Grand National Ultimate History



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Sa 31 Mar 1973 (3.18) 4m 4f Firm 9.01.90 38 £25,486 N. Le Mare

  1 Red Rum 8 10-05 G. McCain B. Fletcher 9/1JF   Jumped well. Fairly prominent 1st. Disputed 8th BB 1C, 13th CT 1C, vied for 10th at 12th, 8th at 14th. Progress to share 3rd (of 25) WJ. Went in pursuit of clear leader 2C: contested 2nd at 18th, outright 2nd from next. Circa 30L down BB but by less than 20L 28th, after which encouraged. Still 15L behind last. Only 6 or 7L adrift Elbow. Ran on well. Got up last strides.
  2 Crisp 10 12-00 F. Winter R. Pitman 9/1JF 3/4 Jumped well. Stumbled slightly on landing 1st where fore of mid-division. 2nd from 4th until led from 7th. 5L ahead ABC 1C, at least 20L to the good WJ. Circa 30L advantage BB 2C but this had been reduced to less than 20L by 28th, after which jockey looked round. Still 15L lead last. Began to wander when encouraged and only 6 or 7L clear Elbow. Got very tired. Just caught.  
72 3 L'Escargot 10 12-00 D. Moore T. Carberry 11/1 25 Well held up and somewhat outpaced. Rear of mid-division 1st. Disputed 18th BB 1C, 22nd CT 1C, 23rd at 12th & 14th, 19th WJ. Steady progress to be 15th at 20th, 13th BB 2C and 12th CT. Took 6th ABC 2C, same position 29th, 5th at last. Ran on. Never nearer.
  4 Spanish Steps 10 11-13 E. Courage P. Blacker 14/1 12 Mid-division 1st. Blundered 3rd. 14th BB1C, 11th CT 1C, disputed 10th at 12th, vied for 9th at 14th, 7th WJ. Continued steady progress 2C: 4th at 18th & 19th, 3rd at 20th, jumped violently right next but still 3rd BB and remained there through 27th. Dropped back to 4th at 28th. 3rd again 29th but unable to make any impression on front pair. 4th once more at last. Kept on.
  5 Rouge Autumn 9 10-00 F. Rimell K. White 40/1 2 1/2 Away well & fairly prominent 1st. 3rd at 5th, disputed 5th BB 1C, outright 5th CT 1C, 7th at 12th, shared 5th again 14th. Left 4th Chair and vied for 3rd WJ. 2nd at 17th and joined for that position next. 3rd once more 19th, 4th at 20th, 5th from BB through 29th. 6th at last, kept on one-paced.
  6 Hurricane Rock 9 10-00 D. Dartnall B. Champion 100/1 6 Fore of mid-division 1st. Disputed 8th BB 1C, 7th CT 1C, shared 8th again 12th, contested 9th at 14th. Mistake Chair and 10th WJ. 7th once more at 20th. 4th BB 2C, bad mistake 26th but nevertheless advanced to 3rd at 28th. 4th at 29th, 3rd at last. Weakened.
  7 Proud Tarquin 10 10-11 R. Armytage Lord Oaksey 22/1 20 Disputed 5th at 1st. 16th BB 1C, 15th CT 1C & 12th. Mistake 13th but vied for 12th next and was 11th WJ. Modest headway early 2C to be 8th BB and 7th CT. 6th from 26th. Unable to improve further. Plugged on.
  8 Prophecy 10 10-03 D. Barons B. Davies 20/1   Rear of mid-division 1st. Disputed 24th BB 1C, same position outright CT 1C, 22nd at 12th & 14th, 18th WJ. Shared 18th at 20th, still in rear group BB, 14th CT. Plugged on determinedly to gain several places.
  9 Endless Folly 11 10-00 J. Hooton J. Guest 100/1   Fairly prominent 1st. Disputed 4th at 5th. Outright 4th from next (BB 1C) until vied for 3rd at 10th. In sole 3rd from 11th through 14th (despite jumping slightly right 12th). Left 2nd Chair where mistake & jockey waved to his auntie in the stands. Nevertheless, retained 2nd WJ. Faded early 2C, 9th at 20th. 10th BB, 11th CT. Little more to give but plugged on.
71 72 10 Black Secret 9 11-02 R. Armytage S. Barker 22/1   Away well & led 1st. Disputed 2nd at 2nd, shared 4th at 5th, 3rd from BB 1C until joined for that position 10th. 4th from next to 14th but slightly hampered by fall of Grey Sombrero at Chair and had dropped to 9th by WJ. Rallied somewhat 2C to be 6th from BB to VB. 7th from 26th through 28th. No more to give after. 
  11 Petruchio's Son 10 10-05 S. Morris D. Mould 50/1   Mid-division throughout. Disputed 18th BB 1C, shared 19th at 12th, 16th at 14th and 13th WJ. Contested same position 20th, 12th BB, 13th CT. Plodded on.
72 12 The Pooka 11 10-00 F. Walwyn A. Moore 100/1   Mid-division 1st. Disputed 18th BB & CT 1C, 21st at 12th, shared 17th at 14th and contested 16th WJ. Modest effort to be 12th at 20th, 11th BB and 10th from CT to 26th. No further progress. Plodded on.
  13 Great Noise 9 10-02 J. Leigh D. Cartwright 50/1   Mid-division 1st. 12th BB 1C. Headway into 8th CT 1C and to be 5th at 12th where collided in mid-air with Black Secret. Nevertheless, disputed 5th at 14th and was 6th WJ. Maintained same position 20th where mistake, dropped to 7th over BB and to 8th CT. Held onto 8th until 26th, weakened badly thereafter.
  14 Green Plover 13 10-00 D. Barons M. Morris 100/1   Rear of mid-division 1st. Left 31st BB 1C. A last but one 30th CT 1C. Same position but rearmost 14th. 23rd WJ. Diputed 21st at 19th and remained in rear group BB. Had become tailed off by CT. Lumbered on to finish well tailed off.
  15 Sunny Lad 9 10-03 F. Rimell B. Smith 25/1   Fore of mid-division 1st. Disputed 6th at 5th, vied for 5th BB 1C, outright 6th from CT 1C through 12th, contested 5th again 14th and in sole 5th WJ. Soon began to fade 2C and 14th BB. 17th CT and even further towards rear when hampered by a loose horse & caused to refuse 27th. Kept going, got over at second attempt. Completely tailed off.
68 16 Go-Pontinental 13 10-04 H. O'Neill J. McNaught 100/1   Mid-division 1st. 15th BB 1C, 16th from CT 1C through 12th and disputed same position WJ. 17th BB 2C, 18th CT. Similar position when hampered by a loose horse & caused to refuse 27th. Kept going, got over at second attempt. Completely tailed off.
  17 Mill Door 11 10-05 E. Birchall P. Cullis 100/1   Away well & fairly prominent 1st. Disputed 6th at 5th and 7th next (BB 1C). 10th CT 1C, 13th at 12th and 20th WJ. Shared 21st at 19th, still in rear group BB and had become tailed off in 21st & last by CT. Similar position when hampered by a loose horse and Astbury & caused to refuse 27th. Kept going, got over at second attempt. Completely tailed off.
  R Princess Camilla 8 10-04 W. Wharton R. Barry 14/1 27TH (OD) Mid-division 1st. 17th BB 1C, disputed 18th CT 1C, shared 17th at 12th, vied for 14th at 14th and was 12th WJ. 11th at 20th and continued very steady and modest progress to be 9th BB & CT. Similar position when caused to refuse by a loose horse 27th, horse & rider winding up in the ditch.
72 R General Symons 10 10-00 J. Tormey P. Kiely 33/1 27TH (OD) Away well & initially very prominent: vied for 2nd at 1st, still handy 2nd & 3rd. However, had dropped to a mid-division 13th by BB 1C, 14th CT 1C. Shared 19th at 12th, contested 17th at 14th and 14th again WJ. Disputed 16th at 20th, 16th outright BB and 15th CT. Similar position when caused to refuse by a loose horse 27th. 
71 72 R Astbury 10 10-02 J. Bissill J. Bourke 50/1 27TH (OD) Mid-division 1st. Disputed 24th BB 1C where mistake. 23rd CT 1C, 20th at 14th, 15th WJ. Same position BB 2C, 16th CT. Similar position when caused to refuse by a loose horse 27th.
  P Rampsman 9 10-00 S. Palmer D. Munro 100/1 27TH (OD) Rear of mid-division 1st. Disputed 26th BB 1C, same position outright CT 1C, 25th and in rear group 14th, contested 21st WJ. Still towards rear 19th & BB, tailed off by CT. Similar position when PU 27th.
72 P Beau Parc 10 10-01 D. Ancil A. Turnell 100/1 22ND (BB) Towards rear 1st. Disputed 26th BB 1C, 27th CT 1C, same position in rear group 14th, shared 21st WJ. Identical story 19th. Tailed off when PU before BB.
  U Tarquin Bid 9 10-00 P. McCreery J. Bracken 100/1 21ST Mid-division 1st. Disputed 8th BB 1C, 9th CT 1C, vied for 8th again at 12th, contested 9th at 14th and 8th once more WJ. Progress early 2C and 5th when landed with a jolt 21st and jockey fell off.
  R Fortune Bay 9 10-03 J. Gifford G. Sloan 66/1 19TH (OD) Towards rear 1st. Disputed 26th BB 1C. 29th CT 1C where jockey summoned a taxi. Same position, now last but one, 14th. 24th but still in penultimate position WJ. No change when veered left 19th and refused, unshipping rider.
72 U Rough Silk 10 10-00 F. Cundell T. Norman 66/1 19TH (OD) Unseated rider before start. Rear of mid-division 1st. Disputed 26th BB 1C, 25th CT 1C, 26th and in rear group 14th, 25th again & last WJ. Still rearmost when badly hampered at 19th by the refusing Fortune Bay & UR immediately before obstacle.
  F Grey Sombrero 9 10-09 D. Gandolfo B. Shoemark 25/1 15TH (CHAIR) Away well & disputed 2nd at 1st. Led from 2nd (slight mistake 3rd) through BB 1C where error. Headed before next (Foinavon) but remained 2nd, and clear of the 3rd, when landed too steeply and fell Chair. Fractured shoulder. Dead.
  F Glenkiln 10 10-07 G. McCain JJ. O'Neill 33/1 15TH (CHAIR) Away well & 4th at 1st. Still prominent 2nd but had dropped into a dispute of 8th by BB 1C. 12th CT 1C where a skewiff jump. Nevertheless, remained in same position until joined for it 14th. Had just been left 12th again when took a right purler Chair (continued loose and had a bath WJ).
  U Proud Percy 10 10-00 J. Berry R. Evans 100/1 15TH (CHAIR) Mid-division 1st. Not fluent. Disputed 18th BB 1C, 17th CT 1C, 14th at 12th, shared same position 14th. Had just been left 12th in turn when possibly slightly distracted by fall of Glenkiln next (Chair), got too close to obstacle, breasted fence & UR.
  U Canharis 8 10-01 Cpt N. Crump P. Buckley 16/1 15TH (CHAIR) Mid-division 1st where slight mistake. 22nd BB 1C, 21st CT 1C. Disputed 17th at 12th where mistake, pecked & nearly unseated rider. Had dropped to 24th, in rear group, by 14th. Similar position when tried to avoid the prone Glenkiln next (Chair) but landed partly upon him & UR.
  U Charley Winking 8 10-00 L. Scott D. Scott 100/1 15TH (CHAIR) Fore of mid-division 1st but soon dropped back and disputed 26th BB 1C. 28th CT 1C and at 14th. Similar position when mistake & UR Chair.
  P Highland Seal 10 10-06 Maj R. Dening D. Nicholson 20/1 9TH (VB) Disputed 7th at 1st but not jump well, mistake 3rd & scrambled over 4th, and left 32nd BB 1C. 31st & last CT 1C. Beginning to tail off when brought to a halt by loose horse and PU before next (VB).
  P Nereo 7 10-03 F. Winter Duke Of Alburquerque 66/1 7TH (F'AVON) Stirrup leather broke before 1st where towards rear. 23rd BB 1C. Hairy leap next (Foinavon), managed to negotiate fence but PU as soon as rider could afterwards.
72 R Swan-Shot 10 10-00 F. Carr M. Blackshaw 100/1 7TH (F'AVON) Towards rear 1st. Left 33rd (& last) BB 1C where bad mistake and then badly hampered by the fall of Beggar's Way. Possibly hampered by a loose horse (possibly Beggar's Way) and refused (1 or 2 times) next (Foinavon).
  F Beggar's Way 9 10-01 P. Taaffe T. Kinane 33/1 6TH (BB) Away well & disputed 7th at 1st. Blundered 3rd. Had dropped to a share of 26th when fell BB 1C.
  U Culla Hill 9 10-07 T. Taaffe N. Brookes 100/1 6TH (BB) Towards rear 1st. Had just been left a tailed off 34th & last but one when mistake & UR BB 1C.
  P Mr Vimy 10 10-02 T. Balding J. Haine 100/1 6TH (BB) Rear of mid-division 1st. Had just been left in turn a tailed off 34th (& last) when very bad mistake BB 1C and PU immediately.
  F Ashville 8 10-04 T. Jones J. King 100/1 3RD (OD) Away well & disputed 5th at 1st. Vied for 2nd next. 2nd outright when fell first ditch.
  F Richeleau 9 10-00 S. Kernick N. Kernick 50/1 1ST Prominent, fell 1st.



The 1973 Grand National soon developed into a classic catch-me-if-you-can scenario and was one of the best three Nationals of all-time (1934, 1927), many people regard it as THE best. It was won by Red Rum who would go on to become the greatest pure Grand National horse and the first three home in 1973 were the main contributors in a high quality mini-era over this and the next few years. Reynoldstown's 1935 course record was smashed by just over 18 seconds on Firm going which Red Rum liked but not as much as Crisp, who had come over from Australia in November 1970; L'Escargot was not suited by it very much.

Brian Fletcher secured his second victory, it was the first of what would be three for Red Rum (who had dead heated on debut in a 5f 2-y-o contest at the course the day before Foinavon's National triumph) and his octogenarian owner, local businessman Noel Le Mare, plus the initial success of four for plain-speaking Ginger McCain, who upon realising that the horse he had acquired in August 1972 suffered from pedal osteitis famously began walking Red Rum in the sea at Southport beach (near his obscure yard that doubled a a car showroom) which immediately resulted in improved form. Meanwhile, Crisp had won the 1971 Queen Mother Champion Chase (2m) by 25 lengths and also given weight and a beating to The Dikler before the 1972 Cheltenham Gold Cup in which Crisp could not handle the Soft ground and The Dikler finished a very close third before narrowly beating Pendil to win the 1973 renewal. Pendil's jockey, Richard Pitman, received criticism for not being bold enough at the last and was then self-critical for picking up his stick on a tiring Crisp in the 1973 Grand National, perhaps being too hard on himself because, especially at the pace he went, Crisp did extraordinarily well to almost last home albeit on going that reduced the test of stamina somewhat. Richard would retire in 1975 and join the BBC, I always enjoyed his enthusiastic contributions on National day. Fletcher, who lost his stable job at Denys Smith's a few days after the National, for his part never gave up when another rider may have settled for second. He gave Red Rum (who was receiving 23lbs from Crisp) a couple of cracks with the whip at the second Anchor Bridge Crossing and some more after the last. None were needed after the Elbow from which point Crisp tied up badly. Brian said he knew Crisp was weakening at the 29th but only thought he would win fifty yards out. My feeling, bearing in mind Red Rum's future exploits, is that there was more there and had Fletcher got after his mount a touch sooner the horse would have responded earlier, continued to do so and may have won by a couple of lengths. Indeed when Red Rum and Crisp renewed rivalry in November 1973 over 3m 2f at Doncaster, a distance and course that was more advantageous to the ex-2 mile champion than that of the Aintree National, Red Rum finished only 8 lengths behind at level weights. The 1973/74 season would prove to be Red Rum's best overall campaign and Doncaster indicated he had continued to improve whereas Crisp would peter out after Town Moor then get a leg, however, there is no evidence to suggest the latter was below par at Donny. L'Escargot was tough. He had won the 1970 (Good) and 1971 (Heavy) Gold Cups, the first as a 7-y-o when he beat Spanish Steps (a good jumper and battler who had been victorious in the 1969 Hennessy) by virtually the same amount as in the 1973 Grand National. Then in the 1971 Cheltenham Blue Riband he beat The Dikler by 25 lengths. As L'Escargot would prove when he finished a National on ground that wasn't quick I think his Gold Cup performances were much better than those of the winners of the few immediately preceding him and the next several after him. I believe that as L'Escargot aged he lost some speed but gained more stamina and required the extra mile plus of the National to produce/exceed his Gold Cup form. He, Red Rum and Crisp were at the forefront of a second golden age of steeplechasing in which, against and in the midst of the general trend over a much longer period of time, higher quality form was shown in the Grand National than in the Gold Cup.

The best single piece of that form was by Crisp in the 1973 Grand National. He cannot be rated on overall career record as great a horse as Golden Miller (whose career is unparalleled) nor on a cumulative basis can Crisp be considered as great a Grand National horse as Red Rum, however, my National Scroll Of Merit is a subjective record of best single performances and in that regard I will place Crisp alongside Golden Miller for his effort in 1973. Each, considering their welter burdens, recorded the outstanding time of their respective golden eras. Basically, Crisp was 18 seconds faster than Golden Miller while carrying 2lbs less. The former was all out in his narrow defeat while the latter won comfortably and thus could have gone a bit quicker (which I have already reflected in his rating). In 1973 the going was perhaps towards the Good to Firm side of Firm due to overnight showers whereas in 1934 it was slower - on the Good side of Good to Firm. Factoring in 39 years of general athletic improvement and the easier jumping test (see 1961) in 1973 compared to 1934 the only fair conclusion is to consider the performances equal. Theoretically, given that athletic improvement (formed from the natural development of the horse as a species, better training methods, better jockeyship, etc.) is something likely to occur at a gradual and consistent rate, one might have expected the record times of the 1930s to have been nibbled away at during the intervening years as opposed to being devoured in a big chunk. Similarly, however, Cloister's 1893 time (on a virtual road!) had lasted 40 years until Kellsboro' Jack came along in 1933 and somehow the relative quality of steeplechasing in a phase of time, the inherent level of ability of Grand National finishers at times (between 1957-1972 in particular), the relationship between quality of horse, weight carried and ground conditions, and freak incidents all conspired against the eclipse of Reynoldstown's record (for example, had Devon Loch finished in 1956 and had the going been Good to Firm he would certainly have beaten it). Ultimately, very high-class horses in a golden age, fast ground and a cracking pace combined to at last accurately reflect general athletic advancement and thus the resultant lowering of the National record time appeared more dramatic than it actually was.

Strictly at the weights in the 1973 Grand National Crisp emerged 22 (pounds/lengths) superior to Red Rum, 25 ahead of L'Escargot, 38 better than Spanish Steps, 67 too good for Rouge Autumn, 73 in advance of Hurricane Rock and 82 superior to Proud Tarquin. I will allow Spanish Steps 2 for his mistake at the 3rd and jumping violently right at the 21st for a final rating of -36, Hurricane Rock 1 for his mistake at the Chair for -72 and Proud Tarquin the same because of his error two fences earlier for -81. Black Secret was clearly not the horse he had been while neither L'Escargot nor Red Rum produced as good a performance as they would soon do, the former due partly to the going while the latter was still improving.

In the first alteration since 1956 my Scroll Of Merit now reads: Golden Miller, Crisp; -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; -18 Congress, The Liberator; -19 Why Not, Manifesto, Kellsboro'Jack, E.S.B.; -20 Delaneige.  











Copyright 2017 by Chris Dowling