Grand National Ultimate History



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Sa 26 Mar 1949 (3.21) 4m 4f Good to Firm 9.23.80 43 £9,528 F. Williamson

  1 Russian Hero 9 10-08 G. Owen L. McMorrow 66/1   Nearly always in first half dozen. 6th from 1st to 11th, 5th at 14th, 3rd (of 23) WJ. 4th at 17th, left 7th at 19th, disputed 6th at 21st. 5th again next (BB 2C), 3rd once more 23rd & CT. Joined leader from VB to 27th, 1/2L down in 2nd at 28th. Eased into outright lead on run to 29th where 1L ahead. 4L advantage last. Drew further away, hands and heels. Comfortably.
48 2 Roimond 8 11-12 G. Beeby D. Francis 22/1 8 Away well & always very prominent. 2nd at 1st, led 2nd, joined from 3rd until BB 1C where slight mistake and dropped to 4th. Left 3rd at 7th, 4th again CT & VB 1C. 3rd once more 11th, regained lead on run to 13th, back in 3rd next but led Chair & WJ. 2nd at 17th, left 3rd at 19th, same position 21st. Vied for lead BB 2C, 2nd next & CT where went wide and plummeted to 5th. Disputed 3rd, 5L down, at 27th. 6L off the leader, still 3rd, at 29th & 30th. Kept on all out to grab 2nd inside last 25yds.
  3 Royal Mount 10 10-12 Maj B. Powell P. Doyle 18/1 1 Initially mid-division. Soon began progress, disputed 8th BB 1C, 7th CT 1C, 4th at 11th, 2nd on run to 13th and led next. Had dropped back to 5th by WJ, same position 17th. Regained lead with great jump 19th. Joined BB 2C and again from VB to 27th and went 1/2L ahead 28th (despite mistakes there and 26th). Headed on run to 29th where 1L down. 4L adrift in 2nd at last. Slightly faded further and dropped to 3rd inside last 25yds.
48 4 Cromwell 8 11-03 P. Cazalet Lord Mildmay 6/1F 5 Not jump well early on, left 25th BB 1C. 22nd CT 1C. Headway along CS 1C to dispute 13th at 11th. 12th at 14th, 11th WJ & 17th, left 10th at 19th and vied for 9th at 21st. Further progress to be 6th BB 2C. Left 4th CT 2C, 3rd next (VB). 5L down in same position 27th where somewhat pestered by loose horses, jumped left and slowly away from fence. 5th at 28th and 4th, circa 10L off leader, at 29th. Same story at last. No extra.
  5 Flaming Steel 8 10-09 T. Yates J. Spencer 33/1   Mid-division 1st, left in dispute of 18th BB 1C. 15th CT 1C where jockey waved to his auntie. Vied for 13th at 11th. 17th from 14th to 17th. Jumped badly left next. Left 14th BB 2C where slightly hampered by the prone Wot No Sun. Left 10th CT 2C and left 9th next (VB). Same position 27th. Left 7th at 28th. 5th at 29th. Still 5th, about 14L down, last. Faded to finish several lengths behind the 4th, however, had sustained cut to leg (at Chair) which ultimately proved fatal. Dead.
48 6 Happy Home 10 11-10 F. Walwyn B. Marshall 10/1   Mid-division 1C: left in dispute of 15th BB, vied for 19th CT, disputed 14th at 14th, 10th WJ. 7th at 17th, left 4th at 19th, 5th at 21st. 7th again next (BB), left 5th once more CT 2C, regained 4th VB. Effort petered out and 7th at 27th. Left 6th next, 7th over last 2, took back 6th before Elbow. Plugged on.
  7 Tonderman 12 10-04 J. Bloom J. Bloom 66/1   Mid-division, left 17th BB 1C. Disputed 11th CT 1C, same position at 11th. 13th WJ. 12th at 17th & 21st, left in dispute of 11th next (BB). Left 7th CT 2C, same position next (VB). 5th at 27th and up to 4th at 28th. Slightly weakened thereafter, 6th over last 2 and lost that position before Elbow but finished well clear of 8th.
  8 Lucky Purchase 11 10-02 S. Banks A. Jack 50/1   Towards rear from 1st, well so BB 1C, left 29th & last CT 1C. Still rearmost at 14th and becoming tailed off. 22nd & last but one WJ. Was tailed off in 18th by 21st. Plodded on, gradually inheriting several places, to finish a tailed off 8th.
46 47 48 9R Bricett 12 10-09 W. Stephenson T. Molony 20/1   Initially rear of mid-division, left 28th BB 1C. Progress to dispute a midfield 19th CT 1C, however, bad mistake & nearly down next (VB). 21st at 11th, 18th at 14th and 16th WJ. Left 14th at 19th and left vying for 11th BB 2C where hampered by the prone Wot No Sun. Left 9th CT 2C and same position when fell next (VB). Remounted, tailed off. Left 11th at 27th and left 9th at 28th. Laboured on to finish tailed off in the same position.
47 10 Clyduffe 14 10-00 J. Wight Jimmy Power 66/1   Mid-division, disputed 16th CT 1C. Gradually dropped away, 20th at 14th & 17th. Tailed off in a last but one 19th by 21st. Terrible mistake and as good as down next (BB) but miraculous recovery. Well tailed off from VB 2C. Completely tailed off in 10th from 28th.
  11R Perfect Night 11 10-00 R. Horton D. Ancil 66/1   Mid-division until hampered by fall of Magnetic Fin & UR BB 1C. Remounted on the run but towards rear. Left 26th CT 1C and left in dispute of 22nd at 11th. Vied for same position, but also last place, at 14th where becoming tailed off. 23rd & rearmost WJ where jumped right. Never really vacated that place thereafter, tailed off by 21st. Well so when mistake & UR 27th. Remounted again, completely tailed off. Finished utterly so.
  U Astra 8 10-04 Cpt N. Crump A. Thompson 50/1 28TH Away well & very prominent, 4th at 1st. Pecked 5th when challenging for lead, however, still vied for it BB 1C. 2nd from next (7th) until after VB 1C, left 2nd again 10th. Led fairly briefly 11th. 4th once more when very bad mistake & almost UR 14th. Had dropped to 12th WJ. Soon rallied and back up to 2nd by 19th. Disputing lead when bad blunder 21st and headed. Hairy leap in 4th BB 2C. Left 6th CT 2C and maintained that position until another error & UR 28th.
  U Gallery 11 10-08 R. Bissill G. Slack 40/1 28TH Away well, 8th at 1st. Disputed same position BB 1C. 10th CT 1C, vied for 7th at 14th, 8th again WJ. 13th at 17th, left 12th at 19th, 11th at 21st and left 9th BB 2C. Left 8th CT 2C and just competing for 7th once more, at rear of leading group, when mistake & UR 28th.
48 F Loyal Antrim 12 10-04 T. O'Sullivan A. Scannell 50/1 27TH (OD) Towards rear 1st. Left 29th BB 1C. 25th CT 1C, 19th from 11th to 14th where awkward leap. Nevertheless, 18th WJ. 17th at 21st and left 15th BB 2C where becoming tailed off. Left 11th CT 2C where another fiddly jump and was tailed off. Similar position when fell 27th.
  F Southborough 11 10-01 B. Wightman P. Murray 66/1 24TH (CT) Initially fore of mid-division, left 13th at 1st. Headway to dispute 8th BB 1C. Vied for 11th CT 1C, 12th at 11th, shared 7th at 14th. Same position WJ. Left 5th at 19th, 4th at 21st, 3rd BB 2C. 4th again when fell CT 2C.
48 F Ulster Monarch 10 11-02 J. Wight D. Curran 28/1 24TH (CT) Left 14th at 1st, 13th BB & CT 1C, 8th at 11th and 6th WJ. Dropped back a little 2C: left 8th at 19th and left 10th BB. Had just been left in dispute of 7th when fell CT 2C.
47 B Brighter Sandy 11 11-02 C. Hall B. Turnell 40/1 24TH (CT) Initially chased leaders, left 10th at 1st. Disputed 8th BB 1C, same position CT 1C. Gradually dropped into mid-division: 10th at 11th, generally 14th from WJ to 21st. Left 13th next (BB) and had just been left 9th when BD by Ulster Monarch CT 2C.
  F San Michele 9 10-05 H. Metcalfe J. Boddy 66/1 23RD Prominent, 5th at 1st, disputed 8th BB 1C, 5th again CT 1C. Had progressed to be 2nd at 14th, 4th WJ. Left 9th at 19th, disputed 6th at 21st, left 8th next (BB). Similar position when fell 23rd.
  F Wot No Sun 7 10-03 Cpt N. Crump G. Kelly 40/1 22ND (BB) Soon became very prominent, 5th BB 1C. 3rd CT & VB 1C. Left in lead next (10th). Quickly headed and 2nd at 11th. 3rd again on run to 13th, 2nd once more Chair & WJ. Retook lead going out onto 2C but slightly hampered by a loose horse approaching Melling Rd and began to drop back. 3rd at 17th, left 6th at 19th, disputed same position 21st. 8th when fell BB 2C.
  R Royal Cottage 9 10-12 W. Payne D. Black 33/1 22ND (BB) Rear of mid-division, left in dispute of 26th BB 1C. 23rd CT 1C. Bad mistake next (VB) & rider called a cab. Nevertheless, 20th at 11th and 16th at 14th. 15th WJ. Left in same position at 19th and again BB 2C where refused & flung jockey over into brook.
  P Bruno 9 10-09 Maj W. Anstruther-Gray M. Pringle 66/1 20TH Always towards rear. Hampered by rising Magnetic Fin BB 1C. Left 27th CT 1C. Left 24th & last at 11th. 22nd & still rearmost at 14th where becoming tailed off. 21st WJ & 17th. Was tailed off when PU immediately after 20th.
  F Morning Star 10 10-00 Maj S. Sweet-Escott G. Bowden 66/1 20TH Mid-division, disputed 16th CT 1C. Same position 11th but had dropped to 21st by 14th. 20th WJ. Similar position when fell 20th.
  U Monaveen 8 10-03 P. Thrale T. Grantham 50/1 19TH (OD) Mid-division 1st. Left in dispute of 18th BB 1C. 14th CT 1C, vied for 10th at 14th, 9th WJ. Rather rapid progress very early 2C to take lead 17th. Still ahead next. 3rd when bad mistake & UR 19th.
47 U Leap Man 12 10-10 F. Walwyn T. Vinall 66/1 15TH (CHAIR) Left 11th but hampered by the fall of Stone Cottage 1st. Disputed 13th BB 1C. 9th CT 1C, 5th at 11th and vied for 7th at 14th. Similar position when slightly inconvenienced, blundered & UR next (Chair).
  U Barn Dance 10 10-00 Maj B. Powell E. Newman 50/1 11TH (OD) Rear of mid-division BB 1C. 24th CT 1C. Mistake VB 1C. 22nd when misjudged leap & UR 11th.
  F Acthon Major 9 10-11 W. Easterby B. O'Ryan 50/1 10TH Away well & narrowly led 1st. Headed before 2nd. Disputed lead 3rd, ahead again 5th, joined once more BB 1C. Regained outright advantage before 7th and 2L to the good there & next (CT). 3 or 4L in front when fell 10th.
48 F Offaly Prince 10 10-04 Cpt R. Price A. Parker 66/1 10TH Mid-division. Left 24th BB 1C. Disputed 19th CT 1C where mistake. Similar position when fell 10th.
48 F Bora's Cottage 11 10-03 Cpt R. Price E. Kennedy 50/1 10TH Towards rear by BB 1C. Left 28th & last but one CT 1C. Similar position when fell heavily 10th. Dead.
  F Cavaliero 8 11-01 Maj B. Powell J. Brogan 100/8 9TH (VB) Mid-division. Disputed 16th CT 1C. Similar position when fell next (VB).
  P Ardnacassa 11 10-05 T. Dreaper M. Connors 66/1 8TH (CT) Mid-division. Left 22nd BB 1C. Still midfield when PU CT 1C.
  U Celtic Cross 11 10-00 T. Southern J. Parkin 66/1 8TH (CT) Mid-division 1st. Left in dispute of 18th BB 1C. Had dropped to a rear of midfield 26th when jumped left, bad mistake & UR CT 1C.
  U Sen Toi 14 10-05 J. Roberts T. Cusack 66/1 8TH (CT) Towards rear when slightly hampered by fall of Parthenon 1st. 27th when put off by Celtic Cross jumping left, bad mistake & UR CT 1C.
48 F Cloncarrig 9 11-07 T. Masson K. Gilsenan 18/1 7TH Away well & 3rd at 1st. Disputed lead BB 1C. 3rd again when fell 7th.
47 F Martin M 9 10-01 A. Kilpatrick Maj W. Skrine 66/1 7TH Left 9th at 1st. 7th BB 1C. Still prominent when fell next (7th).
48 F Caddie 11 10-10 I. Anthony Jack Maguire 66/1 7TH Mid-division. Left 21st BB 1C. Similar position when fell next (7th).
  F Magnetic Fin 10 10-04 C. Hall L. Vick 50/1 6TH (BB) Mid-division 1st. Disputing 13th when fell BB 1C.
47 48 P Caughoo 10 11-00 H. McDowell D. McCann 66/1 5TH Mid-division 1st. Rear of midfield approaching 5th and bridle had come so badly adrift that jockey desperately and deliberately succeeded in slowing horse down and steering him out.
  F Replica 11 10-03 I. Anthony E. Reavey 66/1 5TH Rear of mid-division 1st. Further towards rear when fell 5th.
  F Ship's Bell 9 10-00 S. Parker M. O'Dwyer 66/1 4TH Towards rear until fell 4th.
  U Sagacity 11 10-00 D. Moore A. Power 66/1 3RD (OD) Jockey lost a stirrup leather 1st and became so unbalanced jumping 3rd in last but one that horse eventually UR.
  F Arranbeg 12 10-02 M. Owens R. McCarthy 66/1 2ND Towards rear. Slightly hampered by the fall of Parthenon 1st, fell 2nd.
  F Stone Cottage 8 10-01 C. Nicholson M. Hogan 66/1 1ST 9th when fell heavily 1st.
47 48 F Parthenon 10 10-05 R. Hobbs B. Bates 66/1 1ST Mid-division, fell 1st.



Early in 1949 Tophams Ltd bought Aintree racecourse from the 7th and final Lord Sefton, giving Mirabel absolute power. The sale included a covenant that the land could only be used for agriculture or horse racing during the noble lord's lifetime. Surprisingly good use of the turf was made in the Grand National by Russian Hero, a normally dodgy jumper who hitherto was thought best at 2 1/2 miles on park courses. However, his equally obscure rider, Leo McMorrow, got Russian Hero into a beautiful rhythm, judged where to be in relation to the pace perfectly and the horse made no discernible errors to reward trainer George Owen, a fine mentor of jockeys. The field went at a good clip and there were several lead changes in front of a crowd that if it wasn't a record was very close to one. Russian Hero was among the 22 horses (out of 43 runners) who went off at 66/1 and became just the second winner at that price (the fifth at those odds or bigger). His victory meant that the post-war winners had been returned at odds of 25/1, 100/1, 50/1 and now 66/1! His National success was another example of an outstanding one-off performance in the context of a horse's overall career (Russian Hero never won again) and may have been the foundation for the theory that a two-and-a-half miler could prosper in the race, certainly when surviving the fences was paramount over the possibly more stamina-sapping maintenance of an end to end gallop. However, I think that's poppycock! They did not hang about in 1949 and great performances by horses who were more adept at the shorter distance would be the exception with other factors playing a significant part on those rare occasions when one occurred. By the 2010s a horse would require previous good form over 3 miles plus to gain entry.

Strictly at the weights in the 1949 Grand National the game Roimond emerged 10 (pounds/lengths) superior to Russian Hero and 15 better than Royal Mount and Cromwell. I will eschew the many time comparisons I could do (as they are particularly unreliable in this period, this year the going was again Good to Firm)  in favour of collateral form based upon the latter. In 1948 Cromwell's raw rating was -40 and Lord Mildmay's mount seems to have run a pretty similar race in 1949, this year being let down by his jumping rather than by an injury to his jockey. Cromwell had seemed improved this season but even allowing him 4 for his many errant leaps I can only give him a final rating, one better than last year's, of -36. Royal Mount for HIS mistakes is granted 1 for, using Cromwell's raw mark, -39. Russian Hero is awarded 4 for his comfort of victory and, thus, is rated -31 while Roimond receives 2 for going wide at the second Canal Turn and gets a final rating of -23. True, Cottage Rake (-26) was able to employ his superb cruising speed to beat Roimond rather comfortably in the 1948 King George at Kempton, however, Cottage Rake seemed better suited to that relatively tight track and 3 miles and it likely would have been a different story had they met at a big, galloping course like Aintree over a mile and a half further (the ultimate test). Indeed, one reason that training genius Vincent O'Brien never entered Cottage Rake in the Grand National may have been, despite his breeding, concern about whether he would have fully stayed. The ill-fated Flaming Steel, who finished fifth, apparently had such a delicate constitution that he was fed on a diet of six eggs and twenty pounds of corn per day during the fortnight leading up to the National while sixth placed Happy Home was a shadow of his former self all season.      











Copyright 2017 by Chris Dowling