Grand National Ultimate History



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Sloping aprons introduced to plain fences at the top and existing aprons at the bases extended by 1ft.


Sa 25 Mar 1961 (3.17) 4m 4f Firm 9.22.60 35 £20,020 C. Vaughan

  1 Nicolaus Silver 9 10-01 F. Rimell B. Beasley 28/1   Mid to rear 1st, mid-division BB 1C, disputed 11th CT 1C. Further headway CS to vie for 7th at 12th. Shared 6th (of 21) WJ. Disputed 4th next (17th), very prominent 18th and left in lead 19th. Soon joined and vied for lead BB 2C where slight mistake. 2nd at 23rd, went a little wide CT 2C and dropped to 3rd by VB. Maintained station along CS. Regained 2nd before 29th then shared lead over it. Took 1L advantage just before last. 2L ahead Elbow, kept up to work, ran on well.
60 2 Merryman 10 11-12 Cpt N. Crump D. Ancil 8/1 5 Chased leaders 1st, left in dispute of 6th BB 1C, same position CT 1C, 5th at 12th, vied for 4th WJ & 17th. Took closer order 20th and shared lead on run to and over BB 2C. Led outright but narrowly from next (23rd) until joined by Nicolaus Silver 29th (having seen off Kilmore on the run to it). Headed just before last and 1L down over it, under pressure. 2L adrift Elbow, kept on but slightly faded last 75yds.
  3 O'Malley Point 10 11-04 A. Stephenson P. Farrell 100/6 NK Slowly away & towards rear 1st. Mid to rear BB 1C, disputed 15th CT 1C, vied for 10th at 12th and shared 8th WJ. 10th again next (17th) but further progress to be 7th BB 2C, 6th CT 2C and 5th VB. 4th from 26th until took 3rd approaching 29th. Same position, 4L behind leader, last. Ran on well to almost snatch 2nd.
  4 Scottish Flight 9 10-06 P. Cazalet B. Rees 100/6 1 Away well & prominent from 1st. Left in dispute of 3rd BB 1C, 5th CT 1C, 3rd again (or shared it) from 11th to 17th. Mistake 19th where left vying for 4th, 5th once more BB 2C, 4th CT 2C where slight mistake. Had dropped to 5th by 28th, where bad mistake, and still 5th at 29th. Disputed 4th at last. Ran on well.
  5 Kilmore 11 11-00 Cpt R. Price F. Winter 33/1 6 Away well & prominent 1st, left in dispute of 6th BB 1C. Alternated between sharing 7th and sharing 8th from CT 1C to 17th. Progress into 4th by BB 2C, 3rd CT 2C and 2nd from VB to 28th where close behind leader. Came under pressure and dropped to 4th before 29th. Disputed same position last. Faded further after Elbow.
57 58 59 60 6 Wyndburgh 11 11-05 K. Oliver T. Brookshaw 33/1 8 Mid-division 1st and all the way through the 12th (where disputed 16th). Headway to chase leaders by 14th and vied for 8th WJ. Shared 7th next (17th) and further progress to be left disputing 2nd 19th. 3rd BB 2C, 5th CT 2C. Somewhat outpaced from VB and shared 6th at 28th. Dropped back to 7th at 29th but jumped back into 6th at last. Kept on one-paced.
60 7 Jonjo 11 10-07 J. Osborne P. Taaffe 7/1F   Mid-division 1st, mid to rear BB 1C and disputed 20th CT 1C. Good headway along CS to vie for 10th at 12th and further progress to share 4th at WJ & 17th. Left in dispute of 2nd at 19th but only 6th BB 2C where pecked slightly. Chased leaders earnestly and still 6th at 29th. Dropped to 7th last and faded further run in.
60 8 Badanloch 10 10-11 G. Owen S. Mellor 20/1   Mid-division 1st, fore of same BB 1C. Disputed 6th CT 1C, 6th outright 12th, shared 6th again WJ. Vying for 7th next (17th). 8th BB & CT 2C. Circa 12L behind leader ABC 2C. Never able to make much impression. A midfield 9th at last but kept on run in to almost snatch 7th.
60 9 Team Spirit 9 10-13 D. Moore W. Robinson 20/1   Generally towards rear initially, 24th CT 1C. Some progress along CS 1C to be disputing 16th at 12th, 17th WJ. A mid-division 13th (& last but one) BB 2C. 11th CT 2C. A midfield 10th over last. Kept on very one-paced.
  10 Siracusa 8 10-01 B. Renton J. Wilkinson 100/7   Away well, chased leaders 1st. Mid-division BB 1C, disputed 11th CT 1C, 13th at 12th and vied for 12th WJ. Shared 10th next (17th). A midfield 9th BB & CT 2C. Forlornly continued to chase leading group CS, a mid-division 8th over last 2. Faded run in.
58 59 60 11 Mr What 11 11-09 D.J. Morgan D. Dick 20/1   Rear of mid-division 1st. Midfield BB 1C. Disputed 11th CT 1C, vied for 12th WJ and 14th next (17th). A mid-division 10th BB & CT 2C. No impact. Finished 11th.
  12 Ernest 9 10-01 B. Renton J. East 33/1   Chased leaders 1st then generally fore of mid-division, disputed 8th WJ. 12th next (17th) and a midfield 11th BB 2C. 12th again CT. Plodded on.
60 13 Sabaria 10 10-02 B. Turnell M. Roberts 100/1   Fore of mid-division 1st. Left in dispute of 3rd BB 1C, 2nd CT 1C. Bad mistake next (VB) but still vied for 3rd at 12th. Had dropped to a share of 12th by WJ and 16th next (17th). A midfield 12th BB 2C. Disputed 13th & last CT 2C. Lumbered on.
59 60 14 Irish Coffee 11 10-06 C. McCartan jnr J. Magee 50/1   Mid-division 1st, fore of same BB 1C, disputed 8th CT 1C. Had dropped into a share of 14th by 12th, 16th WJ. 13th next (17th). 14th and rearmost BB 2C, disputed 13th & last CT 2C. Laboured home.
  P Imposant 9 10-13 J. O'Donoghue R. Couetil 100/1 22ND (BB) Away well & soon prominent. Left 2nd BB 1C, 3rd CT 1C where mistake, 2nd again from 11th to 17th. Jockey often waved to his French auntie in the stands. Began to drop back after 18th. Left in dispute of 4th at 19th. Faded rapidly and dog tired 21st. 15th when PU well before BB 2C.
59 P Oxo 10 11-08 W. Stephenson M. Scudamore 20/1 22ND (BB) Towards rear 1st, mid-division BB 1C, disputed 11th CT 1C, vied for 10th at 12th. Had dropped back to 15th WJ and to 17th next (17th). Well behind and had just been left 15th in turn when PU before BB 2C.
  R Double Crest 9 10-07 T. Dreaper A. Irvine 50/1 22ND (BB) Generally raced in rear of mid-division initially, 17th CT 1C. Vied for 14th at 12th. Toiling in 20th by WJ. Left 18th and last but one next (17th). Tailed off last over 20th and still so when refused BB 2C.
  U Fresh Winds 10 10-10 W. Whiston R. Edwards 66/1 19TH (OD) Very prominent 1st & 2nd. Disputed lead from 3rd. Left well clear BB 1C. Circa 12L ahead CT 1C. 15L to the good by 12th. 6L in front at WJ. Led by 1L from 17th until bad mistake & UR 19th.
  R Penny Feather 8 10-01 N. Hall J. Lehane 66/1 19TH (OD) Mid-division 1st, rear of same BB 1C. Disputed 20th CT 1C. 22nd & last but one 12th, 21st & last but one WJ. Becoming tailed off last 17th. Even further behind when refused 19th.
  U Hunter's Breeze 10 10-13 C. Bryce-Smith F. Carroll 100/7 17TH Mid to rear 1st. Rear of mid-division BB 1C. Disputed 20th CT 1C and 12th. 18th WJ. Same position when mistake & UR next (17th).
  P Grifel 8 12-00 B. Alexiev V. Prakhov 100/1 END 1C Prominent 1st. UR BB 1C, eventually kept going completely tailed off in last. Bad mistake Chair. 21st (& rearmost) WJ. PU at end of 1C.
  U Vivant 8 10-06 W. Stephenson D. Nicholson 50/1 15TH (CHAIR) Fore of mid-division 1st. Left in dispute of 3rd BB 1C. 4th CT 1C. Vied for 7th at 12th. Hanging on in midfield when bad mistake & UR Chair.
  U Bantry Bay 10 10-07 H. Dufosee Sir W, Pigott-Brown 40/1 15TH (CHAIR) Mid-division. Disputed 15th CT 1C. Vied for 16th at 12th. Rear of midfield when mistake & UR Chair.
59 U Oscar Wilde 11 10-04 B. Wightman T. Jenkins 45/1 10TH Mid-division. Disputed 18th CT 1C. Similar position when mistake & UR 10th.
  U Jimuru 10 10-04 Lord Leigh J. Leigh 33/1 9TH (VB) Unruly before race. Fore of mid-division 1st & BB 1C. 10th CT 1C where mistake and dropped back into midfield. Another mistake next (VB) and eventually UR.
  U Reljef 7 12-00 B. Alexiev B. Ponomarenko 100/1 9TH (VB) Rear of mid-division 1st. Towards rear BB 1C. 25th & last but one CT 1C. Mistake & UR next (VB).
  P Wily Oriental 9 10-06 C. Nesfield G. Madden 40/1 7TH Fore of mid-division 1st but had dropped back towards rear by BB 1C. Badly hampered by a loose horse next (7th) and barely got over fence. Very quickly PU.
  U Brian Oge 10 10-10 F. Pullen J. Guest 100/1 6TH (BB) Led 1st & 2nd. Joined 3rd and disputed lead until mistake & UR BB 1C.
  F Kingstel 9 10-00 G. Dennistoun G. Slack 50/1 6TH (BB) Away well & very prominent 1st. 3rd at 4th and had just been left 2nd when took a purler BB 1C.
  U Taxidermist 9 11-04 F. Walwyn J. Lawrence 40/1 6TH (BB) Away well & prominent. Had just been left 2nd in turn when mistake & UR BB 1C.
  F Carrasco 9 10-03 B. Marshall P. Pickford 40/1 6TH (BB) Prominent 1st. Had just been left in dispute of 3rd when fell BB 1C.
  F Floater 8 10-11 F. Rimell E. Harty 50/1 1ST Away well & very prominent. Fell 1st.
60 U Tea Fiend 12 10-00 G. Owen R. Harrison 40/1 1ST Fore of mid-division, UR 1st.
  F April Queen 10 10-02 H. Payne A. Biddlecombe 100/1 1ST Rear of mid-division, fell 1st.
60 B Clover Bud 11 10-10 G. Llewellin D. Mould 50/1 1ST Towards rear when mistake 1st and then BD by April Queen after landing.



The NHC was being proactive as opposed to responding to external pressure when it made the suggestion to Aintree that led to the fence changes which reduced the jumping angle from 65 degrees to 50 degrees for the 1961 Grand National. The plain fences were more inviting to jump now, which initially led to more unseats and less falls (there were none of the latter after first Becher's), however the severity of the course was only a tad less than heretofore. The value to the winning owner shot up to top £20,000 for the first time due to Schweppes joining the IHS as sponsors and, in front of an estimated crowd of 250,000, Charles Vaughan was the lucky owner to benefit as Nicolaus Silver became just the second grey to take the National, the first since The Lamb's second victory in 1871. Attractively weighted on his best form, Nicolaus Silver, a handsome, fine-jumping, top of the ground horse, who earlier in his career had been bogged down on heavy Irish going, was trained to a new peak by Fred Rimell who gained his second National success. Strong and stylish, Bobby Beasley was the grandson of Harry who had trained and rode Come Away to victory in 1891. Later in his career Bobby won a battle against alcoholism. He and Nicolaus Silver were aided by the firmest and fastest going since 1893, the ground made Firm by a bright and sunny morning, although by race time it was rather gloomy, whereas the likes of Kilmore, Badanloch, Team Spirit, Mr What and Wyndburgh were inconvenienced by the surface.

Theoretically, the less upright fences and fast ground should have led to improved times (even off an average overall pace). However, for example, Nicolaus Silver recorded a time 2s slower whilst carrying 11lb less than did the Neville Crump trained Teal (whom I rated -18 raw, -15 final) in 1952 on merely Good to Firm (and general athletic improvement as well as the slightly easier course would work against Teal too). This rather belies Crump's opinion that Merryman was the best Liverpool horse he ever trained because while the latter easily came out top on the weights in 1961 (see below) there is no doubt in my mind that Teal outperformed Merryman in their respective Grand Nationals at Aintree. After all Crump also believed that Teal would have won the 1953 Cheltenham Gold Cup but for suffering fatal misfortune in that race whereas Merryman never even ran in the Prestbury Park showpiece!

Strictly at the weights in the 1961 Grand National Merryman emerged 8 (pounds/lengths) superior to O'Malley Point, 19 better than Kilmore, 20 ahead of Nicolaus Silver, 21 too good for Scottish Flight and 22 better than Wyndburgh. According to the handicapper's weights the latter was only 7 inferior to Merryman but based on their previous best National runs I have a difference of 12 between them (-30 Merryman to -42 Wyndburgh) and this was extended here due to a combination of a better performance in defeat than when he won by Merryman and a lesser show by Wyndburgh because, at his age, he was more about stamina than speed and the going favoured speed over stamina. Therefore, I will rate Merryman -24 for 1961 and Wyndburgh -46. O'Malley Point receives -32 and Kilmore, Nicolaus Silver and Scottish Flight all get -43 (allowing 1 for the grey's ease of victory and 2 for Scottish Flight's mistakes respectively). So, returning to the question (see 1957 and 1960) of who was the best National winner between 1957 and 1964 I would suggest it was Mr What (-21 in 1958).












Copyright 2017 by Chris Dowling