Grand National Ultimate History



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There were only two fields of plough this year. The 1st and 2nd (Fan) obstacles were made fairer/tougher by replanting the hedge and instituting a hedge respectively, both with strong thorns. 


Th 18 Mar 1875 (3.15) 4m 4 1/2f Good (Good to Soft places) 10.22.00 19 £1,940 H. Bird

  1 Pathfinder 8 10-11 W. Reeves T. Pickernell 100/6   Prominent 1C although struggled on ploughed sections, 4th VB & ABC, 6th (of 14) WJ. Had dropped into rear of mid-division by the ploughed field immediately after BB 2C and jockey thought beaten. However, rallied to be chasing leaders ABC, albeit only 8th, and great headway to take 3rd entering straight. Disputed lead over last 2. Narrowly headed shortly after final flight but wore down Dainty inside last 50yds and just prevailed.
74 2 Dainty 9 11-00   J. Hathaway 25/1 1/2 Towards rear 1C, 12th WJ. No change 2C until made tremendous headway CS to firstly take 5th then be 3rd at ABC. Continued progress and took lead towards entrance to straight. Joined over last 2 but regained narrow advantage shortly after final flight. Jockey's whip broke on first use, worn down inside last 50yds and just denied.
  3 La Veine 5 11-12   Johnny Page 6/1JF 3 Away well & led from 1st until towards VB 1C. 3rd ABC 1C, 1/2L down in 2nd Gorsed Hurdle and same position WJ. Still 2nd early 2C but led again by BB. Headed once more soon after and dropped to 5th. 4th at CS ditch & ABC. Back up to 2nd entering straight and vied for lead second last. Under pressure and outjumped by eventual winner and runner-up last. Kept on relatively one-paced.
  4 Jackal 7 11-11 D. Marsh D. Marsh 6/1JF HD Initially prominent. Chased leaders in 6th BB 1C, 5th CT 1C and 4th soon after next (VB) but only 7th ABC & WJ. 8th VB 2C and 9th ABC although still pursuing leaders. Very good sustained headway to be a close 4th at second last and only 1L down in same position last. Kept on relatively one-paced and couldn't quite get up for 3rd.
  5 Marmora 7 11-02 J. Jones J. Jones 100/8   Prominent, 5th at 1st. Chased leaders in same position BB 1C despite not jumping well early stages. Dropped to 7th VB 1C but back up to 5th WJ as leaping improved. Continued to pursue frontrunners 2C, 7th again VB & ABC. Headway to take 5th once more entering straight and close up in same position at second last. Weakened thereafter to finish a bad 5th.
  6 Victoire 6 10-13   F. Barnes NQ   Slowly away and towards rear until CT 1C. Rapid headway CS and took lead soon after ABC 1C. Headed before Gorsed Hurdle where 3rd and same position WJ, early 2C & BB. Led once more soon after and not headed again until circa ABC. Came under pressure approaching straight and weakened from before second last.
  7 Sparrow 6 11-02 J. Whiteley W. Gregory 100/7   Away well & 3rd at 1st. Generally maintained that position through VB 1C. 6th ABC but back up to 4th Gorsed Hurdle & WJ. 3rd again just after BB 2C. Came under pressure circa CS ditch and had dropped to last but one by ABC. Ultimately eased to a trot but gifted 7th.
  8 Duc De Beaufort 6 11-13 C. Vyner Cpt D. Smith 100/8   Generally fore of mid-division 1C, 7th CT, 5th ABC and 8th WJ. Rear of midfield in 9th VB 2C but rallied to chase leaders in 6th ABC. Same position entering straight, however, faded badly thereafter. Gifted 8th.
73 74 9 Congress 9 12-04 W. Goater T. Wilson 7/1   Kicked on the nose before start. Nevertheless very prominent, 2nd from 1st until took lead towards VB 1C. Headed soon after ABC but regained advantage before Gorsed Hurdle where 1/2L ahead. Also led WJ, however, 2nd again by BB 2C. Same position CS ditch but took lead once more circa ABC. Began to come under pressure towards straight, headed decisively and dropped to 4th. Weakened further before second last. Thereafter continued to fade badly and ultimately eased.
  P Bar One 8 11-04   L. Nicholson NQ RUN IN Slowly away & towards rear, 11th VB 1C. Progress to be a mid-division 9th WJ. Further headway early 2C and took 4th soon after BB. 3rd when very bad mistake CS ditch and lost position, 5th ABC. Weakened before second last and dropped to 7th. Could have finished in that position but PU run in.
  P Laburnum 6 11-12 J. Cannon J. Jewitt 20/1 BEF 2ND LAST Initially rear of mid-division but pulled way into fore of same by BB 1C where 8th. Had dropped to last but one by WJ, however, rallied 2C to chase leaders in 6th VB. Gradually faded again CS and last at ABC. Stumbled on flat entering straight, broke down badly & PU. Dead.
72 F Fleuriste 8 11-00 J. Nightingall R. I'Anson 33/1 21ST (CS DITCH) Initially mid-division but soon dropped towards rear. Last ABC 1C & WJ, at latter of which washed hind legs. Still rearmost when slipped & fell into CS ditch 2C, breaking stirrup leather.
  P Miss Hungerford 8 11-10 C. Richardson Vsc Melgund 20/1 17TH (BB) Prominent. 4th at 1st & BB 1C, 5th VB 1C. Had dropped to a mid-division 10th by WJ. Rallied early 2C to be handy again and going well when BD by Sailor at 14th (Fan). Remounted, well tailed off. Hopeless task so PU immediately after BB.
  F Sailor 6 11-07 D. Broderick S. Fleming 100/8 14TH (FAN) Away well & briefly led but soon swallowed up and only fore of mid-division at 1st. 10th VB 1C, a midfield 11th WJ. Headway early 2C and prominent when overjumped & fell Fan.
  F Clonave 7 12-01 J. Monaghan P. Gavin 9/1 2ND (FAN) Away quite well. Prominent until bumped from behind as commenced leap & fell 2nd, slipping into ditch on take off side where remained stuck for half an hour.
  B St Aubyn 7 11-07 W. Clay J. Pickett 40/1 2ND (FAN) Away quite well & fairly prominent until, while in the air, BD by Clonave 2nd.
73 B New York 7 10-13 H. May E. Dalglish NQ 2ND (FAN) Fore of mid-division until, while in the air, BD by St Aubyn 2nd.
74 R Furley 7 12-02 D. Marsh J. Goodwin NQ 1ST Mid-division, refused 1st.
  B Messager 7 11-07 J. Whiteley J. Whiteley 33/1 1ST Towards rear, BD by the refusing Furley at the 1st.



An exciting race, three horses jumping the last flight on terms with each other. As opposed to the Heavy ground description attached to this renewal by most modern sources, contemporary reports indicate the going was in "capital order" and "very light" for the 1875 Grand National. Newspapers of the time also convey the impression the pace was nothing special, however, the winner and runner-up were well off the speed at second Becher's so there's no doubt the race developed into a thorough test (I reckon the leaders lifted it on the second circuit, Victoire and Congress may well have done too much for their own good). On balance, I conclude the surface was probably a little better than that of 1874 but did contain some cut. The 1875 edition was, though, a somewhat substandard affair in the context of the quality of at least the previous nine Nationals. Certainly, there was less anticipatory speculation in the betting market.

Pathfinder, a lightly raced hunter (formerly called The Knight) whose form before and after the 1875 National was distinctly ordinary, stayed on best. In a race where seven of the eight horses who either refused, fell or were brought down effectively made their exit at the two fences which had been made fairer but harder to jump, Pathfinder carried the lowest weight in the field, 10st 11lb, which was just 1lb less than the top weight had been in 1856! His trainer, former jockey William, sometimes Bill, Reeves was based in Epsom and enjoyed success under both codes until petitioning for voluntary liquidation in 1882 and retiring a few years later. For Thomas Pickernell it was his third and final Grand National victory at the age of 41. Apparently Tommy overdid his pre-race nip and had to ask a fellow jockey the direction in which to line up. He could evidently see straight enough at the finish but in the earlier circumstances could not have been on a more aptly named horse!

Furley, having also refused at the Liverpool Autumn Meeting of 1874 and in a recent valuable chase at Bristol, was threatening to become the new Fan while New York, on only his second run since being brought down and injured at the fence named after that mercurial mare on the second circuit in the 1873 National, here met with the same fate a lap earlier! Sadly, Laburnum could not be saved, despite vets battling for two weeks the horse was put down in early April.

At the weights in the 1875 Grand National the French mare La Veine came out 1 (pound/length) superior to Jackal, 8 better than Dainty (like the victor, a hunter) and 11 ahead of Pathfinder. Bearing in mind the latter carried an almost identical weight to that shouldered by Reugny (raw rating -27) in 1874 and encountered slightly better going comprised of less plough Pathfinder's 18s slower winning time cannot be entirely attributed to a slower pace. Therefore, and also once again glancing to the future, I am inclined to rate Pathfinder -44, Dainty -41, Jackal -34 and La Veine -33.








Copyright 2017 by Chris Dowling