Away quite well. Inconvenienced at 2nd & 3rd. Nevertheless, a fore of mid-division 7th at fence after BB 1C. Headway to be 4th WJ and remained handy until began to fade early CS 2C. PU very tired circa ABC.
62 64 F Thomastown 13 11-04 James Murphy J. Murphy jnr 50/1 CT 2C Away well & very early leader. Headed before 1st and inconvenienced at 2nd & 3rd. Nevertheless, a fore of mid-division 11th at fence after BB 1C. 12th WJ. A bit handier and still travelling well when hampered by a loose horse & fell CT 2C.
65 F Alcibiade 6 12-02 C. Cornell B. Land jnr 9/1 BB 2C Away sluggishly in rear of mid-division and mistake 1st. Inconvenienced at 2nd or 3rd but soon warmed to task and a fore of mid-division 4th at fence BB 1C. Left 3rd at fence after VB 1C, same position WJ. Still extremely handy when fell BB 2C.
  P L'Africain 7 13-02 J. Purnell G. Holman 100/7 EARLY 2C Mid-division until caught up in melee & knocked flat on his back into the ditch at the 2nd. Remounted and a rear of midfield 18th at fence after BB 1C but hopeless task (especially with weight) and towards rear WJ. Not persist long 2C.
  P Glencairn 7 11-04 W. Burbidge J. Jewitt 50/1 EARLY 2C Already towards rear when very badly hampered 2nd & dropped further behind. Effort to rally and a rear of mid-division 19th at fence after BB 1C. However, towards rear in 14th WJ and not persist long 2C.
  P King Of Hearts 7 10-02   A. Sadler 30/1 EARLY 2C Away well & prominent but very badly hampered by Ace Of Hearts 2nd & lost ground. Fell 3rd. Remounted, behind. Effort to rally and a rear of mid-division 15th at fence after BB 1C. However, 17th & last WJ and not persist long 2C.
  P Stella 7 10-07 J. Hopwood W. Jarvis 50/1 END 1C Mid-division. Fell 3rd. Remounted but behind. Briefly rallied to be a rear of midfield 17th at fence after BB 1C but had dropped to last but one by WJ and PU at end of 1C.
64 P Reporter 7 11-04 C. Green A. French 50/1 LATE 1C Mid-division. Very badly hampered by Ace Of Hearts 2nd and always towards rear thereafter. Unable to get back on viable enough terms to continue and PU late 1C.
  P Laura 5 11-00 S. Booth H. Lamplugh 7/1F LATE 1C Mid-division. Very badly hampered by a swerving horse at 3rd & lost much ground. Towards rear in 23rd at fence after BB 1C. Became pointless to continue and PU late 1C.
  P Columbia 6 10-10 W. Burbidge W. Reeves 1000/15 LATE 1C Mid-division. Very badly hampered at 2nd or 3rd and last but one at fence after BB 1C. Unable to recover and PU late 1C.
  P West End 8 10-05   W. White 50/1 LATE 1C Away well & prominent but very badly hampered by Ace Of Hearts at 2nd, then again by a swerving horse at 3rd. Towards rear in 22nd at fence after BB 1C. Became pointless to continue and PU late 1C.
  P Ace Of Hearts 6 10-02 C. Green G. Ede 50/1 LATE 1C Away well & dashed into lead on run to 1st. Still ahead when tried to refuse at 2nd, whipping round violently on take off & falling into the ditch, causing chaos. Remounted and a rear of mid-division 16th at fence after BB 1C but had lost prior enthusiasm, faded and PU late 1C.
65 F Hall Court 7 11-12 W. Saunders J. Reeves 30/1 FNC AFT VB 1C Away well. Pursued clear leader in 2nd at BB & VB 1C. Fell next.
  B Garotter 5 10-07   G. Ryan 50/1 FNC AFT VB 1C Midfield until BD by Hall Court at fence after VB 1C.
  F Cutler 7 10-00 G. Palmer A. Thorpe 50/1 CT 1C Mid-division. Very badly hampered at 2nd and/or 3rd and 25th & last at fence after BB 1C. Well behind when fell heavily CT 1C.
  F Milltown 5 10-04   T. Pickernell 50/1 FNC AFT BB 1C Away well & prominent. 4th BB 1C. Overjumped & fell next.
65 F Stanton 8 10-12 W. Scott H. Welsh 50/1 FNC AFT BB 1C Mid-division. Very badly hampered at 2nd or 3rd. Rear of midfield when fell at fence after BB 1C.
65 F Philosopher 7 10-07 T. Olliver J. Wheeler 50/1 3RD Mid-division, fell 3rd.
64 R Sir William(2) 8 10-07   H. Ellison 50/1 2ND Dwelt badly (following two false starts) and last until refused 2nd.
  F Ibex 6 10-12 J. Stinton C. Boyce 25/1 1ST Slowly away. Fell 1st, into ditch (where lay injured until extricated with the help of spectators after race).



Early in 1866 a, long overdue, National Hunt Committee (NHC) was formed, with approval from the Flat's rulers the Jockey Club. In addition to those gentlemen I mentioned in 1865's discussion the new body included Lord Poulett and Captain Bee Coventry. At last the affairs of steeplechasing would be properly governed. One ridiculous Jockey Club law that would soon be repealed was the regulation which allowed the horse later named The Tavern, making his racecourse debut in the 1866 National, to run as either the Turnus or Emma gelding.  

The first Grand National under the auspices of the NHC was attended by a huge, possibly record, crowd estimated at 30,000 despite the weather being bitterly cold. The chattering collection of citizens bore witness to a renewal as dramatic as any yet with early incidents causing havoc and compromising over two-thirds of the large field, one which was more international than any before with British and Irish trained entrants joined by those from France and Germany - although L'Africain and Effenberg respectively were very high in the weights. The former was caught up in the biggest National melee to date at the 2nd. Ace Of Hearts whipped round violently on take off when leading and it was probably this more than his consequent fall into the ditch that caused the donnybrook. Effenberg may also have met trouble here or at the 3rd where a swerving horse and the falls of Stella and Philosopher combined to add another stratum to the general mayhem. It is more expedient to list the half dozen beasts who continued unaffected by either skirmish: Creole, The Tavern, Mistake, Hall Court, Garotter and Milltown. The last-named trio of these had exited by the fence after first Valentine's and in the main horses were taking time in the race to adjust to a jumping test stiffened in recent years, even old hands were increasingly likely to be caught out anywhere. The first and second in 1865, Alcibiade and the aforementioned Hall Court, each came a cropper which is a pity from the point of view of assesing collateral form because both again had their ground and were running well - their weights and their performances in future renewals suggest they would both have vied for a minor place. Creole was also somewhat unfortunate because he was pestered by loose horses, Philosopher and particularly Hall Court, for longer than any of his rivals, however, contemporary sources indicate he would not have beaten Salamander who bossed it in 1866.

All in all the Grand National, and the handicapping system, was beginning to thrive again with the quality of competitors very much on the incline and the race engendering enhanced interest from all classes of sportsmen and the public. With the demise of last year's winner and runner-up it was an opportunity for new heroes to emerge. Salamander had sported a slightly crooked leg when younger but this had corrected itself and he was burning up the gallops, a fact his owner, Edward Studd, kept under his hat. Salamander, well bred and good looking, duly displayed much improved public form to storm home at the biggest winning odds so far. Son of a trainer, John Walters was an ex-Flat jockey who had done a marvellous job since being given charge of the horse in November 1865, shortly before a run at Ealing. Meanwhile, Alec Goodman, in his mid-forties, came out of a brief retirement to bag a second National win. Goodman survived his entire career without ever being injured in a race and lived to the age of 82. Tragically, Salamander, having triumphed even more impressively at Warwick a week after his Aintree success, fell fatally at Crewkerne in April. However, Cortolvin and Lightheart, the latter of whom had improved markedly in the autumn of 1865 and now looked fitter than ever, were to advertise the form of the 1866 Grand National very well.

As alluded to above, little assistance can be gleaned from collateral form for rating the performances in 1866. As well as Lightheart, Merrimac also ran much better than in the previous renewal. The latter again failed to stay but was ridden more judiciously than in 1865 when finishing a field behind the eased fourth Mistake. That is of no help so what about time? This rather tenuous measure can only provide a rough guide in this instance. Last year I rated Alcibiade -36 but his raw mark (he took an outer course and erred) was approximately -42. The going in 1866 was similar, likely no better, to that of 1865 and Salamander's winning time was 11 seconds quicker than Alcibiade's, however, the latter carried 11 pounds more. At 2 1/2 (because the ground was Soft) lengths per second this computes to an advantage to Salamander of 16 (pounds/lengths). But this amount can be accounted for by two things. Firstly, the pace collapsed to a degree in 1865 (thus affecting the time) which it did not in 1866 and, secondly, Salamander did not trace an outer line. To be fair, therefore, I must credit Salamander with a raw figure of -42 also. Strictly at the weights in the 1866 Grand National the victor came out 3 inferior to Cortolvin who was also superior to Lightheart by 11, Creole by 14 and Merrimac by 29. However, all five of these horses are entitled to be upgraded from their raw marks for various reasons. Merrimac was inconvenienced at the 2nd, therefore, I will uprate him 2 for -66, Creole (repeatedly harrassed by loose horses) is allowed 10 for -43, Lightheart (inconvenienced at the 2nd and 3rd) is granted 7 for -43 also, Cortolvin (inconvenienced early, slightly hampered by loose horses, checked a little entering the final straight) is afforded 9 for -30 and Salamander (inconvenienced early, slightly hampered by loose horses, won easily) is afforded 14 for a final rating of -28. Salamander's manner of success was similar in many ways to that of Bourton in 1854 (-32, the same mark as Huntsman in 1862) and his and Cortolvin's performances were the best since that of St Leger whom I rated -24 in 1847. Salamander's weight, though, was the lightest burden toted by any of these horses, considerably so in most cases. Given that and what we will see occurring between now and 1896, therefore, I cannot remotely agree with Joseph Osborne, the owner/trainer of Abd-El-Kader and a noted racing journalist, who in that year expressed the view that Salamander was arguably the best horse to have won a Grand National. Osborne's opinion, however, does lend credence to my ratings for 1866 being the least the five horses deserve.



> There is a report of the race which says that Thomastown was hampered & fell (or was BD) at VB 2C, however, Bell's Life describes the incident thus "...before reaching the canal side, between which point and Valentine's water Thomastown was extinguished by a spill, the result...of contact with a loose horse." A point between before reaching the CS and VB in this instance strongly suggests the CT to me.

> Some historians believe that Reporter got no further than the 2nd, however, Bell's Life says the horse was "nearly knocked off pins" at the 2nd but does not say he fell (which is corroborated by its use of 'nearly'). Furthermore, Sporting Life lists Reporter as being amongst a group of horses still going a little later on the 1C (all the horses listed in this group but not listed by Bell's Life in its full rundown of the 17 remaining at the WJ must have been PU on the latter part of the 1C, it seems reasonable to say).

> Some contemporary newspapers say that in addition to being hampered early on Laura also fell at VB 1C and was remounted.

> Some sources, and indeed historians, reckon Sir William refused at the 1st rather than the 2nd. I have gone with those who say he declined the latter obstacle because I get the supporting impression from Bell's Life that only Ibex exited at the 1st (although it is somewhat vague regarding Sir William himself).             





Copyright 2017 by Chris Dowling