Grand National Ultimate History



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There were only a couple of fields of plough on the whole course in 1880. In response to the heavy toll extracted by the 1st over the last couple of years its posts & rails were removed and ditch filled up. It became a simple gorse (i.e. plain) fence.


Fr 19 Mar 1880 (2.55) 4m 4 1/2f Good 10.29.00 14 £1,145 P. Ducrot

  1 Empress 5 10-07 H. Linde T. Beasley 8/1   Away well. A mid-division 6th BB 1C. Progress after VB 1C and briefly 2nd but soon eased back, 7th mid CS & ABC 1C. 6th again (of 10) WJ and similar position in midfield until VB 2C. CS headway this time sustained and 3rd ABC although about 50L behind clear leader. Further good progress and much closer in 3rd at second last. Took 2nd between last 2 and leapt into lead at final flight. Ran on. Nicely.
76 77 79 2 The Liberator 11 12-07 J.H. Moore Garrett Moore 11/2 2 Held up 1C. Last but one in 9th BB to WJ. Headway early 2C. 4th BB and same place CT, VB & ABC where about 50L behind clear leader. Gradual further progress to be a fairly close 3rd at last. Kept on well under pressure and just got up for 2nd in the shadow of the post.
  3 Downpatrick 6 10-07 W. Reeves P. Gavin 100/15 HD Away well & very prominent. 3rd over first 2, 4th BB 1C. 5th mid CS but had edged into a slight lead by ABC 1C. Headed Gorsed Hurdle, disputed lead WJ, headed again very early 2C. 2nd BB, 3rd CT & VB and 2nd once more ABC although about 35L behind clear leader. Big effort to be merely 3L down entering straight and very close up at second last. Regained lead soon after. Decisively headed final flight. Kept on but pipped for 2nd in the shadow of the post.
  4 Jupiter Tonans 7 10-05 J.H. Moore Cpt S. Lee-Barber 50/1 2 Soon became very prominent, 2nd over first 2 and led before BB 1C. Still ahead VB but headed & 3rd by mid CS 1C. A close 4th ABC, 1L down in 3rd WJ. Took lead again, at a quicker pace, well before BB 2C where 7L to the good. Stretched advantage around the CT, well clear by VB and about 35L in front ABC. Began to tire soon after and held sway by only 3L entering straight. Almost caught by second last, headed not long after & dropped back to 3rd. 4th at last but kept on gamely.
  5 Woodbrook 6 11-07 H. Linde H. Beasley 25/1   Prominent, 2nd BB & VB 1C and took lead mid CS 1C. Immediately began to lose ground on plough and only 6th ABC. A mid-division 7th WJ. Unable to make a significant impression 2C, 6th again BB, 5th CT & VB. Remained 5th, about 50L behind clear leader, ABC. Kept on but extremely one-paced and whilst did not finish tailed off was still some way off Jupiter Tonans at the post.
79 6 Wild Monarch 9 11-11 R. I'Anson R. I'Anson 11/2   Soon became very prominent and led over the first 2 but rider took a pull before BB 1C where 7th. 6th mid CS 1C, 8th ABC & WJ. Up to 5th by BB 2C, however, 7th again CT and under pressure VB. Soon began to fade and finished tailed off.
79 7 Victor 6 10-07 Garrett Moore Cpt W. Morris 50/1   Soon became prominent, 4th over first 2. 3rd BB & VB 1C, took 2nd mid CS and very close up in that position circa ABC 1C. Still close but in 5th WJ. Began to fade early 2C and 8th BB. Same position and beaten by mid CS. Finished tailed off.
  8 Victoria(2) 7 10-07 Garrett Moore J. Beasley 100/7   Rear of mid-division, 8th BB & mid CS 1C. Progress into 5th ABC and a close 4th WJ. 3rd BB 2C and 2nd CT & VB. Came under pressure mid CS, weakened quickly and finished tailed off.
74 75 77 9 Dainty 14 10-02 Sam Darling Sam Darling 66/1   Outpaced and towards rear, 10th & last BB 1C. Lost further ground CS and well tailed off WJ. Remained rearmost 2C and finished utterly tailed off.
76 77 78 P Shifnal 11 11-11 J. Nightingall Cpt D. Smith 20/1 CS 2C Prominent, 5th BB 1C. 4th mid CS 1C, a close 3rd ABC and jumped into lead Gorsed Hurdle. Joined by WJ but in front on own again very early 2C. Headed when pace lifted well before BB, faded rapidly and 9th at said obstacle. Became tailed off and PU CS.
  R St George(1) 10-02 J. Nightingall G. Levitt 25/1 2ND (FAN) Mid-division, refused 2nd.
76 77 79 F Regal 9 11-11 J. Jewitt J. Cannon 5/1F 2ND (FAN) Rear of mid-division. Required a lot of room & slow jump 1st. Jumped sideways 2nd, alighted on fence & rolled over onto landing side.
  F Gunlock 6 10-05 W. Weston H. Davis 33/1 2ND (FAN) Slowly away & towards rear when fell 2nd.
  R Sleight Of Hand 9 10-04 J. Chandler J. Childs 50/1 1ST Slowly away & towards rear, refused 1st.



It was clearly a sensible decision to reduce the 1st fence to a gorse/thorn/plain obstacle. John Pinfold, in his 2016 book, provides a quote (I believe from The Times, whose coverage of the Grand National over the years leaves a lot to be desired in my opinion) stating that the 1st was removed entirely for the 1880 renewal, however, the content of the citation is unquestionably erroneous, as can be confirmed by perusal of all four major contemporary sporting newspapers - not only in respect of these newspapers' comments specifically regarding the 1st but also by their references to the 2nd being known as Fan and being the fence (as indeed it was) where Regal took a tumble in the 1879 National. Said papers (one of whom was adamant that the crowd was of record proportions), furthermore, correctly couch the distance to the 1st in 1880 in terms of a quarter of a mile whereas had the 1st been removed the run before leaving the ground would have been getting on for three furlongs.

Regal seemed to have developed a Fan-like aversion to the jumps and became one of three victims claimed by the 2nd, always tricky but now the initial really challenging obstacle the field had to negotiate. Only in that regard had the 2nd become the new 1st! Other horses not to run as well as on occasions in the past were Wild Monarch (who looked overtrained), Shifnal and, understandably at 14, Dainty. The pace wasn't great on the first circuit (hence the rather underwhelming winning time) and Tommy Beasley also had to contend with a broken stirrup leather in the closing stages so his ride was calm and well judged to enable Empress to become both the eighth mare and fourth 5-y-o to win. It was Beasley's first Grand National victory and one that provided the breakthrough (in a race that saw the first five home all Irish-trained) also for his fellow Irishman Henry Linde. The latter would enjoy a fruitful decade with his jumpers, however, even in an age when hard training was in vogue and it was common for runners in the National to have either a prep race or a four mile gallop on the course the day before the big event, Linde's severe, repetitive and lengthy galloping of horses, especially young ones, caused them to lack long-term durability. Empress, for example, never raced again (although she proved to be an excellent broodmare).

The real star of the 1880 Grand National was The Liberator who put up a weight carrying performance very similar to that of Congress in 1877 and The Lamb in 1872. It is reasonable to assume The Liberator ran as well as he had in 1879, therefore, like Congress, he deserves a second rating of -18 (I do not need to update my Scroll Of Merit in this discussion). Even allowing Empress 2 (pounds/lengths) for the broken stirrup and winning nicely she comes out at the weights 24 inferior (-42) to The Liberator, Downpatrick rates -46 and Jupiter Tonans -50. (Glancing ahead to Woodbrook's exploits in 1881 and employing a line through Regal would make The Liberator's effort in the 1880 National appear even more worthy, however, Woodbrook, who may well have improved and, being one-paced, was better suited by the vastly slower ground in 1881, certainly did not perform as well here in 1880 as he would do a year later.)        









Copyright 2017 by Chris Dowling