Grand National Ultimate History



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Fr 20 Mar 1891 (3.50) 4m 4f Good to Firm 9.58.00 21 £1,680 W. Jameson

  1 Come Away 7 11-12 H. Beasley H. Beasley 4/1F   Held up in mid-division 1C, 8th (of 14) WJ. Headway early 2C and prominent BB. Continued progress to lead after VB. Joined along CS until led outright again towards 29th where began to go lame. Narrow advantage last. Ran on very well under pressure, just held on.
  2 Cloister 7 11-07 D. Marsh Cpt R. Owen 20/1 1/2 Towards rear 1st. Rapid headway to lead 3rd until headed CT 1C. Disputed lead Chair & WJ, and again BB 2C. 4th VB but soon vied for lead once more. Relegated to 2nd towards 29th. Close up last. Short of room Elbow. Ran on very well.
90 3 Ilex 7 12-03 J. Nightingall A. Nightingall 5/1 DIST Away well & prominent 1st to CS 1C but had dropped to 10th by WJ. Headway to chase leaders BB 2C and up to 3rd VB. Disputed lead 28th. Dropped to 4th before 29th where left 3rd again. Faded further before last and continued to weaken run in. 
84 85 86 87 89 4 Roquefort 12 11-13 A. Yates F. Guy 40/1 19 Soon very prominent. Took lead CT 1C and went 8L clear CS. Caught & headed before Chair but vied for lead WJ. Lost place early 2C, 5th BB. Had dropped towards rear by VB and beaten by end of CS. Plugged on tailed off.
  5 Cruiser 6 10-08 H. Linde T. Beasley 7/1 20 Chased leaders 1C, 7th WJ. 6th early 2C but had dropped towards rear by VB. Plodded on, finished well tailed off.
85 86 87 88 89 90 6 Gamecock 12 12-04 A. Yates B. Dollery 66/1   Very prominent 1C, disputed lead Chair & WJ. Led outright 2C until joined BB. Came under pressure before VB and faded, beaten before end of CS. Badly weakened further.
89 90 F Why Not 10 12-04 H. Hall C.J. Cunningham 100/9 29TH Mid-division until became more prominent CS 1C, 5th WJ. Chased leaders 2C, still 5th VB. 4th at 28th and continued progress to be a close up 3rd, going well, when fell heavily 29th.
  F Veil 6 10-13 W. Roser W. Moore 25/1 25TH (VB) Away well & very prominent until CS 1C then chased leaders but had dropped to 9th WJ. Became prominent again early 2C and disputed lead BB. 2nd when fell VB.
84 89 90 P Voluptuary 13 11-03 W. Wilson T. Wilson 66/1 24TH (CT) Slowly away. Mid-division from 7th to 12th, however, had dropped to be last but one WJ. Began to tail off early 2C and well behind when PU CT.
  F Young Glasgow 10 10-03   R. Mitchell 40/1 22ND (BB) Chased leaders 3rd. Prominent CT 1C. Disputed lead briefly Chair. 4th WJ. Very prominent early 2C. Still prominent but under pressure when fell BB.
  P Dominion 6 10-13 H. Escott W. Thornton 66/1 22ND (BB) Slowly away & towards rear to BB 1C. Steady progress to chase leaders CS 1C and 6th WJ. Mid-division 2C until very bad mistake BB & immediately PU.
90 P Emperor 6 11-03 J. Nightingall William Nightingall 25/1 22ND (BB) Slowly away. Last BB & CT 1C. 11th WJ and effort early 2C but had dropped towards rear again and struggling when PU BB. (Fell jumping rails on the way in and broke neck. Dead.)
90 P Fireball   10-00 H. Hall W. Halsey 100/1 22ND (BB) Prominent 3rd. Chased leaders CT 1C. Had dropped to 12th by WJ. Became tailed off on 2C and PU BB.
  P Adelaide 7 10-00 T. Sherwood A. Ripley 200/1 22ND (BB) Prominent 3rd but looked to have little chance 13th, last WJ. Became tailed off on 2C and PU BB.
  F Grape Vine 6 10-07   J. Hoysted 9/1 8TH (CT) Away well. Led 1st & 2nd. Headed 3rd. 2nd BB 1C and when fell CT 1C.
  B Roman Oak 7 12-00 J. Gatland H. Escott 100/9 8TH (CT) Away well & prominent until BD by Grape Vine CT 1C.
88 F Jeanie 8 10-04 W. Wilson A. Barker 66/1 7TH Towards rear until fell 7th.
  F Choufleur 5 11-03 J. Gatland T. Kavanagh 25/1 4TH Away well but only mid-division when fell 4th.
90 F Brunswick 7 10-04 Redding G. Mawson 40/1 3RD (OD) Mid-division, fell 3rd.
  F Nasr-Ed-Din 5 10-00 Cowe H. Brown 50/1 3RD (OD) Mid-division, fell 3rd.
  F Flower Of The Forest 6 10-04 H. Escott R. Clark 50/1 2ND Away well & very prominent 1st, fell 2nd.



The 1891 Grand National was almost certainly the best seen to date. Past, present and future winners accounted for one third of the field. Among them Gamecock became the fourth horse to run in seven renewals, however, it was a pair of 7-y-o newcomers to the race, both of whom will immediately or soon take their place on my Scroll Of Merit, who fought out an epic duel. Come Away had fragile legs but rock solid form entering the contest, having won seven of his nine starts, whereas Cloister (who loved quick ground) was relatively unheralded before the off because experts doubted his jumping and stamina. However, it would transpire that his sire, Ascetic, would produce three Grand National winners and perhaps the period we are entering was the true dawn of general athletic improvement (see 1868) amongst steeplechasers. Training methods had not greatly evolved, that is not to knock the prowess of Harry Beasley who had to resort to assuming that duty in order to finally attain National success following three second-place rides - it has to be said, though, that in cold weather he would often gallop Come Away, who would have been better suited by a bit of cut in 1891, in the middle of the night by the glow of storm lanterns to avoid morning frost! Jockey skills had not appreciably advanced overall either, however, here Beasley employed all his experience and nous in the saddle to legally shut out Roddy Owen, Cloister's headstrong rider, who went for a non-existant gap after the Elbow. Owen's objection was overruled and, we can imagine Harry's anger and frustration had he forfeited the elusive prize in the stewards' room, a punch up narrowly averted. The latter, unfortunately, had already lost a great racehorse for Come Away had won despite suffering a recurrence of a suspensory ligament injury at the second last which was so severe he was never able to run again. In the circumstances a more prudent ride by Owen could well have seen Cloister notch a National victory two years before he actually did, however, even had Cloister edged it he would still have been second best at the weights and had Come Away not broken down who knows by how far he would have triumphed?

Let's investigate whether we can go some way towards answering that question. It's reasonable, based upon his past and future exploits, to believe Why Not, had he stood up, would have finished off his race. It's a long way home from the 29th at Aintree and, therefore, difficult to assess how he would have emerged at the weights with Come Away to whom he was giving 6lb. However, Ilex, the 1890 winner, was trounced by the front pair in 1891 and would have been well beaten by Why Not who was also ahead of him at the second last. These two shouldered almost identical weights and the reader may recall I rated Why Not -24 (1889) and Ilex -38 (1890) so that provides us a basis of sorts. As mentioned in last year's discussion a 'distance' is a minimum of 30 lengths, therefore, in 1891 Come Away beat Ilex by at least 31 lengths less the 5lb the former was receiving for a figure of 26 (pounds/lengths) or -12. However, whilst Ilex may actually have been beaten by even further I severely doubt that he gave his true running, perhaps finding the going a bit too quick, and in all likelihood he was eased. In addition, to achieve -12 Come Away would have to have beaten Why Not by 18 lengths which seems unlikely. However, it's conceivable that the theoretical margin could have been 9 which would peg Come Away at -21. Strictly at the weights in 1891 Come Away came out 6 superior to Cloister who thus would be rated -27 (he had not yet fully matured). Bearing those figures in mind for the moment, it is worth comparing the performance of Come Away with that of The Lamb (-14) on the last occasion the going was Good to Firm in 1871. Over a distance 149yds further and a course containing many sections of plough that the dark grey dual winner hated, The Lamb recorded a time 23s quicker than that of 1891. However, the jumping test was an awful lot sterner in 1891, Come Away carried 7lb more than The Lamb had, apparently the pace in 1891 was not as blisteringly fast as it had been twenty years earlier, and, crucially, Come Away was prevented by his injury from going any quicker. (The reader will hopefully find the discussions of 1859 and 1893 relevant to the last passage). On balance I find it hard to distinguish between the merits of the two performances and returning to the figure of -21 attributed to Come Away I have no hesitation in allowing him 7, it's a long haul from the 29th for a seriously lame horse despite adrenaline and this brave animal fully deserves his rank alongside those on -14. I will also uprate Cloister by 2 to -25 for being short of room near the Elbow. The Scroll thus now reads: -14 Lottery, The Lamb, Disturbance, Seaman, Come Away; -18 Congress, The Liberator.        









Copyright 2017 by Chris Dowling