Grand National Ultimate History



prev . next


Sa 1 Apr 1978 (3.20) 4m 4f Good to Firm 9.33.90 37 £39,092 F. Whitaker

  1 Lucius 9 10-09 G. Richards B. Davies 14/1   Mistake 1st and chased leaders, becoming prominent by 4th. Left 3rd BB 1C. Went 2nd CT 1C. Led from 10th until joined briefly before 13th where left ahead again. Disputed lead Chair. 4th (of 18) WJ. Vied for 2nd over 17th & 18th then outright 2nd from 19th to last, never more than 1L down. Contested lead once more Elbow. Went ahead with 100yds to go. Kept on.
77 2 Sebastian 10 10-01 H. Bell R. Lamb 25/1 1/2 Away well & always very prominent. Pecked 1st where vied for 2nd. Left in dispute of lead BB 1C. 4th next (Foinavon) & CT 1C. Disputed 2nd again at 10th, 3rd over 11th & 12th, 2nd once more 14th, Joined leader Chair, ahead WJ. Never more than 1L in front but not joined until Elbow. Headed with 100yds to go. Kept on.
  3 Drumroan 10 10-00 P. St John Nolan G. Newman 50/1 NK Fore of mid-division 1st. Left 15th BB 1C where jockey waved to his auntie in the stands. 10th next (Foinavon). Continued gradual progress: 5th at 12th, 2nd WJ & 17th. Disputed 3rd at 19th. Left 4th BB, 3rd again over VB & 26th, 4th once more 27th. Dropped to be 7th at 28th & 29th but began to run on again: 6th last, 4th Elbow, finished a close up 3rd.
  4 Coolishall 9 10-00 P. Cundell M. O'Halloran 16/1 2 Slightly hampered 1st and towards rear. Left in dispute of 22nd BB 1C, 23rd next (Foinavon). 18th at 12th, 13th WJ. Left 10th BB 2C, 12th next (Foinavon). Gradual progress along CS and 6th at 28th. 4th at 29th, 3rd at last. Same position Elbow, 1L down & looking dangerous. Very slightly weakened.
77 5 The Pilgarlic 10 10-01 F. Rimell R. Evans 33/1 HD Rear of mid-division 1st. Left in dispute of 22nd BB 1C, 20th next (Foinavon). Headway to be 14th at 12th. 11th WJ. Left 9th BB 2C, 11th again CT. Further gradual progress to be 5th at 28th. Kept on, one-paced, and maintained that position all the way to finish.
  6 Mickley Seabright 10 10-03 F. Rimell P. Brookshaw 33/1 15 Mid-division, left 10th BB 1C. 16th next (Foinavon). 12th at 12th, 9th WJ. Left 6th BB 2C where down on nose & jockey effected miraculous recovery, 7th next (Foinavon). Renewed headway to be 4th at 26th & 28th. Dropped to 6th again by 29th and to 7th at last. Same position Elbow but just got up to be 6th.
  7 Lord Browndodd 10 10-07 F. Winter J. Francome 16/1 NK Mid-division. Left in dispute of 17th BB 1C, 11th next (Foinavon). Still 11th at 12th. 8th WJ. Continued to chase leaders early 2C and left 8th BB, 6th next (Foinavon). 4th CT, 3rd at 27th & 28th and vied for 2nd at 29th where slight mistake. Weakened thereafter: 4th again last, 6th once more Elbow and finished 7th.
77 8 The Songwriter 9 10-00 J. Pitman B. Smart 50/1   Towards rear. 26th at 7th (Foinavon). 20th & last at 12th. Good headway to be 10th WJ. Left 12th BB 2C, same position CT. Progress into 6th briefly by 26th. Soon dropped back to 8th. Kept on one-paced.
76 77 9 Roman Bar 9 10-08 P. Taaffe P. Kiely 33/1   Fore of mid-division 1st. Left 11th BB 1C, 9th next (Foinavon), same position 12th, 5th WJ. 3rd at 21st. Left 5th again BB. Under pressure in 8th CT. 9th at 28th. 10th last. Plugged on.
77 10 Brown Admiral 9 10-00 F. Rimell J, Burke 33/1   Mid-division 1st. Left 9th BB 1C. 7th next (Foinavon). Headway CS 1C and 4th at 12th. Lost ground and 15th WJ. Rallied and 6th at 18th where blundered. 3rd BB & 23rd (Foinavon) but very bad mistake VB and had dropped to 11th by 28th. 9th again at last. Plugged on.
  11 Golden Whin 8 10-04 S. Holland S. Holland 50/1   Fore of mid-division 1st. Left in dispute of 12th BB 1C, 15th next (Foinavon). 17th at 12th, 12th WJ. Left 14th & last but one BB 2C, 11th next (Foinavon), 13th CT. Same place 28th. Plugged on.
  12 Tamalin 11 11-02 G. Richards G. Thorner 25/1   Towards rear. Mistake BB 1C. 25th at 7th (Foinavon), 19th & last but one 12th, 18th & rearmost WJ. No progress when down on belly & remarkable recovery BB 2C. 15th, still last, at next (Foinavon). Same position CT. Minor headway CS and 12th by 28th. 11th at last. Plugged on.
  13 Lean Forward 12 10-00 R. Armytage J. Evans 33/1   Bad mistake 1st but soon chased leaders. Left in dispute of 5th BB 1C, 8th next (Foinavon). 6th at 12th & WJ. Gradually faded 2C, left 11th BB. Beaten by CT. Plodded on losing further ground.
73 74 76 77 14 Nereo 12 10-00 F. Winter M. Floyd 40/1   Away well, prominent 2nd. Remained handy and left in dispute of 5th BB 1C. Stll 5th CT 1C. Lost ground CS 1C and 8th at 12th. Rallied to be 3rd at 14th & WJ. Had dropped back to 7th by 18th. Left 7th again BB, 5th once more next (Foinavon). Mistake CT. 10th at 28th and becoming tailed off. Faded further.
  15 Never Rock 9 10-00 F. Walwyn K. Mooney 50/1   Mid-division. Left 20th BB 1C, 22nd next (Foinavon). 16th at 12th, 17th & last but one WJ. Left 13th BB 2C, 14th (last but one) over next 2. Tailed off last from 27th. Laboured home.
77 U Harban 9 10-00 F. Flood J. Byrne 66/1 22ND (BB) Away well, chased leaders. Slight mistake BB 1C, 14th next (Foinavon). 10th at 12th, 7th WJ. Headway to be 3rd (or disputing it) from 18th to 21st. 4th when hung right just before obstacle, mistake & UR BB 2C.
75 76 P Rag Trade 12 11-03 G. Fairbairn JJ. O'Neill 8/1F BEF 21ST Mid-division. Left 14th BB 1C, 19th next (Foinavon), 15th at 12th, 16th WJ. Towards rear when broke down & PU before 21st. Dead.
75 R April Seventh 12 10-11 B. Turnell A. Turnell 20/1 19TH (OD) Away well and disputed 2nd at 1st. Less prominent after 4th and left in a contested 7th BB 1C where pecked & hampered. Consequently 12th next (Foinavon). A mid-division 13th at 12th, rear of same in 14th WJ. Tailing off when refused 19th.
76 77 U Churchtown Boy 11 10-00 T. Salaman M. Blackshaw 14/1 15TH (CHAIR) Mid-division. Left 19th BB 1C, 17th next (Foinavon). Good headway to be 7th over 11th & 12th. Fore of midfield when mistake & UR Chair.
  F Double Bridal 7 10-01 F. Walwyn B. Smith 50/1 13TH Away well & prominent 1st, very much so 4th. Left in dispute of lead BB 1C though pecked badly. Led next (Foinavon), CT & VB 1C. Vied for 2nd at 10th. Outright 2nd at 11th & 12th. Had just rejoined leader when fell 13th.
  F Master Upham 10 10-00 D. Gandolfo P. Barton 25/1 11TH (OD) Rear of mid-division 1st. 24th at 7th (Foinavon). Last of main group when fell 11th.
77 U Burrator 9 10-00 O. O'Neill J. Suthern 66/1 11TH (OD) Always towards rear. Left 28th & last BB 1C. Becoming tailed off by CT 1C. Last but one when UR 11th.
  R Silkstone 10 10-00 S. Norton G. Graham 66/1 11TH (OD) Always towards rear. Left 27th & last but one BB 1C. Same place when UR CT 1C. Remounted, well tailed off last. No change when refused 11th.
  U Shifting Gold 9 11-06 Kim Bailey B. Champion 16/1 10TH 4th at 1st where pecked badly. Left 4th once more BB 1C where again pecked. Nevertheless, 2nd next (Foinavon). 3rd CT 1C. Mistake VB 1C and 4th when yet another error & UR 10th.
  F Double Negative 8 10-00 F. Rimell C. Tinkler 33/1 10TH Fore of mid-division 1st. Left in dispute of 12th BB 1C. 5th next (Foinavon), 6th CT 1C. Same position when fell 10th.
  F So 9 10-04 E. O'Grady B. Madden 14/1 10TH Rear of mid-division. 21st at 7th (Foinavon). Similar position when fell 10th.
  U Master H 9 11-02 M.Oliver R. Crank 10/1 8TH (CT) Mid-division 1st. Left in dispute of 17th BB 1C. Similar position when saddle slipped after jumping CT 1C and UR a bit after.
  U Irish Tony 10 10-00 Cpt N. Crump D. Atkins 33/1 8TH (CT) Mid-division. Left 16th BB 1C, 13th next (Foinavon). Similar position when UR CT 1C.
  F Tied Cottage 10 11-04 D. Moore T. Carberry 9/1 6TH (BB) Off, leaving scalded cats trailing in his wake, and led by 6L 1st. Still ahead but with reduced advantage when ran down fence to left & fell BB 1C.
  F Gleaming Rain 10 10-00 M. Neville S. Treacy 25/1 6TH (BB) Rear of mid-division 1st. Had just been left 27th when fell BB 1C.
  F Henry Hall 9 10-00 F. Flood F. Berry 66/1 6TH (BB) Towards rear. Had just been left 29th & last when fell BB 1C.
  F Sadale 11 10-01 Cpt J. George C. Candy 66/1 4TH Fore of mid-division 1st but had dropped towards rear when fell 4th.
77 F War Bonnet 10 10-08 A. O'Connell D. Hughes 50/1 3RD (OD) Chased leaders until fell heavily 3rd.
77 F Hidden Value 10 10-00 S. Norton T. Stack 25/1 2ND Towards rear, fell 2nd.
  F Teddy Bear 11 10-04 J. Edwards P. Blacker 50/1 1ST Prominent, fell 1st.
  F Otter Way 10 10-10 O. Carter J. King 16/1 1ST Towards rear, fell 1st.
  F Cornish Princess 10 10-01 B. Turner R. Hoare 66/1 1ST Towards rear, fell 1st.



There seemed no marked deterioration in the form of Red Rum who was now a 13-y-o, however, concern about a slight injury, possibly sustained in a Southport beach gallop on the Monday, dominated the week of the 1978 Grand National. I recall the Friday lunchtime editions of London's two evening papers - one proclaimed that Rummy would definitely run while the other announced he certainly wouldn't! What had happened was that Red Rum worked well for all to see at Aintree that morning but was then found to have a hairline fracture of a foot. He was immediately retired and on National day, for the first of many times, led the pre-race parade. Red Rum had already become the first true celebrity horse and he would go on to fulfill about 25 public engagements per year, he once switched on Blackpool's illuminations, until 1994. Aintree held a special meeting in May 1995 celebrating Rummy's thirtieth birthday, complete with a huge cake (which no doubt contained plenty of his favourite Polo mints). When he died that October Red Rum was honoured with pullouts, some as large as twelve pages, in the national dailies and he was laid to rest by Aintree's winning post.

Rummy's forced defection left the 1978 Grand National a bottom-heavy handicap but a particularly wide open one which was demonstrated by an ultra competitive denouement, Aintree had to employ its photo finish for the first time, to a renewal not without its share of drama especially on the first circuit when nineteen of the 22 exits occured. The consistent Lucius, on his tenth run of the season, prevailed for the tough, straight-talking Gordon Richards, who had been a trainer since 1964, and former three times Champion Jockey Bob Davies, a late replacement who knew Lucius did not react well if hitting the front too soon so bided his time in second from the 19th, only going on after the Elbow. Lucius never won again while Bob would retire in 1982 to join the Jockey Club, he was later the popular Clerk of the Course at Ludlow for many years.

Strictly at the weights in the 1978 Grand National Lucius emerged 9 pounds/lengths better than Sebastian, 10 ahead of Drumroan, 11 too good for The Pilgarlic and 12 in advance of Coolishall. 1978 is one of those renewals for which the going is a mystery. Chaseform gives it as Firm on the Thursday, Good on the Friday and Firm on the Saturday. A lot of sources show it as Firm for the National, however, most of Saturday's morning papers give it as Good. On film the ground looks pretty decent but we can also see umbrellas up indicating there was a smattering of rain both before and during the race. The only fair way to describe it is as Good to Firm. The above introduces even more than usual unreliability to time comparisons. The previous two Nationals run on Good to Firm were in 1974 and 1970. In 1974 Red Rum shoulderd 19lbs more than did Lucius in 1978 and completed the course 13.60 seconds quicker, earning a pure rating of -14, and in 1974 the ground was towards the Good side of Good To Firm and there is a tad of general athletic improvement which would also work unfairly  to Lucius's advantage if not allowed for. I could calculate a figure of -84 for Lucius from this. However, if comparing with 1970 Lucius was 4.10s faster in 1978 than Gay Trip (pure -32) was in the earlier year although Lucius carried 10lb less than Gay Trip. Even after also allowing for greater general athletic improvement in Lucius's favour (more intervening years) a calculation puts him in the region of -30. As is customary in such circumstances I will split the difference and come up with a rating of around -57. We can test this by the more reliable method of collateral form. The Pilgarlic was a dependable yardstick in this period, running a similar race each time he competed. He was rated -71 in 1977 and his jockey reckons 1978 was his best performance in the National. I don't think by much so I will rate him -69 which puts Lucius in at -58. Sebastian gets -67, Drumroan receives -68 and Coolishall -70. I believe this is a fair assessment of a substandard affair as was made particularly apparent by it being bathed in the light of the Nationals it immediately followed. If he had been fit Red Rum was due to concede 18lbs to Lucius which means Rummy would probably have won by 30+ lengths!    












Copyright 2017 by Chris Dowling