Grand National Ultimate History



prev . next


Several fences that were small and trappy were modified to make them fairer. Uneven ground around the gorsed hurdle was levelled out.


Th 26 Mar 1874 (3.28) 4m 4 1/2f Good to Soft 10.04.00 22 £1,890 Captain J. Machell

73 1 Reugny 6 10-12 C. Richardson C. Richardson 5/1F   Held up in rear of mid-division 1C, 13th (of 16) WJ. Made ground quietly to be 8th VB 2C. Continued progress CS and 3rd, though 24L down, just after ABC. Very smooth further headway to take a close 2nd shortly after entering straight then took lead at second last. 2L ahead when took off too soon & slight mistake last. Ridden to extend advantage run in.
  2 Chimney Sweep(2) 7 10-02 J. Jones J. Jones 25/1 6 Away well & 2nd at 1st. Remained prominent throughout. 5th BB 1C, 6th ABC and 7th WJ. 4th CT 2C, took 3rd CS and was 2nd again just after ABC, though 12L down. Good headway to lead shortly after entering straight and briefly went 5L ahead on run to second last. Headed at that hurdle, however, and 2nd, 2L back, at last flight. Kept on but no extra in response to urgings.
  3 Merlin   10-07 J. Jones J. Adams 40/1 4 Away quite well & always prominent. 4th at 1st, 3rd BB 1C. Only 7th ABC but 3rd again Gorsed Hurdle & WJ. 4th at 13th. Disputed lead CT 2C, 2nd from VB until joined leader 22nd. Gifted lead soon after it and 12L ahead just beyond ABC. Lead eroded as began to come under pressure and headed shortly after entering straight. 3rd at second last. Tired but plugged on gamely.
  4 Defence 8 11-13 C. Richardson Vsc Melgund 25/1 4 Held up in rear of mid-division 1C, 14th WJ. A midfield 11th CT & VB 2C. Chased leaders in 6th ABC, same position entering straight. Continued to keep on, never nearer.
72 73 5 Master Mowbray 9 10-05 W. Holman snr A. Holman 50/1   Away well & chased leaders, 10th BB 1C. Had dropped into mid-division by ABC 1C, 10th again WJ. Same position, in midfield, CT 2C, 9th next (VB). Effort CS and headway to pursue leaders once more in 4th just after ABC. Remained there entering straight. Able only to plod on very one-paced thereafter, losing a place and finishing well adrift of the eventual 4th.
73 6 Disturbance 7 12-09 C. Richardson J. Cannon 25/1   Well held up in rear of mid-division, last but one WJ. 12th CT 2C, 13th VB. Modest progress to be a midfield 7th just after ABC, same position entering straight. Kept on but one-paced and unable to launch a challenge. Never nearer.
73 7 Columbine(3) 10 10-06 W. Jenkins S. Harding 12/1   Initially mid-division. Headway to be 4th BB 1C, 3rd ABC. A close up 2nd at Gorsed Hurdle & WJ. Took lead before next (13th). Headed briefly BB 2C. Disputed lead next (CT), led alone again VB. Joined 22nd (last CS). Still travelling well when went lame soon after and faded rapidly to be a rear of midfield 9th just after ABC. Forced to toil home and passed weakening and eased horses.
72 8 Ouragan 9 10-05 R. Sly jnr G. Mulcaster 50/1   Away well & pulled way into lead 1st. 4 1/2L ahead BB 1C. Extended advantage CS but only narrowly in front at Gorsed Hurdle & WJ. Headed before next (13th), however, remained very prominent and briefly led again BB 2C. 3rd over CT & VB then began to fade and beaten by ABC. Plugged on, passing weakening rivals, and back up to 7th at last but then went lame & eased late on run in.
  9 Derviche 7 10-12 J. Jones R. I'Anson 25/1   Chased leaders 1st, 7th BB 1C. Mid-division by ABC, 9th WJ. Had dropped to rear of midfield by CT 2C, 12th next (VB). 8th just after ABC and plodded on, inheriting 7th briefly, but weakened before last and ultimately lost 2 places. 
  10 Daybreak 8 10-11   W. Holt NQ   Away well & 3rd at 1st. 2nd BB 1C and maintained that position until after ABC 1C. 5th from Gorsed Hurdle to VB 2C. 4th soon after but began to fade badly before ABC. 8th entering straight, gifted that position by declining rivals, but continued to weaken also.
  11 Eurotas 6 11-08 W. Martin T. Pickernell 14/1   Prominent, 5th at 1st. Fore of mid-division BB 1C but renewed headway CS to be 4th ABC 1C. Same position Gorsed Hurdle & WJ. 3rd next (13th). 6th at CT & VB 2C and soon reduced to chasing leaders. 5th just after ABC & entering straight. Weakened badly thereafter.
  12 Furley 6 11-10 Duggan A. Yates 12/1   Mid-division, 9th BB 1C, 8th ABC & WJ. Chased leaders in 7th CT & VB 2C. Began to fade soon after. Lumbered on.
70 71 72 73 F Casse Tete 9 11-00 A. Cowley H. Day 100/15 22ND Rear of mid-division. Minor headway into centre of midfield by ABC 1C, 11th WJ. Broke down on off fore upon landing BB 2C. Shamefully persisted with and tailed off when fell at last along CS (22nd).
  B Dainty 8 10-07   J. Hathaway 66/1 22ND Initially mid-division but well towards rear before Gorsed Hurdle and tailed off 16th & last WJ. No improvement 2C. BD by Casse Tete 22nd.
73 P Congress 8 11-04 H. Wilson T. Wilson 16/1 CS 2C Away well & very prominent when fell 1st. Remounted in last place. Refused 3rd. Kept going, well behind. Still towards rear approaching Gorsed Hurdle but game effort to be a rear of mid-division 12th WJ. Continued to rally and midfield BB 2C. Incredibly, chased leaders in 8th next (CT). Exertions told and began to fade immediately after, 10th VB. Rapidly weakened further and not long before PU.
  P Bretby 8 10-00   B. Daniels NQ CS 2C Away well & very early leader. Soon headed and 6th over 1st. Chased leaders in 8th BB 1C. Renewed progress into 3rd CS 1C, 5th ABC, 6th again WJ. Gradually faded 2C, towards rear CT and PU soon after.
  F Fantome 6 10-10 J. Rickaby Johnny Page 20/1 11TH (GH) Mid-division until ABC 1C. Minor progress to chase leaders when fell heavily Gorsed Hurdle.
  F Heraut D'Armes 7 10-08 L. Hyland Cpt D. Smith 25/1 6TH (CT) Away quite well & 7th at 1st. Prominent in 6th BB 1C. Same position and going nicely when fell next (CT).
  F Vintner 7 10-03 G. Barry H. Crawshaw 7/1 2ND (FAN) Mid-division, fell heavily 2nd.
  F Lord Colney 5 10-00 Shepherd E. Rickards NQ 2ND (FAN) Finished tailed off in a handicap hurdle earlier on the card. Mid to rear, fell 2nd.
  F Paladin 5 10-03   J. Rudd NQ 2ND (FAN) Rather slowly away, fell heavily 2nd.
  F Last Of The Lambs 5 10-00   E. Dalglish 40/1 1ST Slowly away, fell 1st (when possibly attempting to refuse).



Edward Topham died before the year turned to 1874 and his sons, Joseph, the dominant figure, and Christopher took over. Their father had done much to sustain and develop the Grand National, it was a huge and successful event, and I think that just outweighs his follies, namely the low weight range years and the reduction in size and difficulty of the jumping part of the race's test of horses. Such was the longevity and might of The Wizard's authority, pre-dating that of the NHC by many years, it is somewhat understandable that the governing body of Jump racing waited until after his passing before immediately attending demands upon his successors.

The NHC asked for the approach to every obstacle on the National course to be railed off on both sides (I suspect it wished the entire course to be fully railed) and without the use of telegraph wire; the Tophams replaced the wire with posts to go along with the existing rails but, as in 1873, the rails were only to be found on the approaches to fences and merely those up to and including Valentine's Brook. The NHC requested that the (again) increasing number of small, trappy fences be overhauled and made into good, fair, upstanding hunting fences; the Tophams made modifications, however, I doubt they went as far as the NHC desired. The governing body demanded that the obstacle adjacent to the Distance Judge's chair (I am unsure whether or not he still sat there) be replaced with posts and rails 4ft high; Joe and Chris blamed the accidents (which included the deaths of Joseph Wynne in 1862 and George Ede in 1870) that had occurred there on uneven ground, which they had levelled, however, from what I can gather, posts and rails were erected in front of the existing obstacle but then removed at the last moment along with a pole that had run through what I strongly believe remained at this time a gorsed hurdle. We can imagine the intensity and variety of emotions when Fantome fell heavily at it in 1874. Thankfully both the horse and Johnny Page rose unscathed, in front of a crowd that seasoned observers felt was yet another record size.

A circuit later it was triumph for Richardson and Machell once again, this time with Reugny for Disturbance had too much weight, stripped light and was not in the same form (he'd not run since) as he had been in 1873. The latter was promptly retired to stud. Reugny, also an entire and the equal of Disturbance on the Flat, was much improved (he may not have been right last year) and had the confirmation of a high class steeplechaser. He was beautifully ridden to conserve his suspect stamina by Cat in the 1874 National, denying the ex-cavalry charger Chimney Sweep who too was piloted by his trainer, John Jones of Epsom. Chimney Sweep went backwards in response to two late cracks of Jones's whip when already very tired, however, Jones may have been more culpable by going for home a little too soon. In his defence, the only horse ahead of him after the second Anchor Bridge Crossing, Merlin (who would have been a topically-named tribute to E.W. if holding on), was one of two others in the race trained by Jones so he would have been cognitive more quickly than Richardson that Merlin was reaching the end of his tether. After his Grand National success Reugny never won again, and nor did Cat who quit race riding on the spot in a rather melodramatic response to a fall out with Captain James about the latter not having got on at the desired odds. The bitter breakup would not impact the owner's ability to have one readied for a big target.

I do not rate Reugny's performance as highly as that of his stablemate in 1873. The welter burden imposed upon Disturbance in 1874 indicates just how good his winning effort (rated -14) of the previous year was. Here Reugny carried 13lb less to victory than had Disturbance and 7lb less than had The Lamb in 1871 when also worthy of -14. Both those horses won more easily (reflected in their ratings) than Reugny who was ridden out (was Richardson spitefully ensuring that Machell's animal would rise in the handicap as much as possible?) The pace was capital and even and the time decent enough for Good to Soft (probably on the Good side thereof) going, although relative to The Lamb's time on a faster surface probably not as brilliant (there were also two less fences in 1874). However, all of the above does tell us Reugny merits a mark in the mid to high -20s. Thus he was more than two stones better than when beaten very easily by ten lengths receiving twelve pounds by Ryshworth (-29) in the 1873 Sefton Cup, run the day after that year's National (see 1873). This is generally confirmed by Reugny giving Master Mowbray (-69 in 1873 and for the second consecutive renewal seemingly too one-paced to benefit from easier ground than the year before) 7lb and beating him 14 lengths plus the "long interval" (say about 20 lengths) that occurred before the latter followed Defence past the post here in 1874. And Defence himself, whilst fully exposed, was a good enough horse to be handicapped just 10lb Disturbance's inferior. Indeed, strictly at the weights in the 1874 Grand National Defence emerged 1 (pound/length) better than Reugny, 16 in advance of Merlin and 17 superior to Chimney Sweep. The winner, though, can be allowed 1 for his mistake at the last. Therefore, after weighing up all the evidence, and once more taking the liberty of a glance into the future, I will award both Reugny and Defence -26, Merlin -42 and Chimney Sweep -43. Columbine (-52 in 1873) was running well and almost certainy about to record an improved performance (by circa 10 as sources suggest she may have been third) when going wrong near the second Anchor Bridge Crossing (but, incredibly, she was not pulled up by Snowy Harding and, similarly, former winner Casse Tete should have been immediately brought to a stop by Harry Day after breaking down at second Becher's).



> Some sources, and thus historians, hold that the Casse Tete/Dainty incident occurred at the CT 2C as opposed to the 22nd. My view, having read several race descriptions, is that Bell's Life contains the most reliable report. It couldn't be clearer when stating that the incident took place at the last along the CS 2C and links it very closely to the point where Columbine went lame, the location of which is undisputed.  








Copyright 2017 by Chris Dowling