Grand National Ultimate History



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There was little very heavy plough this year and there was a general consensus that the hedges forming part of many fences were smaller. The bank that the lane/ABC was on was greatly reduced in height, the incine and decline becoming more gradual.


Th 21 Mar 1872 (3.35) 4m 4 1/2f Firm 10.14.50 25 £1,455 T. Brayley

70 71 1 Casse Tete 7 10-00 A. Cowley Johnny Page 20/1   Slowly away and well held up 1C, towards rear 19th (of 22) WJ. Good headway early 2C. 9th BB, 7th CS and chased leading pair in 5th ABC. Close up by entrance to straight and took lead just before second last, going well. About 2L ahead when mistake last but able to extend advantage due to the misfortune of Scarrington. Easily.
70 71 2 Scarrington 9 11-02 T. Cranshaw R. I'Anson 100/6 6 Initially held up in rear of mid-division. Gradual headway to be 10th at Gorsed Hurdle, 13th WJ. Further progress early 2C and took lead approaching BB. Headed CS and dropped to 3rd but a very close 2nd ABC & entering straight. Only 4th at second last, however, regained 2nd between last 2 and merely a couple of lengths down when twisted plate & cut leg at last. Unable to continue challenge.
69 71 3 Despatch 10 10-04   G. Waddington 100/30F 6 Away well & 3rd at 1st. 4th BB 1C, 6th from CS 1C until after ABC but had dropped to 11th by WJ.  Regained earlier prominence and 5th BB 2C. 4th CS and chased leading pair in same position ABC. Close up by entrance to straight though only 5th at second last. Kept on without displaying the required pace to seriously challenge, 4th again at last and took 3rd run in
68 71 4 The Lamb 10 12-07 C. Green T. Pickernell 100/8 2 Away well, 6th at 1st. 5th at the fence after BB 1C & along the CS. Jumped well and took 4th soon after ABC 1C, 6th again WJ. Negotiated melee at the 2nd fence 2C with the dexterity of a cat, 4th BB. 5th CS, chased leading pair in 3rd ABC. Close up by entrance to the straight and took 2nd just before second last. Soon dropped to 3rd, continued to fade and lost that position run in.
  5 Fleuriste 5 10-10 W. Planner J. Rickaby 50/1   Prominent, 7th at 1st and 6th at fence after BB 1C. 3rd from CS to WJ. 7th again BB 2C and 6th once more early CS but faded and only mid-division in that position ABC. Plugged on without losing appreciably more ground, gifted 5th.
  6 Master Mowbray 7 10-12 W. Holman snr G. Holman 25/1   Away well. 7th CS 1C but never able to muster the pace to challenge and had dropped to 14th by WJ, although still chasing leaders. 8th from BB 2C to early CS but faded and only a mid-division 7th ABC. Plodded on, gifted 6th.
  7 Ouragan 7 10-10 R. Sly jnr A. Holman 100/1   Slowly away & rearmost by 2nd. Always towards rear 1C, 22nd & last WJ. Some late progress, gifted 7th.
71 8 Scaltheene 7 10-04 Napier snr J. Murphy jnr 66/1   Away well & immediately led. Headed before 1st where 4th. 8th at fence after BB 1C, 7th soon after ABC, 4th WJ. Continued progress and up to 2nd BB 2C. Disputed lead CS until began to fade rapidly approaching ABC where 10th. Laboured on, gifted 8th.
  9 Schiedam 7 11-04 Napier snr C. Richardson 10/1   Away well. 9th at fence after BB 1C, 12th WJ. Still chasing leaders when badly hampered in melee 2nd fence 2C & rider lost irons for 200yds. When he had recovered them effort made to recapture lost ground but this petered out, horse paid for it and a mid-division 8th ABC. Laboured on.
  10 Saucebox 6 10-04 H. Ellison J. Whiteley 50/1   Initially chased leaders but had dropped to a rear of mid-division 18th by WJ. Laboured on with no further impact 2C.
71 11 Scots Grey 10  10-11 J.H. Moore Garrett Moore 50/1   Fore of mid-division. Progress after ABC 1C to be 7th WJ. Further headway early 2C and 3rd BB. Disputed lead CS until left alone in front before ABC. Held on to narrow advantage entering straight but headed before second last where 3rd. Soon dropped to 4th then swerved at last and very heavily eased run in.
71 12 Rufus(1) 8 11-04 C. Green J. Potter 25/1   2nd at 1st. Disputed lead BB 1C. Continued to vie for lead CS 1C. In front alone soon after ABC. Outjumped & 1/2L 2nd WJ but soon led again. Headed decisively approaching BB 2C where 6th. Faded further to be a mid-division 9th ABC. Carried on weakening.
  13 Royal Irish Fusilier 8 10-06 C. Green T. Andrews 100/1   Led over 1st. Joined BB 1C. Vied for lead CS 1C. Lost position soon after ABC & dropped to 8th. Same place WJ. Nothing left for 2C and  became tailed off.
  P Harvester 7 12-00 A. Yates A. Yates 25/1 ABC 2C Initially mid-division. Chased leaders in 10th WJ. Had dropped back more towards mid-pack by BB 2C where 11th. Still midfield when suffered overreach, severely gashing near fore, at fence before ABC. Soon PU & dismounted.
65 66 67 68 69 70 P Hall Court 13 10-00   Cpt H. Browne 66/1 MID 2C Slowly away & always towards rear, 20th WJ. Well tailed off when PU mid 2C.
  B Cinderella 5 10-07 W. Saunders J. Adams 100/15 CT 2C Rear of mid-division 1C, 16th WJ. Some headway early 2C, 10th BB. In similar position and going well when BD by loose horse (Marin) at CT.
  R Acton 6 10-07 R. Sly jnr J. Rudd 40/1 FNC AFT BB 2C Away quite well & initially chased leaders but had dropped to last but one by WJ. Headway early 2C, 12th BB. Refused next.
  B Franc Luron 6 10-07 C. Richardson J. Cannon 100/6 FNC AFT BB 2C Mid-division 1C, rear of same in 15th WJ. Minor progress early 2C. 13th when broke down upon landing BB. Unable to be PU before collided with the refusing Acton at next & BD.
  F Ryshworth 6 10-12 Z. Boxall T. Boxall 100/1 BB 2C Mid-division 1C, rear of same in 17th WJ. Lost further ground 2C and exhausted when fell BB.
70 F Primrose 8 11-09 R. Brockton R. Brockton 100/6 2ND FNC 2C (FAN) Away well, 8th at 1st. Keen and pulled way into 3rd by BB 1C. 4th CS 1C. Took 2nd soon after ABC. Still very prominent when bad mistake Gorsed Hurdle & nearly UR. Nevertheless, rushed back up and jumped into 1/2L lead WJ. Soon headed but still keen in 5th when fell heavily at 2nd fence 2C. Broke back. Dead.
  B Marin 6 11-10 A. Yates J. Cassidy 25/1 2ND FNC 2C (FAN) Rear of mid-division. Moved up to chase leaders in 9th soon after ABC 1C, same position WJ. Continued in similar vein until BD by Primrose at 2nd fence 2C.
65 66 71 B Philosopher 13 10-06 H. Ellison G. Gray 100/1 2ND FNC 2C (FAN) Initially rear of mid-division. Headway to be 5th soon after ABC 1C, same position WJ. Not as prominent when BD in melee at 2nd fence 2C.
  P Nuage 7 11-02 R. Sly jnr S. Harding 100/15 VB 1C Initially rear of mid-division but became prominent by BB 1C, 7th next. Overjumped CT 1C, went lame & PU soon after VB 1C. Fractured hip. Dead.
  F Derby Day(1) 7 10-00 W. Goater D. Marsh 25/1 FNC AFT BB 1C 5th at 1st but not jump well. Nevertheless, remained prominent until fell heavily at fence after BB 1C.
71 F Snowstorm 9 11-09 Z. Boxall A. Thorpe 50/1 2ND (FAN) Rear of mid-division, fell 2nd.



E.W. Topham had come to an arrangement with his Carholme counterpart to avoid an exact clash between the Lincoln and the Grand National in 1872 but was too ill to attend Aintree. Many of the folk (and some horses) who were there for the first day of three at Liverpool (Wednesday, the day before the National) had been conveyed by special trains from the Lincolshire venue on the Tuesday evening, following its second and final day of racing. Topham's presence was strongly felt by dint of his handicapping, however, because he had put up The Lamb 16lb and the diminutive grey was beaten, at least partially, by his lofty burden. Little, though, is straightforward regarding this renewal which poses several puzzles that I will try to solve by the usual analysis.

By all accounts, the going in 1872 was Firm but the winning time was distinctly modest compared to most of those recorded in the surrounding years on slower ground. The immediate reaction to this is that the race was run at a crawl, and indeed contemporary sources describe the speed as anything from moderate to decent overall and perhaps inconsistent. However, whilst the pace was clearly not as rattling fast as in 1871, a lot of horses who spent a spell at the sharp end wound up fading badly, witness Royal Irish Fusilier, Rufus, Scots Grey (who was up to his old tricks at the last), Scaltheene and Fleuriste. Furthermore, the first three home all enjoyed a stretch during which they were held up or reined back off the leading positions. These two things suggest the pace was much better than thought by observers, too quick, and that it collapsed after the second Anchor Bridge Crossing. Along with his weight The Lamb was, therefore, also disadvantaged by racing close to the speed throughout but, in fact, he performed the best of any horse who did so despite his impost. A related issue, which adds credence to my pace collapse theory, is that strategically it was not planned for him to be quite so consistently handy, The Lamb actually had a pacemaker in the 1872 Grand National! He had been bought by Baron Oppenheim who also ran Royal Irish Fusilier as a hare, however, connections should have known this tactic was doomed to failure especially as trainer Chris Green also ran a third horse in the race (in different ownership), Rufus, who had been wholly responsible for blazing such a lightning quick trail in 1871. In addition, the field contained too the hard-puller Primrose, who could barely be restrained (see below) by her owner/trainer/rider Rippon Brockton, and Scots Grey who until recently had been a serial bolter! We can see from the race facts that the inevitible occurred, Royal Irish Fusilier was a spent force before the Gorsed Hurdle and the race from the Oppenheim perspective was out of control.

Can the same be said of Primrose? The reader will recall that two years earlier Brockton on the beloved 1870 third apparently suffered fairly severe tack problems which caused the mare to run away with him along the second canal side and may have cost the partnership victory. It is neither here nor there from a form perspective (it remains salient that Primrose unnecessarily expended energy), however, by 1872 Brockton was underplaying the tack issues and retrospectively blaming himself for having ridden when weakened by a recent illness. Whatever the truth of that, I can find no excuse bar lack of physical and mental strength for his performance on this occasion. Primrose was keen and seems to have bested her rider as early as the 3rd. After nearly ridding herself of him at the Gorsed Hurdle Brockton rushed her back up, displaying even more keenness than his horse, to nab the lead at the Water Jump (had he struck a wager that she would be first over the artificial brook?) And, in a calamitous finale while still fighting each other for the upper hand, the combination committed a second and far more serious error at second Fan which cost Primrose her life. A hardier jockey should have been booked.

Perhaps the small and trappy fence problem (see 1849) had resurfaced and the obstacles were enticing horses to go too quick, there was a higher number of beasts who hit the deck in 1872 than the norm for the period. However, it may be the consensus that the hedges were smaller for this renewal was an imagined response to the proliferation of casualties. It was x-rated stuff all round. Nuage also could not be saved, the unfortunate Scarrington was lame for the run in, Harvester suffered an even more severe cut to a leg and Frank Luron broke down. Primrose's fatal fall precipitated a melee: Marin was brought down, The Lamb had to leap prone horses, another horse to suffer notable ill luck, Schiedam, was badly hampered, and Philosopher, like Marin, was knocked off his feet. Blameless misfortune later struck a third horse when the loose Marin brought down Cinderella.

Surviving the manifold mayhem and a mistake at the last, Casse Tete, off the minimum weight (she had not done enough to entitle her to more), became the seventh mare to win the National, recording a popular and deserved success for Ted Brayley (also owner of Pearl Diver), handing trainer Anthony Cowley his maiden triumph, and giving Johnny Page, whose stint in France as the Duke of Hamilton's trainer seems to have been a brief one, a second victory in the race. 'The Pusher', too heavy for the Flat, was also stylish and, as evidenced here, a good judge of pace. He appears to have employed the Stevens tactic and his mount, who despite not having won since the autumn of 1870 had improved in the 1871/72 season, stayed better than on previous attempts, the Firm going and pace collapse assisting her. Like her rider, Casse Tete was a reject from the level (where, according to the Sporting Life, she had been "as bad as a railway refreshment room sandwich"), however, a wiry and muscular mare, she displayed much better ability once put to the proper test of Jumps. The Newcastle Journal would not make its last mistake in connection with the Aintree Blue Riband in describing her as a "mean-looking hack, with not the least pretensions to secure a Grand National"! The favourite Despatch, who appeared with bandaged forelegs, had returned unsound from last year's renewal and subsequently missed a lot of training. Meanwhile, Hall Court became the first horse to run in seven Nationals but, at 13 and two years removed from breaking down in the 1870 edition, it proved wrong to run him as he patently had not retained his ability and in any case desired plenty of cut. Casse Tete would not win another race while The Lamb went to compete in Germany where, tragically, he broke a leg later in 1872.

Although probably racing too close to the speed for too long in 1872 and being a small horse carrying a lot of weight, the gifted and gallant iron grey was assisted by the canal side plough being less heavy than in 1871 and very likely ran almost as well as he had a year earlier when his effort allowed him to join Lottery at -14 on my Scroll Of Merit (which shows only a horse's best/tied best performance/s). Strictly at the weights in the 1872 National The Lamb emerged 11 (pounds/lengths) superior to Scarrington, 21 better than Casse Tete and 29 ahead of Despatch. Scarrington was running equally as well as he had in 1871 (when I rated him -25) until sustaining a cut to a leg and being rendered lame for the run in which, given his proximity to the winner at the last, must have cost him 4 lengths so I will award him the same mark. Thus, on the basis of his raw performance figure (-29), I will give The Lamb -18 this year. Casse Tete only won easily due to the misfortune of Scarrington, therefore, I will uprate her merely for her mistake at the last, by 1 to -38. Despatch, not in the same health as he was in 1871 and even more relatively one-paced on faster going than last year's, performed 8 below his effort of twelve months earlier, this time receiving -47.            







Copyright 2017 by Chris Dowling