Grand National Ultimate History



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The 1st fence was replaced by a hurdle and slight ridges of clay were made at the front edges of the four open ditches.


Fr 28 Mar 1884 (3.15) 4m 4 1/2f Good 10.05.00 15 £1,035 H. Boyd

  1 Voluptuary 6 10-05 W. Wilson T. Wilson 10/1   Away in mid-division. Soon became prominent, 4th BB 1C and 5th Chair. Declined customary rush for WJ where 9th (all 15 remained). 6th from early 2C until CS, 4th ABC and a close 3rd entering straight. Led circa second last. Almost joined when outjumped rival last. Ran on well. Comfortably.
  2 Frigate 6 11-03 M. Maher H. Beasley 10/1 4 Fore of mid-division. Up to 6th BB 1C but held onto and only 13th WJ. Progress to chase leaders by VB 2C, 5th CS & ABC. Further headway to be 2nd circa second last. Had virtually joined leader/winner when bad mistake & landed sideways last. Lacked pace and time to recover.
  3 Roquefort 5 10-05 A. Yates J. Childs 9/1 6 Initially rear of mid-division but soon became prominent. 4th ABC 1C, 3rd WJ. Vied for lead for a while early 2C. 5th BB. 2nd CS and 6L down in same position ABC. Effort immediately after and disputed lead again just after entering straight. Headed circa second last and relegated to 3rd. Kept on one-paced and weary.
82 4 Cyrus 7 11-12 J. Jewitt J. Jewitt 9/1 4 Away well. Took lead after 1st. Headed before BB 1C where 2nd. 3rd ABC 1C, 2nd again WJ. Vied for lead early 2C, 3rd from BB to ABC. Disputed lead once more just after entering straight but began to come under pressure before second last and soon relegated to 4th. Continued to be ridden and plugged on dourly if one-paced.
83 5 Zitella 6 12-00 H. Linde T. Beasley 100/7 DIST Always towards rear 1C, 15th & last WJ. Continued in same vein 2C and still among those well behind ABC. Plugged on into a bad 5th.
82 83 6 Zoedone 7 12-02 S. Harding Cou Kinsky 100/7   Slowly away & held up towards rear. A mid-division 11th WJ. Headway early 2C and took lead early CS. Went 6L clear. Reeled in after ABC and headed just after entering straight. Weakened badly from second last and soon heavily eased.
82 83 7 Black Prince 12 10-11 R. Exshaw T. Widger 50/1   Away quite well & chased leaders (6th ABC 1C) until became a very close 2nd Chair. 4th WJ & early 2C, led by BB. Joined by VB, quickly headed and 4th CS. Had dropped off leading quintet by ABC and beaten. Finished well tailed off.
83 8 Cortolvin(2) 7 10-00 J. Jewitt Cpt D. Smith 100/12   Away well & took lead before BB 1C. Joined by ABC but regained narrow advantage 13th. Swerved slightly, headed & relegated to 3rd next (Chair). Another mistake & dropped to 5th WJ. Rallied to vie for lead early 2C, 2nd BB. Began to fade early CS and under severe pressure by 27th. Ultimately eased to a canter.
  9 Idea 6 10-12 Garrett Moore W. Moore 100/6   Always towards rear. 14th WJ, well behind by ABC 2C and finished completely tailed off.
  10 Satellite 5 10-05 S. Harding J. Beasley 8/1   Started enthusiastically in fore of mid-division but had dropped to 12th by WJ. Rallied into a briefly held 7th CS 2C, however, beaten by ABC and finished completely tailed off.
  11 Albert Cecil 6 11-02 A. Yates R. Sheriffe 50/1   Mid to rear 1C, 10th WJ. No impact 2C and finished completely tailed off.
81 82 12 The Scot 8 11-03 J. Jones J. Jones 6/1F   Away well in dense mist & immediately led. Steadied & headed after 1st, 5th BB 1C. 7th ABC 1C but ridden into narrow advantage Chair. Swamped in mad dash for WJ where 8th. 5th again early 2C. Similar position when took off too soon at CT (a ditch), plunged into hedge and lost much ground. Unable to recover and ultimately became completely tailed off.
  13 Terrier 4 10-00 D. Marsh D. Thirlwell 33/1   Initially mid to rear. Progress to be 7th BB 1C and 5th ABC. 6th WJ. Any hope destroyed when jockey got foot caught in the top bar of a hurdle, likely the 20th, and suffered a badly twisted leg. Well behind by ABC and finished completely tailed off.
  F Tom Jones 7 10-04 S. Harding Cpt S. Lee-Barber 25/1 23RD (CT) Mid-division, 8th BB 1C. Chased leaders in 7th WJ. Headway and more prominent 2C until fell CT.
76 77 79 80 81 P Regal 13 11-06 J. Jewitt W. Hunt 20/1 23RD (CT) Away well & very prominent. 2nd at 1st, 3rd BB 1C and disputed lead ABC. 2nd once more at 13th and 4th next (Chair) but charged into a 2L lead WJ. Soon headed and 7th early 2C, however, 4th again BB and in similar position when broke down soon after next and PU before CT.



A new National Hunt Committee, more closely allied to the Jockey Club, had been formed on January 1st. Its members were doubtless delighted by the 1884 Grand National attracting, according to all contemporary reports, a crowd in excess of the estimated 100,000 who had been present in 1873. Many of the spectators likely came along because the future King Edward VII, whose interest in steeplechasing provided a boost to the sport, now owned The Scot and what is more it was the first time the Prince of Wales (who, tragically, received news of the death of his brother, the Duke of Albany, as the contest was finishing) had run a horse in his own colours in a big race. Public sentiment could have been the only reason for the horse being made favourite! Ironically, however, nobody was able to see much of the race due to a heavy mist.

Speaking of conditions, not for the first or last time the going description (Heavy) given by sources created well after the event is incorrect. Wildly so. Judging by the winning time and an investigation of contemporary accounts the ground for the 1884 National was Good and feasibly a shade on the firm side thereof. Obfuscation also pertains to the 1st. It seems that in 1884 a gorse hurdle directly replaced the plain fence that previously required horses to leave the ground for the initial time. There is certainly no mention of the swap occurring along with the other course changes of 1883. However, one source from 1880, when the posts and rails were removed and the ditch filled in at the 1st, says the obstacle was now (1880) similar to the one before the Water Jump. Therefore, if I'm correct in believing that that obstacle remained a gorsed hurdle through 1882 (before becoming an open ditch) then perhaps the 1st had been a hurdle since 1880. In a concentrated period of much remaking, though, it's quite conceivable that the substitution of a hurdle for the fence did indeed happen in 1884 because the unguarded ditches instituted in 1883 were very quickly altered due to the considerable concern they were causing for competitors, clay mounds being devised to afford horses some kind of sight line. Thankfully, most of the fogginess will be blown away in 1885.

The race was conducted at a rattling good pace and turned into a thorough test of stamina, the winner and runner-up were both held up. The decent going allowed Voluptuary to display his superior toe and he likely will forever remain the sole Grand National winner to have run in the Derby. Making his debut over the larger obstacles, Voluptuary had only run twice over hurdles and he would confirm his adaptability by nextly embarking upon a theatre career that would last for four years. In 1884, though, he rewarded Ted Wilson with National success at the tenth attempt, 'The Farmer''s brother William was chiefly responsible for the training. Several horses did too much too soon - Roquefort, Zoedone, Black Prince and Cortolvin. Regal returned after a three-year absence from the National and showed much of his old spark before unfortunately breaking down. Nine years his junior, Terrier became the second and final 4-y-o to contest the Aintree showpiece.

Count Kinsky overcooked it along the canal side on the second circuit so Zoedone obviously wasn't nearly as effective as in 1883, nevertheless, she more comprehensively beat Black Prince. However, there was a bit more quality in depth this year and the first three home in the 1884 Grand National were all promising young chasers open to further improvement. Strictly at the weights Frigate emerged 1 (pound/length) superior to relative old stager Cyrus, 8 better than Voluptuary (whose soon-to-be owner was a man distracted by the bright lights) and 18 in advance of Roquefort. There are a couple of salient points that help us measure the form. Firstly, Cyrus ran very similarly, considering he was lugging over a stone more, to how he had in 1882 when I rated him -31. Secondly, comparing Voluptuary's winning time and weight carried to that of the two most recent Good ground victors and taking into account factors that include the amount of plough, the overall pace and the degree of the jumping test serves to convince me he performed a tad better than Austerlitz (-41 in 1877) and Empress (-42 in 1880). Thus, by awarding Cyrus -31 again it brings in Voluptuary at -38 and he deserves 2 for comfort of triumph for a final mark of -36. Accordingly, Frigate, bred by her trainer and whom can also be allowed 2 (for her stumble at the last), receives this year's best rating of -28. Roquefort's performance merits -48.       








Copyright 2017 by Chris Dowling