Grand National Ultimate History



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Sa 24 Mar 1956 (3.23) 4m 4f Good 9.21.40 29 £8,695 S. Carver

55 1 E.S.B. 10 11-03 F. Rimell D. Dick 100/7   Left 12th at 1st, disputed 10th at 3rd, 8th BB & CT 1C, slight mistake at latter & jockey waved to his auntie. Left 7th at 12th, same postion 14th, 4th (of 21) WJ. Still 4th at 19th. Left 2nd, 3L down, BB 2C. Had dropped back to 5th CT. Had to leap fallen horse (Armorial) 26th where left 4th again. Same place 28th (where 2 1/2L adrift). Took 3rd soon after and vied for lead 29th but a 2 1/2L 2nd at last. 3L behind leader Elbow and 4L down, accepting of fate, when left clear 40yds out. Comfortably.
54 55 2 Gentle Moya 10 10-02 V. Bewicke G. Milburn 22/1 10 Left 9th at 1st, 7th at 3rd, 6th BB & CT 1C. 4th at 12th but had dropped back to 7th WJ. Same position 19th, left 6th BB 2C. Mistake CT and not travel well after, however, left 5th at 26th and 4L down in that position 28th. 4th again but 8L adrift of leading trio 29th. Still 4th and 7L back at last. Soldiered on to take 3rd by Elbow and left 2nd 40yds from post.
51 52 54 55 3 Royal Tan 12 12-01 V. O'Brien T. Taaffe 28/1 10 Well held up and last at 1st & 3rd. 21st CT 1C, left in dispute of 18th at 12th, 17th from 14th to 17th. Left 11th (2nd of back group) BB 2C, 10th CT. Left 7th at 26th and vied for same position, in mid-division, next. Left 6th at 29th, identical place over last. Ran on to just grab 3rd. Never nearer.
  4 Eagle Lodge 7 10-01 M. Feakes A. Oughton 66/1 1/2 Left 7th at 1st, disputed 4th at 3rd and in same position outright BB & CT 1C. 3rd by 12th and through WJ and again at 19th. Left vying for 3rd BB 2C, 2nd CT. Left in lead 26th and led by 1L next but a 1L 2nd at 28th. Came under pressure on run to 29th where part of a three-way tussle for the advantage and faded after fence, being 4L down in 3rd at last.Continued to weaken and dropped to 4th by Elbow. Left 3rd again 40yds out but just pipped for that place by fast finisher.
  5 Key Royal 8 10-08 W. Stephenson T. Molony 28/1 15 Left 20th at 1st, 19th BB 1C, 14th CT 1C and left 9th at 12th where also slightly hampered by the fall of Athenian. Disputed 8th WJ, 6th at 19th. Left 7th BB 2C and had dropped to 8th by CT. Left 6th at 26th and mid-division, 12L down, in same position 28th. Left 5th next, gradually weakening, and lost a place soon after last before being left 5th again 40yds out.
54 6 Martinique 10 10-00 G. Owen S. Mellor 40/1 20 Left 17th at 1st, 15th at 3rd, 14th BB 1C, 12th CT 1C and left in dispute of 11th at 12th. Had dropped back to 14th by WJ and 18th next (17th). Left 12th BB 2C and same position CT. Left a rear of mid-division 9th at 27th and left 8th at 29th. Took 7th between last & Elbow and plodded on, inheriting 6th 40yds out.
55 7 Carey's Cottage 9 10-13 G. Balding B. Turnell 10/1   Left 18th at 1st, disputed 16th at 3rd, 19th CT 1C and left 17th at 12th. 18th again at WJ, 15th next (17th). Left a last but one 13th BB 2C, same place CT. Left 10th at 27th and left 9th at 29th (still in penultimate position). Lumbered on into a tailed off 8th after last and inherited 7th 40yds out.
55 8 Clearing 9 10-01 W. Stephenson J. Bullock 66/1   Left 15th at 1st, disputed 13th at 3rd, 10th BB 1C. Left 8th at 12th, same position 14th. 10th again WJ. 9th early 2C and left 9th (& last of front group) BB 2C. Vied for a mid-division 7th at 27th, 8th once more next and left 7th at 29th. Dropped back to 8th between last & Elbow and weakened into 9th after it before reinheriting 8th 40yds out. Tailed off.
55 9 Wild Wisdom 11 10-01 J. Ford L. Bridge 66/1   Left 19th at 1st. Veered to right after jumping 2nd, left 21st at 3rd. 20th BB & CT 1C, left in dispute of 18th at 12th, 19th again & becoming tailed off Chair. WAS tailed off in same position 17th. Left 14th & rearmost BB 2C. Remained last but did not become any further adrift of field thereafter, inheriting positions.
  F Devon Loch 10 11-04 P. Cazalet D. Francis 100/7 RUN IN Left 8th at 1st, disputed 4th at 3rd, 5th BB & CT 1C and at WJ. Had dropped back to 8th at 19th but left vying for 3rd BB 2C. 3rd outright CT, left 2nd at 26th, 1L behind leader next and led by same margin 28th. Opened up a 4L advantage at one stage on run to 29th but joined by two others at that fence, 1/2L ahead at last. Pulled 3L clear by Elbow and 4L up with 40yds to go (level with WJ) when appeared to take off at imaginary obstacle, belly-flopped & fell (jockey stayed aboard but dismounted as horse staggered towards post). 
54 55 U Ontray 8 10-00 Cpt L. Scott Briggs D. Curran 100/6 29TH Left 6th at 1st, disputed 4th at 3rd, 7th BB & CT 1C. 5th when slight mistake 12th. 6th again WJ. Vied for 5th next (17th) and left 5th once more BB 2C. 4th CT and left 3rd at 26th. 2L down in that position 28th where mistake. Had dropped back to 5th and under pressure when mistake & UR 29th.
  R Merry Windsor 8 10-10 D. Doyle L. McMorrow 28/1 27TH
Left 10th at 1st, 12th from 3rd through BB 1C, 16th CT 1C. Left in dispute of 15th at 12th, 13th WJ & 17th. Left 10th (1st of back group) BB 2C. 11th CT and 9th when loose horse ran left down 27th & caused him to refuse, jockey coming off in the process.
  F Armorial 7 10-10 F. Walwyn J. Dowdeswell 20/1 26TH Established lead by 1st, 5L ahead at 11th. Led by 12L WJ but advantage reduced to 2L by next (17th). Slight mistake 20th & jockey became unbalanced briefly, nevertheless, 3L to the good BB 2C. No change and still going strongly when fell 26th.
  F Much Obliged 8 11-00 Cpt N. Crump M. Scudamore 50/1 26TH 5th at 1st where mistake. 8th at 3rd. 2nd when very bad mistake & nearly down 5th, 9th BB 1C. 13th CT 1C. Left in dispute of 11th at 12th where slightly hampered by the fall of Athenian. 12th WJ & 17th, 10th at 19th, left 8th BB 2C and 7th CT. Ridden up after next (VB) to dispute 2nd when fell 26th.
55 F Sundew 10 11-04 F. Hudson F. Winter 8/1 22ND (BB) 2nd at 1st, 3rd BB 1C, 2nd again from CT 1C - 5L behind leader at 12th, 12L adrift WJ and 2L down at 19th - until fell BB 2C.
  R Pippykin 8 10-00 S. Parker Jimmy Power 100/7 22ND (BB) Left 16th at 1st, 17th BB 1C, 18th CT 1C, left in dispute of 15th at 12th. 16th again at 14th & WJ, 14th next (17th) and had just been left 12th when refused BB 2C, flinging rider over fence in the process.
53 F Witty 11 10-04 C. Hall P. Farrell 66/1 19TH (OD) Left 22nd at 1st, left 20th at 3rd, 15th BB 1C, left 14th at 12th where mistake & jockey called a cab. 11th from 14th until fell 19th.
  U Dunboy 12 11-00 J. Wight B. Brewis 66/1 19TH (OD) Left 21st at 1st, disputed 18th at 3rd, 16th BB 1C and left 13th at 12th. 12th at 14th but had dropped back to be 15th WJ. 16th again next (17th) and similar position when slightly hampered by the fall of M'as-Tu-Vu 18th. Mistake & UR 19th.
55 F M'as-Tu-Vu 10 10-06 P. Cazalet A. Freeman 40/1 18TH 4th at 1st, disputed 10th at 3rd, 13th BB 1C. Back up to 11th CT 1C where awkward leap. Left 10th again at 12th, vied for 8th WJ but had dropped to 10th once more next (17th). Similar position when fell 18th.
  R Polonius 10 10-03 G. Burnham G.F. Kelly 66/1 18TH Left 23rd at 1st. 22nd & last but one CT 1C. Becoming tailed off 11th and last approaching 12th. WAS tailed off in 20th & penultimate position from 14th to WJ. Well tailed off next (17th) and when refused 18th.
52 54 R Border Luck 11 10-00 J. Bower M. O'Dwyer 66/1 18TH Last but one over 1st & 3rd. Had dropped to last when jumped violently right & collided with the loose High Guard at 5th. Becoming tailed off by 11th but had advanced one place when caused to refuse by a loose horse at 12th. Kept going, completely tailed off in last, until refused 18th.
  F Athenian 7 10-03 G. Balding R. Hamey 66/1 12TH Left 13th at 1st, 11th BB 1C, 10th CT 1C. Mistake 11th. 7th when fell 12th.
  F Domata 10 10-04 F. Cundell D. Ancil 66/1 11TH (OD) Very prominent. 3rd at 1st, disputed 2nd at 3rd, same position outright BB 1C. 3rd again CT 1C. 4th when fell 11th.
55 F Mariner's Log 9 11-11 G. Beeby R. Emery 22/1 4TH Left 11th at 1st, 9th at 3rd. Vying for 7th on the outer when fell 4th.
55 U No Response 10 10-01 J. Osborne C. Finnegan 50/1 3RD (OD) Left 11th at 1st but pecked, hampered by the fall of High Guard & jockey briefly had both legs same side of horse. 20th and rider may not have gotten stirrup back when mistake & UR 3rd.
  F High Guard 9 11-01 Cpt N. Crump A. Thompson 22/1 1ST Away well & 6th when fell 1st.
  F Reverend Prince 10 10-05 P. Dufosee C. Pocock 40/1 1ST Had just been left 16th when fell 1st.
  F Must 8 10-10 A. Kilpatrick B. Morrow 7/1F 1ST Had just been left 20th when fell 1st.
52 53 55 F Early Mist 11 12-02 B. Marshall B. Marshall 25/1 1ST Had just been left 20th in turn when fell 1st.



The collapse of Devon Loch on the run in when he was about to win the 1956 Grand National for the Queen Mother will likely forever remain the most extraordinary one-horse incident in the race's history. Arguably, more words have been written in attempts to explain the mystery of why he, essentially, fell than about any other topic concerning the National. I will add my two penneth.

There was a bigger crowd in 1956 than in the previous year and Devon Loch's rider Dick Francis, a former Spitfire pilot who was Champion Jockey in 1953 and would later become a best-selling author but never had much luck in the National, blamed his mount's demise upon the deafening cheers that were forthcoming in certain anticipation of a royal victory. Dave Dick and the Rimells felt Devon Loch may have suffered a breathing problem and been momentarily starved of oxygen. Journalist and author Ivor Herbert expounded the theory that the horse incurred cramp, causing a sudden and temporary muscular seizure. George Milburn, rider of the ultimate runner-up, said that Devon Loch did something similar after the winning post in a race at Sandown in January 1957 and also blamed cramp. However, that would be Devon Loch's final outing due to a recurrence of the tendon trouble that had led to him being fired early on in his career. Therefore, the tendon injury was almost certainly the reason for his Sandown collapse and those closest to the horse never mentioned cramp. Neither is there any evidence that Devon Loch had dodgy wind. And, with all due respect to Dick Francis, it is too much of a coincidence to think that the growing tumult was responsible at Aintree when the very moment Devon Loch raised his forelegs as though taking off to jump was that at which he would have glimpsed the adjacent Water Jump or mistaken its shadow for a fence. Finding no obstacle there the horse belly-flopped, legs splayed out, and then wobbled again as he walked towards the post whereupon Francis quickly dismounted. Having had more time to recover from the shock to his system Devon Loch was found undistressed by vets after the race which is consistent with him having done his fragile physicality a temporary mischief by trying to jump a fence that wasn't there.

Whilst Peter Cazalet's rotten Grand National luck continued Fred Rimell, a four-times Champion Jockey who had been forced to retire because of a broken neck and who would, in partnership with his wife Mercy, become Champion Trainer on five occasions, gained a fortunate first success in the race. E.S.B. had been considered by some a doubtful stayer but, like Devon Loch, came into the 1956 National in fine form (having been freshened up over hurdles during the season). Dave Dick, who constantly battled weight problems but was strong, powerful and rode long, grabbed his golden sporting opportunity. The winner's owner Stella Carver was a former champion lady show jumper. Whereas Carey's Cottage seems to have preferred 1955's Heavy going Royal Tan and Gentle Moya were much more at home on ground that was on the fast side of Good. Eagle Lodge ran promisingly for a 7-y-o. Pace-setters Armorial, perhaps, and Sundew, probably, may have been unlucky.

Strictly at the weights in the 1956 Grand National E.S.B. emerged 8 (pounds/lengths) better than Royal Tan, 25 ahead of Gentle Moya, 36 too good for Eagle Lodge and 44 in advance of Key Royal. The going and the race were quite similar to that of 1953 when Early Mist (raw mark -18, final rating -13) triumphed. Indeed E.S.B. was a mere one-fifth of a second quicker than that horse whilst carrying only one pound more (but, of course, did not win as easily as Early Mist, being booked for second). A time/weight calculation (at 3 lengths per second) produces a figure of -17 for E.S.B., however, collateral form is more reliable and Royal Tan (whom I rated -27 in 1954) does not appear to have deteriorated, therefore, I will place E.S.B. at -19 (which is generally backed up by the time on the going as above and E.S.B. when younger and not as strong had been competitive but ultimately didn't stay in Mont Tremblant's and Knock Hard's Cheltenham Gold Cups). Consequently, Gentle Moya, allowing her 1 for her mistake at the second Canal Turn, is rated -43 (compared to -89 in 1955 on Heavy), Eagle Lodge gets -55 and Key Royal -63.

As for Devon Loch, he got so close to the finish that I think this is a rare occasion when we can seriously rate a non-completer. He would have won by four lengths and carried one pound more than E.S.B., therefore, I will award him -14. (Devon Loch's prospective time, incidentally, computes as 9.20.10, one-tenth of a second faster than Reynoldstown's then-existing course record from 1935.) On his chase debut Devon Loch finished a four-length runner-up to Mont Tremblant just two months before the latter put up a career best performance when winning the 1952 Gold Cup by ten lengths and it may be that after his initial tendon injury Devon Loch only approached his former soundness again in this Grand National and when strained to the limit his physique gave out.

My Scroll Of Merit now reads: Golden Miller; -7 Troytown; -8 Reynoldstown; -11 Prince Regent; -13 Early Mist; -14 Lottery, The Lamb, Disturbance, Seaman, Come Away, Cloister, Jerry M, Easter Hero, Thomond(1), Royal Mail(1), Devon Loch; -15 Freebooter, Teal; -17 Poethlyn; Congress, The Liberator; -19 Why Not, Manifesto, Kellsboro' Jack, E.S.B.; -20 Delaneige.










Copyright 2017 by Chris Dowling