Grand National Ultimate History



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Fr 19 Mar 1937 (3.16) 4m 4f Soft 9.59.80 33 £6,645 H. Lloyd Thomas

  1 Royal Mail(1) 8 11-13 I. Anthony E.M. Williams 100/6   Soon prominent. 6th BB 1C, 5th CT 1C, 3rd (6L down) VB 1C. Inherited 2nd at the 11th, left in lead briefly 12th. Restrained, 3L down in 3rd (of 11) WJ. 2nd again 18th, led by 3L BB 2C. Maintained similar advantage until after 29th. 2L ahead last. Ran on well, pushed out.
  2 Cooleen 9 11-04 G. Evans J. Fawcus 33/1 3 Hampered 1st then chased leaders, 9th CT 1C, 7th VB 1C. Left 5th but hampered by Drim 12th. 9L down in 8th WJ. 6th from 18th to BB 2C. Left 5th again CT 2C. 3rd, 3L down, at 27th. Persistently pestered by the loose Drim circa 29th where 4L adrift. Nevertheless, cut deficit to 2L by last. Ran on well but reluctant to go past Drim. 
  3 Pucka Belle 11 10-07 M. Blair E. Bailey 100/6 10 Soon very prominent, 2nd BB 1C. Only 6th at CT & VB 1C, however, left 2nd again 12th. Clear lead by 14th but hampered by two loose horses approaching Chair and lead reduced to 3L by WJ. Narrow advantage 18th, lost more ground & confidence when savaged by the loose Dawmar and 7th BB 2C. Left 4th CT and left 4th again at 27th. Kept on gamely and 3rd, 8L down, last. No extra.
36 4 Ego 10 10-09 F. Hartigan H. Llewellyn 10/1 2 Away well but settled in mid-division, 11th CT 1C. Fore of midfield in 9th next (VB 1C). Left 6th at 12th. 2nd at 14th, 4L down in 4th WJ. Still 4th BB 2C. 2nd again, 3L adrift, from CT 2C to 28th. Had dropped back to 4th, 9L off the speed, by last. One-paced.
36 5 Crown Prince 12 10-06 P. Thrale R. Strutt 50/1   Rear of mid-division, 14th CT 1C. A midfield 13th next (VB). Bad mistake 11th. Left 10th at 12th. 9th, 12L down, WJ. Still 9th at 18th & BB 2C. Left 7th CT 2C. Left 5th at 27th. Beaten by 29th. Remained 5th but about 18L off the leader at last. Plugged on.
36 6 Pencraik 10 10-03 K. Goode G. Archibald 25/1   Chased leaders, 7th CT 1C. A fore of mid-division 8th next (VB). Left 3rd at 12th. 7th again, 7L adrift, WJ. 8th once more at 18th but progress to be 5th BB 2C. Left 6th CT 2C and left 6th again 27th. Mistake 28th and well beaten by 29th. Still 6th, about 27L down, at last. Laboured on.
  7R Don Bradman 11 10-08 G. Jackson A. Marsh 100/8   Fore of mid-division when hampered by Dawmar & UR 1st. Rider hung onto reins & quickly remounted but tailed off thereafter (came closest to regaining touch CT 1C). Well tailed off from CT 2C.
  U Flying Minutes 7 10-02 R. Hobbs B. Hobbs 66/1 27TH (OD) Chased leaders. 8th when bad mistake & nearly UR CT 1C. Had dropped to 14th next (VB). Rallied and left 8th again at 12th. Further progress to be 2nd, 3L down, WJ. Exact same position BB 2C. 3rd CT 2C and began to tire CS. 4th when slight mistake 27th & jockey fell off.
  U Dryburgh 8 10-00 B. Vick B. Carter 28/1 25TH (VB) Mid-division, 10th CT & VB 1C. Left 7th at 12th. Headway to be 6th, 6L down, WJ. 7th again 18th. 8th BB 2C and left 8th CT. Same position when mistake & UR VB 2C.
  U Delachance 8 10-09 G. Beeby F. Rimell 100/6 24TH (CT) Chased leaders until became prominent circa CT 1C where 4th. 9L down in 5th next (VB). Left 4th again at 12th. 5th once more, 6L adrift, WJ. Still 5th at 18th. Progress to be 3rd BB 2C. Going well in 4th, 4L down, when slight mistake CT 2C & rider came out the side door.
36 R Keen Blade 10 10-07 P. Thrale E. Paget 28/1 19TH (OD) Started enthusiastically, chased leaders to 1st and still quite handy 3rd, but had dropped to a rear of mid-division 17th by BB 1C. 15th CT & VB 1C. Towards rear of main body when left 11th at 12th, last but one Chair & WJ. Tailed off in 10th (of 11) at 18th. Refused 19th.
  U Didoric 8 10-10 Harry Brown F. Nicholson 100/8 15TH (CHAIR) Away well & very prominent 2nd. Soon dropped into mid-division. Squeezed for room, badly hampered & virtually walked through CT 1C. 12th next (VB). Last but one when very bad mistake & nearly UR 11th, jockey having both legs on same side of horse for a moment. Jumped violently left 12th. A tired 10th when mistake & UR Chair.
  U Irvine 8 10-04 R. Parker A. Parker 40/1 15TH (CHAIR) Rear of mid-division, 13th CT 1C, 16th VB 1C. Left 9th (of 13) at 12th. Further towards rear in 11th when bad mistake & UR Chair.
  U Drim 10 10-09 H. Whiteman B. Tighe 100/1 12TH Soon very prominent, led by BB 1C. Mistake next (7th) and dropped to 2nd CT 1C where also went a little wide. 4th, 7L down, VB 1C. Inherited outright lead again 11th. Ahead when bad mistake & rider flung over horse's head to the turf 12th.
  U Sugar Loaf 10 10-00 B. Lyall E. Carr 100/1 12TH Away well but soon settled in mid-division. 12th CT 1C, 11th next (VB). Similar position when caused to refuse by Golden Miller at 11th. Kept going, well tailed off in last, only to blunder & UR 12th (despite jockey attempting to cling on for dear life).
33 34 35 36 R Golden Miller 10 12-07 O. Anthony D.J. Morgan 8/1F 11TH (OD) Away well & very prominent. 3rd BB & CT 1C. 2nd, 5L down, VB 1C. Disputing lead with Drim when refused 11th.
34 R Ready Cash 10 11-03 G. Beeby T. Carey 22/1 11TH (OD) Away well & very prominent. 5th BB 1C. Took lead shortly after next (7th), 5L ahead VB 1C. Advantage narrowed and jumped left 10th. Had been headed but remained extremely handy when caused to refuse by Golden Miller 11th, horse & rider falling into ditch.
35 F Tapinois 9 10-10 F. Hurt F. Maxwell 40/1 8TH (CT) Led to and over 1st but had gradually declined into fore of mid-division by BB 1C. Mistake 7th. 8th when fell next (CT 1C).
36 F Buckthorn 9 10-09 Master of Gray K. Piggott 40/1 8TH (CT) Mid-division until fell CT 1C.
  R Spionaud 9 10-00 Maj B. Powell E. Brown 18/1 8TH (CT) Initially chased leaders but had dropped to rear of mid-division when squeezed for room, badly hampered & caused to refuse CT 1C.
34 35 36 U Uncle Batt 11 10-00 W. James D. McCarthy 100/1 8TH (CT) Always towards rear. Becoming tailed off in a last but one 22nd BB 1C. No further behind when jockey fell off several strides after CT 1C.
33 34 36 U Delaneige 12 11-02 G. Beeby T. Hamey 20/1 7TH Increasingly prominent from 3rd. 4th BB 1C and 2nd when mistake & UR 7th.
36 F Kiltoi 8 10-01 S. Harrison Cpt P. Harding 100/1 7TH Mid-division until fell 7th.
35 36 P Emancipator 9 10-05 H. Whiteman P. Cazalet 33/1 5TH Towards rear until PU immediatey after 5th.
  F Field Master 9 10-03 B. Roberts L. Densham 100/1 5TH Chased leaders to 1st. Had become very prominent when fell 5th.
  F Sunspot 7 10-05 J. Goldsmith B. Everett 100/1 5TH Rear of mid-division until fell heavily 5th.
  F Misdemeanour 8 10-04 T. Gosden S. Magee 20/1 4TH Slowly away & towards rear when fell 4th.
36 R Blaze 8 10-00 Sir H.C. Nugent B. Parvin 50/1 3RD (OD) Towards rear, refused 3rd.
  F Milk Punch 13 10-00 W. Stubbs Gerry Wilson 33/1 2ND Rear of mid-division, fell 2nd.
  F True Blue(4) 9 10-00 Maj B. Powell P. Eliot-Cohen 100/1 2ND Towards rear, fell 2nd.
  U What Have You 9 11-05 R. Hobbs W. Streett 40/1 2ND Dwelt badly & immediately tailed off. Mistake & UR 2nd.
  U Dawmar 7 10-13 S. Duffy Jim Richardson 40/1 1ST Chased leaders, ballooned 1st & UR.
  U Passing Fancy 9 10-05 Maj B. Powell D. Holland 100/1 1ST Towards rear, awkward leap & rider fell off 1st.



The lowering of the minimum weight back to 10st for the 1937 Grand National attracted fierce criticism from many folk. Part of their argument was that more relatively moderate horses being encouraged to run would (re)turn the race into one of farcical scramble. However, such fears were not realised. From 1937 to 1940 the percentage of finishers was 35% compared to 31% for the period from 1931 to 1936, the six years when the minimum weight was set at 10st 7lb. Interestingly, for the two years immediately after the Canal Turn ditch was filled in (1929 and 1930) the percentage of finishers was 15% and, generally speaking, the course was barely less challenging in the 1930s than it had been in the 1920s. Therefore, I see the increased percentage of finishers as further proof that the 1930s was the golden age of steeplechasing, the quality of the equine participants was higher independent of general athletic improvement. Indeed, the general skills and abilities of jockeys had hardly improved. In 1937 there were at least four weak unseats.

Royal Mail became the last truly great horse of this golden era. In a rough renewal he jumped well for Evan Williams, who later became a Flat trainer, to provide Ivor Anthony with his second Grand National win and supply a triple Welsh success. Owner Hugh Lloyd Thomas, who had ridden in the 1934 National, was sadly killed in a chase at Derby in early 1938. Cooleen was a shade unlucky at the weights as she was hampered thrice and, according to Jack Fawcus, was going best when suffering the unwanted attentions of Drim at the 29th, however, I believe Royal Mail always had her measure. Cooleen seemed most effective on Soft and would not get such going again in the National. Sixteen year old Bruce Hobbs made a promising but ultimately inauspicious debut on Flying Minutes. The attendance was estimated at 300,000, and a record, no doubt partially due to the presence of both the King and the Queen for the so-called centenary Grand National. It wasn't, of course, the race having been inaugurated 101 years earlier (perversely, later officialdom at Aintree insisted upon celebrating the 150th anniversary in 1989 in defiance of both its own honours board, which commences with the 1837 race, and clear evidence, presented by John Pinfold and Mick Mutlow, that the first National was run on the same course in 1836).

No worthwhile winning time comparison can be made. The official going description was rarely Soft for many Nationals both before and after 1937 and this year a breakneck pace was not sustained. The complexion of the race changed down the canal side first time with the departures of Golden Miller, Ready Cash and Drim, all of whom had been on the speed prior to exiting, and the tempo certainly slackened between there and the Water Jump. For example, Royal Mail was restrained at this stage, Pucka Belle was allowed to develop a clear lead until hampered by loose horses approaching the Chair, and Flying Minutes was able to go from fourteenth at Valentine's Brook to second, just three lengths adrift, at the Water. In addition, on ground that was on the Good side of Soft (to a similar extent that it had been on the Soft side of Good a year earlier), Royal Mail was merely pushed out at the finish with Williams spending most of the last five furlongs looking behind and doing only what was necessary. Strictly at the weights in the 1937 Grand National Royal Mail emerged 12 (pounds/lengths) superior to Cooleen and 33 better than both Pucka Belle and the well fancied Ego (whom I rated -52 in 1936). The latter beat the fifth Crown Prince by a very similar margin to that by which he had last year and their style of running suggests that both were equally better suited by the greater ease in the going compared to 1936. Ego was giving Crown Prince 2lb more in 1937, therefore, I will rate Harry Llewellyn's mount -50 this time. Pucka Belle is allowed 6, as she was both hampered and savaged, for -44. Cooleen is granted 5, because she was hampered three times, for -24. And Royal Mail gets 3 for comfort of victory and a rating of -14. The veracity of this rating is supported by considering the following: in the 1936 Cheltenham Gold Cup (1937's was abandoned) Golden Miller (rated 0 in 1934) comfortably beat the then 7-y-o Royal Mail by 12 lengths with Kellsboro' Jack (-19 in 1933) a further 2 lengths back, allowing 5 for the ease of Golden Miller's victories (see 1934) this places Royal Mail at -17, his raw mark here; and later in 1936 in the Becher Chase (scene of Golden Miller's only completion at Liverpool after the 1934 National) Golden Miller finished second to Royal Mail, coming out 9 better at the weights. That race was over just 2 1/2m and the shorter distance may have less suited the older horse who also hated Aintree, may have been going slightly past his best and likely was not fully wound up in the early stages of the season. However, it tends to indicate that Royal Mail was improving and undoubtedly the 1937 National was his peak performance (though he was still good enough to be third in the 1940 Gold Cup as an 11-y-o), thus the least he deserves is -14. My Scroll Of Merit now reads: Golden Miller; -7 Troytown; -8 Reynoldstown; -14 Lottery, The Lamb, Disturbance, Seaman, Come Away, Cloister, Jerry M, Easter Hero, Thomond(1), Royal Mail(1); -17 Poethlyn; -18 Congress, The Liberator; -19 Why Not, Manifesto, Kellsboro' Jack; -20 Delaneige.                











Copyright 2017 by Chris Dowling