Where, and what, was the Table Top Jump?

Where, and what, was the Table Top Jump?  For lover or sports and gambling there is little to rival the Grand National. It’s a time where even those who love casino games and the like, and drawn towards the sport of kings. The Table Top Jump was situated on the Grand National Course at Aintree, specifically on the Anchor Bridge Crossing of the Melling Road, which follows the twelfth, and twenty-eighth, fence in the current layout. Back in the days when the Grand National was run, in part, on farmland and open countryside, the Anchor Bridge demarcated the ‘racecourse proper’.

By 1870, long before the age of online casinos and indeed many of today’s major gambling and sporting staples, the Table Top Jump was no longer considered an obstacle, per se, so details of it rely on contemporary reports from over a century and a half ago, which are, at best, a little sketchy. Confusingly, the Melling Road was originally known as the ‘Sunken Lane’ and, for a decade or more, ‘Proceed’s Lane’, following an incident involving the well-backed Proceed in 1849. However, the Anchor Bridge Crossing was on an elevated part of the track that required the horses to jump over a hedge onto a bank and off again, over another, in rapid succession. Thus, the Table Top Jump was akin to banks found on the cross-country courses at Cheltenhham or Punchestown, or in the cross-country phase of eventing.

As early as 1843, the second hedge was removed, leaving just a downhill incline on the far side of the Table Top Jump. In 1870, the first hedge was also removed, leaving just the bank, which was reduced in height and abruptness two years later, before being completely levelled off in 1887.

Which was the last mare to win the Grand National?

Which was the last mare to win the Grand National?

In today’s world, the ways media intersects with ‘the big events’ is also a point to note when you’re looking for a front-row seat for a slice of ‘history in the making. The clarity of footage and numerous ways to tune into the world-class sport is more diverse than ever. Whether it’s F1, Premier League Football, UFC, or, yes, the jewel in the crown of horse racing, The Grand National, you’re more likely to find people streaming these world-class events than consuming them from the old-fashioned media like television. Even though studies have shown that the most streamed sports in the UK are still football, rugby, and golf, horse racing is slowly winning over the streaming fans across the country.

With that in mind, let’s dive into the history of the most famous horse racing event, the Grand National, and give an overview of the most successful mares through the years.

 

It would certainly be fair to say that winning mares in the Grand National have been relatively few and, since the turn of the twentieth century, far between. The first ‘official’ running of the Grand National took place in 1839, and mares have won just 13, or 7.5%, of the 173 renewals so far. Interestingly, in the first 50 years of the Grand National, ten mares, namely Charity (1841), Miss Mowbray (1852), Anatis (1860), Jealousy (1861), Emblem (1863), Emblematic (1864), Casse Tete (1872), Empress (1880), Zoedone (1883) and Frigate (1889), won the celebrated steeplechase.

However, in the subsequent 132 years, just three mares – Shannon Lass (1902), Sheila’s Cottage (1948), and Nickel Coin (1951) – have been welcomed into the winners’ enclosure at Aintree as winners of the Grand National. In 2019, Magic Of Light, an 8-year-old Flemsfirth mare trained by Jessica Harrington, made a bold bid to strike a blow for the fairer sex; she jumped the final fence upsides the eventual winner, Tiger Roll, but although staying on gamely on the run-in, went down fighting, by 2¾ lengths.

Though as far as mare winners go, over seven decades after winning the National in 1951, Nickel Coin remains the last mare to do so. Trained by Jack O’Donoghue and ridden by Johnny Bullock, Nickel Coin defied odds of 40/1, taking advantage of a final fence blunder by Royal Tan – who would win the National three years later – to win by six lengths. Just three finished, with Derrinstown the only other horse to complete the course.

In all likelihood, due to the length of time at hand, any future mare winning the Grand National will also be seriously big odds (and as a way of reminder, these odds are with bookmakers, rather than betting exchanges, where they can be truly astronomical). As such, those who get it right will certainly be winning big.

We live in an era of female excellence in sports, which also shows in horse racing. Who could forget Rachael Blackmore’s spectacular Grand National win just last year on Minella Times – a first in the event, she then went on to become the first female winner of the Cheltenham Gold Cup on A Plus Tard. So when you think about it, is it highly likely that this wave of ‘girl power’ will eventually apply to mares too. In fact, it’s surely only a matter of time before history repeats itself!

Did two horses called Peter Simple run in the Grand National?

Did two horses called Peter Simple run in the Grand National?  The short answer is yes, they did, but thankfully not in the same year. Aintree aficionados may already be aware that Peter Simple – a bay trained and ridden by Tom Cunningham, on the first occasion, and Tom Olliver, on the second – won the Grand National twice, in 1849 and 1853. Indeed, that Peter Simple, who was a 15-year-old when gallantly holding off the 1852 winer and favourite, Miss Mowbray, on the latter occasion has the distinction of being the oldest winner in the history of the Grand National.

However, the first Peter Simple to run in the Grand National was a grey, who made his debut, as a 7-year-old, in 1841, when he finished a never-nearer third, beaten 2 lengths and neck, behind Charity. In fact, that Peter Simple went on to contest the next five renewals of the Grand National, in which his complete form figures were 33PP2P.

Of course, the Jockey Club was established in 1750 and the first volume of the General Stud Book was published by James Weatherby in 1791. However, in the early, pioneering days of the Grand National, horses did not need to be registered with a unique name, as they do today, so different horses with the same name were commonplace. For the record, ‘Peter Simple’ was the title character of a novel written by Captain Frederick Marryat and first published in 1833, so the name was very much of the time.

Who is, or was, the youngest jockey to win the Grand National?

Who is, or was, the youngest jockey to win the Grand National?  The man credited with being the youngest jockey to win the Grand National was Bruce Robertson Hobbs. Hobbs was born on December 27, 1920 and, thus, was just 17 years and three months old when he partnered Battleship to victory on March 25, 1938. The diminutive 11-year-old, who stood just 15.2 hands high – coincidentally, the same height as Tiger Roll – was owned by renowned Virginia horse breeder Marion duPont Scott and trained by Hobbs’ father, Reg, in Lambourn, Berkshire.

Sent off at 40/1, Battleship nearly unseated rider at the seventh fence, now known as ‘Foinavon’, but Hobbs was helped back into the saddle by fellow jockey Fred Rimmell, and nearly fell after a bad mistake at the third last. Nevertheless, despite being forced wide on the run-in, ran on well to pip the big Irish horse Royal Danieli, who had led by 2 lengths at the final fence, by a head. Hobbs said later, ‘I thought it was half a length, but they gave it as a head and all the Irish said if there was a photograph I would have been second.’

Bruce Hobbs was not only the youngest jockey to win the Grand National but, at 6’4″, far and away the tallest. Battleship, for his part, was the first American-bred horse to win the Grand National and the first entire to win since Grudon in 1901; indeed, no entire has won the Grand National since.

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