Grand National Ultimate History



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Gorse removed from those fences which had it and replaced by spruce.


Sa 8 Apr 1972 (3.15) 4m 4f Heavy 10.08.40 42 £25,765 Captain T. Forster

  1 Well To Do 9 10-01 Cpt T. Forster G. Thorner 14/1   Held up in mid-division. Left 16th CT 1C, 12th (of 23) WJ. Headway early 2C. Disputed 4th BB, 3rd from CT until joined in that position 28th. Shared 2nd, 1L down, next. Vied for lead last and went ahead just after it. 3L clear Elbow. Ran on well.
70 71 2 Gay Trip 10 11-09 F. Rimell T. Biddlecombe 12/1 2 Held up, initially towards rear of mid-division on inner. Slightly hampered 3rd. Left 21st CT 1C, 13th WJ. Switched towards middle and headway early 2C. 5th at 18th, 4th next, 3rd at 21st, disputed 4th BB. 5th again (last of leading group) CT. 4th once more 26th & 27th, shared 3rd at 28th. Vied for 2nd, 1L down, 29th and remained same distance adrift while contesting 3rd at last. Kept wider for better ground run in, 2nd Elbow. Ran on.
71 DH3 Black Secret 8 11-02 J. Dreaper S. Barker 14/1 3 Always prominent. Disputed 3rd CT 1C, shared 4th next (VB), left 3rd 11th, contested 4th again 14th. 3rd again Chair and 2nd WJ. Vied for lead 18th to 21st, led outright from BB and by 2L at CT. Advantage narrowed by next (VB) and joined from 26th to 28th. Disputed 2nd, 1L down, 29th and remained same distance adrift while sharing 3rd at last. 4th Elbow. Kept on well.
  DH3 General Symons 9 10-00 J. Tormey P. Kiely 40/1 DH Held up in mid-division. Left 17th CT 1C. Good headway from CS 1C and 3rd WJ. Stil 3rd next (17th), disputed lead 18th & 19th and 4th at 21st. Pecked BB where 3rd again. 2nd, 2L down, CT and vied for lead once more from 26th to 28th. Led by 1L 29th but joined at last and headed just after it. 3rd Elbow. Kept on well.
71 5 Astbury 9 10-00 J. Bissill J. Bourke 25/1 2 Initially mid-division. Headway before CT 1C where left in dispute of 11th. Continued progress: 7th at 12th, 4th WJ (where slight error). Vied for 3rd at 17th, outright 3rd at 18th & 19th, however, mistake at the lattter and had dropped to 6th by BB where bad mistake. Same position and in midfield when jumped right CT. Remained 6th at 26th and when again jumped right at 27th, 28th & 29th. Moved into 5th at last. Kept on well.
70 71 6 Specify 10 10-11 J. Sutcliffe snr B. Brogan 22/1 15 Well held up, left 22nd CT 1C. Good headway from CS 1C to be 5th WJ. Further progress to dispute lead 20th & 21st, 2nd BB where mistake and dropped to 4th by CT. 5th again from 26th to 29th. Lost a place last, became increasingly tired (and possibly eased).
  7 Bright Willow 11 10-01 A. Cure B. Smith 28/1   Fore of mid-division. Chased leaders CT 1C where left 8th. 6th at 12th, 9th WJ. Continued to fade and towards rear when left 12th BB 2C. Left 10th & last CT. 9th & rearmost 27th & 28th. Tailed off by last but plodded on into 7th.
71 8 Money Boat 8 10-03 F. Flood F. Berry 16/1   Mid-division. Left 20th CT 1C, 15th WJ. 10th BB 2C. A midfield 7th CT where slightly hampered. Still 7th at 27th & 28th. Tailed off by last (and possibly eased).
  9 Rough Silk 9 10-06 F. Cundell D. Nicholson 25/1   Away well & 2nd at 1st, 4th at 2nd. Left in dispute of 9th, chasing leaders, CT 1C. Vied for 7th WJ. 8th BB 2C, left a last but one 9th CT. Rearmost but one in 8th again at 27th & 28th. Tailed off by last (and possibly eased). Last to finish. 
  P Pearl Of Montreal 9 10-04 P. Sleator B. Coonan 55/1 26TH Chased leaders, left 7th CT 1C, 10th WJ. A midfield 9th BB 2C. Left a rear of mid-division 8th CT. Further towards rear when PU 26th.
  U The Pooka 10 10-05 C. Ross C. Ross 50/1 24TH (CT) Rear of mid-division, left 29th CT 1C. Headway from CS 1C and 16th WJ. A midfield 7th BB 2C where pecked badly. Had dropped back to a rear of mid-division share of 8th, though still going okay, when mistake & UR CT 2C.
70 U Permit 9 10-00 P. Milner R. Evans 100/1 24TH (CT) Mid-division, left 24th CT 1C. Progress from CS 1C to be a fore of midfield 11th WJ. Same position but now in rear of mid-division BB 2C. Had just been left 10th when slight mistake, horse went to turn after landing safely but jockey didn't and partnership dissolved CT 2C.
69 71 P Limeburner 11 10-00 B. Turnell B. Rees 100/1 23RD (F'AVON) Slowly away. Progressed into rear of mid-division, left 25th CT 1C, 19th WJ. Lost ground and tailed off well before BB 2C where landed a bit steeply. PU before next (Foinavon).
  P Rigton Prince 11 10-09 A. Stephenson J. Enright 25/1 23RD (F'AVON) Disputed 7th at 1st & 2nd. Continued to chase leaders and left in a share of 9th CT 1C. Fore of mid-division 12th. Had dropped to 18th by WJ. Subsided further and taied off well before BB 2C. PU before next (Foinavon).
71 P Twigairy 9 10-09 R. Armytage T. Davies 28/1 22ND (BB) Mid-division. Left 18th CT 1C. Dropped back to be 22nd & last but one WJ. Tailed off well before BB 2C and PU immediately after jumping it.
  U Fair Vulgan 8 10-00 J. Gifford M. Gifford 14/1 22ND (BB) Away well & led from 1st. Circa 5L clear when hampered by a loose horse (Gay Buccaneer) & almost carried out WJ. Not travel as well subsequently and headed soon after 17th. Faded and 7th at 19th. A rear of mid-division 12th when pecked badly & UR BB 2C. 
  F Fortina's Palace 9 10-07 M. Scudamore J. King 16/1 22ND (BB) Rear of mid-division. Left 27th CT 1C. Towards rear in 21st WJ. Tailed off when fell BB 2C.
69 71 F Kellsboro' Wood 12 10-00 D. Ancil A. Turnell 100/1 22ND (BB) Chased leaders, left in dispute of 11th CT 1C. Headway to vie for 4th at 14th. Mistake next (Chair) and had dropped to a mid-division 14th by WJ. Tailed off when fell BB 2C.
69 70 71 P Miss Hunter 11 10-00 D. Auld A. Moore 50/1 21ST Away well. Disputed 4th at 1st. 2nd from 2nd until somewhat tired leap at Chair and mistake. Quickly lost position, disputed 7th WJ. Continued to fade early 2C and well towards rear when PU before 21st.
  R Nephin Beg 10 10-00 Lord Mostyn P. Morris 100/1 19TH (OD) Initially prominent, 6th at 1st & 2nd. Left in dispute of 11th CT 1C. Mistake Chair. 17th WJ. Slightly hampered 17th by the unseating Just A Gamble. Rear of mid-division when refused 19th, ending up in ditch.
70 71 R The Otter 11 10-00 Maj R. Dening B. Jones 25/1 19TH (OD) Mid-division. Left 19th CT 1C. Mistake Chair. Towards rear in 20th WJ. Similar position when slightly hampered by the refusing Nephin Beg and caused to refuse 19th, shooting rider onto top of fence.
71 R Vichysoise 10 10-03 V. Bewicke P. Blacker 100/1 19TH (OD) Mid-division. Left 15th CT 1C. Not travel particularly well, mistake Chair and 23rd & last WJ. Becoming tailed off when refused 19th.
  U Just A Gamble 10 10-01 P. Upton P. Buckley 100/1 17TH Soon prominent. Disputed 3rd CT 1C, 4th at 12th, outright 3rd at 14th and 6th WJ. Fore of mid-division when mistake & UR 17th.
  P Deblin's Green 9 10-00 G. Yardley D. Cartwright 33/1 15TH (CHAIR) Mid-division. Left 23rd CT 1C. Rear of midfield when hampered, clambered over Chair (making a big hole in the fence), came to a halt & immediately PU.
70 71 R Vulture 10 10-02 P. Chesmore P. Brogan 100/1 15TH (CHAIR) Always towards rear, left a last but one 32nd CT 1C. Tailed off when left rearmost 11th where jockey waved vigorously to his auntie on the towpath. Same position when refused Chair.
  P Even Delight 7 10-02 F. Rimell R. Dennard 40/1 15TH (CHAIR) Rear of mid-division. Slightly hampered 3rd. Left 28th CT 1C. Becoming tailed off by 12th. WAS tailed off by 14th. Same position when PU before next (Chair).
  F The Pantheon 9 10-04 F. Rimell K. White 33/1 13TH Very prominent. Disputed 4th at 1st, 5th at 2nd, left 6th CT 1C. Vied for 4th again next (VB) where jumped right. Left 4th outright at 11th. 5th once more 12th. Shared 4th yet again when fell 13th.
  U Alaska Fort 7 10-13 M. O'Toole B. Beasley 33/1 13TH Rear of mid-division. Left 30th CT 1C. Similar position when hampered by the rising The Pantheon & UR 13th.
71 U Gay Buccaneer 11 10-00 E. O'Grady T. Hyde jnr 33/1 11TH (OD) Very prominent but mistake 1st. Nevertheless, 3rd BB 1C & 7th (Foinavon). Joined for that position next (CT 1C). 3rd outright again VB 1C. Contesting 3rd once more when mistake & UR 11th.
69 71 R The Inventor 11 10-02 E. Cousins B. Shoemark 33/1 11TH (OD) Always towards rear. Left 33rd & last CT 1C where becoming tailed off. WAS tailed off and had just been left 29th & rearmost when refused 11th.
  F Cloudsmere 8 10-04 P. Cazalet D. Mould 18/1 10TH Prominent over 1st & 2nd. Left a fore of mid-division 14th CT 1C. Midfield when fell 10th.
  R Bullock's Horn 9 10-00 B. Turnell R.J. Smith 28/1 9TH (VB) Rear of mid-division. Left 26th CT 1C. A little further towards rear when hampered & caused to refuse next (VB 1C).
71 F Country Wedding 10 10-04 T. Balding B. Champion 50/1 9TH (VB) Always towards rear. Left 31st CT 1C. Similar position when fell next (VB).
  F Nom De Guerre 10 10-00 D. Nicholson J. Haine 33/1 8TH (CT) Away well & prominent. 4th BB 1C. 6th when Gay Buccaneer somewhat jumped across his path and took a right purler CT 1C.
  F Lisnaree 9 10-00 G. Wells F. Turner 100/1 6TH (BB) Rear of mid-division. Slightly hampered 3rd. Fell BB 1C.
  F Swan-Shot 9 10-03 F. Carr P. McCarron 33/1 6TH (BB) Towards rear. Slightly hampered 3rd. Still among backmarkers when fell BB 1C.
  F Beau Parc 9 11-02 D. Ancil A. Nicholson 50/1 6TH (BB) Always towards rear, last from 2nd until fell heavily BB 1C.
  U Lime Street 8 10-01 F. Winter R. Pitman 25/1 4TH Away well. 3rd over 1st, same position at 2nd where mistake, however, maintained his place at 3rd. Joined in 3rd when another error & UR 4th.
P Cardinal Error(2) 8 10-04 F. Winter J. Francome 12/1 3RD (OD) Slowly into stride. Raced in rear on the inner until hampered in the act of jumping, clambered over 3rd & immediately PU upon landing.
U L'Escargot 9 12-00 D. Moore T. Carberry 17/2F 3RD (OD) A bit slow over 1st & 2nd. Mid-division when hampered by a loose horse (Saggart's Choice) rising from a fall & UR 3rd.
  U Saggart's Choice 9 10-01 T. Kemp T. Stack 28/1 1ST Disputing 6th when overjumped & UR 1st. (Fell twice when loose, at 3rd & CT 1C, breaking four ribs in the process.)
  F Gyleburn 9 10-04 G. Richards R. Barry 20/1 1ST Fore of mid-division, fell 1st.



The 1972 Grand National was a rather bottom-heavy handicap but a fine all-round race run in attritional conditions - strong winds, driving rain and poor visibility - in which the first five finished merely seven lengths apart. A man of dry wit whose modesty could sometimes be mistaken for pessimism, owner/trainer Captain Tim Forster picked up his first Grand National along with, due to the first sponsor since 1963, a record prize in excess of £25,000 courtesy of his sure-footed late maturer Well To Do who was ridden by the reigning Champion Jockey Graham Thorner. Well To Do never contested another National though did win a race named after him at Towcester! Of the other eventual principals only Black Secret, involved in the first recorded dead heat for a position in National history, raced up with the pace all the way while Gay Trip, who had won the Mackeson Gold Cup again this season and was, as usual, accompanied by Minnie the goat, was best suited by top-of-the-ground conditions and one of many held up. In contrast the going (officialy Soft) was Heavy, it was the slowest winning time since 1955, and a little loose because it was raining - not as Heavy as in 1955 but probably more so than in 1958. The top weight L'Escargot became the first Cheltenham Gold Cup winner to run in a Grand National since Mont Tremblant in 1953.

As previously mentioned, it's harder to quantify Heavy ground times because that going description covers a wider shade of surfaces than most and also the fences had been made a bit easier since the 1950s, therefore, no comparison has been done, however, for the weight carried by Well To Do the tale told by the clock is not a particularly glamorous one. Fortunately, there is collateral form. Strictly at the weights in the 1972 Grand National Gay Trip emerged 10 (pounds/lengths) superior to Black Secret, 20 better than Well To Do, 26 ahead of General Symons, 28 too good for Astbury and 32 in front of Specify, who unlike fellow '2 1/2 - miler' Gay Trip clearly did not stay on the going. Hence Specify ran about 16lb worse in relation to Black Secret than in 1971. The latter, although the youngest horse among the first half dozen in 1972, did not seem to improve upon his performance as a 7-y-o the previous year (when, you may recall, it was fastish Good) and he ran a similar race despite being made earlier use of in 1972. In the previous renewal Black Secret came out 21 in advance of Astbury (who did not have a straightforward journey on either occasion) but this year only 18. Nevertheless, the difference is well within any reasonable margin of error, considering the vast contrast in the ground and that more use was made of Black Secret, to award him the same final mark of -44 and to rate the race around him. Accordingly this places Gay Trip at -34 (compared to -27 in 1970 (Good to Firm)) which seems fair considering his preference for better going and the fact that he was beaten up to 28L by L'Escargot (dual Gold Cup winner of 1970 & 1971) in the 1970 Cheltenham showpiece (see 1970 and L'Escargot's 1975 National performance). It was still a good effort. And correspondingly Well To Do is rated -54, General Symons -60, Astbury (perhaps better suited by 1972's slog), allowing him 5 for mistakes and jumping right, -57 and Specify, allowing 1 for a mistake (although not taking into account that he was probably eased when becoming very tired) -65 this year.

Fred and Mercy Rimell were vocal after the race in blaming three times Champion Jockey Terry Biddlecombe for costing Gay Trip a second Grand National by taking too wide a course throughout proceedings and costing his mount 30 lengths! I think this was unfair criticism. The line Biddlecombe took was really to the middle and only on the second circuit, Terry felt he found better ground and bearing in mind the horse's going preferences and Fred's probable over-inflated opinion (see 1970 & 1956) of his charge I feel Biddlecombe cost Gay Trip nothing, let alone that grossly exaggerated figure. Terry left the Rimell's shortly afterwards to go freelance. Whatever the legitimacy or otherwise of Biddlecombe's excuses Gay Trip (nothing to beat in 1970; Heavy ground in 1972) was inferior on the clock (going adjusted) to Rimell's E.S.B. (1956) and Rag Trade (1976).      











Copyright 2017 by Chris Dowling