Monday, 16 August 2021

1968 Red Alligator Shows His Teeth to Rivals

The 1968’s event marked the 122nd staging of the Grand National equestrian race that occurred at Aintree Racecourse, a few miles away from Liverpool in England. According to detailed archival records, the lively occasion took place on the 30th of March…and was won by Red Alligator by a legendary 20 lengths – one of the most resounding victory margins in the entire history of the centuries-old gaming meet. 

The teeth-brandishing Alligator was adeptly steered to the aforementioned historic triumph by the unflinching Brian Fletcher. The same champion jockey would again propel Red Rum to typically picture-perfect exploits in the 1973 and 1974 Nationals. 

The most conspicuous participator was Tim Durant, atop Highlandie – the oldest rider to ever successfully complete the Aintree circuit at 68 years of age! 

It was an also exhilarating victory for the 9-year-old horse …a comparatively tender age for a winner in such a noteworthy international competition. The young victor was owned by one fella named Mr J. Manners, a comparably less known horse handler of little regional fame. 

The successful contester had been trained by one Denys Smith of Durham County. Denys did not expect his marvellous prodigy to bring him such exemplary honours. He however later confided to journalists that he knew his modest protégé to be a petite beast of immense ability and firm discipline. 

Placed at the impossible odds of 100/7, it had been clearly indicated that not many locals and global sports fans anticipated the pair’s record-breaking performance. Another astonishing aspect to the whole victorious mix was the fact that Brian Fletcher was only 19 years at the time he achieved this spectacular feat. 

As grateful racing history shows, Brian would go ahead to clinch equally stunning exploits a couple of years later. For instance, t6he same rider steered the variously honoured Red Rum to a picture-perfect victory – a maiden success for the then still-inexperienced galloper…duplicating the same feat not many years later, to give the now-well-known sprinter the indelible intercontinental fame we know today. 

Denys Smith – the colourful event’s winning trainer – died in November 2016 aged 92, and with an elegant racing record to his name. Operating from his renowned base in Bishop Auckland in County Durham, the lately-fallen sporting hero gave the racing world more 1,600 winning horses from his famous stables. What made him an especially remarkable equestrian dealer was that he issued great gallopers for both flat and jump racing events.

Derek Thompson, a longstanding assistant to the unbeatable Smith of the 1968 Grand National fame, averred that his boss was one of the finest sporting icons in the whole of the English equine-gaming fraternity…and that he was really lucky to have had the chance to serve as his assistant at the Bishop Auckland training premises. 

Red Alligator had emerged third in the previous year’s National version. He also had been tipped as a top favourite in 1969 but he succumbed to encumbrances at the nineteenth fence. Owned by the not-very-well-known James Manners, the triumphant rider had fruitlessly run for the grand title the previous year on the same runner…but his little chances were ruined by the so-called “Foinavon pile up”, someplace around the 23rd fence. 

Due to ensuing melee, the popular jockey remounted but was not able to reclaim the lost preliminary pace due to the ensuing mayhem – finishing third to Foinavon. The greatly endowed horse was said to have been taken to the stalls for prescriptive drugging and did not achieve any record really close to his earlier Aintree glory of the preceding year. 

The ensuing general lack of success notwithstanding, the horse’s 1968 victory was grandly commemorated by a local brewing giant - where trainer Denys Smith had been a passably honoured patron of longstanding…naming the drinking joint after the admired equine instructor. 

And as a lasting testament that endures to this, you’ll find therein the trainer and winning horse’s photos posted on whatever visible remains of the time-dulled walls of the olden beer-dispensing facility. 

Although Brian Fletcher’s gallant attainment in the year’s Aintree clash is a feat of no mean repute, posterity will best remember him for more vivacious accomplishments in 1973 and 1974…. when the incisive man of horses piloted Red Rum to immortalize his name with two consecutive Grand National titles. His performance in the 1975 National didn’t fall short of lasting accolades, too.

Sunday, 21 March 2021

Honeysuckle, Eileendover Among Aintree Highlights for Grand National Festival’s Opening Day

Two of National Hunt horse racing’s most famous mares have won the Aintree Hurdle on the opening day of the Grand National Festival down the years. 

Dawn Run enjoyed a sensational 1983-84 campaign with wins at Ascot, Kempton and Leopardstown before Cheltenham Festival and Aintree glory followed. She also completed the Irish, English and French Champion Hurdle treble in that remarkable season, before scaling even greater heights over fences. 

Annie Power, a dual Mares Champion Hurdle heroine in Ireland, also tasted Aintree Hurdle glory in 2016 after landing the spoils at Cheltenham. That could well be what Henry De Bromhead’s stable star Honeysuckle tries to do this spring after winning the Cheltenham Champion Hurdle this week. 

She already has four Grade 1 victories over the Aintree Hurdle trip of two-and-a-half miles, so looks sure to be amongst the betting tips and predictions for the Grand National day 1 in that featured contest. There is enough space between Cheltenham and the Punchestown Festival for Honeysuckle to tackle an outing on Merseyside in-between.


Taking Honeysuckle on should be a mixture of horses that either competed against her the previous month at Prestbury Park and fresh horses. Some are set to skip Cheltenham altogether like McFabulous from the Paul Nicholls stable, and it wouldn’t be surprising if Ascot Hurdle winner Song For Someone did likewise. 

Istabraq and Buveur D’Air are other examples of horses that did the Champion Hurdle and Aintree Hurdle double in the same season, proving that it’s possible for geldings to get it done as well as the mares. Honeysuckle, unbeaten in 11 career starts going into Cheltenham, could put herself in that elite company. 

From an established star of National Hunt racing to an emerging talent, and four-year-old filly Eileendover who is Aintree-bound in quite a different event on the opening day of the Grand National Festival. She is set to test herself at Grade 2 level in the Nickel Coin Mares’ Bumper.

Eileendover’s trainer Pam Sly swerves Cheltenham to keep her hot prospect for this instead. A winner of three bumpers already, including some black type from a Listed event at Market Rasen where she beat subsequent Dublin Racing Festival winner Grangee comprehensively, she could end up running on the Flat and never tackling obstacles. 

This race, named after 1951 Grand National heroine Nickel Coin who was the last mare to win the Aintree showpiece, has seen the likes of Lady Buttons, Shattered Love and The Glancing Queen all run in it in recent years. Eileendover has some pretty big shoes to fill if she’s to match any of those, but has tons of pace and already won on all types of going. 

On a day when mares could come to the fore at Aintree, this daughter of Canford Cliffs could strike a blow on the big stage for one of British racing’s smaller yards. The Sly stable only has a handful of horses in training, in stark contrast to De Bromhead in Ireland, but both could be celebrating winners on the opening day of Aintree.

Thursday, 18 March 2021

Tiger Roll - Grand National


Already a four-time winner at the Cheltenham Festival, as well as a Grand National winner, Tiger Roll has carved his name, indelibly, into the annals of history. However, still only a nine-year-old, and officially 8lb ‘well in’ for his attempt to become the first back-to-back winner of the Grand National since Red Rum in 1974, Tiger Roll is a top-priced 9/2 to defend his crown. 

When the Grand National weights were revealed on February 12, Tiger Roll was allotted 11st 1lb, commensurate with an official handicap rating of 159 but, following an effortless, 22-length victory in the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase at Cheltenham on March 13, his rating was raised to 167. However, no penalties are applied to horses who have won since the publication of the Grand National weights so, with British Horseracing Authority (BHA) handicapper Martin Greenwood freely admitting that he has ‘possibly underestimated’ the level of the Cheltenham form, the continued support for Tiger Roll is, perhaps, understandable. 

Indeed, Tiger Roll has the potential to become the shortest-priced favourite for the Grand National for a good many years. That said, the shortest-priced favourite in the history of the Grand National was Golden Miller who, in 1935, was sent off at 2/1 after breaking the Aintree course record the previous year; he unseated jockey Gerry Wilson at the open ditch known as ‘Booth’ on the first circuit. The shortest-priced winner of the Grand National, though, was Poethlyn, who was sent off at 11/4 favourite in 1919; he had also won the previous renewal, known as the ‘War National’, staged at Gatwick Racecourse in 1918. 

Before you steam into Tiger Roll, it is worth remembering that several horses have threatened to start the Grand National at, frankly, ridiculously short prices, only for punters to come to their senses on the day of the race. In 2008, Cloudy Lane, trained by Donald McCain, went into the National chasing a four-timer and seemed likely to be sent off at around 7/2, before drifting to 7/1. In 2015, it was a similar story with Shutthefrontdoor, trained by Jonjo O’Neill; seeking to give Sir Anthony McCoy his second National winner on his final ride in the race, Shutthefrontdoor came in for sustained public support before drifting to a more realistic 6/1 at the ‘off’. 

It is also worth remembering that plenty of recent Grand National winners, including Bindaree, Hedgehunter, Comply Or Die, Ballabriggs and Many Clouds, have tried and failed, to emulate Red Rum. Hedgehunter and Comply Or Die did, of course, finish second on their second attempts, in 2006 and 2009, respectively. Both horses were 10-year-olds by that stage, with Hedgehunter carrying 12lb, and Comply Or Die 15lb, more than they did the previous year so, having already won off his revised mark, which is 9lb higher than last year – and being only a 9-year-old to boot – Tiger Roll may yet be making headlines, once again, on April 6.

Saturday, 27 February 2021

1969 Highland Wedding Wins Grand National for Toby Balding


The 1969 Grand National marked the 123rd vibrant unveiling of the Grand National equestrian racing competition that happened at the timeless Aintree Racecourse, close to Liverpool in England. The event took place on 29 March that year and was won by Highland Wedding. 

The overall winner was a fairly less-known contender who was participating in the international meet for the third consecutive round. Rather coincidentally, the actually twelve-year-old runner triumphed by a 12-length distance! 

The title-winning horse was ridden by jockey Eddie Harty and had been trained by Toby Balding. Prior to Harty’s clincher performance, all eyes had been on Red Alligator - the big day’s prime favourite at the beginning of the monumental tourney. The top-rated pick’s hitherto shiny prospects, however, took an abrupt nosedive when he suffered an irreparable fall at the 9th fence. 

The champion gelding had come a long way. His first participation in the historical clash was during the 1967 gaming season. Nevertheless, that initial trial did not prove very fruitful for the then hardly seasoned rookie – he only managed position eight. 

The following year’s National attempt would become the gradually-improving contester’s second effort, this time marking a slight step-up by finishing seventh. The up-to-that-time-uncelebrated vanquisher surprised many with his amazing victory when he came out first, barely three years into the nationwide sporting extravaganza. 

Highland Wedding was bred by John Caldwell of Ayrshire; formerly acquired from Canadian and American equine gaming enthusiasts Charles Burns and Thomas McCoy. Paying honourable tribute to his former owners, the gelding ran the first race donning Canada’s colours. And, upon that maiden plunge proving chiefly unsuccessful, he in 1968 tried redeeming missed fortunes by wearing Canadian tints again…which, sadly, proved only slightly more rewarding than the preceding shot. 

With these shades harbingering possible further losses, Burns thoughtfully shifted to the more captivating United States colours and registered resounding success herein described. The 1969 Grand National triumph has however been mainly attributed to the starring jockey’s huge dashing finesse. 

Trainer Toby Balding’s colossal coaching experience has on the other hand not escaped the kudos of reasoned views worldwide. They assert that it’s the evenly shared input of both the masterful rider and the astute instructor that birthed that epoch-shaping Aintree victory. 

Yet, a positively persuading number of on-looking fans rest out-and-out convinced that the brilliant racing skill of the riding ace must have brought evidently much more into the day’s eye-dazzling showing. 

The expectedly happy Mr. Balding could be seen hugging and patting on the back his partners immediately Harty put a seal to the animated chase. And a swift media briefing came up few minutes after the exemplary feat…with both thankful supporters and kin huddled close to the all-smiling champion. 

He confided feeling extremely elated at the excellent performance by a horse he highly appreciated as a “total product” of the larger “system”. 

As the interview carried on into those usual privy details descriptive of such victories, Balding explained that the jackpot-clinching contestant caught his fancy on television. He’d later obtain him for a friend and client Peter Calver, who doubled up as an amiable neighbour back at his main residence. 

Little did he know – or he so movingly confessed to media interrogators – that the ordinary-looking acquisition would wrap up such terrific honours a short time later. 

Highland Wedding seems to be one of the very few National titleholders with particularly long and tremendously dappled pre-winning histories. Prior to his being sold to Burns and McCoy, he’d done incredibly well in the Eider Race…during which noteworthy Newcastle tournament he’d emerged first. 

Upon this 1966 proof of spotless talent, the not-yet-well-known runner’s prospects began to brighten progressively and finally inched into the top three Aintree favourites. 

Harty and his indomitable charge had had it all apparently well-planned, even the two preceding editions in which he didn’t exactly impress as much…only that luck seemed to have twice eschewed him at the second Belcher’s Brook. 

This is the jinxed spot where the future hero’s erstwhile impressive momentum eased into inexplicably fizzled out in both 1967 and 1968. He, even so, seized the following version’s more favourable occasion to salvage the gleaming glory that had eluded him before. 

Prominent English and Irish equine racing opinion leaders have since especially applauded the 1969 victorious team’s sheer optimism. With the same horse having lost two consecutive battles at the same venue, it should have looked practically useless fronting him a third time. But that what the Balding-led bunch did, and easily prevailed against real insurmountable odds! 

It’s also worth pointing out the main fact that both Eddie Harty and his indomitable mount displayed a cleverly pre-calculated mix of resilience and restraint in the opening circuit. They only started to loom ever constantly larger on the leading group a minute or so into the second circuit. 

Then a rare shaming faux pas occurred, as the booming commentator’s voice erroneously declared that Harty and galloper had fallen. But he’d soon find himself outright stunned when the reportedly fate-trapped pair commanded an increasingly widening gap beginning from the Canal Turn.


In the end, the stark contrast ultimately happened – Eddie Harty (a past Olympic rider) and Highland Wedding pulled off an indelible 12-length victory!


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Friday, 11 December 2020

Grand National 2021 - Bookie Vs Sweepstake

It was a sad day in Grand National history when the 2020 running was cancelled due to Coronavirus. 

I think the only other occasions the Greatest Steeplechase in the World did not taken place was in times of the great wars and 1997 when the race was postponed for two day after the Provisional Irish Republican Army threatened to explode a bomb. 

It was disappointing to see the 2020 Grand National fall by the way when it looked to be an even-money shot to take place. 

I hate to be negative but the Virtual Grand National was simply a poor replacement and meaningless.

Fans of Tiger Roll, who would be attempting to win three Grand Nationals on the bounce, missed his chance of making history - perhaps even superseding the legendary status of Donald ''Ginger'' McCain's Red Rum who won in 1973, 1974 & 1977. 

Considering George Elliott's charge disappointed on this return to racing, pulling-up at Cheltenham when a 4/1 shot to take the 3m 6f Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase, it proves such opportunities are fleeting at best.  With talk of retiring the son of Authorized if putting in below-par effort on his next outing, the Grand National has another story to tell.

Let's hope for connections and racing fans that Tiger Roll takes his chance to equal the unprecedented victories of Red Rum. I'm sure many fans of ''Rummy'' will be hoping Tiger Roll doesn't turn up although not many would wish that on such a resolute ''pintsized'' horse who is literally made of steel. 

By 5:15 PM Saturday 10th April, we will know the line-up and those brave horses and jockeys taking part, each with their story to tell, with the chance of making history. 

It's interesting that many people who never bet chance their luck on Grand National. 

I remember my Gran, we called her Nana Polo (because we used to get confused which Nan was which and my Dad's mum loved Polo mints). 

Ivy Coote ''Nana Polo'' wouldn't have a bet in a year of Sundays.

However, when it came to the Grand National she was ready to bet like a man!

I'm pretty sure she backed Red Rum on all his victories in the 1970s. My brother and I there by her side cheering him on too.

But here's the question. 

Do you bet with bookies or sweepstake?

I have taken part in both and they are options for all those who love to watch the race, be part of the excitement, and hopefully win a few pounds along the way. 

Now, each to their own, but I would always favour betting with the bookies rather than the sweepstake.

Here are my top 5 reasons why betting on the Sweepstake may be a bad idea. 

1) It's based on luck rather than skill. If you have an opinion that's reason enough to bet with a traditional bookmakers. 

2) The majority of winners of the Grand National would have given a much better return on your bet. 

3) If you fancy an outsider in the Grand National you would be crazy to play the sweepstake. 

4) Gambling is about putting your money down. Somehow, the sweepstake seems like you are doing something less exciting. 

5) The only reason you should favour the sweepstake over the bookies is if the last horse to be picked is the favourite. I can tell you this much - that offer won't be around long. 

Whatever your Grand National tip, bet, wager, finger's crossed this year's contest takes place and horses and jockeys finish safe and sound. 

Good luck. 

Rule The World Grand National Winner 2016


As the 169th Crabbies Grand National earnestly kicked off at the customary Aintree Racecourse in Liverpool, not even the most seasoned racing pundits could expect a mere 33-1 shot to miraculously clinch a dramatic victory. All the same, that’s what exactly transpired. 

The feisty Rule the World – that little-known champ who had never bagged any other steeplechase title before, simply ran faster than all his challengers to a spectacular finish! This utterly startling win watched by millions of fans excitedly following the Grand National, both locally and on thousands of television screens across the world. 

Ably ridden by the mud-stained David Mullins, the persistent ‘magic’ horse unbelievably outpaced The Last Samuri – the vigorously chasing runner up - by a whopping six lengths! Strenuously trailing the leading duo was the doughty Vic's Canvas – the only 13-year-old participant in the race, and who also enduringly galloped home to a distant third place. 

Rule The World indeed accomplished a once-in-a-generation horse-racing exploit. He made history as the only complete novice to secure a Grand National win, with a similar feat having been equally phenomenally marked in 1958 by Mr. What. 

Trained in Ireland by Mouse Morris, the unanticipated success seems to have been made possible by the acclaimed 67-year-old’s thorough training. The triumph attracted worldwide praise as an undisputed masterstroke, especially given the fact that the Irish ace had lost his son to carbon monoxide poisoning a year before. Morris opined that he’d not expected his horse to pull off anything better than a hard-fought third position. He reportedly quipped that he’d have still deemed a lesser performance admirable enough. 

A telling sparkle appeared on his beaming face, the jubilant trainer joked that the underrated horse had “ran on like a train...Didn’t he?” Thus rhetorically posed the delighted champion trainer; somewhat betraying an awkward readiness to put up with anyone eager to oppose his patently exaggerated claim that his gifted horse had supposedly flitted like a real train.

Besides, the overjoyed training genius revealed that the out-of-the-blue front runner had in fact suffered some slight troubles jumping in earlier training sessions. According to the respected Irish horseman, the incredibly flourishing Rule The World had also sustained career-jeopardizing injuries previously - two pelvis fractures and a few other grim mid-track accidents, for instance. 

Even so, the exceedingly proud Morris didn’t hesitate to detail that Rule The World was one of the finest horses he had trained. Summarized, Morris took immense pride in the fact that the formerly unpromising horse had just catapulted his career to new heights. 

In addition, the winning jockey enjoyed the limelight. A nephew of legendary trainer Willie Mullins, David Mullins’s magical success amply proved that he’s essentially tipped for a successful career. 

Mullins shared the veteran trainer’s misgivings concerning the horse's lack of experience - candidly telling journalists that he’d also harbored worries that the new champion would lose speed as he’d earlier exhibited slight problems jumping fences. 

The event was sponsored by Crabbies – the giant ginger-beer maker who financially supported the contest for the last time after three successive sponsorships. The high-ranking live broadcast rights went to Channel 4 for the fourth consecutive year. The widely followed championship’s field proceedings were also covered by BBC Radio, having retained airing privileges for nearly a century, since 1927.

A total of 106 potential competitors sought inclusion in the 2016 Aintree race. However, the preliminary appraisal shortened the list to 96 contenders, and an even finer confirmatory review left only 87 candidates. Making four customary reservations to cater for any eleventh-hour withdrawals, the final 40 contestants were officially announced on April 7. 

The overall winner was awarded a cash prize of £561,300. The Last Samuri (ridden by David Bass), Mullin’s closest challenger, received a comparatively smaller but still covetable bounty - £211,100. Vics Canvas, adroitly steered by Robert Dunne, got a worthy token of £105,500. The fourth and the fifth slots went to Gilgamboa/Robbie Power (£52,700) and Goonyella/Jonny Burke (£26,500) in that order.



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Tuesday, 8 December 2020

Grand National 1970 Winner: Gay Trip Wins at Top Weight


Gay Trip was the third of four different horses trained by Fred Rimell to win the Grand National. The reigning champion trainer at the time, Rimmell had already saddled E.S.B. – the main beneficiary of the bizarre collapse of Devon Loch – in 1956 and Nicolaus Silver in 1960 to victory in the celebrated steeplechase.

Gay Trip was due to be ridden by Terry Biddlecombe but, with the retained jockey at Kinnersley Stables sidelined through injury, was partnered by 40-year-old Irishman Pat Taaffe instead. Taaffe had been instrumental in the purchase of Gay Trip by Fred Rimmell on behalf of owner Tony Chambers, who reasoned that he should be offered the ride on account of having “virtually bought the horse”.

Gay Trip had been in decent form during the 1969/70 season, winning the Mackeson Gold Cup at Cheltenham the previous November, under 11st 5lb, and subsequently running creditably in defeat in the Massey Ferguson Gold Cup, the King George VI Chase and the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Consequently, he was allotted top weight for the National – also, coincidentally, 11st 5lb – and, as a confirmed two-and-a-half mile specialist, was sent off joint-seventh choice of the 28 runners at 15/1.

Only seventh of the dozen horses still standing at the end of the first circuit of the National Course, Gay Trip was “still running away with Pat Taaffe” as the field approached Becher’s Brook, according to BBC commentator Julian Wilson. He went some way clear of the remainder, along with Vulture and Dozo, crossing the Melling Road for the final time and took a definite lead, travelling comfortably, on the run to the second last. Thereafter, the 8-year-old just drew further and further clear, crossing the line 20 lengths ahead of Vulture, with Miss Hunter half a length away in third place.


Gay Trip was a second National winner for Pat Taaffe, after Quare Times in 1955. In the intervening five decades, only Red Rum (twice), Neptune Collonges and Many Clouds have carried more weight to victory in the National and, of them, only the inimitable Red Rum shouldered top weight. 

Gay Trip ran carried top weight in the National again in 1971 and 1972. In 1971, reunited with Terry Biddlecombe, he started favourite, despite carrying 12st, but fell at the first fence. In 1972, under 11st 9lb, he failed by just 2 lengths to concede 22lb to the winner, Well To Do.



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Friday, 28 August 2020

1958 Grand National – Mr. What Stuns All with a 30-Length Victory


The 1958 Grand National was the 112th unveiling of the internationally famous Grand National equestrian sporting showdown that occurred at Aintree Racecourse, close to Liverpool in England, on 29th March 1958. The widely followed event attracted a total of 31 contenders who were competing for then-record prizemoney nearly £14,000.

The ultimate champion happened to be the 18-1 Mr. What, outdistancing number two by a whopping 30 lengths. This winning horse was steered by jockey Arthur Freeman and coached by Tom Taaffe senior...becoming the fifth contestant to clinch the grand title since the Second World War.

According to reports sports news reports doing rounds at the time, jockey Pat Taaffe should have steered Mr. What instead Arthur Freeman. He, however, missed the much-sought chance to ride his father-trained horse and make the unique history that comes with such striking firsts in the competitive racing world.

Aged only eight years at that time, and proudly owned by David Coughlan, the promising gelding happened to be winning a major derby title for the very first time. Those in the know will nevertheless bear in mind the fact that the same equine champion had participated in sundry other sporting showdowns before, most without any exemplary results.

It is also important to note that Arthur Freeman served as the Queen Mother's professional rider...and that not many racing fans really expected him to achieve such an awesome feat that very sporting season. Putting up 6 lb(equivalent to 2.7 kg) overweight, the trophy-winning pair appeared hugely favored by the prevailing precarious ground conditions of the time. It was all seemingly credible to the unmistakable preparedness of the triumphant pair and the other stakeholders(including the trainer and owner) that possibility such a colorful victory that day.

Although the champion horse appears to have been largely favored by the tricky conditions that ruined chances for closest rivals, the year witnessed the longest winning distance. Mr. Freeman won by a staggering 30 lengths - a rather huge winning gap unwitnessed in many other similar races before, or even long after.

Keen followers of the annual racing event will remember that 1958 The national champion would continue to participate in the succeeding years...somehow inking nearly equally spectacular records - maintaining a third position in the 1959 and 1962 unveilings. 

Nonetheless, Mr. What did not win any other Grand National title or excel thus exceptionally in any other similarly high-profile equine competition.

The winning duo survived two pretty encumbering blunders - at the very last jumping point and at the Becher's brook. The impact of these potentially destabilizing obstacles got summarily swept away by the sheer wisdom of the old proverb that it's indeed well that which ends well.

The two midtrack mishaps, however, proved costly, as Arthur was later diagnosed with minor head injuries that greatly affected his sporting career. He resorted to training at Suffolk, at which later equine instruction station he churned out excellent products such as Tibidabo...that unforgettable sprinter who won the National Hunt Centenary in 1966. This minor victory was nevertheless nothing compared to his unforgettable big day back in 1958.
He was all the same able to make do with other averagely rewarding victories in several other fairly rewarding races like Juvenile Hurdle on Le Bel and King George VI Chase using Lochroe. These post-1958 successes served to portray the prizewinning jockey as a real history-changing equestrian icon of superlative skill.

Arthur was born on January 7th, 1926 - to a Zetland huntsman named Bill Freeman. He began by racing on the flat in 1939 for George Lambton, a Newmarket trainer of remarkable repute. And he actually came from an illustrious pedigree of great racers that included his elder brother Bill's riding a Cap-A-Pie to emerge first in the Ebor for Lord Derby.
Having had a colorful stint in the war as an infantryman, Arthur came out rather battle-hardened go-getter and ready for gritty action on crowded racecourses. And he in such contests excelled with tremendous success, his 1958 National being crystal-clear evidence of this fact.

A season later, he rode as second jockey (behind Dick Francis); a tough assignment that he capably undertook for Peter Cazaletat, a major in the local military ranks.

In 1955, he steered the French-trained M'As-Tu-Vu for the Queen Mother, thus taking a prominent part in the year's National. He again tried his luck in the same event the following year, without much success, finishing nineteenth.

Wednesday, 15 July 2020

Michael Scudamore & Oxo Grab the Prestigious 1959 Grand National Jackpot


The annually-held Grand National championships are a pretty fantastic time for gaming enthusiasts from all over the world. And such a typically fabulous racing occasion was the 1959 National, which buzzy sporting contest was won by Oxo, a still little-known horse at the time.

This marked the 113th unveiling of the famously competitive horse-riding affair...usually run at the Aintree Racecourse, a few miles from Liverpool in England. Taking place on 21 March, it has been fittingly remarked as being one of the most exciting versions ever, with a couple of firsts that rendered it a particularly memorable clash.

The event's ultimate victory went to the 8/1 Oxo, shepherded by the evidently skillful Michael Scudamore, a jockey of real tenacious zeal. The unanticipated winner had been trained by Willie Stephenson.

The iconic race drew a total of thirty-four horses, including the defending champion, Mr. What, who finished third. The second place went to Wyndburgh, a tough horse who would go on to enroll for a couple of other future clashes. However, he at large ended up without inking any other similarly victorious career records.

The 1959 staging involved a characteristically large number of in-field accidents, with a single fatality. Henry Purcell was one of the few unlucky jockeys who suffered an early fall at the Becher's Brook, a somewhat spooky harbinger that portended the occurrence of thirteen other pace-killing mishaps.

Following Purcell in the slowly unfolding string of falls was Slippery Serpent, who conked out at the 13th fence. The terminally injured runner was eventually euthanized as a result of irrecoverable fracture problems, one week after the ill-fated sprint. The ensuing encumbrances attracted a great deal of negative coverage by animal lovers and equestrian opponents from across the globe.

Actually, a major debate on these questionable accidents convened in the British parliament...to discuss for the umpteenth time the very obvious brutalities previously associated with equine games. The Home Secretary, Rab Butler, was arraigned before the local National Hunt Committee and asked to respond to the growing concerns voiced by various global fraternities opposed to the time-honored animal sport.

The winning horse was only a little bay gelding raised up in Dorset by one A.C. Wyatt. Being generally inexperienced in top-cadre professional sprints, very few actually expected him to come out with such a record-setting performance. He nevertheless easily pierced the proverbial ceiling to take home the year's jackpot.

The 1959 winner was only eight years old when he attained this picture-perfect success. He was owned by Jack Biggs but instructed by Willie Stephenson around Royston...a doubtless fine horse handler domiciled in Hertfordshire, also Stephenson's close buddy and valued professional partner.

Michael Scudamore received wide-ranging accolades for the classic feat. He's especially celebrated as a truly dexterous rider who ably steered a sheer starter with the shiny odds of 8/1, a second favorite, to a distinguished finish. He had to beat the mighty challenge posed by Wyndburgh, who missed the top prize by one and a half lengths.

Michael Scudamore, the number-one rider of the year, was born on 17 July 1932. He was a locally admired equine maverick who dominated numerous English National Hunt sporting meets in the 1950s and 1960s. He capably captained to excellent finishes many illustrious runners, a glittering catalogue of victories capped by his winning 1959 National atop Oxo.
Moreover, he took a prominent part in 16 uninterrupted Aintree tournaments, with Oxo's stunt entering history books as his most noteworthy racing feat. The hardworking jockey is also famed for having ridden Linwell - a relatively renowned horse best remembered for winning 1957 Gold Cup.

Mr. Scudamore's sufficiently decorated equestrian gaming career hit a final snag in 1966, due to grave racetrack accidents. The determined rider developed severe health complications after a serious fall while on a chance ride, on Snakestone, at Wolverhampton. These led to multiple fractures and a problematic lung, eventually causing near-blindness in one eye.

None to be easily deterred by any small upsets, the unconquerable riding doyen carried on with his horse training career until his demise four decades later. Michael Scudamore continues to be deservedly eulogized as one of the modern world's most outstanding equestrian talents of all time. To say the least, he's a lasting motivation to upcoming jockeys and seasoned gamers alike.

Sunday, 14 June 2020

Hot Favorite Earth Summit Wins 1998 Grand National


Earth Summit, a pre-match 7-1 favourite, successfully outran other contesters participating in the 1998 Grand National to pass the finishing post distinct streets ahead at Aintree Racecourse. Maintaining a chiefly judicious pace from the very start, jockey Carl Llewellyn beat Sun Bay (the 2nd runner) by an extraordinary 11 lengths. Samlee and St Mellion Fairway took distant third and fourth position, respectively. 

Such a ‘superbly judged’ run – as a lively BBC coverage immediately described it - had hardly been before seen at the Liverpool’s time-honoured racing facility. As many longstanding gaming experts rightly explained, the shiny performance narrowly paralleled another similarly tremendous record inked by the same rider back in 1992. 

Again, it was not only Llewellyn’s worthy show of skill but also a likewise solid testimony for Nigel Twiston-Davies’ superior horse-training prowess.

Nigel Twiston-Davies seemed completely clueless at first, and just tensely looking on as the tough chase kicked off and the participants coursed along the ancient gaming arena. Evidently, very little could at those early moments tip the experienced trainer about the huge honours that lay ahead of him. 

Some minutes later, the consummate equestrian coach was however spotted celebrating and hugging Llewellyn quite heartily in the finishing area. 

In what has since been commonly described as the most unfavourable British weather conditions for a Grand National showdown, Earth Summit overcame such notoriously inclement climatic circumstances to pull off an unprecedented 11-length finish…confirming the rosy pre-contest predictions he’d earned from the majority of Aintree aficionados before the event’s kickoff. 

Official statistical records prove that the literally murky clash noted three racetrack fatalities – with Do Rightly, Pashto, and Griffins Bar emerging out of the harsh National scuffle with outright mortal wounds.

Close observers have also unanimously lauded the top horse’s ‘perfect start’ – having met all his fans’ wild expectations as a deserving 7-1 favourite ahead of the competition. 

Earth Summit came out as the only renowned runner who really lived up to prior punters’ anticipations…while other would-be champs such as Rough Quest and Suny Bay desperately drifted to less-shiny forecasts hours to the start, and eventually fell distantly short of the glossy pre-race wagers they’d previously attracted from optimistic supporters. 

The unforgettable steeplechase showpiece was preceded by a rare torrential downpour. But, immediately the interrupting drizzling had ceased, the officiating starter Simon Morrant paced undeterred his designated post, and at once formally ushered anxious clutter into the long-awaited tussle. 

Shortly after, Pashto became the first casualty to crash to the rain-drenched floor at some point along the initial fence. 

With many mud-encumbered pairs falling out of the weather-affected circuit, Greenhil Tare Away was sighted making positive moves up the testing field, a few minutes into the historical chase. Almost simultaneously, Decyborg began to create some gap between the two candidates, even with the frontrunners breaking into an apparent casual banter that lasted some brief moments. 

On the other hand, a bunch of furiously advancing competitors soon started to emerge from the rear. Subsequently, the leading duo then called off their budding chitchat so as to better fight the growing opposition behind them. 

Toward the end of the first circuit, any keen spectator might have easily noted the cutthroat pursuit put up by real soft-ground pros such as Cel de Brion and St Mellion Fairway. Minutes later, as the collectively energized huddle eased into the second circuit, the day’s ultimate winner remained tactfully inconspicuous…slyly beguiling himself among then still-middling sprinters like Sun Bay and other hard-to-notice eventual top performers. 

Having thus clandestinely but very calculatingly trailed their colleagues throughout much of the track, both Sun Bay and Earth Summit finally shot into limelight as they dashed past the Becher’s Brook – commanding an invincible lead. All of a sudden, the latter gained even greater momentum and began to gradually outdistance his closest challenger.

Although Suny Bay tried all the harder to keep up with the winning galloper, he appeared to lack the requisite strength to outdo the more determined pair. In the end, amid deafening ululations issuing from the unbelieving crowds, Carl Llewellyn unstoppably piloted his resolute mount to trounce second-placed Graham Bradley by an unmistakable 11 lengths.

The third-ranking horse was Samlee – steered by the thoroughly practised Richard Dunwoody, swiftly followed by Andrew Thornton's St Mellion Fairway and Kenny Whelan/Gimme Five, in that particular order.



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