Grand National Ultimate History

 

1871

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Tu 21 Mar 1871 (3.50) 4m 4 1/2f Good to Firm 9.35.75 25 £1,665 Lord Poulett

68 1 The Lamb 9 11-05 C. Green T. Pickernell 5/1   Jumped well, agile and prominent from 1st. 3rd BB & CS 1C. Took 2nd soon after ABC, 4th (of 22) WJ. 2nd again BB 2C. Dropped to 5th and ridden traversing disliked CS plough, however, regained 2nd just before ABC. Disputed lead immediately after it and ahead before entering straight. Going best but bided time and only led by a neck last. Quickened away, cleverly.
69 2 Despatch 9 10-00 W. Puttrell G. Waddington 10/1 2 Away well & prominent 1st. 5th BB 1C but had dropped to 7th by CS 1C and to a fore of mid-division 11th WJ. Renewed headway soon after BB 2C and 4th CS. 5th again, close up, ABC and disputed lead immediately after it. 2nd entering straight and only a neck down last. Quickly outpaced and no answer to winner run in.
70 3 Scarrington 8 11-04 T. Cranshaw T. Cranshaw 60/1 4 Unable to go early pace and thereafter well held up 1C, 22nd & last WJ. Soon began to make good ground 2C and took 2nd CS. 3rd ABC but dropped to 5th soon after. Still close up at second last but relatively one-paced and done for toe again after. However, battled on well to just snatch 3rd.
68 69 70 4 Pearl Diver 11 11-05 A. Cowley Johnny Page 4/1F NK Mid-division 1C, fore of same in 10th WJ. Headway soon after BB 2C, 6th ABC. Took 4th soon after it and close up at second last but was being driven. Tired and unable to find a turn of foot between last 2. Gamely battled on but ultimately just caught for 3rd.
  5 Tusculanum 9 11-00   Cpt D. Smith 50/1   Prominent 1st but mid-division BB 1C. Headway circa ABC 1C and, despite encountering picnickers towards the Gorsed Hurdle, became prominent again by WJ where 5th. Left 4th BB 2C. 6th soon after ABC but began to fade and weakened further from early in straight. Tired when mistake second last. Plodded on to finish an indifferent 5th.
69 70 6 The Colonel 8 12-08 R. Roberts G. Stevens 8/1   Well held up towards rear. A mid-division 16th WJ and a degree of further progress soon after BB 2C. 7th ABC and brief, fruitless effort. Ultimately eased to a canter.
  7 Bogue Homa 6 10-04 W. Saunders J. Tomlinson 50/1   Chased leaders 2nd but only a midfield 13th WJ. Still mid-division BB 2C. Circa 9th ABC. Beaten soon after and ultimately eased to a walk.
  8 Rufus(1) 7 11-04 P. Doucie T. Ryan NQ   Away well & soon led. Headed briefly after 3rd but reasserted at a fast pace and 10L clear BB 1C. Advantage reduced towards end of CS 1C and forced to avoid picnickers approaching Gorsed Hurdle. Nevertheless, still ahead WJ albeit narrowly. Not joined until immediately after ABC 2C. Hit the wall & dropped to 3rd entering straight. Badly weakened further from second last and ultimately eased to a walk.
  9 Scaltheene 6 10-10 Napier snr G. Gray NQ   Towards rear VB 1C. Improved to a rear of mid-division 18th WJ. Lumbered on 2C merely passing beaten horses.
  10 Souvenance 6 11-02 W. Planner J. Rickaby 25/1   Always prominent 1C and headway after ABC to be a very close 2nd WJ. Had faded slightly by BB 2C and lost further ground from VB. Finished tailed off.
  11 Inon 5 10-04 P. Doucie Cpt L. Harford 60/1   Away well & very prominent 1st. 6th BB & CS 1C. Merely chased leaders in 9th WJ. Had dropped to mid-division by BB 2C and faded further thereafter. Tailed off.
  12 Lady Geraldine 5 10-06 J. Scott C. Cunningham 60/1   Rear of mid-division 1st, last but one WJ. No improvement 2C and eventually became tailed off.
  13 Snowstorm 8 11-07 Robert Walker Robert Walker 40/1   Away well & always fairly prominent 1C, 6th WJ. Gradually melted away from BB 2C. Finished tailed off.
70 14 Casse Tete 6 10-10 A. Cowley J. Rudd 60/1   Mid-division 1C, 15th WJ. Headway to chase leaders soon after BB 2C but progress had petered out by VB and began to weaken shortly afterwards. Finished tailed off.
  P Wild Fox(1) 6 10-12 P. Doucie J. Murphy jnr NQ LATE 2C Away well & very prominent 1st. 4th CS 1C and took 3rd soon after ABC. Same position WJ. Still 3rd BB & CS 2C, 4th ABC. Thereafter weakened very badly and PU before post.
65 66 F Philosopher 12 10-12 H. Ellison H. Ellison 100/1 LAST FNC CS 2C Mid-division 1C, 12th WJ. Modest headway soon after BB 2C. 8th when fell at fence before ABC 2C.
  P Magnum Bonum 7 10-10 C. Richardson C. Richardson 50/1 CS 2C Prominent 1st but only mid-division BB 1C. Fore of same ABC 1C. A midfield 14th WJ. Began to fade circa BB 2C. PU CS 2C.
  P Dog Fox(1) 7 10-00 C. Green J. Potter 25/1 VB 2C Bandaged forelegs. Prominent 1st. 4th BB 1C. Dropped to 9th CS 1C, 7th WJ. Left 5th BB 2C then queer leg began to give way. Broke down & PU VB 2C.
66 70 P The Doctor 10 11-13 W. Planner H. Crawshaw 10/1 MID 2C Prominent until refused 3rd. Kept going, towards rear but in touch. Badly hampered in mini melee at the fence after BB 1C. Tried to get back into it but unsettled thereafter, a rear of midfield 17th WJ. Dropped back well towards rear early 2C and subsequently PU.
65 66 68 69 70 F Alcibiade 11 10-04 C. Cornell F. Walling 100/1 BB 2C Initially mid-division. Headway to be 5th CS 1C and took 4th soon after ABC 1C. Only 8th WJ but back up to 4th when fell BB 2C.
  F Purlbrook 6 10-10 W. Saunders D. Marsh 25/1 1ST FNC 2C Away well & very prominent 1st. Led briefly after 3rd, 2nd BB & CS 1C. Dropped to 5th soon after ABC 1C and faded very rapidly to be towards rear in 20th WJ. Tired fall next.
  P Scots Grey 10-05 J.H. Moore H. Welsh NQ END 1C Ran around alarmingly, especially at fence after BB 1C, when in rear of midfield, where tried to refuse and in swerving precipitated a mini melee, dropping towards rear. 19th and very tired WJ. PU after one circuit.
  F Lord Raglan 8 10-10 J. Tomlinson S. Daniels 60/1 BEND AFT ABC 1C Initially towards rear but had made headway into 8th CS 1C and was going well within himself when put near fore in a furrow on the bend after ABC 1C & fell. Broke leg. Dead.
  F Cecil 6 10-06 J. Nightingall R. I'Anson 10/1 FNC AFT BB 1C Rear of mid-division 1st. Similar place when very badly hampered by the swerving Scots Grey at the fence after BB 1C & fell heavily.
  F St Valentine 6 10-04 W. Saunders J. Adams 40/1 2ND (FAN) Soon very prominent. Fell heavily 2nd.

 

SLAUGHTERED BY THE LAMB

The biggest showdown to this point in Grand National history went comprehensively the way of The Lamb who produced an epic performance to join The Colonel as a double winner. Granted, the condition of the course was improving, however, the dark grey lost ground on the heaviest section of plough, which he hated (though few horses relished it), yet still obliterated The Colonel's best time since the start was moved back (set in 1870) on similar going, carrying just 7lb less and, helped by the lightning fast and relentless pace set by Rufus, The Lamb, extraordinarily, finished merely 5.75s outside Huntsman's record for 4m 3f! The anticipated duel with The Colonel never materialised, as is often the case with such expected sporting confrontations. The victor of the previous two renewals had been racing on the continent where he had lost his form due to diabetes and in addition his preparation when back in England with Richard Roberts was briefly interrupted. That said, The Colonel trailed in sixth, beaten much further, even allowing for his problems, than the concession of 17lb to The Lamb would have warranted had the pair been of equal ability. The latter was the better horse and not surprisingly was later described by Tommy Pickernell, who also claimed a second National success, as the best he ever rode. Pickernell had been booked following a dream experienced by The Lamb's owner, Lord Poulett, and the former found himself aboard a silver steed who had recovered from the muscle wasting problem that had kept him off (incredibly, this sparkling effort came on The Lamb's first run in public for two years) and who appeared to have strengthened with maturity. For the 1871 National The Lamb was trained by former twice-triumphant rider Chris Green, Old Ben Land having defected to the Flat. The runner-up and third, Despatch and Scarrington, also improved upon their initial Grand National forays (in 1869 and 1870 respectively), however, the former was receiving 19lb from the winner. Alcibiade, well past his best and racing on unfavourable going, became the latest horse to take part for a sixth time. The wayward debutant Scots Grey came into the race with a reputation of being a systematic bolter. Generally, experience held sway - nearly half of the runners were aged either five or six but the first seven home were all aged seven or older. On a very sad note, The Colonel's jockey, the great George Stevens, who almost immediately retired, tragically died only three months later as a result of a freak riding accident at his birthplace (Cleeve Hill).

The 1871 renewal was held on a later date than any heretofore, which would become the norm, due to a nationwide Jockey Club directive regarding when the official season should commence, even though it meant a clash with the Lincoln (we can observe how the spring double popularly originated). Magnificently for Aintree, this hare brained decision far from dented the size of the Liverpool crowd which all contemporary sources indicate was of record size, a correspondent of the Liverpool Mercury estimated it at 45,000. The gathering included many first-timers, some of whom in their ignorance were enjoying a leisurely picnic on part of the racing line on the approach to the Gorsed Hurdle. Indigestion no doubt ensued when they suddenly found Rufus and Tusculanum bearing down upon them and were forced to scatter rapidly in all directions. Bearing in mind the problems of a couple of years earlier when a throng of spectators narrowed the route from the 1st to Becher's there was clearly a need for complete running rails on both sides of the course all round, a thought that the NHC would voice in 1874.

The tale that The Lamb was destined to win because a lamb jumped from a cattle truck at Lime Street station on the day before the 1871 Grand National appears to be as true as Lord Poulett's subconscious nightime vision of his grey being ridden to victory by Pickernell because, by all accounts, said young sheep's bid for freedom was widely seen.

The performance of The Lamb would literally stand the test of time, however, once again it would be wrong to place a disproportionate emphasis on a pure clock comparison with either The Colonel (rated -21 in 1870) or Huntsman (raw rating of -46 in 1862). The going may have been a little better than last year's (the weather was more like that of July than March) and was certainly faster than in 1862. Also, the sustained pace in 1871 was the quickest seen in a Grand National so far - the extra distance of the National compared to that of 1862 should have taken about 40s longer to traverse, not approximately 6s. Clearly, though, The Lamb performed better than those two horses but by how much? When The Lamb first triumphed in the Grand National in 1868 on Heavy his effort merited -27, 3 (pounds/lengths) below Pearl Diver who handled any surface. The Lamb had strengthened three years on and preferred the better going. Strictly at the weights in 1871 The Lamb emerged 6 superior to Pearl Diver this time, 7 better than Scarrington and 21 in advance of Despatch. I don't believe Pearl Diver had deterioated because, unlike in 1870, he completed his lengthy training (for his 77th race) without a hitch and, furthermore, he battled right to the line to finish merely half a dozen lengths, at equal weights, behind the 'record' setting winner. Therefore, Pearl Diver can be rated, once more, -24. Scarrington thus receives -25, a wholesale improvement upon his first attempt in the National but no fluke as the horse had patently been showing good form to be allotted a similar weight to that carried by The Lamb and Pearl Diver. What is more, Scarrington would back up this performance in 1872. Despatch gets -39, a rating 22 better than he was awarded in 1869 when failing to stay on Soft and on which occasion he ran, it was later discovered, whilst suffering from an internal complaint. If anything, in fact, Despatch, on the much faster ground of 1871, was caught relatively one-paced, a comment that equally applies to both Pearl Diver and Scarrington. To a certain extent The Lamb allowed these three horses to hang around in close proximity over the last two hurdles before winning cleverly, therefore, the 1871 Grand National victor deserves to be uprated by 4 to -14. Said figure makes sense because I cannot fairly split The Lamb and Lottery (1839). I touched upon this in 1868's discussion, it is far from easy to accurately compare the merits of horses hailing from these two distinct early eras. Some contemporary sources hold that Lottery was the greatest chaser seen until at least the 1890s and, indeed, the style of racing was markedly different in 1871 from that of 1839 when they hunted round the first circuit. Plus there was more plough and the obstacles were more fearsome in the earlier year. On the other hand, The Lamb's time is deeply impressive and he is not unfairly favoured in comparison with Lottery by any degree of general athletic improvement because the quality of steeplechasers had merely recovered to its former level by 1871, following the abominable drop off that commenced in the 1850s, while training methods and jockey skills although slightly improved would still be seen as largely primitive by today's standards. In conclusion, it feels right to place the 1871 winner alongside the 1839 victor on my Scroll Of Merit: -14 Lottery, The Lamb.            

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright 2017 by Chris Dowling