Grand National Ultimate History



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Sa 31 Mar 1979 (3.20) 4m 4f Good (Good to Soft places) 9.52.90 34 £40,506 J. Douglas

  1 Rubstic 10 10-00 J. Leadbetter M. Barnes 25/1   Prominent 1st, very prominent 2nd, 3rd from 3rd to 5th, left 3rd again BB 1C). Mistake 12th. Disputed 2nd at 13th. Outright 2nd next & Chair. 3rd once more (of 18 remaining) WJ. 2nd or shared that position from 17th through CT, 3rd VB, 4th at 26th. 3rd from 27th to 29th. A very close 2nd at last. Led by 1/2L Elbow. Ran on well (perhaps helped by loose horse (Oskard) on his outside).
  2 Zongalero 9 10-05 N. Henderson B. Davies 20/1 1 1/2 Prominent 1st, very prominent 2nd, 2nd from 3rd to 5th, left in lead BB1C. Headed after Chair, 2nd again WJ. 3rd next (17th), disputed lead 18th, shared 2nd from 19th through BB. 4th from 23rd (Foinavon) to VB. 2nd once more 26th. Vied for lead 27th. Led 28th & ABC. 2nd at 29th. A close up 3rd at last. 1/2L down sharing 2nd Elbow. Kept on.
  3 Rough And Tumble 9 10-07 F. Winter J. Francome 14/1 5 Initially held up towards rear then in mid-division, 16th at 7th (Foinavon). Chased leaders from 14th and 8th Chair & WJ. Further progress to be left 4th BB 2C, 3rd at 23rd (Foinavon) & CT and 2nd VB. 3rd again next, 4th once more 27th & 28th. Led 29th and narrowly over last. Disputing 2nd, 1/2L down at Elbow. Weakened thereafter.
77 78 4 The Pilgarlic 11 10-01 F. Rimell R. Evans 16/1 11 Rear of mid-division 1st. A midfield 17th at 7th (Foinavon). Mistake 13th. Left 12th Chair, 13th WJ. Left 8th BB 2C, same position over next 2. Steady headway CS to be 5th at 28th and 4th over last 2, 2 1/2L down at latter (30th). Circa 6L down at Elbow. Very one-paced. 
  5 Wagner 9 10-00 A. Stephenson R. Lamb 50/1   Mid-division, 13th at 7th (Foinavon). Good progress to be vying for 2nd at 13th. 3rd Chair. Further headway to lead WJ & 17th. Joined briefly next. Ahead again from 19th until joined once more 27th. 2nd at 28th. Faded badly into 5th before 29th. Plugged on.
  6 Royal Frolic 10 11-10 F. Rimell J. Burke 25/1   Mid-division, 18th at 7th (Foinavon). 9th WJ. Left 7th BB 2C, 5th next (Foinavon) & CT. Began to weaken CS and 6th at 28th. Same position over last 2 but tailed off from 29th. Plodded on.
  7 Prime Justice 9 10-00 W. Francis K. Taylor 200/1   Rear of mid-division, 23rd at 7th. Collided with Alpenstock 13th and had dropped towards rear by WJ. Left 12th BB 2C, well tailed off by next (Foinavon). Remained so and laboured home.
  R Red Earl 10 10-00 S. Nesbitt J. Evans 50/1 28TH Fore of mid-division 1st. Headway to be left 5th BB 1C, 6th at 7th (Foinavon). Had dropped back into midfield by ABC 1C, 10th WJ. Lost further ground early 2C and left towards rear, still in 10th, BB. Same position over next 2 but became tailed off by 23rd (Foinavon). Well adrift when refused 28th.
78 F Coolishall 10 10-02 P. Cundell A. Webber 12/1 27TH (OD) Fore of mid-division 1st. 10th at 7th (Foinavon). Some progress to chase leaders CS 1C and 5th at 13th, 7th WJ. Slightly hampered (by Alverton) BB 2C where left in dispute of 5th. 7th again next (Foinavon), 6th CT where pecked. Similar position when fell heavily 27th.
  U Artistic Prince 8 10-03 J. Pitman P. Blacker 25/1 27TH (OD) Away well and chased leaders 1st. 5th at 3rd. 9th at 7th (Foinavon). Hampered by the fall of Drumroan 10th. Gradually regained position and 5th again Chair & WJ. Left in dispute of that position BB 2C, 6th at 23rd (Foinavon), 7th CT. Similar position and tiring when very bad mistake & UR 27th.
  P Flitgrove 8 10-01 D. Nicholson R. Linley 50/1 27TH (OD) Mid-division, 21st at 7th (Foinavon). 12th WJ. Effort to be 7th at 18th but left only 9th BB 2C. Same position next (Foinavon) but had dropped to rear of midfield. Towards rear by CT though still in 9th. Had just been left 8th but becoming tailed off when PU 27th.
  P Mr Snowman 10 10-09 Cpt T. Forster G. Thorner 10/1 27TH(OD) Towards rear 1st. 24th at 7th (Foinavon). Mistake next (CT 1C) and barely out of rear of mid-division when pecked badly Chair. 14th WJ. Error 19th and had just been left in dispute of 10th when fell BB 2C. Remounted, completely tailed off in 13th & last but one. Utterly so when PU before 27th.
78 P Lord Browndodd 11 10-03 F. Winter A. Turnell 25/1 26TH Fore of mid-division 1st. Soon quite prominent, 7th at 7th (Foinavon). Chased leaders in 6th Chair & WJ. Began to fade early 2C and left 11th BB 2C. Becoming tailed off by 23rd (Foinavon). Even more so when broke blood vessel & PU before 26th.
  R Dromore 11 10-10 P. McCreery P. Duggan 50/1 25TH (VB) Mid-division, 20th at 7th (Foinavon). Towards rear in 16th by WJ and even more so when distracted by a loose horse & refused BB 2C. Kept going, completely tailed off in 14th & last and utterly so when refused again VB 2C.
  F Alverton 9 10-13 P. Easterby JJ. O'Neill 13/2F 22ND (BB) Away well & led 2nd. 2nd at 7th (Foinavon). 4th from 13th to BB 2C where very bad mistake & fell heavily. Broke neck. Dead.
76 77 78 F Churchtown Boy 12 10-00 T. Salaman T. Salaman 25/1 22ND (BB) Always towards rear. 26th at 7th (Foinavon), 15th WJ. Becoming tailed off when fell (possibly distracted by the carcass of Alverton) BB 2C.
77 78 U Brown Admiral 10 10-00 G. McCain S. Morshead 100/1 21ST Always in mid-division. 19th at 7th (Foinavon), 11th WJ. Tiring when mistake & UR 21st.
  P Ben Nevis 11 11-02 Cpt T. Forster C. Fenwick 14/1 AFT 16TH (WJ) Mid-division 1st. Mistake 3rd. 12th at 7th (Foinavon), 9th at 14th. Similar position when hampered by loose horses, scrambled over but UR in melee Chair. Remounted, well tailed off in 18th & last. Jumped WJ, however, PU immediately after it.
  U Godfrey Secundus 9 10-03 F. Rimell C. Tinkler 25/1 15TH (CHAIR) Mid-division 1st. 14th at 7th (Foinavon). Steady headway to be 6th at 14th. Chased leaders in 7th when hampered by loose horses, bad mistake & UR Chair.
  U Rambling Artist 9 10-06 A. Gillam D. Goulding 16/1 15TH (CHAIR) Fore of mid-division 1st. 8th at 7th (Foinavon). Similar position when hampered by loose horses, horse & jockey got stuck on the fence briefly and, after being nudged by other horses (including Alpenstock & No Gypsy), descended separately to the landing side at Chair.
  R Kick On 12 10-00 K. Lewis R. Hyett 50/1 15TH (CHAIR) Away well & soon prominent, 4th at 3rd. Left 4th again BB 1C, same position 7th (Foinavon). 8th at 13th and still fore of mid-division when hampered by loose horses & caused to refuse Chair.
  R Kintai 10 10-00 S. Cole B. Smart 100/1 15TH (CHAIR) Mid-division when hampered by fall of Vindicate 1st. 22nd at 7th (Foinavon), similar position ABC 1C. Some progress when hampered by loose horses & caused to refuse Chair, jockey coming off. Broke back in melee. Dead.
  R The Champ 11 10-12 D. Kent B. Smith 25/1 15TH (CHAIR) Mid-division. 11th at 7th (Foinavon), 16th ABC 1C. Similar position when hampered by loose horses & caused to refuse Chair, jockey coming off.
  U Alpenstock 12 10-00 S. Mellor D. Gray 100/1 15TH (CHAIR) Always towards rear. 25th at 7th. Collided with Prime Justice 13th. Squeezed between Rambling Artist (stuck on fence) & a loose horse (Purdo) as jumping Chair, makes a mistake & UR.
  U No Gypsy 10 10-01 D. Nicholson J. Suthern 66/1 15TH (CHAIR) Always towards rear. Last but one 7th (Foinavon). Similar position when jumping onto Rambling Artist (who was stuck but may have been sliding off the fence) at Chair & UR.
  R Cartwright 10 10-00 R. Fisher A. Phillips 200/1 15TH (CHAIR) Always towards rear. 28th & last at 7th (Foinavon). Similar position when confronted with melee at the Chair & caused to refuse.
  P Sandpit 9 10-07 E. Harty T. Carmody 22/1 LATE 1C Mid-division, 15th at 7th (Foinavon). Similar position when fell CT 1C. Remounted, utterly tailed off. Carried on, likely until confronted by the scene at the Chair, before ultimately being PU late 1C.
78 F Drumroan 11 10-04 P. St John Nolan G. Newman 20/1 10TH Away well & prominent. 6th at 3rd, 5th at 7th (Foinavon). Mistake next (CT1C) but 2nd at VB 1C. Still very handy when fell 10th.
  F Purdo 8 10-12 N. Gaselee B. Champion 25/1 6TH (BB) Away well. Led 1st to 5th and still disputing lead when fell BB 1C.
  U Oskard 10 10-00 H. Blackshaw M. Blackshaw 100/1 6TH (BB) Away well & prominent 1st. Chased leaders and had just been left 8th when pecked BB 1C and rider fell off backwards.
  F Wayward Scot 10 10-07 G. McCain R. Davies 100/1 1ST Very prominent, fell 1st.
78 U Double Negative 9 10-05 F. Rimell E. Woods 66/1 1ST Prominent, pecked & UR 1st.
  F Vindicate 12 11-08 D. O'Connell A. O'Connell 200/1 1ST Mid-division, fell 1st.
76 77 F Sandwilan 11 10-07 G. Ham J. Hembrow 100/1 1ST Mid-division, overjumped & fell 1st.



A competitive finish and plenty of drama but the 1979 Grand National was another bottom-heavy handicap with the quality of finishers distinctly below average. Folks north of the border coud care less, however, as Rubstic became, at last, the first Scottish trained winner. The dual Scottish Grand National runner-up hailed from the small Roxburghshire yard of John Leadbetter and rather fittingly was ridden by the son of a man who had piloted one of Scotland's several previous bridesmaids (see 1962). For horse, trainer and jockey it was their first grand National experience. Rubstic, coincidentally, numbered last year's successful stable of Gordon Richards among his former homes and Bob Davies, a late substitute on Zongalero, was only narrowly denied consecutive triumphs. Maurice Barnes would later become a trainer himself. Alverton had recently been left well clear at the last in a somewhat substandard Cheltenham Gold Cup and was going well when tragically falling fatally at second Becher's. The Chair's biggest ever pile up, caused by two loose horses veering across the field just behind the leaders, also had deathly consequences.

The racing surface, given as Good to Soft on the Friday but officially Good on National day, looked rather patchy (and the time was slow despite the pace holding up) so I have called it Good (Good to Soft places). Strictly at the weights in the 1979 Grand National Zongalero emerged best, by 3 (pounds/lengths) over Rough And Tumble, 4 over Rubstic and 20 in advance of The Pilgarlic. A couple of time comparisons (which it is not necessary to show here) to recent renewals on roughly similar ground (1967 & 1975) have Rubstic coming out at around -94, however, the more reliable collateral form, confirmed by a rating service, gives him a figure of -55 which squares exactly with The Pilgarlic (rated -71 in 1977 and -69 in 1978) having run his usual race and performing to -71 once more, with Zongalero recording -51 and Rough And Tumble -54.     











Copyright 2017 by Chris Dowling