Grand National Ultimate History



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1st/17th - 4' 9" H (was 4' 7"); 2nd/18th - 4' 9" H (4' 7"); 3rd/19th (OD) - fence 4' 11" H (4' 5"); 4th/20th - 4' 11" H (4' 10"); 5th/21st - 5' H (4' 9"); 6th/22nd (BB) - fence 4' 10" H (4' 11"); 7th/23rd - 5' H (4' 7"); 8th/24th (CT, OD) - ditch 5' 9" W (5' 6"); 9th/25th (VB) - fence 4' 10" H (4' 11"); 10th/26th - 4' 11" H (5'); 11th/27th (OD) - fence 5' H (4' 9"); 12th/28th - fence 4' 10" H (4' 6"), ditch 7' W (6'); 13th/29th - 4' 10" H (4' 9"); 14th/30th - 4' 9" H (4' 8"); 15th (Chair, OD) - ditch 6' W (5'), fence 5' 2" H (5').        


Fr 27 Mar 1908 (3.03) 4m 4f Soft (Heavy places) 10.33.20 24 £2,400 Major F. Douglas-Pennant

  1 Rubio 10 10-05 F. Withington Bryan Bletsoe 66/1   Away well. Hit 1st. 4th BB 1C. Mistake 13th. 7th (of 16) WJ. Left 3rd at 20th, left in lead 23rd. Drew clear with runner-up, travelling best. Good jump at the last and raced away. Easily.
  2 Mattie Macgregor 6 10-06 F. Withington B. Bissill 25/1 10 Prominent most of 1C, 6th WJ. Left 2nd at 20th. Mistake CT but drew clear with winner CS. Mistake 28th and under pressure before 29th. No more to give from last.
  3 The Lawyer 11 10-03 P. Whitaker P. Whitaker 100/7 6 Mid-division 1C, 10th WJ. Not jump well 2C. Left 6th (of 10) at 23rd. Unable to improve from midfield and beaten by ABC. Left 5th at last. Surprisingly & gamely ran on well, never nearer.
  4 Flaxman 8 9-12 T. Lushington A. Anthony 33/1 2 Away well & led until 2nd. Remained very prominent once headed, 4th WJ. Stirrup leather broke 17th. 3rd at 23rd but lost ground on leading pair CS as jockey lacked control & horse jumped right. Nevertheless, still 3rd at last. Kept on one-paced.
  5 Springbok(1) 7 11-05 E. Martin snr J. O'Brien 8/1 6 Chased leaders 2nd. Mid-division 9th WJ. Left 6th at 20th, left a midfield 4th at 23rd. Bad mistake 29th but still 4th at last. Weakened.
  6 Red Hall 11 10-08 H. Farrant H. Farrant 66/1 DIST Slowly away & never better than rear of mid-division. 8th & last of main group 23rd. Lumbered on, tailed off.
03 04 05 7R Kirkland 12 11-12 Lt Col F. Lort-Phillips Tich Mason 13/2F   Prominent 2nd but had dropped to a mid-division 11th by WJ. Outpaced early 2C. Left a midfield 5th at 23rd. Same position and beaten ABC. Still 5th when fell heavily last. Remounted. Tailed off.
  8 Chorus 10 10-05 J. Cannon B. Chadwick 66/1   Always towards rear and intent only on completing in own time. A long way adrift by WJ and duly finished utterly tailed off. 
  F Alert 8 9-11 G. Gully J. Harland 66/1 28TH Last over 2nd, well towards rear BB 1C & WJ. Well tailed off by 23rd. Fell 28th.
06 P Dathi 11 10-02 R. Smith I. Anthony 66/1 CS 2C Mid-division 1C, 8th WJ. Left 5th at 20th but had dropped to 7th by 23rd. Bad mistake at a CS fence & immediately PU.
07 F Tom West 9 10-07 B. Bletsoe H. Murphy 8/1 23RD Away well & always very prominent. 2nd from BB 1C until left in the lead 19th. Still ahead and going nicely when fell 23rd.
  F Wild Fox(2) 6 9-09 Pullen Cpt W. Pallin 66/1 23RD Slowly away. Mid-division 12th WJ. No greater impact when fell 23rd.
  F Johnstown Lad 7 9-12 A. Persse E. Driscoll 10/1 20TH Always prominent 1C, 5th ABC & WJ. Left 3rd at 18th, left 2nd at 19th, fell 20th.
06 07 F Roman Law 10 11-02 T. Coulthwaite A. Newey 100/7 19TH (OD) Away well & took lead 2nd. 4L ahead BB 1C, clear ABC 1C. Advantage narrowed by WJ but still led and going well when fell 19th.
07 F Extravagance 7 10-12 W. Woodland H. Aylin 100/7 18TH Very prominent. Bad mistake 2nd but recovered quickly to be 3rd BB 1C, same position WJ. Losing place when hampered & fell 18th, breaking three ribs.
  P Jenkinstown 7 10-05 T. Coulthwaite F. Morgan 66/1 17TH Well towards rear WJ and tailed off when PU before next.
07 F York 9 10-04 W. Woodland W. Rollason 66/1 13TH Mid-division until fell heavily 13th.
  F Wee Busbie 11 9-11 Allison D. Phelan 66/1 13TH Mid to rear until fell 13th.
07 F Seisdon Prince 9 11-00 T. Coulthwaite M. Phelan 100/7 10TH Very prominent 2nd. Less so when fell 10th.
  F Lara 7 10-08 Lt Col F. Lort-Phillips W. Bulteel 25/1 5TH Mid to rear until fell 5th.
  F Paddy Maher 8 10-03   P. O'Brien-Butler 100/8 3RD (OD) Mid to rear until fell 3rd.
  F Prophet 10 10-00 J. Cannon J. Dillon 66/1 1ST Away well & very prominent, fell 1st.
  F Nanoya 6 10-07 A. Persse J. Lynn 66/1 1ST Prominent, fell 1st.
  F Mount Prospect's Fortune 6 11-11 M. Maher D. Morgan 100/7 1ST Mid-division, fell heavily 1st.



The field for this Grand National was of similar standard to that of 1907, the overall jumping test tougher than it had been since 1903 and the ground the most testing raced upon this side of 1895. Fifteen of the 24 starters fell and Rubio became the longest priced winner so far, arguably providing the biggest shock in the National to this point. Not that relative rookie trainer Fred Withington was surprised, he had fancied the victor more than Mattie Macgregor and felt that Billy Bissill had chosen to ride the wrong one. That Fred was correct proved to the benefit of debutant jockey Bryan Bletsoe, the second son of Bernard's to ride in the Grand National, as Withington became the first to saddle both winner and runner-up in the same renewal. Rubio, the first American bred to taste success, had won three chases as a 5-y-o before breaking down and later being lent out to pull an omnibus in order to regain strength. His task in 1908 was facilitated by the rat tat tat of early second circuit misfortunes that overtook others. Extravagance who, although tiring, had been very handy fell at the 18th, Roman Law, the long-time leader, capsized at the next, Johnstown Lad, left second, came to grief at the 20th and new front runner Tom West hit the deck three fences further on. Meanwhile, Algy Anthony on Flaxman had had to cope with a broken stirrup leather from the 17th and this led to the horse jumping increasingly to the right along the canal side, losing much ground, and virtually presenting the race to Withington's pair on a plate. Rather than being considered unlucky, it can be said that Flaxman was not compliant for his jockey because Eremon had been able to successfully overcome a similar problem last year. In a sad postscript to the 1908 National, The Lawyer, having appeared fine and eaten up after the race, dropped dead later that evening as a result of a broken blood vessel. This fatality, although probably not unconnected to the horse's earlier exertions, cannot for certain be directly attributed to the race.

None of the horses highlighted above figured seriously in a future Grand National and those of them that fell departed too far out to project how they would have finished off. Despite being left in the leading positions Rubio and Mattie Macgregor continued the decent pace that had been established. The only time comparison possible is with that recorded by Wild Man From Borneo (rated -30) in 1895. I do not believe the going was quite as testing in 1908 and Rubio ran fractionally slower off a stronger pace and carrying 6lb less in an era that was generally of lesser quality. Therefore, allowing that the jumping test was slightly tougher in 1908, I am thinking that Rubio's performance was up to 21 (pounds/lengths) inferior before his ease of victory, etc is taken into account. Kirkland (best rating -50) returned to the National in 1908 having missed the two renewals since he won. The now 12-y-o had top weight and was made favourite despite not having won or indeed run much subsequent to his Aintree triumph. These burdens were surely ridiculous, he was past his best and racing on entirely different going? However, it is interesting that he had to give 19lb to Tom West (-70 in 1907), matching my figures. And had Kirkland not fallen at the last, where he was ahead of The Lawyer, it's possible he may, like that horse, have finished 16 lengths adrift of Rubio, to whom he was giving 21lb, for a net advantage of 5. More likely, because The Lawyer somehow found a finishing spurt (it may have cost him his life), Kirkland might have come out equal at the weights with Rubio, which would again peg the latter about a stone and a half inferior to Wild Man From Borneo. What finally convinces me to award Rubio a raw mark of -51, though, is a glance ahead to 1909 when Ascetic's Silver, best raw mark of -39, was handicapped to give Rubio...12! Having satisfied myself about -51, I will allow the 1908 Grand National winner 6 for a couple of mistakes and ease of success and rate Rubio's effort -45. At the weights he emerged 9 superior to his stable companion but I will allow Mattie Macgregor 2 for his jumping errors and award him -58. Springbok came out 10 inferior but blundered badly at the 29th so I will grant him 2 also for -59. The Lawyer was 18 worse than the victor but did not jump well on the second circuit, therefore, I will reduce his disadvantage by 3 for -66. And finally, Flaxman emerged 25 poorer, however, he deserves at least 7 for the problems caused by the loss of an iron, thus -69.            









Copyright 2017 by Chris Dowling