Grand National Ultimate History



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1st/17th - 4' 7" H (was 4' 6"); 3rd/19th (OD) - fence 4' 11" H (4' 10"); 5th/21st - 4' 11" H (4' 10"); 6th/22nd (BB) - fence 4' 9" H (4' 7"), brook 5' W (6'); 11th/27th (OD) - fence 4' 10" H (4' 11"); 13th/29th - 4' 7" H (4' 6"); 14th/30th - 4' 7" H (4' 6"); 15th (Chair, OD) - fence 5' 2" H (5' 3"); 16th (WJ) - fence 3' H (3' 1"), TW 15' 6" (16').


Fr 28 Mar 1919 (3.06) 4m 4f Good to Soft 10.08.40 22 £3,590 G. Peel

  1 Poethlyn 9 12-07 H. Escott E. Piggott 11/4F   Away well & tracked leaders. 5th at 4th, 4th BB 1C, 5th again CT 1C, 7th approaching ABC, 4th once more WJ (where 18 remained). Bided time, still in 4th, 10L behind front trio BB 2C. 3rd VB and disputed lead by 27th. Same story approaching ABC. Soon ahead and had clear lead by 29th. Easily. 
  2 Ballyboggan 8 11-10 R. Fetherstonhaugh W. Head 9/1 8 Slowly away and towards rear very early stages. Mid-division in 11th BB 1C, 12th approaching ABC 1C. Good headway to be 2nd WJ. Disputed lead early 2C. Led outright briefly VB. Joined by 27th and still vied for lead approaching ABC. Could not live with winner after it but kept on well.
  3 Pollen 10 11-04 H. Escott T. Escott 100/7 6 Away well & very prominent. 3rd at 4th, 2nd BB 1C, 4th CT 1C, led approaching ABC. Had dropped to 7th by WJ and same position BB 2C but back up to 5th VB 2C. Continued progress to dispute lead 27th and approaching ABC. Rather one-paced thereafter but held on for 3rd following grim struggle during which may have been headed.
  4 Loch Allen 8 10-00 B. Gore J.J. Kelly 33/1 HD Soon became very prominent. 2nd at 4th, took lead CT 1C. 3rd approaching ABC 1C, 2nd again shortly after it, 3rd once more WJ. Vied for lead 2C until relegated to 4th VB but disputed lead again by 27th. Mistake 28th & dropped 2L behind leading trio approaching ABC. Could not get back on terms with winner and runner-up but entered a grim struggle with 3rd whom he may have headed at one point.
  5 Shaun Spadah 8 11-02 G. Hyams D. Morgan 33/1   Mid-division, 15th BB 1C. A fore of midfield 9th approaching ABC 1C. Continued gradual progress to be 6th WJ. Same position BB 2C where saddle began slipping, inconveniencing him. Fore of mid-division again in 7th approaching ABC. Kept on without ever threatening into 5th.
  6 Fargue 9 9-09 G. Sanday W. Smith 50/1   Chased leaders until took lead briefly 4th. Headed before BB 1C and dropped to 6th but remained prominent and 2nd CT 1C. Same position approaching ABC 1C and led again soon after. Still ahead WJ. Joined early 2C but not headed until shortly before VB where 2nd. Soon began to fade and merely a fore of midfield 6th approaching ABC. Plugged on.
  7 Sergeant Murphy 9 10-07 G. Hyams S. Walkington 25/1   Mid-division, 14th BB 1C. Good, steady progress to be 6th approaching ABC 1C, 5th WJ. Same position BB 2C, 6th VB and unable to go with leading quartet along the CS. A fore of midfield 5th approaching ABC and beaten. Faded further.
  8 All White 5 9-10 J. Burns T. Williams 66/1   Mid-division, 13th BB 1C. Chased leaders in 8th approaching ABC 1C, same position WJ & BB 2C. Began to lose ground shortly after (jockey weakened by food poisoning) and, although still 8th, in rear of midfield approaching ABC. Chundered on. 
15 9 Ally Sloper 10 11-03 A. Hastings I. Anthony 100/6   Seriously interrupted preparation. Mid-division, 10th BB 1C. Rear of same in 13th approaching ABC 1C, 12th WJ. Very modest effort to be 9th BB 2C but faded badly thereafter. Tailed off in last pair approaching ABC. Laboured on.
  10 Pay Only 9 11-04 F. Hartigan T. Hulme 100/7   Mid-division, 12th BB 1C. Rear of same in 16th approaching ABC 1C but headway to be 10th WJ. Soon lost position 2C and a well beaten rear of midfield 9th approaching ABC. Faded further and finished tailed off.
  11 Chang 9 9-08 F. Hunt J. Reardon 50/1   Away well & led. Headed & 4th at 4th but took lead again before BB 1C. Headed once more CT 1C and this time faded quite badly, a midfield 10th approaching ABC 1C. In rear of mid-division by WJ and became tailed off by BB 2C. Still tailed off, in last pair, approaching ABC. Finished well tailed off.
  F Rubinstein 12 11-00 W. Payne W. Payne 50/1 ABC 2C Towards rear until beyond BB 1C. Modest headway to be a rear of mid-division 14th approaching ABC 1C. Similar place WJ. Jockey suspicious horse sustained injury at VB 2C but continued. Still rear of midfield, in 10th, approaching ABC. Suffered suspected heart attack & collapsed just after ABC. Dead.
  F Vermouth 9 10-12 J. Bell G. Parfrement 20/1 24TH (CT) Mid-division, 16th BB 1C. Rear of same in 15th approaching ABC 1C, 13th WJ. Tailed off by BB 2C. Fell CT 2C.
14 P Sunloch 13 9-10 T. Tyler E. Driscoll 25/1 MID 2C Fore of mid-division. Became prominent in 5th BB 1C, 3rd CT 1C. 5th again approaching ABC 1C and had dropped to a mid-division 9th by WJ. Continued to fade early 2C. Tailed off by BB. PU not long after.
  F Schoolmoney 10 9-10 A. Law F. Cullen 33/1 22ND (BB) Mid-division. Fore of same in 8th BB 1C. A midfield 11th approaching ABC 1C, same position WJ. Unable to become more closely involved and similar place when fell BB 2C.
  F The Turk 9 9-07 A. Hastings P. Roberts 100/1 21ST Initially chased leaders. 9th BB 1C and had dropped to a last but one 18th approaching ABC 1C. Still towards rear WJ and no significant change when fell 21st.
  P Irish Dragoon 5 9-13 M. Dawson Bryan Bletsoe 100/1 20TH Away well. 7th BB 1C. 4th approaching ABC 1C but had dropped to 14th by WJ. Declined further towards rear early 2C and PU 20th.
  F Abou Ben Adhem 8 12-00 B. Gore A. Stubbs 100/1 20TH Always towards rear. 17th approaching ABC 1C. 18th & last to successfully negotiate WJ. No improvement 2C. Fell 20th.
  P Picture Saint 7 10-00 H. Ussher F. McCabe 100/1 16TH (WJ) Mid to rear when bad mistake 3rd & dropped to last. Unable to recover. Last BB & CT 1C. Becoming tailed off in 19th & rearmost approaching ABC 1C. Still last and when very bad mistake WJ & immediately PU.
  F Svetoi 9-08 W. Payne A. Saxby 40/1 6TH (BB) Mid to rear until fell BB 1C.
  P Charlbury 11 9-07 William Nightingall P. Woodland 7/1 4TH Horse had not eaten up since arriving at course. Nevertheless away well but stirrup iron broke at 1st and had to be PU 4th.
  B Ballincarroona 11 10-04 F. Hartigan Cpt I. Straker 20/1 4TH Chased leaders until BD by the pulling up and barely controllable Charlbury at the 4th.



Steeplechasing would develop more rapidly between the wars than heretofore (a strong argument can be made that the 1930s was its golden age). The sport would become more competitive with larger fields (certainly this was reflected in the National), training methods would continue to become less crude, and the last vestiges of the big, slow hunter type at the top level would die out.

The return of the Aintree Grand National in 1919 was welcomed by a new record crowd, a tremendous gathering possibly in the region of 150,000. The fences were in a state of disrepair when the Tophams got the course back from the War Office and had to be hastily rebuilt. Overall they were no lower but may well have been less firm on top than in the immediate pre-war years. The renewal attracted a field pretty much as high in quality as any yet seen, one that contained five past, present and future Grand National winners. Against this background Poethlyn (triumphant in the Gatwick substitute race of 1918) put up an outstanding performance, easily becoming the fourth and final horse to win carrying 12st 7lb. In doing so he also became, and may forever remain, the shortest priced outright favourite to be victorious and gave a second success in the race to both Harry Escott and Ernie Piggott.

A tale attached to the 1919 National is that Tommy Williams aboard All White (who wasn't!) temporarily pulled up to vomit towards the Canal Turn on the second circuit. I regard this as utter nonsense and can find no corroborating contemporary evidence. The myth has All White as being the principal threat to Poethlyn at that stage. In fact the winner had not yet shown his hand, Piggott biding his time, and had been ten lengths off of Ballyboggan, Loch Allen and Fargue at second Becher's, therefore, no observer could have known that the favourite was definitely still the horse to beat. And All White was four places behind Poethlyn at that point. Furthermore, others were going well, certainly better than All White who had long since lost all semblance of a prominent position (perhaps in part due to Williams suffering weakness due to food poisoning) and who raced in eighth for the entire final lap. Had All White stopped he would have been tailed off last.

Weak too had been Poethlyn as a foal but the late developer went unbeaten in 1918 and 1919, winning ten races, and now proved he was equally effective at Aintree as on park courses. The manner of his victory in the 1919 Grand National was, if anything, more impressive than that of Jerry M (whom I rated -14) in 1912. However, on reflection, Ernie Piggott felt his previous successful conveyance was the better horse. Also, some modern sources downgrade Poethlyn on account of the fences being less thick than normal and in fairness the jumping test appeared tougher between 1897-1902 and, particularly, 1910-1913. Those spans contain two of the three most recent renewals for which I have a going description of Good to Soft: 1902, 1904 and 1910. The softest shade of said yielding ground, though, may well have been in 1919 because a snowstorm preceded the race, one that was run at a decent pace yet produced a winning time a little below average for plain Good to Soft. Taking all of the above factors and, of course, weight carried into consideration my raw comparisons leave Poethlyn just over a stone short of my Scroll Of Merit. On the other hand, the Liverpool turf was in little better repair than the fences (some contemporary newspapers say there were "five furlongs of fallow") and reiterating that time is only one part of the puzzle, my instinct is that Poethlyn's performance is well worthy of a place on the Scroll. His 1918 triumph in the Gatwick stopgap saw Poethlyn emerge over 40 (pounds/lengths) superior to Ballymacad, the 1917 Gatwick race winner, and about 60 or 70 better than Shaun Spadah and Sergeant Murphy. Both those horses, who had commenced improvement, would go on to win the Aintree spectacular with the former generally coming out roughly a stone superior to the latter. Here in 1919 Shaun Spadah's saddle slipped after second Becher's but even if we imagine that without tack problems he would have finished on the heels of the fourth Loch Allen, Poethlyn would have emerged 34 better at the weights (say -23 to -57). In addition (to these raw computations) Poethlyn won easily and must have had near half a stone in hand. In conclusion, I have no hesitation in placing Poethlyn on the Scroll at, in deference to Piggott, -17 (as a consequence Ballyboggan is rated -42, Pollen -54 and Loch Allen (allowed 2 for his mistake at the 28th) -70) and it now reads: -14 Lottery, The Lamb, Disturbance, Seaman, Come Away, Cloister, Jerry M; -17 Poethlyn; -18 Congress, The Liberator; -19 Why Not, Manifesto.



> Some contemporary sources say that Irish Dragoon pulled up at VB 2C rather than at the 20th.               









Copyright 2017 by Chris Dowling