Grand National Ultimate History



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16th (WJ) - fence 2' 6" H (was 2').


Fr 29 Mar 1901 (3.46) 4m 4f Good (snow-covered) 9.47.80 24 £1,975 B. Bletsoe

98 00 1 Grudon 11 10-00 B. Bletsoe A. Nightingall 9/1   Feet packed with butter to prevent snow balling in them. Away well & made virtually all in howling blizzard. Led WJ (where 14 remained). Headed briefly BB 2C where 3rd. Soon led again. Jumped footpath 200yds from post. Clear cut. 
  2 Drumcree 7 10-00 Sir C. Nugent H. Nugent 10/1 4 Away well but held up in mid-division 1C, 9th WJ. 5th at ABC 2C and took 2nd before 29th. Limped on gamely despite losing one plate and twisting another.
  3 Buffalo Bill 7 9-07 Harry Taylor Harry Taylor 33/1 6 Chased leaders. 5th WJ. 4th ABC 2C. 3rd over last 2. Kept on one-paced.
00 4 Levanter 12 9-10 Maj J.D. Edwards Tich Mason 5/1F   Initially chased leaders. Very prominent by WJ where 3rd. Disputed lead briefly BB 2C. 3rd again when slipped on snow & went down on nose ABC. Partially recovered to be 4th towards 29th but effort told and beaten before last.
  5 Fanciful 6 11-06 W. Cullen W. Cullen 100/8   Rear of mid-division WJ. Modest progress to be 6th before 29th. Did not fully stay & faded somewhat.
  6 Coragh Hill 8 9-09 J. Westlake C. Hogan 25/1   Away well but soon raced in mid-division. Rear of same WJ and no great impact. Stuck to task fairly well, plodded on.
00 7 Covert Hack 7 11-04 T. Lushington A. Anthony 10/1   Away well & very prominent. 2nd WJ and disputed lead briefly BB 2C. 2nd once more at ABC. Dropped to 3rd before 29th, jumped it in 5th and continued to weaken.
  8 Prince Tuscan 8 10-06 H. Hunt jnr H. Hunt jnr 33/1   Never a serious factor. Towards rear WJ. Finished tailed off.
98 99 00 9 Barsac 9 9-13 B. Bletsoe H. Ripley 100/14   Away well but sulked in the conditions and never took hold of bit. Encouraged to pursue leaders 1C and 7th WJ. Still 7th but a greater distance behind leader ABC 2C. Weakened further thereafter and finished tailed off.
  F True Blue(3) 11 9-13 E. Woodland P. Woodland 66/1 27TH (OD) Chased leaders, 6th at WJ. In similar position and still travelling well when snow balled in feet & fell 27th. Broke back. Dead.
  F Pawnbroker 6 9-07 E. Woods James O'Brien 100/6 MID 2C Initially chased leaders. Headway to be 4th by WJ. Fell somewhere in mid part of 2C.
  P Padishah 8 10-01 J. Hackett A. Birch 66/1 MID 2C Mid-division 1C, 8th WJ. Faded 2C and PU well before finish.
  P Prosset 6 9-13 G. Sentence F. Hartigan 20/1 MID 2C Away in mid-division but rear of same WJ. Faded further 2C and PU well before finish.
  F Zodiac 6 9-07 Lt Col F. Lort-Phillips A. Banner 100/1 2C Never better than mid to rear, last at WJ. No progress when fell somewhere on 2C.
99 F The Sapper 8 10-05 W. Halsey W. Halsey 100/8 MID 1C Away well & prominent until came to grief somewhere in mid part of 1C (at same fence as Coolgardie).
  F Coolgardie 7 10-06   A. Waddington 40/1 MID 1C Raced in mid-division early 1C. Headway to chase leaders until fell somewhere in mid part of 1C (at same fence as The Sapper).
  P Sunny Shower 8 10-08 G. Eyears J. Widger 100/1 MID 1C No impact. Not reported as having fallen so likely resented conditions and PU somewhere in mid part of 1C.
  P Hornpool 8 10-05 T. Coulthwaite E. Acres 66/1 MID 1C No impact. Not universally reported as having fallen so likely resented conditions and PU somewhere in mid part of 1C.
  P Greystone 8 10-01 W. Holt J. Stainton 100/1 MID 1C No impact. Not universally reported as having fallen so likely resented conditions and PU somewhere in mid part of 1C.
00 P Model 8 11-04 W. Halsey W. Pawson 40/1 MID 1C No impact, never travelling. Resented conditions and PU somewhere in mid part of 1C.
  P Gossip 9-07 C. Brown J. Polletti 100/1 MID 1C Slowly away & rearmost. Unable or unwilling to handle conditions and PU somewhere in mid part of 1C.
  F Cushendun 6 11-02 G. Saunders-Davies G. Saunders-Davies 20/1 8TH (CT) Mid-division until slipped on snow not long after jumping CT 1C & fell.
  P Chit Chat 8 10-02 Cpt D. Beatty C. Clack 25/1 EARLY 1C Rear of mid-division. Had not gone far when broke down & PU.
  F Mayo's Pride 7 10-05 G. Blackwell J. Phillips 20/1 2ND Rear of mid-division, slipped on take off & fell 2nd.



A dreadful and farcical renewal. Manifesto was absent injured, Ambush could not run because the 1901 Grand National fell within the period of official mourning following the death of his owner's mother (Queen Victoria), last year's favourite Hidden Mystery had also died, and the useful Union Jack had been switched to another target by his new owner. Thus the top weight Fanciful, who finished fifth, carried a mere 11st 6lb and the first four home all shouldered 10st or less. The conditions were the worst the National is ever likely to be run in, a genuine blizzard with the course carpeted by snow and the fences no less than constantly growing drifts. Nearly all the jockeys considered the course unfit for racing and the stewards, no doubt fearful of the consequences of disappointing the customary large attendance (not that anyone could see much), unquestionably made an incorrect decision when giving the go ahead. One horse, True Blue, was killed and three riders injured. Barsac, Sunny Shower, Hornpool, Greystone, Model and Gossip either couldn't or wouldn't handle the conditions while Cushendun and Mayo's Pride came to grief (like True Blue) as a direct result of the snow. Amongst those horses who somehow stayed on their feet, the chances of Drumcree and the improved ex-New Zealand stayer Levanter were compromised by the white blanket on the ground.

In fact, famously, every participant in the 1901 National was at an unfair disadvantage compared to Grudon because of the shrewdness of his owner/trainer, Bernard Bletsoe, who packed the lowly-bred entire's hooves with 2lb of butter which stopped Grudon from slipping. No other horse enjoyed this benefit, not even stablemate Barsac who was probably denied it on the basis that given his attitude it would have been a complete waste of dairy produce! Grudon had been well beaten under the heavier impost of 11st 5lb (allotted due to his Liverpool Champion Chase win of 1897) in the not totally dissimilar conditions of the 1898 Grand National and had again finished out with the washing in 1900 carrying a stone less. In fairness, Bletsoe felt Grudon may have won last year had there not been the incident involving his bridle along the canal side second time, hence the booking of Arthur Nightingall, who now claimed his third National victory, a vastly more experienced pilot than Bernard's son, Morgan. However, whilst Grudon did show willing in 1901, I cannot agree with Bletsoe senior regarding 1900. How much of it was due to the churned cream is uncertain but I believe Grudon performed much better in 1901 than he threatened to do last year. That said, the horse broke down on his second outing following his National success, achieved next to nothing at stud and the merit of the 1901 form is pretty poor.

What was not below standard in the 1901 Grand National was the winning time. My best explanation for this is that the butter packed into Grudon's hooves negated the effect of the snow and underneath it the going was Good. My theory enables a time comparison to be made with the two most recent previous renewals run at a decent pace on Good, those of 1898 and 1899. I will employ a conservative formula of 3 lengths per second. Grudon, carrying 10st, was 2.20s slower than Drogheda (10st 12lb, rated -38) had been in the former year for a deficit of 18 (pounds/lengths) and a figure of -56; the 1901 victor was also 2s faster than Manifesto (12st 7lb, non-adjusted rating of -29) had been two years earlier for a deficit of 29 and a figure of -58. I will split the difference and award Grudon -57 for his triumphant performance, the same mark as he received in 1898! (On that basis, even if Bernard Bletsoe was correct about how Grudon might have run without the canal side incident in 1900, the horse would have finished 2 lengths behind last year's winner Ambush (-43) in receipt of 12lb.) Strictly at the weights in the 1901 National Grudon came out 4 superior to Drumcree and 17 better than Buffalo Bill. However, Grudon's butter fuelled advantage over the rest of the field must have amounted to at least 6 across the board and Drumcree, specifically, deserves a further allowance of a minimum of 4 because of his plate problems. The latter, therefore, emerges with most credit from the race and I will rate Drumcree -51, Buffalo Bill -68. 











Copyright 2017 by Chris Dowling