Grand National Ultimate History



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The section of plough on the run to the 1st/17th was abolished.


Sa 7 Apr 1951 (3.16) 4m 4f Soft (Good to Soft places) 9.47.40 36 £8,815 J. Royle

  1 Nickel Coin 9 10-01 J. O'Donoghue J. Bullock 40/1   Jumped well in the main. Left in dispute of 7th at 1st and again at 5th. 9th BB 1C where pecked & stumbled. Left in dispute of 2nd CT 1C, 4th next (VB), left 2nd again at 10th. 3rd at 14th but left 2nd once more Chair, same position, 4L down, WJ (where 5 remained). Jumped into lead 17th, 1L ahead CT 2C, joined 27th until last where afforded 1L lead. Extended advantage to 3L by Elbow. Ran on well, very comfortably.
  2 Royal Tan 7 10-13 V. O'Brien P. O'Brien 22/1 6 Inconvenienced start. Left 21st at 1st where pecked. Left 16th at 5th, 15th BB 1C. Left 9th CT 1C and left 7th next (VB). 6th at the 11th. Slight mistakes at the 13th & 14th, nevertheless, left 3rd Chair. 4th, 7L down, WJ. Retook 3rd after 19th, left 2nd BB 2C where pecked and same position, 1L down, CT 2C. Disputed lead from 27th until bad mistake last & dropped 1L behind. Came under pressure and 3L adrift by Elbow. Eased final 30yds.
  3R Derrinstown 11 10-00 G. Flood A. Power 66/1 DIST Towards rear. Left in dispute of 17th at 1st and left 17th at both 5th & next (BB). Left 8th & last VB 1C, slight mistake 13th, left 5th & last Chair. Sudden headway to be 3rd, 6L down, WJ. Same position 19th and had just been left 3rd again, close-up, when pecked and BD by Gay Heather BB 2C. Remounted, well tailed off in 5th and soon completely so in 3rd & last. Finished utterly tailed off.
  F Broomfield 10 10-04 J. Anthony R. Emery 33/1 23RD Left in dispute of 17th at 1st where jumped big, to the left & pecked. Left 13th at 5th, disputed 12th next (BB), left 6th CT 1C and left 5th VB 1C where landed rather steeply & slightly hampered. 4th at 11th and left 4th Chair. 5th & last, 11L down, WJ. Same position 19th. Left 3rd BB 2C. Close-up when blundered & fell 23rd.
  R Gay Heather 10 10-00 J. Paisley D. Curran 66/1 23RD Left 6th at 1st, where slightly hampered, and at 5th. Modest progress to dispute lead BB 1C. 7th when very bad mistake & as good as down next (7th), miraculous recovery but dropped to 11th. Hampered CT 1C where left 7th, left 6th VB 1C, 5th at 11th. Hampered by loose horse (Caesar's Wife) on run to 13th & dropped from disputing lead to 4th. Nevertheless, rallied again to vie for lead 13th & 14th and left with outright advantage Chair, 4L to the good WJ. Headed 17th but still 2nd at 19th and when landed too steeply & fell BB 2C. Remounted, well tailed off in 4th. Refused 23rd.
49 50 U Russian Hero 11 11-01 G. Owen L. McMorrow 40/1 15TH (CHAIR) Prominent, left in dispute of 7th at 1st. Left 5th at 5th and modest progress to vie for lead BB 1C. 6th when mistake next (7th). Left in a share of 2nd CT 1C and left in outright lead 10th. Joined briefly on run to 13th and again from 13th until distracted by loose horses approaching Chair, misjudged leap (took off too soon) & landed in fence with enough force to UR in the process before ploughing through it.
  F Dog Watch 10 10-02 G. Owen T. Brookshaw 33/1 15TH (CHAIR) Left in dispute of 15th at 1st, left 10th at 5th and same position BB 1C. Left 4th CT 1C. 3rd next (VB) where slight mistake. 4th again at 14th. Had just been left 3rd once more when distracted by loose horses approaching Chair, lost momentum, jumped left and landed in fence sending jockey over. Horse slipped back into ditch.
  F Caesar's Wife 9 10-08 G. Rogers G. Rogers 100/1 10TH Away well & very prominent, 4th at 1st. Vied for lead 4th, led 5th, joined BB 1C. Left 3rd at 7th and left in lead again CT 1C. Still ahead when fell 10th.
48 49 50 F Roimond 10 12-00 G. Beeby A. Jarvis 100/7 9TH (VB) Left 13th at 1st, left 9th at 5th, disputed 7th BB 1C. Hampered 7th, nevertheless, left 5th CT 1C. Vying for 4th when blundered & fell VB 1C.
  U Partpoint 9 10-05 Cpt N. Crump A. Thompson 33/1 9TH (VB) Left 14th at 1st, left 15th at 5th, 16th BB 1C. Left 8th CT 1C and had just been left 7th when bad mistake & UR next (VB).
  F Queen Of The Dandies 10 10-00 C. Robinson R. Carter 100/1 9TH (VB) Left 19th at 1st. Bad mistake 3rd & dropped to last. Left 20th & last BB 1C. Left 11th & last CT 1C. Becoming tailed off when ploughed through next (VB), fell heavily & slipped briefly into brook.
  F Arctic Gold 6 10-13 G. Balding T. Molony 8/1F 8TH (CT) Away well & disputed lead from 1st to 4th. Vied for 2nd next, shared lead again BB 1C, took outright advantage before 7th. Still ahead when fell next (CT).
  B Armoured Knight 7 10-08 Gerry Wilson T. Cusack 66/1 8TH (CT) Left in dispute of 15th at 1st. Left vying for 7th at 5th. Same situation next (BB). Resumed headway to be 2nd at 7th. Identical position when BD by Arctic Gold CT 1C.
  F Prince Brownie 9 10-09 P. Cazalet T. Grantham 33/1 8TH (CT) Left in dispute of 7th at 1st. Left 11th at 5th. Same position next (BB). Had just been left vying for 6th when blundered & fell heavily CT 1C.
  F Glen Fire 8 10-01 S. Mercer F. Winter 33/1 8TH (CT) Left 12th but hampered by the fall of Column 1st. Slightly hampered by the fall of Gallery 2nd. Left 14th at 5th, disputed 12th again BB 1C. Had just been left vying for 6th when blundered & fell heavily CT 1C.
48 49 50 B Cloncarrig 11 12-00 T. Masson B. Turnell 10/1 8TH (CT) Inconvenienced start, left 24th & last at 1st where slightly hampered. Left a last but one 20th at 5th. Left 18th next (BB) and had just been left 11th when a loose horse (Sergeant Kelly) interfered with his leap CT 1C & was BD into fence on take off side, rider being dispatched over fence in the process.
  R Tasman 11 10-00 Cpt R. Price C. Hook 100/1 8TH (CT) Towards rear. Left in dispute of 22nd at 1st. Left 18th at 5th and left a last but one 19th next (BB). Same position when hampered & UR 7th. Remounted, tailed off last, only to refuse CT 1C.
47 48 50 F Rowland Roy 12 10-12 F. Walwyn D. Dick 50/1 7TH Away well & disputed lead from 1st to 4th. Slight mistake 5th where vied for 2nd. Shared lead again next (BB) and disputing 2nd once more when fell heavily 7th.
50 F Binghamstown 12 10-00 L. Furman L. Furman 100/1 7TH Disputed lead 1st. Headed by 3rd. Left 4th at 5th where rider waved to his auntie in the stands, 6th next (BB). Vying for 2nd when fell heavily 7th.
  U Sergeant Kelly 10 10-12 J. Paisley R. De'Ath 40/1 7TH Left in dispute of 7th at 1st. Disputed 12th BB 1C. Similar position when hampered by fallen horses at 7th & UR.
  F Morning Cover 10 10-00 Gerry Wilson G. Slack 40/1 6TH (BB) Left in dispute of 22nd at 1st. Left 19th at 5th. Vying for 17th when fell next (BB).
50 F Shagreen 10 12-02 T. Dreaper G. Kelly 10/1 5TH Away well and left 5th at 1st. Disputed lead 3rd & 4th. 4th when blundered & fell next.
49 50 F Gallery 13 10-04 R. Bissill A. Mullins 50/1 2ND Left 11th at 1st where slightly hampered. Similar position when fell 2nd.
50 U Freebooter 10 12-07 B. Renton Jimmy Power 10/1 2ND Inconvenienced start, left 20th at 1st. Similar position when badly hampered by the rising Gallery & UR 2nd.
  U Stalbridge Rock 8 10-05 I. Anthony B. McCreery 66/1 1ST 5th when overjumped, pecked badly & UR 1st.
  F Land Fort 7 11-03 F. Rimell B. Marshall 20/1 1ST Had just been left 7th when overjumped & fell 1st.
50 F Cadamstown 11 10-04 V. Brunt J. Dowdeswell 50/1 1ST Had just been left in dispute of 12th when overjumped & fell 1st.
50 F Stockman 9 10-02 G. Vergette G. Vergette 100/1 1ST Had just been left in dispute of 12th when jumped too quickly and steeply & fell 1st.
  F Revealed 11 10-00 W. Francis W. Beynon-Brown 100/1 1ST Had just been left in dispute of 12th when jumped carrying too much speed, crumpled upon landing & fell 1st.
50 F Column 11 10-01 R. Bissill A. Corbett 100/1 1ST Had just been left in dispute of 12th when overjumped & fell 1st.
  U Irish Lizard 8 10-01 F. Nicholson P. Taaffe 50/1 1ST Had just been left 19th when slight mistake & UR 1st.
  F Finnure 10 12-00 G. Beeby D. Francis 22/1 1ST Inconvenienced start. Had just been left 19th (in turn), carrying too much speed, crumpled a couple of strides after landing & fell 1st.
  F East A'Calling 10 10-02 C. Knipe M. Scudamore 50/1 1ST Had just been left 20th, carrying too much speed, overjumped & fell 1st.
  F Texas Dan 9 10-01 F. Walwyn P. Fitzgerald 66/1 1ST Had just been left in dispute of 21st, going too quickly, overjumped & fell 1st.
  F Parsonshill 12 10-02 J. Seely J. Seely 100/1 1ST Had just been left in dispute of 21st, going too fast, overjumped & fell 1st.
50 F Confucius 10 10-00 G. Owen M. O'Dwyer 100/1 1ST Slowly away and 5L adrift in last when went right through top of fence & fell 1st.



The start of the 1951 Grand National was not the most farcical in the race's history to this point (see 1849) nor did it have the fatal consequences of 102 years earlier, however, it was a complete shambles. In a momentary lapse of judgement the starter, Leslie Firth, let the field go when those on the outside, nearest to him, were disorganised. Incredibly he also failed to signal for a false start. Many horses were disadvantaged. Caught by surprise, their jockeys went too fast in an attempt to recover the ground lost and, aided by the removal of the strip of plough, several animals built up enough speed to gain mid-division but were as a result dangerously unbalanced partnerships which culminated, at the always tricky 1st, in twelve horses, one-third of the troop, coming to grief. Despite the much depleted field the 7th/23rd still claimed five victims and just five runners remained at the Water Jump. What had been a decent quality of entrants was swiftly reduced to a swarm of loose horses and the 250,000 crowd were stunned at the debacle. Understandably there was widespread criticism from the press, the renewal being dubbed the 'Grand Crashional'!

It was the latest date upon which the National had been run and on her thirteenth run of the season Nickel Coin became the thirteenth winning mare. If rather lucky (apart from the demise of all of her rivals she used her forelegs as opposed to her hooves to propell herself forward after her sole bad mistake at first Becher's) it was deservedly so for Irish exile Jack O'Donoghue, who would continue to train until well into his eighties, and Johnnie Bullock, who had been captured in an earlier shambles at Arnhem. Nickel Coin, a weak foal and former show jumper who was fed on a diet of oatmeal, stout and Khaki Campbell duck eggs, would not contest another Grand National and was soon retired to stud with moderate success before later becoming a pet for a lady. Runner-up Royal Tan, maestro Vincent O'Brien's second National runner, had also finished second in the Irish Grand National twelve days earlier and his trainer's brother, Phonsie, was somewhat late to realise that the horse was best left to his own devices rather than being ridden at a fence. Phonsie does deserve credit, however, for his patience after a bad start. Despite Royal Tan's last fence blunder many contemporary sources say that Nickel Coin would have won anyway. Perhaps the most remarkable feature of the race was 66/1 shot Gay Heather enjoying a four length lead at the Water in defiance of being hampered to varying degrees at the 1st, 8th and on the run to the 13th as well as making what must be one of the most miraculous recoveries in the history of the National at the 7th.

However, that the chestnut entire was so blessed tends to indicate that after starting as if shot out of a gun the field went at a rather more leisurely pace as the race developed and the cascade of exits continued. There are other examples of this, Broomfield was eleven lengths down in last at the Water but a close-up third when falling at the 23rd. The going was not quite as soft as the official description (Soft) although there was plenty of ease, therefore, I have added Good to Soft places. There is no available direct time comparison so rarely had it been a soft surface in recent years. And in any case there would likely be some general athletic improvement to consider by now if we were comparing 1951 with pre-war Nationals, namely development of the breed per se, advancement of training methods (spearheaded by Vincent O'Brien) and slightly better skills of jockeyship. There is no collateral form available either but I'm not convinced that the performances of the first two in 1951 were all that great. The handicapper ajudged that last year's winner, Freebooter (whom I rated -15), should give 34lb to Nickel Coin whilst Roimond, who came out best at the weights in 1949 (-23), gave her 27lb. Therefore, I will use a base mark of -49 for the mare who strictly speaking emerged 6 (pounds/lengths) inferior to Royal Tan (who thus gets a raw rating of -43) in the 1951 Grand National. Undoubtedly it was a career best performance by Nickel Coin who was essentially a slow stayer and I will allow her 4 for her near-fatal mistake at first Becher's and comfort of victory for a final rating of -45. Royal Tan was only a 7-y-o who would show plenty of improvement and I will grant him 6 for his numerous mistakes and being eased. He, therefore, receives a final rating of -37.         











Copyright 2017 by Chris Dowling