Grand National Ultimate History



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Sa 21 Mar 1964 (3.19) 4m 4f Soft 9.46.80 33 £20,280 J. Goodman, R. Woodard & G. North

60 61 62 63 1 Team Spirit 12 10-03 F. Walwyn W. Robinson 18/1   Mid-division. Disputed 10th BB 1C, 10th outright CT 1C. Became prominent CS 1C and moved up to 3rd well before 13th. Same position (of 25) WJ. Took 2nd before 19th. Dropped to a share of 5th BB 2C, 5th outright CT. 4th from 28th to last. Ran on well from 3rd at Elbow, tremendously in last 50yds. Got up in shadow of post.
  2 Purple Silk 9 10-04 G. Vergette J. Kenneally 100/6 1/2 Away well & prominent throughout. 5th at 1st where slight mistake. 3rd from BB to CT 1C. Dropped to a share of 7th by 14th. Chased leader in 6th WJ. 3rd again BB 2C. Disputed 2nd, about 10L down, CT. Mistake VB and dropped to 4th by next (26th) but 3rd once more by 28th and 2nd, 2L adrift, at 29th. Had cut deficit to 1/2L by last and went 2L ahead by Elbow. Kept on one-paced and headed inside final 15yds.
63 3 Peacetown 10 10-01 G. Owen R. Edwards 40/1 6 Away well & led almost throughout. Blundered 3rd and headed, 2nd over 4th & 5th. Led BB 1C. Joined briefly around VB 1C but soon regained narrow lead and 5L clear by WJ. Circa 10L clear from 21st through CT 2C (despite a peck at BB). Mistake 27th but still about 7L ahead next where jumped right. 2L to the good when jumped right 29th and 1/2L in front when repeated trick last. Drifted right under pressure run in and headed before Elbow but kept on with help of near rail.
59 63 4 Eternal 13 10-02 Lt Col R. Fenwick-Palmer S. Davenport 66/1 3 Mid-division. Disputed 12th BB 1C, 15th CT 1C, 14th WJ. Steady progress 2C and vied for 8th BB. 7th CT, 5th at 28th and shared 4th next. 5th again last, 4th Elbow and kept on.
62 63 5 Gay Navarree 12 10-00 W. Marshall P. Jones 66/1 6 Mid-division. Disputed 23rd BB 1C, 21st at 14th, 17th WJ. Good headway 2C: 11th BB, 6th CT, 3rd VB and 26th. Had dropped back to 6th by 28th and stayed there through Elbow. Kept on, one-paced, into 5th.
62 63 6 Springbok(2) 10 10-11 Cpt N. Crump G. Scott 100/6 3 Held up in rear of mid-division. Disputed 19th BB 1C, same position outright 14th, 16th WJ. Rapid headway 2C to vie for 5th BB. Shared 2nd, circa 10L down, CT. 2nd outright from next (VB) to 28th where had a reduced deficit of about 7L. 3rd over last 2 as began to fade. Not stay and dropped to 5th by Elbow and 6th after it.
  7 April Rose 9 10-00 A. Kilpatrick E. Harty 22/1   Disputed 7th at 1st but then subsided into mid-division. 18th CT 1C, 24th at 14th, 19th WJ. Still midfield in 14th BB (where slight mistake) & CT 2C. Kept on doggedly but never a threat to leading half dozen. 8th last.
  8 Baxier 8 10-00 P. O'Brien W. McLernon 40/1   Disputed 2nd at 1st. 6th BB 1C. 5th CT 1C. 11th WJ. Vied for 8th BB 2C, 9th CT. A mid-division 7th at 28th & last (30th). Kept on very one-paced.
  9 Crobeg 11 10-04 P. Stringer J. Lawrence 50/1   Mid-division. 9th BB 1C, 11th CT 1C, 13th WJ. Mistake 17th. 13th again BB 2C. Disputed a midfield 10th CT. Kept on very one-paced.
  10 Pappageno's Cottage 9 11-00 K. Oliver P. Taaffe 100/7CF   Mid-division. Disputed 19th BB 1C, 16th CT 1C. Headway and chased leaders in 6th at 14th, 7th WJ. Shared 8th BB 2C where mistake and had dropped back to a midfield 12th by CT. Plugged on.
  11 John O'Groats 10 10-03 L. Dale P. Kelleway 22/1   Mid-division 1st where mistake. Disputed 25th BB 1C where blundered. A rear of midfield 28th CT 1C. 25th again at 14th, Modest progress to be 18th WJ. Jumped right 21st, 16th next (BB). A midfield 13th CT. Plugged on.
  12 Supersweet 7 10-01 A. Stephenson P. Broderick 40/1   Away well & chased leaders in dispute of 9th at 1st where mistake. Shared 17th BB 1C. 19th CT 1C. Vied for 16th at 14th, 9th again WJ. 12th BB 2C. A mid-division share of 10th CT. Slightly faded.
  13 Claymore 11 10-00 C. Davies C. Davies 50/1   Rear of mid-division. 24th CT 1C, 22nd WJ. Left 21st BB 2C. 16th CT 2C. Inherited a few places by plodding on.
63 14 Out And About 9 10-01 K. Cundell B. Gregory 33/1   Away well & disputed 2nd at 1st. Briefly took lead when Peacetown blundered 3rd but himself made a slight mistake 4th, erred 5th and back in 2nd again BB 1C. Another mistake CT 1C, nevertheless led again over next (VB). 2nd once more from 10th to 18th (despite slight mistake 13th), 5L down WJ. Dropped to 3rd at 19th then faded rapidly. A midfield 15th at BB & CT 2C. Laboured home.
  15 Sea Knight 9 11-00 A. Stephenson P. Nicholson 66/1   Slowly away & always last from 1st. Tailed off by BB 1C, well so by 14th. Lumbered on without passing a rival. Utterly tailed off from 21st (2 fences behind).
  R Dancing Rain 9 10-00 P. Upton O. McNally 66/1 28TH Soon dropped towards rear. Last but one by BB 1C through 14th. 23rd WJ. Left 19th BB 2C where mistake. A rear of mid-division 20th CT. Last but one again when refused 28th.
  U Gale Force 7 10-00 D. Moore B. Coonan 50/1 27TH (OD) Mid-division. 21st BB 1C. Disputed 13th CT 1C. 18th at 14th. 15th WJ. Made good steady headway 2C, 7th BB where pecked slightly. 4th CT. Vying for 6th when mistake & UR 27th.
  R Time 9 10-04 W. Stephenson M. Scudamore 100/7CF 27TH (OD) Rear of mid-division 1st but good progress to be 5th BB 1C where pecked badly & nearly down. Nevertheless, 6th CT 1C. Mistake 13th but 4th next & WJ. Same place BB 2C where bad mistake and had dropped to 8th CT. Similar position, looking tired, when refused 27th, jockey falling into ditch.
63 R Merganser 11 10-00 D. Ancil J. Lehane 66/1 27TH (OD) Prominent. 6th at 1st, 4th over BB & CT 1C, shared 7th at 14th, 10th WJ. Faded rather rapidly 2C. Left 22nd and last but one BB, a rear of midfield 19th CT. Similar position when refused 27th.
63 P Reprieved 11 10-00 P. Ransom P. Harvey 66/1 27TH (OD) Rear of mid-division. 22nd BB 1C. 20th CT 1C (shared) through WJ. Left 17th BB 2C. Same position CT. Began to tire and last but one when PU 27th.
  P L'Empereur 10 10-05 T. Balding J. Doumas 40/1 25TH (VB) Away well & disputed 7th at 1st. Soon lost position and 16th BB 1C where jumped left. 17th CT 1C where slight mistake. Gradually further declined to be 26th at 14th. Last but one WJ. Left 20th BB 2C where pecked. A rear of mid-division 18th CT. Similar position when PU before VB.
  P Red Thorn 8 10-03 F. Rimell T. Biddlecombe 33/1 25TH (VB) Mid-division. 12th CT 1C, disputed 9th at 14th, 8th WJ. Soon faded 2C and left 18th BB where hampered by the fall of Groomsman. Rear of midfield in a last but one 21st CT. Similar position when PU before next (VB).
  F Reproduction 11 10-00 G. Owen R. Langley 66/1 23RD Mid-division 1st. Disputed 10th BB 1C. 8th CT 1C. 5th by 14th and at WJ. 2nd, circa 10L down, BB 2C where pecked. Still 2nd when fell next (23rd).
  F Groomsman 9 10-00 D. Keating F. Shortt 66/1 22ND (BB) Towards rear. Disputed 28th BB 1C, 27th CT 1C, 22nd at 14th, 21st WJ. 17th when fell BB 2C.
61 62 63 F Kilmore 14 10-07 L. Dale F. Winter 100/6 21ST Held up in mid-division. 27th BB 1C, 22nd CT 1C, 12th WJ. Continued progress and going well in 6th when fell 21st.
63 F Ayala 10 10-07 K. Piggott D. Nicholson 33/1 15TH (CHAIR) Disputed 9th at 1st, 7th BB & CT 1C, shared 9th again 14th. Did not jump particularly well and similar position when fell next (Chair).
  F Border Flight 9 10-03 E. Courage P. Farrell 100/6 15TH (CHAIR) Mid-division 1st. 8th BB 1C. 9th CT 1C. 13th at 14th. Similar position when horrendous mistake & fell Chair, becoming stuck on top of fence briefly, belly up, before sliding to earth on landing side.
  U Lizawake 11 10-04 P. Moore B. Beasley 18/1 15TH (CHAIR) Towards rear 1st. Disputed 28th BB 1C. 26th CT 1C. Progress to share 16th at 14th. Similar position when squeezed for room on the inside, stumbled after landing & UR next (Chair).
  F Pas Seul 11 12-00 B. Turnell D. Dick 22/1 12TH Mid-division. Disputed 12th BB 1C, vied for 13th CT 1C. Similar position when fell 12th.
  R Beau Normand 8 10-10 B. Turnell J. King 100/6 12TH Away well and disputed 2nd over 1st. Not jump well and shared 12th BB 1C where bad mistake and did well to find a leg. Had dropped to 25th by CT 1C. Further towards rear when refused 12th.
  F Centre Circle 9 10-00 D. Ancil J. Haine 40/1 9TH (VB) Mid-division. Disputed 25th BB 1C where bad mistake & nearly down. 29th CT 1C. Fell next (VB).
  U Laffy 8 10-08 P. Cazalet B. Rees 100/7CF 4TH Not fluent in mid-division. Mistake 3rd. Very bad mistake & UR 4th.
  F Flying Wild 8 11-03 D. Moore D. Mould 100/7CF 1ST Steadied towards rear but overjumped and fell 1st.



The going for the 1964 Grand National was as officially described this time, Soft, albeit tending towards the Good to Soft side thereof. The winning time was nothing special, despite a decent sustained pace, for the weights carried by the leading finishers and, therefore, relatively less impressive than 1963s. Furthermore, the handicap was even more bottom-heavy than in the previous year - a well-past-his-best Pas Seul toting at least a stone more than all bar one other horse. That Team Spirit was able to win on his fifth try at the age of 12 says it all.

The 1964 National may have been of humble quality but it produced another terrific finish with Team Spirit just getting up under polished all round horseman Willie Robinson to give five times Champion Trainer Fulke Walwyn his first and only win. Whilst somewhat ironic that the patient, meticulous and loyalty-inspiring master trainer of staying chasers should take the richest prize of all with one of his relatively modest charges of that ilk the success was much deserved because Walwyn had seemingly improved the smallish Team Spirit once the horse had been switched to his stable (winning the 1963 Grand Sefton after the animal's previous National best in the same year's renewal). Fulke continued to train until a year before his death in 1991 whereas Team Spirit was retired immediately. Tragically, Paddy Farrell's fall from Border Chief at the Chair caused the rider to suffer a similarly severe injury to that of Tim Brookshaw (see 1959), these two occurrences leading to the formation of the Injured Jockeys Fund.

Strictly at the weights in the 1964 Grand National Team Spirit (whom I rated -44 in 1963) came out level with the runner-up Purple Silk, the pair 8 (pounds/lenghts) ahead of Peacetown, 10 better than both Springbok (rated -35 in 1963) and Eternal, and 18 too good for Gay Navarree (-71 in 1962) who, disappointingly, was allowed to race as Pontin-Go. Interpreting this form is a puzzle! There is a 19lb turnaround for Team Spirit with Springbok who basically ran the same pattern of race in 1963 & 1964 and was essentially a non-stayer. I can only conclude that Springbok didn't perform anything like as well, for whatever reason, this year as he had in 1963 (which I feel was the strongest of the three renewals 62-64). Gay Navarree was another who did not quite get home at the trip (in 1962) but may have developed a tad more stamina now as a 12-y-o and, indeed, may have gone on to do a little better (than I perhaps thought) when falling at the 29th last year. But then we have the proximity of Eternal, who, from an unfashionable yard, ran his best National as a 13-y-o (as opposed to the not all that much worse than previous that I applied to Kilmore at the same age last year).

Ultimately, having allowed 1 to Purple Silk for his blunder at second Valentines and 4 to Peacetown for multiple mistakes and jumping right, I have awarded the following ratings for 1964: Purple Silk -45, Team Spirit -46, Peacetown -50, Springbok -56, Eternal -56, Gay Navarree -64.

The fences might have been a bit easier to jump since 1961 but Aintree was still not attracting many Cheltenham Gold Cup runners of the day to its big race. The latest of these, Arkle, had recently won the first of his three Gold Cups and he would conclusively prove his weight carrying ability in competitive handicaps, however, he could throw in a bad error (e.g. 1963 Hennessy, 1966 Gold Cup) and his owner, Anne, Duchess Of Westminster, was, unfortunately, famously reluctant to subject any of her horses to the "rough and tumble" of the National. It is, therefore, a moot point to wonder what place on my Scroll Of Merit Arkle would have taken although, nevertheless, fun to speculate upon.

Arkle beat very little in his three Gold Cups (which cannot be said of Golden Miller in his five) in which the fields were extremely small. His best victory was probably in the 1964 renewal when he beat a similarly well-touted horse in Mill House by 5 lengths, however, the latter may well have begun to develop what was later found to be a chronic back problem after the 1963 Hennessy Gold Cup (in which he beat Arkle who made the bad blunder mentioned above). Mill House had also won the 1963 Gold Cup but it's very difficult to correlate either horse's Cheltenham form with the Grand National. In the 1964 Prestbury Park Blue Riband Pas Seul finished 30 lengths behind Arkle but, as stated, the former was a shadow of his previous self and this year's National betting indicates he was not expected to be able to give the weight away successfully. As I expect is becoming clear, the general standard of steeplechasing in the mid-1960s was relatively poor so, naturally, a great horse like Arkle looked incredibly supreme, though some close to Tom Dreaper's yard reckoned Arkle's stablemate, Flyingbolt, was slightly the better animal. These two horses were given ratings about one and a half stone higher than any chaser to grace the earth to this point. However, the various rating services were still in their relative infancy and it appears mathematics became skewed - the Timeform handicapper of the time would later say Arkle's rating was the one rating he'd like to revise. In fact, it beggars belief that not one but two quadrupeds supposedly that much superior to any that had ever lived could both come along at the same time and from the same yard! Following Arkle's retirement due to injury (in the 1966 King George) there was not much between the horses (Woodland Venture, Stalbridge Colonist, What A Myth, Fort Leney, The Laird) who filled the frames in the 1967-69 Gold Cups but again I cannot tie the form of any of those Gold Cups into that of the National and Stalbridge Colonist was only a 7-y-o and still improving when coming out 34 inferior to Arkle in the 1966 Hennessy.

In conclusion, given the much different quality of steeplechasing in their respective eras and judging by length of sustained brilliance, by overall achievement, and by merit of best single performance (see 1934) had Arkle run in and finished a Grand National I suspect he would have occupied a place just below Golden Miller on my Scroll Of Merit.      











Copyright 2017 by Chris Dowling