Grand National Ultimate History

 

1908

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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. 10th at 2nd. 4th BB 1C. Mistake 13th where 5th and steadied. 7th (of 16) WJ, just behind leading sextet. 5th again at 19th. 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 Away well. 7th at 2nd. Chased leaders in 10th at 5th. Headway to be a very close 5th at WJ. Left 2nd at 19th. 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 10-13 P. Whitaker P. Whitaker 100/7 6 Mid-division. 12th at 2nd. Chased leaders in 10th at 5th. Same position WJ. Not jump well 2C. A midfield 9th at 19th, 8th next. Pursued frontrunners again in 6th VB. Same position, under pressure, 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 shortly after 1st. Remained very prominent once headed, 3rd at 2nd, 5th at 5th, 3rd again ABC & WJ where very close up. Stirrup leather broke 17th. 4th at 19th & 20th, left 3rd again at 23rd. Lost ground on leading pair CS as jockey lacked control & horse jumped right. Nevertheless, still 3rd at ABC & last. Kept on one-paced.
  5 Springbok(1) 7 11-05 E. Martin snr James O'Brien 8/1 6 Chased leaders, 9th at 2nd. Headway to be 6th at 5th but 9th again WJ. A mid-division 7th at 19th, left 6th at 20th and a midfield 5th at 23rd. Chased leaders in 4th VB. Under pressure in same position ABC. Bad mistake 29th but still 4th at last. Weakened.
  6 Red Hall 11 10-08 H. Farrant H. Farrant 66/1 DIST Slowly away, 16th at 2nd and never better than rear of mid-division. 8th & last of main group 23rd. Lumbered on, tailed off, to finish a bad 6th.
03 04 05 7R Kirkland 12 11-12 Lt Col F. Lort-Phillips Tich Mason 13/2F   Fore of mid-division, 8th at 2nd, 7th at 5th. Very one-paced and had dropped to 11th by WJ. A midfield 6th at 19th, 7th at 20th. Vainly chased leaders in 5th from CT, under pressure to do so. Still 5th but beaten 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 in last by WJ and duly finished utterly tailed off. 
  F Alert 8 9-11 G. Gully J. Harland 66/1 28TH Set off in mid-division but last by 2nd. Always towards rear thereafter. Completely tailed off by CT 2C. Fell 28th.
06 P Dathi 11 10-02 R. Smith I. Anthony 66/1 27TH (OD) Mid-division, 11th at 2nd. Minor progress to be 8th WJ. Same position early 2C but further modest headway to be left 5th at 20th. 4th at 23rd. Began to fade directly and beaten when bad mistake at 27th & immediately PU.
07 F Tom West 9 10-07 B. Bletsoe H. Murphy 8/1 23RD Away well & always very prominent. 2nd from 2nd until left in the lead 19th. Still ahead and going nicely when fell 23rd.
  F Wild Fox(2) 6 9-09 W. Pullen Cpt W. Pallin 66/1 23RD Slowly away. 15th at 2nd, rear of mid-division WJ. No greater impact when fell 23rd.
  F Johnstown Lad 7 9-12 A. Persse E. Driscoll 10/1 20TH Soon  prominent, 6th at 2nd. Chased leaders in 9th at 5th. 5th ABC 1C and a very close up 4th at WJ. Left 3rd at 19th, fell 20th.
06 07 F Roman Law 10 11-02 T. Coulthwaite A. Newey 100/7 19TH (OD) Away well & took lead soon after 1st. 4L to the good BB 1C. Advantage narrowed by WJ but still ahead and going well when took off too soon & landed on top of fence 19th.
07 F Extravagance 7 10-12 W. Woodland H. Aylin 100/7 19TH
(OD)
Chased leaders. 5th when bad mistake 2nd but recovered quickly to be 3rd BB 1C. 4th ABC 1C & 13th. Had dropped to 6th by WJ but very close up. Had lost place when hampered by Kirkland & fell into ditch 19th, breaking four ribs.
  P Jenkinstown 7 10-05 T. Coulthwaite F. Morgan 66/1 END 1C Always towards rear. Last but one WJ and PU shortly after.
07 F York 9 10-04 W. Woodland W. Rollason 66/1 13TH Towards rear 2nd but had made progress into midfield when fell heavily 13th.
  F Wee Busbie 11 9-11 R. Allison D. Phelan 66/1 13TH Rear of mid-division, 17th at 2nd. Little change when fell 13th.
07 F Seisdon Prince 9 11-00 T. Coulthwaite M. Phelan 100/7 10TH Soon became very prominent, 4th at 2nd. Less handy when fell 10th.
  F Lara 7 10-08 Lt Col F. Lort-Phillips W. Bulteel 25/1 5TH Mid-division, 14th at 2nd. Fell 5th.
  F Paddy Maher 8 10-03 T. Currid P. O'Brien-Butler 100/8 3RD (OD) Mid-division, 13th at 2nd. 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 Chased leaders, fell 1st.
  F Mount Prospect's Fortune 6 11-11 J. Maher D. Morgan 100/7 1ST Mid-division, fell heavily 1st.

 

FRED'S RED-LETTER DAY

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. Roman Law, the long-time leader, capsized at the 19th, Johnstown Lad, left third, 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 mainly as a result of an existing heart problem. 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 of the thought that Rubio's performance was up to 21 (pounds/lengths) inferior before his ease of victory, etc is taken into account. Kirkland (best rating -48) 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), almost 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 almost 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 her jumping errors and award her -58. Springbok came out 10 inferior but blundered badly at the 29th so I will grant him 2 also for -59. The Lawyer was 8 worse than the victor but did not jump well on the second circuit, therefore, I will reduce his disadvantage by 3 for -56. And finally, Flaxman emerged 25 poorer, however, he deserves at least 7 for the problems caused by the loss of an iron, thus -69.

 

HOOFNOTES

> Most modern historians give the time as above, however, it should be noted that the contemporary press recorded it as 10.03.60 which would indicate Good to Soft going.

> There is a possibility that Roman Law fell at the 18th rather than the 19th.            

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright 2017 by Chris Dowling