Grand National Ultimate History



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The 1st, 2nd and 3rd fences were extended to allow horses more room and had running rails added to them on both sides to stop the crowd encroaching. The 2nd fence (of each circuit) was now known as Fan. The hedge formerly to be jumped into the ABC was removed leaving no Table Top Jump as such, just the bank the lane was on.


We 9 Mar 1870 (3.05) 4m 4 1/2f Good to Firm 10.10.00 23 £1,465 M. Evans

69 1 The Colonel 7 11-12 R. Roberts G. Stevens 4/1F   Held up in rear of mid-division. Kept to outer early. Headway to be in a fore of midfield 12th WJ (where 20 remained). Took an inside line 2C. Continued gradual progress, 7th mid CS, 4th soon after ABC. Close up at second last. Jumped into lead last. Challenged but just prevailed following neck & neck battle to post.
66 2 The Doctor 9 11-07 W. Holman snr G. Holman 5/1 NK Slowly away & held up in rear of mid-division. Midfield BB 1C. Headway to chase leaders in 9th WJ. 4th early 2C, still pursued frontrunners in 7th BB. 5th mid CS and 7th again but closer up entering straight. Very handy over final 2 hurdles and took 2nd immediately after last. Spurred on to make determined challenge but just lost out following neck & neck battle to post.
  3 Primrose 6 10-12 R. Brockton R. Brockton 10/1 Away well & very prominent. Disputed lead 1st. Soon headed but 2nd from 3rd to WJ, racing freely. 3rd early 2C and until suffered severe tack problems, overpowered rider & zoomed into lead mid CS. Went clear briefly but caught by Surney and narrowly headed ABC. Regained lead second last. Slow jump, challenged by eventual first 2 and bumped & stumbled last. Dropped to 3rd immediately after it. Unable to rally but kept on gamely.
  4 Surney 8 10-04 J. Nightingall R. I'Anson 20/1 4 Initially rear of mid-division. Headway to chase leaders in 10th BB 1C. 11th ABC 1C and still tracking leaders in 8th WJ. Good headway early 2C, 2nd BB. Pulled way into lead soon after VB. Headed mid CS but retook narrow advantage ABC. Headed decisively second last and came under pressure between last 2, dropping to 4th. Tired but persevered as best as able.
  5 Keystone 9 10-12 Robert Walker Robert Walker 200/1   Set off towards rear but quickly made ground over 1st and soon chased leaders. 9th at 3rd, 8th BB 1C where mistake, 10th ABC & WJ. Headway to be 6th BB 2C and maintained that position until approaching straight. Began to fade from contention very soon after. Further weakened, though not as badly as some, to finish a moderate 5th.
69 6 Gardener 8 10-12 G. Bloss T. Ryan 20/1   Away well & initial leader but headed before 1st. 3rd from 2nd to 4th, 6th next (BB 1C). 4th ABC 1C, 3rd WJ. Remained prominent 2C, 5th BB, 4th mid CS and took 3rd just after ABC. Began to fade entering straight and further weakened thereafter.
69 7 Q.C. 6 10-10 H. May A. Yates 100/7   Away well & prominent. 5th at 1st, 7th at 3rd and 6th at 4th. 7th again from BB 1C to WJ where chased leaders. Headway to be 4th BB 2C and 3rd mid CS & ABC. Began to fade badly very soon after and beaten before straight. Weakened further.
65 66 68 69 8 Alcibiade 10 10-12 C. Cornell Cpt L. Harford 33/1   Slowly away, outpaced and always towards rear 1C, 18th WJ. Continued in same vein 2C until modest headway CS. Never seriously involved but plugged on very dourly.
  9 Scarrington 7 10-12 T. Cranshaw J. Wheeler 200/1   Slowly away and always towards rear. 16th WJ. Lumbered on. Finished tailed off.
68 10 Moose 10 11-07 A. Cowley A. French NQ   Mid-divison. Fore of same in 13th ABC 1C & WJ. Minor progress to chase leaders in 8th BB 2C. 9th mid CS but towards rear and beaten by ABC. Finished tailed off.
  11 Karslake 6 10-00 W. Saunders Cpt A. Tempest 50/1   Away well & prominent. 5th at 3rd & 4th, 4th BB 1C, 3rd ABC 1C. 4th again WJ. Headway early 2C and soon took lead. Still ahead BB but came under pressure well before VB and had dropped to 11th by mid CS. Laboured on well towards rear, finished tailed off.
69 12 Guy Of Warwick 6 10-08 E. Weever G. Ede 100/6   Initially mid-division but soon became very prominent. 4th at 3rd & 4th, 3rd BB 1C. 4th again VB 1C, 6th ABC. Pulled way into lead approaching Gorsed Hurdle but swerved & blundered badly there and dropped to fore of midfield, 11th WJ. Unable to rally 2C, 10th mid CS. Soon further towards rear. Laboured on, finished tailed off.
68 69 13 Pearl Diver 10 12-07 A. Cowley Johnny Page 100/6   Held up in rear of mid-division. A midfield 14th ABC 1C, same position WJ. Steadily made ground to be 8th mid CS 2C. 5th soon after ABC and close up in 3rd at second last. Suddenly stopped to nil between last 2. Heavily eased, finished tailed off.
  14 Cristal 5 10-06 B. Land H. Crawshaw 20/1   Initially mid-division. 8th at 3rd and chased leaders in 9th BB 1C. Headway but hampered by Guy Of Warwick VB 1C. Rallied quickly and resumed progress into 5th by ABC, 6th WJ. Further headway early 2C and raced in 2nd for a spell. However, lost position before BB and came under incresing pressure before VB. Had dropped to 12th by mid CS. Towards rear ABC, faded further and finished tailed off.
  P Pretentaine 7 10-08   W. Mumford NQ LATE 2C Initially rear of mid-division. Soon became prominent, 6th at 3rd. 5th BB 1C, 8th ABC, 5th again WJ. Faded rapidly 2C and eventually became tailed off. Eased to a trot and ultimately PU.
  P The Elk 12 10-07 T. Brown B. Land jnr 66/1 LATE 2C Away well & disputed lead 1st. Soon led alone and had extended advantage to 5L BB 1C. 12L clear VB 1C. Lead reduced CS, however, and only 1L to the good ABC 1C. Briefly headed approaching Gorsed Hurdle but gifted lead back there. Tired but just ahead WJ. Began to fade soon after and weakened rapidly early 2C. Became tailed off and eventually PU.
  P Cinna 7 10-07   R. Count 33/1 LATE 2C Away well, 4th at 1st. Had dropped to a fore of mid-division 12th by ABC 1C and to a rear of midfield 15th WJ. Continued to fade 2C, becoming well tailed off, and eventually PU.
  P Casse Tete 5 10-00 A. Cowley J. Rudd NQ LATE 2C Rear of mid-division until BB 1C but had dropped to last but one by WJ. Refused 2nd fence 2C. Kept going well tailed off and eventually PU.
  P Tathwell 8 10-12   G. Waddington 20/1 LATE CS 2C Bandaged all 4 legs. Mid-division. Minor progress mid 1C, 9th ABC. Quickly dropped towards rear, 17th WJ. Lost further ground early 2C and dropped to last, well tailed off, before VB. Broke down & PU late CS.
65 66 67 68 69 P Hall Court 11 10-12   T. Pickernell 40/1 END 1C Away in midfield but never a factor. Towards rear by BB 1C, 20th & last ABC and tailed off rearmost WJ. PU at end of 1C. Found to have broken down in off fore.
  RO Middleton 7 10-12   T. Kirk 200/1 CT 1C Mid-division and jumped shiftily until swerved & went wrong side of flag CT 1C.
67 68 69 R Fan 8 10-00 J. Mumford Henry Taylor 66/1 3RD Slowly away & towards rear until resolutely refused 3rd.
  F Traveller 5 10-04 Napier snr G. Napier NQ 1ST Towards rear, breasted 1st & fell into landing side ditch.



In the year that the race's founder, William Lynn, passed away a Grand National as fine as any to date produced only the fifth winning favourite of its 35 runnings. The Colonel became the first dual winner since Peter Simple (bay) in 1853, a quintessential ride earning George Stevens his quintet. In a contest during which it appears the jockeys on The Doctor and top weight Pearl Diver looked to copy Stevens's tactics, The Colonel, said by connections before the race to have improved a stone since 1869, smashed the record for the fastest time since the start was moved back that had been set by The Lamb in 1868. The Colonel also ran 70s quicker, carrying 16lb more, than had Emblem (whom I gave a raw rating of -39) in 1863, the year the original race distance was restored and the most recent occasion when the going was also Good to Firm. However, in 1863 there were Good places whereas in 1870 the turf was like a piece of carpet, the ground described as never better or so sound, and even the plough, of which there was a little more than last year, was not heavy. Additionally, there was less plough than in 1863, there were less obstacles to jump and unlike in Emblem's renewal the pace in the 1870 Grand National held up. The speed was true throughout, Primrose, beaten three lengths, was very prominent from flagfall, yet the pace was quick enough to find out the prominent runners Gardener, Q.C., Cristal (who had broken down in training in late January), Pretentaine and The Elk. Nevertheless, a record was set for the most finishers (which would not be eclipsed until 1892) and, whilst this likely owed something to the fast going, the race as a whole was further confirmation of the general resurrection of quality that had been occurring lately in steeplechasing. The Colonel, whose former owner had died following the horse's first National victory, had not run since the spring of his initial triumph and the fine-tempered, athletic 7-y-o entire, again well trained by Richard Roberts, had thickened subsequently. Very conceivably, however, the outcome in 1870 may well have been different had Primrose not fallen victim to the pretty severe tack problems, she managed to get her tongue through the circle of her bit whilst Rippon Brockton had to contend with a broken stirrup leather, that led to her overpowering her owner/trainer/rider and wasting energy along the canal side on the second circuit. The chestnut mare also suffered a rough passage over the last as she was swooped upon by The Colonel and The Doctor. The attendance was almost certainly the largest that Hall Court, who joined those horses having run in the National six times, had seen at Aintree. In the early 1870s the crowds were reckoned to be 40,000+.

Fan over the past couple of years had become likely to object to any given obstacle. She tended to be hesitant at the 1st and fell there (remounted) in the 1869 Grand National before refusing at the 2nd whereas she had declined the 3rd in the 1868 renewal. During the 1869 Liverpool Autumn Meeting Fan chose to refuse at the 2nd once again hence the fence's newly acquired moniker for 1870. Her name would stick to the 2nd fence despite, in typically contrary fashion, the fact that, according to all three main contemporary sporting newspapers, in the 1870 National the mare jumped the 1st and 2nd beautifully for her new trainer before deciding to refuse at the 3rd!

It was an impressive performance by The Colonel (rated -26 in 1869) but I doubt that he improved by a stone. At the weights in the 1870 Grand National he emerged 5 (pounds/lengths) superior to The Doctor, 17 better than Primrose (but I will upgrade her 10 for the misfortune the partnership suffered) and 29 ahead of Surney. Not uncommonly, it is quite difficult to get a handle on the form, however, we do have the advantage of knowing what was to come in 1871. This foresight serves to prevent us from placing disproportionate emphasis (always something to be wary of) upon the time comparison between the new and old (The Lamb) 'record' holders. The Colonel completed the re-extended course in a time 20s faster than had The Lamb in 1868 (rated -27) and in shouldering the hefty burden of 11st 12lb the former was carrying 19lb more than had the grey. However, there were more grassed sections in 1870 than in 1868 and these were Good to Firm as opposed to Heavy, furthermore, there was no Table Top Jump per se in the latter year. Compared to how he came out at the weights with them in 1869, when it was Soft, the now dual winner trounced Alcibiade, Gardener and Q.C. in 1870, however, the difference in outcome was so extreme as to conclude that the latter two horses disliked fast ground as much as did Alcibiade. This brings us to Pearl Diver who handled any going. That horse when previously completing in 1868 was rated -24 and here was so highly weighted that The Colonel was in receipt of 9lb! In the 1870 National Pearl Diver was in with every chance when stopping so suddenly between the last two that something must have gone amiss - he had only run once since the 1869 renewal (his fall then likely leading to the one remaining hedge at the Table Top Jump being cut down) and there had been rumours of lameness during the build up to this year's race. If it had not, and again casting a glance to 1871, Pearl Diver at the very worst would surely have emerged similar at the weights to The Colonel. Contemporary judges broadly support my view. The leader writer of The Era rated the two horses as equal in ability and that paper also quotes an alternative opinion (by S. Merry) which places The Colonel as 6 the better. I will halve the difference and apply the result to Pearl Diver's 1868 figure. In conclusion, The Colonel did improve (I will say by 5) and his was a very meritorious effort. He deserves to be rated as close to the ceiling of my Scroll Of Merit as a horse can get at -21. Therefore, The Doctor is rated -26, Primrose -28 and Surney -50.



> Some sources indicate that Pretentaine may have passed the post in fifteenth and last.     







Copyright 2017 by Chris Dowling