Grand National Ultimate History



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The course more fully railed on the inside again. 6th/22nd (BB) - landing ground and depth of brook marginally raised; 7th/23rd - 4' 6" H (was 5') and ground levelled out on the approach to fence. The 16th (WJ) omitted due to waterlogged ground.


Sa 26 Mar 1955 (3.15) 4m 4f Heavy 10.20.60 30 £8,934 C. Welman

  1 Quare Times 9 11-00 V. O'Brien P. Taaffe 100/9   Always very prominent. Disputed 4th at 1st, outright 4th at 3rd, vied for 5th at 5th, 3rd from BB 1C until joined for that position Chair, 5th (of 19) bypassing WJ. 3rd again from next (17th) until led 21st. Joined briefly BB 2C. Led once more from 23rd, 4L ahead VB. Only 1L to the good 27th, joined again next and headed on run to 29th. However, led narrowly last and, pushed out, drew away. Easily.
54 2 Tudor Line 10 11-03 B. Renton G. Slack 10/1 12 Held up. Left 25th at 1st, left a rear of mid-division 20th BB 1C, 18th CT 1C. Left 14th at the 11th, in 10th Chair and disputed a midfield 8th bypassing WJ. 7th or sharing 7th from 17th to BB 2C. Continued steady progress to be 4th CT 2C and vied for 3rd next (VB). 3rd outright, 2L down, at 27th. Joined leader next but came under pressure on run to 29th & dropped back to 3rd. Responded gamely into a close 2nd at last, however, jumped markedly right there and able only to keep on one-paced thereafter.
  3 Carey's Cottage 8 10-11 T.J. Taaffe T. Taaffe 20/1 4 Held up. Left 23rd at 1st, left in dispute of a midfield 16th BB 1C, 12th CT 1C. Left 8th at the 11th, in 6th Chair, 4th bypassing WJ. 6th again next (17th) but 4th once more 19th. 3rd from 21st until took 2nd VB. Same position, 1L down, at 27th. Dropped back to 3rd, 1/2L behind front pair, at 28th, however, seized lead on run to 29th. Weakened into 3rd before last. Kept on one-paced thereafter.
  4 Gigolo 10 11-03 J. Wight D. Curran 100/6 2 Held up. Left 27th at 1st, left a rear of mid-division 21st BB 1C, 14th CT 1C, left 12th at 11th, a midfield 10th bypassing WJ. Maintained same position through CT 2C before making good progress CS to be a 9L 4th at 27th. Only 6L behind leaders next. Kept on same pace remaining 4th.
54 5 Ontray 7 10-08 Cpt L. Scott Briggs B. Brewis 66/1 20 8th at 1st, left 7th, chasing leaders, BB 1C and 5th CT 1C. Left vying for 5th at 11th, 9th Chair. Disputed a midfield 8th bypassing WJ. Shared 7th at 19th, scrapped for 8th again BB 2C, 9th CT 2C. Left 8th once more 27th where slightly hampered on landing. Remained 8th over last, kept on dourly into 5th.
54 6 Gentle Moya 9 10-00 V. Bewicke J. Straker 50/1 1 Left 26th at 1st. Headway to be left in dispute of a midfield 11th BB 1C, 7th CT 1C and 4th at 11th. Vied for 3rd Chair, chased leaders in 6th bypassing WJ, shared 4th at next (17th). 5th from 19th to 21st, 4th again BB 2C, 5th once more CT 2C. Faded to be left 6th, 15L down, at 27th and joined in that position next where slight mistake. Slightly weakened further latter stages.
  7 Clearing 8 10-02 W. Stephenson R. Hamey 50/1   Left 19th at 1st but had dropped to last by 3rd where mistake. Still towards rear BB 1C where left 22nd. 19th CT 1C, left 15th at 11th and same poition, in rear of mid-division, bypassing WJ. 13th from next (17th) to 20th, a midfield 12th from 21st until became 11th CT 2C. Left 7th (beaten) at 27th, disputed 6th at 28th, slightly faded.
  8 Wild Wisdom 10 10-00 J. O'Donoghue Lt Col W. Holman 66/1   Fractious at start. Mid-division. Disputed 10th at 1st, left in same position BB 1C and left sharing 5th at 11th. 7th Chair where hampered by a loose horse & nearly UR. Chased leaders in 7th bypassing WJ. Vied for 10th next (17th), a midfield 11th from 19th to BB 2C, 12th CT. Hampered (by M'as-Tu-Vu in the ditch) & mistake 27th where left 9th, identical position next. Plugged on.
52 53 9 Early Mist 10 12-03 V. O'Brien B. Marshall 9/1   Left in dispute of 20th at 1st. Towards rear 3rd and when mistake 5th, left a rear of mid-division 19th BB 1C. Left 16th at 11th. A last but one 18th bypassing WJ and at next (17th). Modest progress to be vying for a midfield 12th BB 2C, 13th CT. Had dropped back towards rear again when left 11th at 27th, same position 28th. Plugged on.
  10 Red Rube 8 10-03 P. Cazalet A. Oughton 66/1   Left 22nd at 1st. Soon advanced into mid-division, mistake 5th, left in dispute of 11th BB 1C. 13th CT 1C, left 11th again at 11th where another mistake & dropped to 12th. Same position, still in midfield, bypassing WJ. 16th next (17th) and 15th from 19th to CT 2C. Towards rear when left 12th once more at 27th, identical position 28th. Plugged on.
51 52 53 54 11 Irish Lizard 12 10-09 F. Nicholson M. Scudamore 100/8   Mid-division 1C: left 18th at 1st, left in dispute of 14th BB 1C, 9th CT 1C, 11th Chair and bypassing WJ. Vied for 8th next (17th) and at BB 2C where blundered. Nevertheless, 7th CT 2C and 5th at 27th & 28th - circa 8L down at the latter. Same position last but further back and very tired. Weakened badly.
51 52 54 12 Royal Tan 11 12-04 V. O'Brien D. Dick 28/1   Towards rear. Left 24th at 1st, last but one BB 1C, 23rd & rearmost CT 1C. Left in dispute of 17th at 11th, same position, in rear of midfield, bypassing WJ and at next (17th). A last but one 18th at 19th & BB 2C, 16th CT 2C. Left a rear of mid-division 10th at 27th, same place 28th. Laboured on.
52 53 54 13 Uncle Barney 12 10-00 H. Clarkson L. McMorrow 50/1   Away well, disputed 4th at 1st. Left a fore of mid-division 9th BB 1C where jockey called a cab. Left 10th at 11th, slight mistake 12th, a rear of midfield 16th bypassing WJ. 14th from 17th to 19th where jumped right. 16th again at 21st & BB 2C. 17th CT and left 13th at 27th. Same position, last but one, at 28th where bad mistake & nearly UR. Still 13th, now last, and tailed off 30th.
  P Sun Clasp 7 10-00 H. Storey Jimmy Power 66/1 ABC 2C Away well, disputed 4th at 1st. Quickly dropped back to midfield and left in dispute of 16th BB 1C. Left vying for 17th at 11th. Faded further and tailed off 19th & last bypassing WJ. No change, still well adrift in last when fell 28th. Remounted (with exaggerated vigour) but jockey soon thought better of it.
  U Sundew 9 11-03 J. McClintock P. Doyle 28/1 27TH (OD) Away well, 2nd at 1st. Led 2nd & 3rd and again from 5th. Mistake VB 1C but generally 2L ahead including when hampered by loose horse Chair and when bypassing WJ. Mistake 17th where joined. Headed 21st, vied for lead once more BB, 2nd at 23rd & CT where bad mistake and had dropped into a share of 3rd by next (VB 2C). 6th, 12L down, and very tired when misjudged leap at final ditch, landed on top of fence & unceremoniously ejected rider over his head.
  R M'as-Tu-Vu 9 10-07 P. Cazalet A. Freeman 22/1 27TH (OD) 9th at 1st, chasing leaders when left 6th BB 1C. Left 7th at 11th but good progress to dispute 3rd at Chair and vie for 2nd bypassing WJ. Further headway to share lead from 17th to 19th, however, began to fade soon after and 4th at 21st. 6th again BB 2C, where pecked, and 8th CT. Had just been left 7th once more and very tired when refused 27th, plunging into ditch & burying rider in fence.
53 U Steel Lock 11 10-00 K. Bailey J. Bullock 66/1 27TH (OD) 12th at 1st. Good headway to be 2nd at 3rd, where untidy leap, and remained in at least a share of that position until went rather wide going out onto 2C. Disputed 4th at 17th and 6th at 19th where jumped violently left. 5th BB 2C, 6th again CT. Continued to fade and had just been left 9th when slightly hampered, mistake & UR 27th.
  P Mr Linnett 7 11-05 C. Rogers J. Cox 20/1 26TH Left 28th & last at 1st, still rearmost BB 1C and at 11th. Modest progress to be a mid-division 13th bypassing WJ. Gradually backtracked early 2C and a rear of midfield 17th BB. Becoming tailed off in a last but one 18th CT. WAS tailed off when PU shortly before 26th.
53 P Little Yid 13 10-10 B. Renton R. Emery 50/1 25TH (VB) Mid-division. Left 16th at 1st and left 18th BB 1C. 15th CT 1C, left 13th at 11th. A rear of midfield 14th bypassing WJ. Minor headway and 12th from next (17th) to BB 2C. Began to fade, 14th again CT 2C and had dropped to 17th when PU before VB.
  F No Response 9 10-02 B. Renton D. Ancil 45/1 11TH (OD) Disputed 10th at 1st, left 5th BB 1C and had just been left 4th when mistake & nearly UR next (7th). Nevertheless, still 4th CT 1C. 5th again when breasted fence & fell 11th.
  B Oriental Way 7 10-12 V. O'Brien F. Winter 33/1 11TH (OD) Left 14th at 1st and left a fore of mid-division 8th BB 1C. Same position CT 1C. Had just been left 10th, going okay, when BD by No Response at the 11th.
  U Munster King 8 10-00 P. Cazalet V. Speck 66/1 11TH (OD) Mid-division. Left 15th at 1st, left in dispute of 11th BB 1C, 16th CT 1C. Had just been left 15th again when very badly hampered by the rising pair No Response and Oriental Way & UR 11th.
  F Dark Stranger(1) 10 10-05 L. Coville J. Bosley 40/1 10TH Left 13th at 1st, left a rear of mid-division 21st BB 1C, 22nd & last but one CT 1C. Similar position when fell 10th.
  U Moogie 12 10-00 H. Cousins J. Neely 66/1 7TH Led over 1st, headed 2nd, 3rd at 3rd, joined in that position 5th. Left 4th outright BB 1C. 2nd again when mistake, pitched upon landing & UR next (7th).
  F Copp 11 10-08 P. Sleator T. Molony 7/1F 7TH Mid-division. Left 17th at 1st and left in dispute of 14th BB 1C. Similar position when fell next (7th).
  F E.S.B. 9 11-01 L. Carver T. Cusack 66/1 6TH (BB) Away well. Pecked 1st where disputed 4th and vied for 5th at 5th. Shared 4th again when fell next (BB 1C).
  B Roman Fire 12 10-00 J. Bissill J. Dowdeswell 66/1 6TH (BB) Away well, 3rd at 1st. Vied for 3rd at 5th. Had just been left 6th when BD by E.S.B. next (BB 1C).
  U Another Rake 10 10-01 F. Gilman D. Leslie 45/1 3RD (OD) Left in dispute of 20th at 1st where pecked. 27th & last but one when reluctant, misjudged leap at first ditch and landed very briefly & jarringly on top of fence. Had thrown jockey over his head before reached the other side a moment later.
  F Mariner's Log 8 11-12 G. Beeby D. Francis 100/8 1ST A mid-division 13th when fell 1st.
  F Blue Envoy 10 10-01 V. Smyth E. Greenway 66/1 1ST Had just been left 28th & last but one when fell 1st.



An unprecedented, genuine hat-trick was completed by Vincent O'Brien in the 1955 Grand National, a renewal which only went ahead following a Saturday morning inspection. After three days of ceaseless rain it was necessary to eliminate the Water Jump and reduce the 13th/29th to half of its normal width such was the amount of standing water on the course. The paddock too was virtually waterlogged though braved by the Queen Mother and her two daughters, Elizabeth and Margaret, who were there to watch the matriarch's M'as-Tu-Vu. However, as it continued to precipitate drips from their own umbrellas began to make some womens mink look indistinguishable from rabbit! The grandstands, still hugely packed despite the weather and press reports of the smallest crowd in living memory, were for the first time recipients of the loudspeaker commentary broadcast. It is interesting that the worst ground was near the stands because by the early twenty-first century the Canal Turn area would consistently be the softest part of the track. Also, the teeming wet stuff must have helped the horses to splash through the Heavy going for there would be much slower times on a couple of occasions well into the future when it was more cloying but no fences had to be omitted.

It was far from certain that late developer Quare Times would handle the conditions but the good jumper and out-and-out stayer revelled in them. He had won the 1954 National Hunt Chase and also just finished a close second to a future Cheltenham Gold Cup winner in the 1955 version. Pat Taaffe, who was tall but rode short and generally got his mounts jumping well, gained his first Grand National victory without requiring polish in the finish. Tudor Line, who had suffered an interrupted preparation, became the latest dual runner-up. In contrast to O'Brien's other two winners, who were held up, Quare Times was ridden prominently throughout. He would not contest another National as, somewhat familiarly for O'Brien charges, he became unsound.

Strictly at the weights in the 1955 Grand National Quare Times emerged 9 (pounds/lengths) superior to Tudor Line (whom I rated -36 in 1954), 15 better than Gigolo, 19 in advance of Carey's Cottage, 44 too good for Ontray and 53 better than Gentle Moya (who was known to dislike Heavy). Another horse who did not act on the prevailing surface was last year's winner Royal Tan (-27) and we cannot simply compare the O'Brien stablemates via their form with Tudor Line because the latter had an interrupted preparation in 1955 and clearly did not run as well as in the previous year. In 1954 Tudor Line jumped markedly right at the last but rallied very strongly on the run in whereas this year whilst he repeated his errant ways he merely kept on one-paced. This could have been due to the more stamina sapping conditions but more feasibly was because of his disturbed prep which must have cost him a minimum of 7. Thus Tudor Line probably ran to a raw mark of -45 in 1955 (9 below his capability including 2 for his final fence antics). This puts Quare Times in with a raw rating of -36, however, I will allow him 4 for ease of victory giving a final rating of -32 while Tudor Line receives the 2 back for a final rating this year of -43. Gigolo gets -51, Carey's Cottage -55, Ontray (granted 1 for being slightly hampered at the 27th) -79 and Gentle Moya -89. Quare Times's winning time was the slowest since 1928 and one-fifth of a second outside that recorded by the great Troytown (raw mark -16, final rating -7) on similar very sloppy ground in 1920. Considering that Troytown won more easily by the same margin as Quare Times whilst carrying 9lb more weight over a more difficult course, a couple of fences of which he took with him, and that 35 years of general athletic improvement works in favour of Quare Times in regards to time it seems about right that the latter rates 25 inferior to the former.       











Copyright 2017 by Chris Dowling