Grand National Ultimate History



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Fr 25 Mar 1898 (3.41) 4m 4f Good 9.43.60 25 £1,975 C. Adams

  1 Drogheda 6 10-12 D. Dawson J. Gourley 25/1   Headway to be 5th ABC 1C, 2nd (of 20) WJ. Led early 2C to BB, again over CT & VB and for good from 28th. Kept on well in blinding snowstorm. All out.
95 96 97 2 Cathal 9 11-05 A. Yates Cpt R. Ward 7/1 3 Chased leaders until became very prominent by VB 1C, 3rd ABC 1C & WJ. Remained handy and regained 3rd at 26th, 2nd by ABC 2C. Bravely tried to get on terms with winner last. Kept on well.
97 3 Gauntlet 7 10-13 T. Hardie B. Taylor 100/12 4 Away well & led over 1st & 2nd. Joined 3rd and headed before BB 1C where 2nd. Remained very prominent until VB 1C but had dropped to mid-division by WJ. Rallied to chase leaders early 2C and prominent again by BB. Further headway into 3rd at 29th. Kept on.
97 4 Filbert 8 9-12 Cpt D. Beatty Cpt C. Beatty 25/1   Held up in mid-division 1C, 15th WJ. Gradual headway early 2C and 6th CT. Close up 5th after 28th. Kept on one-paced.
  5 Dead Level 6 10-07 Aspinall A. Anthony 25/1   Became prominent CS 1C, 4th ABC. Chased leaders in 8th WJ. Soon handy again 2C and 2nd at CT. Had dropped to 4th by 29th. Slightly faded further.
97 6 Ford Of Fyne 7 11-00 Aspinall F. Withington 11/2F   Chased leaders BB 1C. Progress to lead ABC but only 4th WJ. Remained 3rd or 4th until led again 26th. Headed 28th and gradually faded, beaten by 29th.
  7 Grudon 8 11-05 B. Bletsoe J. Hickey 25/1   Chased leaders 1C, 11th WJ. Under pressure in mid-division by VB 2C. Plugged on.
  8 Barsac 6 9-12 B. Bletsoe M. Bletsoe 25/1   Chased leaders 1C and became fairly prominent by WJ where 7th. Faded 2C and under pressure in mid-division by VB. Weakened further and finished tailed off.
95 97 9 Prince Albert 10 11-00 W. Moore G. Davies 8/1   Mid-division 1C, 13th WJ. Unable to improve position 2C and under pressure by VB. Weakened and finished tailed off.
97 10 Greenhill 7 10-03 G. Chaloner C. Hogan 100/1   Away well & very prominent. Disputed lead 3rd and led before BB. Headed ABC 1C but only briefly and first over WJ. Soon faded 2C and towards rear VB. Weakened further. Well tailed off.
97 F Little Joe 9 10-00 G. Mulcaster J. Walsh jnr 28/1 28TH Slowly away. Rear of mid-division 16th WJ. Well towards rear when fell 28th.
  P Nepcote 7 10-09 A. Yates B. Dollery 25/1 LATE CS 2C 4th at 2nd and remained handy, 6th WJ, until led BB 2C. Headed CT and faded rapidly after VB. PU before completing CS.
  P Electric Spark 7 9-11   A. Waddington 100/1 EARLY CS 2C Last over 1st. Headway to chase leaders in 9th WJ but no further impression. Faded 2C and PU early CS.
  P Cushalee Mavourneen 7 9-11 Cpt D. Beatty H. Smith 100/1 24TH (CT) Away well, prominent 1st, very prominent 3rd. Remained handy 1C, 5th WJ. Had dropped into mid-division when hampered CT 2C and immediately PU.
  F St George(2) 8 9-11 M. Widger T. Widger 40/1 24TH (CT) Chased leaders 1C, 10th WJ. Mid-division when hampered & fell CT 2C.
96 P Swanshot 8 10-07 S. Rustell H. de Montmorency 100/1 24TH (CT) Away well but had dropped to last by WJ. Well tailed off when PU CT 2C.
  F Hall In 7 9-08 Howard L. Bland 100/1 22ND (BB) Slowly away. Rear of mid-division WJ. No great progress when fell BB 2C.
  P Cruiskeen 6 10-00 A. Yates T. Kavanagh 100/1 22ND (BB) Away well & very prominent to BB 1C but soon lost position and towards rear WJ. Became tailed off 2C and PU BB.
  P Athelfrith 8 10-04 Cowe W. Hoysted 100/1 17TH Away well but had dropped to mid-division by WJ. Beaten and becoming tailed off when PU 17th.
  P Kingsworthy 7 10-00 F. Hunt E. Acres 20/1 17TH Always towards rear and becoming tailed off when PU 17th.
96 97 U The Soarer 9 11-05 W. Moore A. Nightingall 100/7 16TH (WJ) Raced prominently, 6th ABC 1C, but jumped poorly. Still handy when one mistake too many WJ & UR.
96 97 F Barcalwhey 8 10-06 J. Cannon R. Chaloner 100/7 13TH Mid-division but jumped particularly wildly in the snowstorm and eventually came to grief at the 13th.
  F Sheriff Hutton 6 10-00 A. Holman J. Morrell 50/1 3RD (OD) Mid-division until fell 3rd.
  F Hobnob 6 9-11 A. Yates H. Box 40/1 2ND Towards rear and jumped sideways 1st, fell 2nd.
  F Surplice 9 10-01 Lawless J. Latham 100/1 1ST Mid to rear, fell 1st.



The absence, due to injury, of Manifesto from the 1898 Grand National exposed the relative lack of quality horses in renewals in this part of the decade compared to the first half of the 1890s, the co-top weights shouldered just 11st 5lb. Nevertheless, the race was competitive, an extremely good pace stood up and the winning time was excellent despite proceedings being conducted in a blinding snowstorm. No doubt because of the filthy weather, some sources give the going as Heavy for this edition of the National, however, leading contemporary sporting newspapers describe the ground as beautiful. Fierce winds had kept rain away in the build-up to the great chase and the slush produced by the blizzard did not immediately affect the racing surface which may have been on the fast side of Good. This is born out by the time recorded and that Drogheda had won three races, including the Galway Plate, in the Irish summer of 1897 so likely relished quick going. Subsequently put away by his trainer Dick Dawson, who in the meantime had relocated to Britain where he would later have three Derby winners, Drogheda, whose appearance was that of a streetfighter, exploited the combination of conditions to overcome his opponents in the 1898 National. Neither the victorious horse nor his jockey John Gourley, who was rewarded with a life pension by Drogheda's owner, would contest another renewal. The Soarer, miraculously back for a third time having fractured his skull when running loose after falling at first Becher's last year and undergone an operation, was understandably unpersuaded by the experience to restore his jumping to its 1896 level although, to be fair, the snowstorm affected the leaping of several participants.

Cathal was not amongst them and became a dual runner-up. At the weights in 1898 he emerged the best horse, 4 (pounds/lengths) superior to Drogheda and 10 better than Gauntlet. Had Cathal stayed on his feet in 1897 he would have finished second that year too and I rated him -34 last year and in 1895. Notwithstanding the time in 1898 there is no indication or reason to believe that Cathal markedly improved which is the same conclusion I came to last year when I calculated ratings of -59 for Ford Of Fyne and -73 in respect of Filbert. That form, on similar ground, appears to have held up in the 1898 Grand National. Filbert is said to have finished some distance behind the third, Gauntlet. If that distance was 14 lengths Filbert would again come out 39 inferior to Cathal. Furthermore, at the revised weights for 1898 Filbert should have finished a couple of lengths ahead of Ford Of Fyne on this occasion and it does seem that the fourth, fifth and sixth finished close together (with a large gap to the seventh, Grudon). This brings Dead Level in at about half a stone inferior to Ford Of Fyne. For 1898, therefore, I will award the following ratings: Cathal -34, Drogheda -38, Gauntlet -44, Ford Of Fyne -59, Dead Level -66 and Filbert -73.        









Copyright 2017 by Chris Dowling