Grand National Ultimate History



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Fr 29 Mar 1889 (3.38) 4m 4f Good 10.01.20 20 £1,234 M. Maher

84 85 86 87 88 1 Frigate 11 11-04 M. Maher T. Beasley 8/1   Held up & tracked leaders while racing in the fore of mid-division until made good progress after ABC 2C to be 2nd at 29th. Took lead last. 3L ahead Elbow. Kept on well, always holding runner-up.
  2 Why Not 8 11-05 H. Hall C.J. Cunningham 100/9 1 Away well & very prominent, 4th BB 1C, 2nd (of 14) WJ. Led early 2C, again at BB & once more after 28th. 3L ahead next. Headed last and 3L down Elbow. Rallied gamely last 100yds but always held.
  3 M.P. 8 10-09 G. Mulcaster A. Nightingall 20/1 DIST Very prominent until led 10th. Soon headed, 5th WJ. Mid-division early 2C but made steady headway and then driven to lead by 4L after VB. Headed after 28th and weakened quite badly after ABC.
87 88 4 Bellona 7 11-02 J. Cannon C. Waller 20/1 4 Slowly away & towards rear 1C, last but one WJ. Had improved into mid-division by BB 2C and further headway to be 2nd after ABC. Began to fade before 29th and weakened further after it.
88 5 Magic 10 10-09 J. Jones J. Jones 25/1   Mid-division throughout. Plugged on.
  6 The Sikh 6 10-04 S. Harding D. Thirlwell 100/9   Chased leaders until end of CS 1C. Rear of mid-division WJ. Rallied after BB 2C and chased leaders again ABC. Weakened thereafter.
88 7 The Fawn 7 10-10 Horton W. Beasley 25/1   Chased leaders until became very prominent 7th. Led from Chair until headed for a while early 2C. Soon regained lead but finally headed just before BB. Remained very handy, 3rd after 28th. Gradually faded and beaten by last. Very badly weakened further run in.
88 8 Ringlet 8 11-12 Sam Darling John Walsh 66/1   Slowly away and last BB 1C & WJ. Modest progress to be mid to rear ABC 2C. Laboured on but finished well tailed off.
  9 Battle Royal 5 10-08 Lewis H. Beasley 25/1   Prominent 1C and up to 4th WJ. Even more handy early 2C. Gradually faded from BB, towards rear ABC and finished completely tailed off.
85 86 87 88 10 Gamecock 10 11-12 A. Yates B. Dollery 33/1   Always very prominent until took lead 11th. Headed after 12th but remained extremely handy, 3rd WJ. 4th BB 2C and still prominent in 5th VB. Weakened thereafter and finished completely tailed off.
84 85 86 87 F Roquefort 10 12-00 W. Wilson T. Wilson 6/1F 28TH Away well. Generally very prominent 1C although only 6th WJ. 3rd BB 2C and in same position, going well, when fell 28th.
  P Great Paul 7 10-00 W. Moore W. Ellis 200/1 28TH Slowly away & in rear 1st. Gradual headway to lead briefly VB 1C. Had dropped into mid-division by WJ. Last and under pressure early 2C. Tailed off by BB. PU 28th.
  P Glenthorpe 5 10-10 W. Moore W. Moore 10/1 28TH Chased leaders 1st but had dropped to mid-division by VB 1C. Renewed effort early 2C but under pressure BB and faded. Tailed off & last when broke down & PU 28th.
84 F Voluptuary 11 11-03 S. Harding T. Skelton 100/6 23RD Away well & led from 1st until headed VB 1C. Chased leaders for a while but had dropped into mid-division by WJ. Under pressure BB 2C and well beaten when fell next.
85 R Kilworth   10-13 S. Harding Cpt R. Owen 40/1 4TH Chased leaders until refused 4th.
87 88 P Ballot Box 10 12-07 Sam Darling William Nightingall 20/1 4TH Slowly away & towards rear. Took off too soon 3rd (ditch) & blundered badly causing bridle to slip off. PU before next.
  F Hettie 6 10-05 J. Jones A. Hall 66/1 3RD (OD) Chased leaders until fell into ditch 3rd.
  F Et Caetera 5 10-13 J. Cannon G. Morris 8/1 3RD (OD) Mid-division, fell 3rd.
  R Merry Maiden 7 10-07   Cpt S. Lee-Barber 66/1 1ST Mid-division, did not like the look of the 1st & declined it.
86 87 88 B Savoyard 11 11-11 S. Harding G. Lambton 25/1 1ST Rear of mid-division, BD by the refusing Merry Maiden at the 1st.



The 1889 Grand National brought a hugely popular and richly deserved success for Frigate who carried Mat Maher's purple and white colours to victory. That night the tar barrels blazed in County Wexford. In becoming the tenth winning mare and the oldest horse to triumph since 1857, she gave a more mature Tommy Beasley, the third of the brothers to ride Frigate in the race, his third National. By general consent Frigate was the best mare to have won the annual Aintree spectacular to this point, indeed it can be argued she was pretty much as good as anything that ran in 1880s Nationals post Seaman (1882). Overall the 1870s had been a stronger decade than the one coming to a close, as would be the 1890s. And with an eye towards the upcoming decennium, race debutant Why Not here established himself as virtually on a par with Frigate, in fact the 1889 renewal resembled a passing of the baton because Why Not's Grand National career would mirror the magnificent mare's. Dropping the stick earlier on the track, as it were, Savoyard had the tin hat applied to his star-crossed National life when brought down at the 1st by a recalcitrant outsider, and late faller Roquefort cannot be considered unlucky because there must be a doubt that he would have continued to apply himself when things became tougher and, more pertinently, he was giving 10lb to Frigate whom I rated 7lb his superior in the year of his victory (1885). Another returning conqueror of the mare at the weights Voluptuary reappeared, to little avail, following four years of treading the boards and Kilworth came back from a  twelvemonth's less absence from the National only to confirm he would have preferred to have kept away.

The winning time in 1889 was very much nearer than 1888's to equating with Gamecock's on similar Good going in 1887 (rated -37) after adjustment for the shorter race distance now traversed. Considering that the jumping test had become decidedly stiffer and that Frigate carried 4lb more than had the horse who this year finished last we can see that the mare's triumphant performance was a fair bit the better of the two on the clock alone. And in terms of collateral form, which is more reliable, I rated Frigate -25 in both 1885 and 1888. Therefore, bearing in mind contemporary opinion of Frigate's worth (see above), that the existing highest rating awarded to a victorious mare is the -24 I allocated to Charity in 1841, and glancing ahead to Why Not's future Grand National exploits, I am happy to raise Frigate to -23 for her effort in 1889. Why Not came out the mare's equal strictly at the weights, however, he was always being held by her so I will give him -24.







Copyright 2017 by Chris Dowling