Grand National Ultimate History



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There was at least as much plough as in 1877.


Fr 29 Mar 1878 (3.15) 4m 4 1/2f Good to Soft 10.23.00 12 £1,665 J. Nightingall

76 77 1 Shifnal 9 10-12 J. Nightingall J. Jones 100/15   Away well. 4th when left in lead 1st. Soon joined, then headed before BB 1C where 3rd. Remained prominent (2nd VB) and disputed lead again by ABC 1C. A neck ahead Gorsed Hurdle, bigger advantage WJ (where 7 remained). Joined again by 14th (Fan), 3rd BB 2C. Took lead once more VB. A close 2nd just after ABC. Came under pressure second last but jumped back into 1L lead last. Ran on gamely, all out.
  2 Martha(2) 7 10-09 H. Linde T. Beasley 20/1 2 Disputed lead from soon after 1st. Headed well before BB 1C where 5th. 3rd VB 1C, 2nd CS and same position Gorsed Hurdle (where a neck down) & WJ. Vied for lead again by 14th (Fan) and 2 1/2L ahead BB 2C. Headed once more VB but narrow advantage just after ABC. Came under pressure between last 2. Outjumped last and emerged 1L down. Kept on but weary.
77 3 Pride Of Kildare 7 11-07 J.H. Moore Garrett Moore 6/1 10 Always towards rear 1C, last BB and last but one WJ. Headway early 2C, 3rd at 14th (Fan). 2 1/2L 2nd BB, close 4th VB, 3rd mid CS & ABC. Same position, again close up, entering straight. Began to weaken just after second last.
75 76 4 Jackal 10 10-11 J. Jewitt J. Jewitt 12/1 DIST Prominent, 2nd BB 1C. Tried to refuse and ran out next (CT). Retraced steps, went correct side of boundary flag and continued up to a furlong behind. Caught field after ABC 1C, 4th WJ. 6th at 14th (Fan) and tired by mid CS 2C as earlier effort told. Last but one (6th again) ABC & beaten. Laboured on, inheriting 2 places.
  5 Miss Lizzie 5 10-07 J. Cannon W. Hunt 25/1   Away well. Disputed lead from soon after 1st until led outright before BB 1C. Joined by ABC 1C and headed before Gorsed Hurdle, 3rd WJ. 4th at 14th (Fan) & BB 2C. A close 3rd VB. Began to fade badly mid CS and rearmost by ABC. Continued to weaken and ultimately eased to a trot.
  P Boyne Water 6 10-12 S. Harding J. Adams 5/1 LATE 2C Always towards rear 1C and never travelling well, last but one BB and rearmost WJ where dwelt. Continued in same vein 2C, well behind VB. Modest effort to pass struggling horses from mid CS and a midfield 4th, 12L behind 3rd, ABC. Weakened badly soon after and eventually PU.
  P Curator 5 10-05 J. Jewitt T. Wilson NQ LATE 2C Prominent, 4th BB 1C and same position mid CS 1C although had dropped into rear-division, 5th WJ. Chased leaders early 2C and still 5th at 14th (Fan). However, had subsided to 7th & last by BB and exhibiting weariness by mid CS. A rear of midfield 5th ABC, beaten. Weakened further and eventually PU.
  F Tattoo 6 10-03   W. Canavan 33/1 1ST Very fractious before race and appeared lame. Quickly became very prominent and charged into 1st at the head of affars. Endeavoured to refuse, turned sideways, hit rail & fell, causing chaos.
  B His Lordship 5 10-07 R. I'Anson R. I'Anson 9/2F 1ST Soon became prominent. BD by Tattoo 1st, ending up in landing side ditch.
  B The Bear 5 10-04 D. Marsh D. Marsh 100/8 1ST Soon became prominent. BD by Tattoo 1st, ending up in landing side ditch.
  R Verity 7 10-10 W. Clay W. Gregory NQ 1ST Rear of mid-division, refused 1st.
  F Northfleet 6 10-03 C. Lawrence C. Lawrence 100/7 1ST Slowly away and last when tried to refuse & fell into ditch 1st.



As in 1875, an inferior renewal by the standards of the decade. It was the smallest field to line up for the National since 1841 and only seven horses remained from it after a melee at the 1st which was caused by Tattoo who looked patently lame, was unruly before the start and should not have been permitted to take part. Tattoo tried to refuse at the opening obstacle and brought down the favourite, His Lordship, and The Bear while Verity and Northfleet were probably put off by eyeing the tumult awaiting them on the landing side and also exited. Perhaps the stewards were reluctant to reduce the number of starters further by excluding Tattoo because several good horses had already been ruled out of the 1878 Grand National due to injury, amongst them The Liberator. That animal's late withdrawal generated friction between his owner/trainer, founder of the Moore dynasty John Hubert, and the British sporting press who fancied the likely favourite's absence was because Moore could not obtain the odds he desired to lump on. However, it is my understanding that The Liberator had missed a few weeks work.

Another hoo-hah had erupted before the race when several jockeys objected to the height of the gorsed hurdle. That the Tophams acquiesced by lopping off a couple of feet suggests that this obstacle had been made back up to its original tallness of nearly six feet, it having been reduced in size, along with many other jumps, by their father in the 1850s. The fact that a couple of feet could so easily be cut off what was acknowledged by all contemporary sources to have been an artificial obstacle (rather than a natural hedge) strengthens my conviction (see 1873) that since inception the jump adjacent to the Distance Judge's chair had remained a hurdle stuffed with gorse/thorn. Although the press by this time increasingly tended to refer to the obstacle as a bush fence, thorn fence, etc some elements had always described it as such even when other papers were calling it a gorsed hurdle and, crucially, how would it have been possible to quickly trim two feet off of a solid, made steeplechase fence? Furthermore, I have been unable to find a single contemporary reference to this obstacle being called the Chair (as claimed by some modern sources) up to and including 1882, even though it's quite likely the seat adjacent to the obstacle had not been occupied by the posterior of a judge for several years.

The 1878 Grand National highlighted a chronicle concerning a carousel of Epsom based characters. Shifnal was victorious on merit following a race long duel with Martha and survived a frivolous objection by Beasley, T. An entire, Shifnal had been owned and trained by John Nightingall and ridden by Robert I'Anson when third in 1876. Sold, he disappointed last year when trained and ridden by I'Anson (while stablemate Austerlitz triumphed). He was then repurchased by Nightingall, who clearly knew how to get the maximum from the horse, but I'Anson declined the ride feeling Shifnal was past his best and decided to partner a horse he trained, the unfortunate His Lordship. Thus, Nightingall offered the saddle to John (sometimes known as Jack) Jones, all of whose previous Grand National mounts he (Jones) had also trained. By virtue of this convoluted saga, and Shifnal's innate ability, both Johns recorded their first National win in any capacity.

The form, for once, is straightforward. At the weights Shifnal emerged 3 (pounds/lengths) better than Pride Of Kildare (who had strengthened but still failed to stay albeit less dramatically than in 1877) and 5 superior to Martha. It is reasonable to think Shifnal ran very similarly to how he did in 1876 so I will again award him -34 (Jackal, who ran waywardly, was rated -34 in 1875 and carried a weight just 1lb different to Shifnal's here!) and accordingly, therefore, I will rate Pride Of Kildare -37 and Martha -39.    







Copyright 2017 by Chris Dowling