Grand National Ultimate History



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Fr 26 Mar 1920 (3.02) 4m 4f Heavy 10.20.40 24 £4,425 Major T. Collins-Gerrard

  1 Troytown 7 11-09 A. Anthony J. Anthony 6/1   Disputed lead on run to 1st where left ahead. Led 5th. Slithered on landing WJ (where 10 remained) and fleetingly joined. Bad mistakes at 19th & 27th and headed briefly on both occasions. Jumped back into lead 28th, going best. Soon shook off rivals and ran on very well.
19 2 The Turk 10 9-08 A. Hastings T. Burford 66/1 12 Initially chased leader. 5th at 5th. A mid-division 7th at WJ. 6th early 2C. Gradual progress, 3rd at 26th and took 2nd briefly at 27th. 3rd again next and no chance with winner thereafter but stuck to task well to regain 2nd run in.
  3 The Bore 9 10-01 Harry Brown Harry Brown 28/1 6 Mid-division, 9th at 5th. Gradual headway to be 4th WJ. 3rd early 2C. Remained very prominent and took 3/4L lead at 27th. Outjumped & re-passed by winner next. Began to fade between last 2. Weakened further after last and lost 2nd run in.
19 4 Sergeant Murphy 10 10-01 G. Hyams W. Smith 100/7   Away well & prominent, 3rd at 5th. 5th WJ & early 2C. Left 4th at 26th. Plugged on without threatening.
  5R Neurotic 9 9-13 G. Poole D. Rees 28/1   Mid-division 1C, 6th WJ. Lost position briefly early 2C but 4th and not beaten when fell 26th. Remounted, tailed off.
  6R Bonnie Charlie 12 9-11 R. Fetherstonhaugh M. Blair 66/1   Slowly away & rearmost. Still last when fell WJ. Remounted. Finished utterly tailed off.
  F Ardonagh 7 10-06 P. Whitaker P. Whitaker 66/1 25TH (VB) Mid-division. Headway to become prominent and 4th at 5th. Fleetingly gained share of lead upon landing WJ. 2nd early 2C and temporarily left in dispute of lead again 19th. Still fairly handy when fell VB 2C.
  P Wavertree 9 10-13 F. Withington C. Kelly 40/1 22ND (BB) Away well. 6th at 5th. Dropped towards rear and 8th WJ. 7th early 2C. No improvement when hampered by a loose horse & PU BB 2C.
  F Turkey Buzzard 7 10-07 W. Payne W. Payne 100/7 21ST Away well & very prominent, 2nd at 5th. 3rd WJ. 4th early 2C but temporarily left in dispute of lead 19th. Still well to the fore when fell 21st.
19 F Picture Saint 8 10-01 H. Ussher Cpt T. Bennet 66/1 EARLY 2C Mid to rear. Last but one in 9th WJ. 8th early 2C. Fell fairly soon after.
19 F Irish Dragoon 6 9-08   T. Escott 66/1 16TH (WJ) Initially fairly handy but towards rear when fell WJ.
  F General Saxham 7 9-07 W. Payne P. Roberts 66/1 15TH (CHAIR) Chased leader, 8th at 5th. Still pursuing frontrunner when fell Chair.
  F Square Up 7 9-08 W. Donnelly T. Wilmott 66/1 CS 1C Rear of mid-division until fell somewhere along CS 1C.
  F Wavebeam 9 9-07 F. Withington A. Aylin 66/1 CS 1C Chased leader. Still fairly prominent when fell somewhere along CS 1C.
19 P Loch Allen 9 9-12 B. Gore T. Hulme 33/1 9TH (VB) Fairly prominent. 7th at 5th. Chasing leader when saddle slipped VB 1C & PU not long after.
  F Silver Ring 8 11-04 B. Gore G. Duller 100/7 8TH (CT) Going steadily in mid-division until badly misjudged leap at CT 1C, landing on top of fence & falling back into ditch.
19 F All White 6 9-13 J. Fergusson B. Chadwick 33/1 8TH (CT) Mid-division until fell CT 1C.
  F Lucy Glitters 8 10-00 A. Newey L.B. Rees 66/1 5TH Largely in mid-division until fell 5th.
  F Little Rover 14 10-03   Cpt E. Doyle 66/1 5TH Struggled to go early pace and towards rear when fell 5th.
  F Clonree 6 10-10 F. Morgan E. Morgan 25/1 3RD (OD) Chased leader until fell 3rd.
19 F Ballyboggan 9 11-03 R. Fetherstonhaugh C. Brabazon 100/7 1ST Away well & disputed lead on run to 1st where fell.
19 F Poethlyn 10 12-07 H. Escott E. Piggott 3/1F 1ST Chased leaders, fell 1st.
  F Gerald L 6 9-07 T. Gwilt F. Dainty 10/1 1ST Chased leaders, fell 1st.
  F Dunadry 7 9-08 P. Whitaker S. Walkington 66/1 1ST Mid to rear, fell 1st.



Another year, another record crowd in the presence of King George V and another great performance. The fences had regained their full bite in 1920 and despite bulldozing his way through a couple of them Troytown produced an exhilirating display of strong galloping on Heavy, sloshy going in torrential rain that was being driven in by high winds. His owner became the first to receive more than four thousand pounds for a horse's efforts in the National while trainer Algy Anthony completed a double having won aboard Ambush in 1900. Algy was no relation to the three brothers, of whom Jack now tasted Grand National success for a third time. Troytown had won the Aintree Champion Chase in 1919 along with the Grand Steeplechase De Paris which the horse took more easily than had Jerry M nine years earlier. A big animal who tanked through the 1920 National, Troytown was hard to pull up after passing the post. Very sadly the 7-y-o would break a leg on his return to Auteil a few months later.

How good was he? It can be argued that Troytown didn't ultimately have much to beat. The three other horses in the race that were carrying more than 10st 13lb all fell, last year's winner and runner-up, Poethlyn and Ballyboggan respectively, at the 1st where fancied lightweight Gerald L also departed. Furthermore, Heavy ground can exaggerate the distances between runners and also the very wet type of Heavy going can be easier to get through than other shades of the same. However, Troytown's winning time was above average for the conditions, especially for the weight he carried. Comparisons of the clock are not easy to calculate for 1920. The most recent previous Grand National to have been run on Heavy was in 1895 and I rated the winner, Wild Man From Borneo, -30. Troytown recorded a time 11.60s faster whilst lugging 12lb more and any general athletic improvement (which would skew things in favour of Troytown) in the intervening years is offset by the jumping test very probably being stiffer in 1920. The problem is that in 1895 there were Soft places whereas in 1920 it was very sloppy so it's impossible to accurately assess in which year, if either, the surface was the most taxing. Turning to more current renewals, in 1912 Jerry M (raw rating of -18) ran only 7s quicker on Soft, leaning towards Good to Soft, than did Troytown in 1920 on Heavy. The ground differential likely outweighs that Jerry M shouldered a 12lb loftier burden and a sliver of general athletic improvement, plus there is the strong suspicion that Troytown was more impressive in taking his Grand Steep than had been Jerry M (whom I ultimately rated -14) when he won the French race. Finally, timewise, Troytown was merely 12s slower than Poethlyn (raw -23) had been in 1919 on Good to Soft (though likely on the Soft side thereof) which, with the latter having, like Jerry M, carted 12lb more weight than Troytown but encountered less of a jumping test than the other two horses, tends to confirm the impression created by the 1912-1920 comparison also made across different goings. Vague as such juxtapositions necessarily are, I am, therefore, led to believe that Troytown comfortably deserves a place on my Scroll Of Merit purely based upon his raw figure which I hazard may be around -16. Unfortunately, the collateral form computations are as difficult as the time-based ones. Strictly at the weights in the 1920 National Troytown emerged 40 (pounds/lengths) superior to The Bore (-56) and 41 better than The Turk (-57). Sergeant Murphy stayed better on more testing going than he had in 1919, and thus likely continued to improve, yet I glean the impression from the race description that he may have finished about 10 lengths behind The Bore at levels. Glancing ahead to 1921, also a Heavy ground renewal, The Bore would fall at the 29th, under pressure, when he and Shaun Spadah, off similar weights, had the race to themselves. I reckon The Bore's suspect stamina had come into play again but he may have performed half a stone better than in 1920 had he stood up. If so and if The Bore had weakened to finish the same margin behind Shaun Spadah as he did Troytown in 1920 then the raw time comparison between the 1920 and 1921 victors also places Troytown on -16. This is entirely feasible, Shaun Spadah (absent from the 1920 National) may have done better in 1919 had his saddle not slipped than I am able to give him credit for and was continuing to improve with age like Sergeant Murphy. The latter would win the 1923 renewal, beating Shaun Spadah but coming out, as usual, roughly a stone inferior. The winning times in 1921 and 1923 were decent at worst. These were fine horses but not in the same league as Troytown who survived a slip and two bad mistakes in 1920 yet still finished full of running and is thus worthy of having 9 added to his raw rating for a final mark of -7. He was a very good horse indeed and produced clearly the best performance seen in a Grand National to this point. My Scroll now reads: -7 Troytown; -14 Lottery, The Lamb, Disturbance, Seaman, Come Away, Cloister, Jerry M; -17 Poethlyn; -18 Congress, The Liberator; -19 Why Not, Manifesto.                           










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