ALSO AMERICAN NATIONAL'
Battleship achieved a unique double When he won the ■ Grand National Steeplechase over the famous Aintree country last Friday. Over two years ago this now ten-year-old horse also succeeded in the American Grand National Steeplechase, .and he was thereupon sent over to England to be trained for the Liverpool prize. He was to have been a runner last year, but did riot train on and was withdrawn at the final acceptance. It is also very unusual for an entire horse to win a big steeplechase prize. ■ <■
One has to go back nearly forty years for: the last entire winner of the Liverpool Grand National. That horse was the Old-Buck horse Grudon in 1901, who easily beat Druiiicree and Buffalo Bill, with the New Zealander Levanter, winner of two Great Northerns and the N.Z. Grand National, in fourth place. When Battleship Was first seen in action in England, the critics were not wholly impressed with him.. It was said that-he did notlook like, a stayer,
but the same observation was made about Hoyal Mail, Who won last year. ,;',.- FIRST ENGLISH SUCCESS. ;'.. Battleship won his first race in England twelve months ago;last January. The race was the Fosse Steeplechase, . 2jrmiles,,- at Leicester.. After, jumping the last fence two or three' lengths belaud . KiltipL and Montclair, he .outclassed" them' "on the/flat arid ..caught KiltoL practically on the post. ■ After that race the "Sporting1 Life's" critic wrote:—"Battleship is-too small to make appeal to me as a National hbrse. If he "is successful he will be the smallest winner on record, so far as' I can trace. An amazing thing about the American horse is that he is almost-as burly now as when he first ran in this country. He has had five 'races and his' ribs are hardly discernible, which shows what a good stableman Js. his trainer, Reg Hobbs. Clearly he is of a hardy'constitution, and he "never leaves an oat."
Battleship subsequently won, other cross-country events in England, but he does not appear ever to have come into much favour for the Grand National..., JDuring the last twelve months he-':'bas'< been -successful at(Sandown Park and at Newbury, but he failed when apparently, under test for. stamina in the. Troy town' Handicap Steeplechase at Gatwick.
-Battleship:is described as a stocky chestnut. He is owned by Mrs.: Marion Scott, a well-known breeder, of thoroughbreds'iri U.S:A.',, and is one of the syndicate that purchased the Derby ■winner Blenheim, from..the Aga Khan. ■His sire is that great horseMan o' War, whose stock-.have, achieved, fame at every department of the,game. When he came to England he was accompanied by another Man o' War horse, War Vessel, who was Very-soon Winning races, over hurdles, .; HIS YfUJTHFUL RIDER. -.':. Another,feature, of Battleship's success was his being handled by<a mere youth, Bruce Hobbs, the son'-'of the Lambourn trainer J3eg» Hobbs. "Mr. .Hobbs,'* as young? Bruce's.name appeared on the < number/ board for twelveftnoriths before'1 he;-'turned 'pro^ fessionavjs evert nqv* only .seventeen years old, but h£has»ieen*achisving . notable the past twOiseasons, ■**,:, Before he reachedjjiisasraeenth birthday Bruce Hbbbs had/scofedj.ten1 successes as an?amateui>^inder:'i. National Hunt Rules. Jt was^remarkable per- • fbrmance, though; it^might, iiot»beiquite accurate to describe'it^asiunique. Racing has been going ;.on.;!for^a long time, and scores .of noted amateurlriders who commenced their careersUn their early • teens have occupied'-'the'iiiistage at'different, times. It is possible that-one or. other of those notabilities, did ride ten winners before reachingUiis sixteenth birthday, as some of them started to ride* under National Hunt Rules at twelve and thirteen, years of j age.: '' "Augur"?:wrote at the time:—"Not go much" importance was attached to statistics-in days gone by, and a deal of delving into records has failed to reveal a similar achievement to that of Bruce Hobbs.' - I should.think, that the performance is unique in some respects, i.e., the riding of ten winners in such a short time-and the forfeiture of his ■ amateur status in practically half a season. -"There are several trainers who were • accomplished juvenile riders, notably Percy Woodland, Billy Payne, Ernie Piggott, Ivor and Jack Anthony, and ' Frank Hartigan. Some of them had their first winner before they reached their- sixteenth birthday, but the point is, when did they ride their tenth winner- and when did they secure the permit to continue' either as amateur or professional? . "Of riders with whom present-day racegoers are familiar, several started at an early age, but none did what Hobbs has-done. • Jack Fawcus was riding at: the age of sixteen; F. B. Rees began to attract attention before he was seventeenj.and his brother Billy was a successful point-to-point rider at fourteen. " Jack Anthony rode his first steeplechase .winner1 at ■■ sixteen, and Frank Hartigan, who was apprenticed to Garrett S.-ioore at thirteen, had occasional rides. ; The late Ginger Whit- •, field, Fred.Thackeray, and Fulke Wal~wyn commenced in their late teens. THE BROTHERS WOODLAND. "Probably the palm for youthfulness ,in the saddle goes to the brothers Wood- . land, three of whom rode at the ages of 12.and 13. Percy has records in other respects, also having ridden winners of 'the Grand National and the French Derby, as well as having driven racing cars at a hundred miles an hour. His elder brother, Dick, holds the record as the youngest jockey who ever rode-in the Grand National, for he was 14 when he finished fourth on Magpie. I "When h^ won his first steeplechase, Percy carried', six stone dead-weight, and it is recorded that he had to make
i?o fewer than three trips before he could bring all his impedimenta to scale! As Percy won his first 'chase at 13, it is possible he rode ten winners before he was 16. He rode in his first Grand National at 15, and he won the race on Drumcree in 1903 when he was 18.
' "A former jockey, still a young man and well known to all, who started his career in the saddle very early, is Bill Payne. He made his first appearance as a' jockey when only 14 years old, and when he was still a schoolboy. His first mount was Lord Suirdale's South Lodge, in an amateurs' 'chase at Gatwick in 1925. He could only ride or get practice while on holiday, and did not become a regular until after his sixteenth birthday. He was a good all-rounder as a boy, being captain of his school and captain of the cricket, Rugby, and Soccer teams. He was still at school when he won his first race under National Hunt Rules, that being in "an amateur riders' hurdles oh his father's horse Ndctifer. He had then just passed his fifteenth year.
"It therefore seems practically certain that there have been many amateur riders who have made the first step of the ladder of fame while still in their very early teens. None,'however, created1 a greater stir than has young Hobbs." , ■It was twelve months ago that young Hobbs, who had just turned professional, had his first ride in the Grand
National. He was firsttto have piloted Battleship and then Bagatelle 11, but both horses failed to hold their place in'the field and he secured a late-mount' on Mrs. F. Ambrose Clark's Flying Minutes. The horse was always prominent till 'he fell-at., the last open.ditch. The experience had its value, and now only a year later,-at his second attempt, he has won the world's most famous crbss-country race.;' .; .' . ' .
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BATTLESHIP'S DOUBLE, Evening Post, Volume CXXV, Issue 74, 29 March 1938
BATTLESHIP'S DOUBLE Evening Post, Volume CXXV, Issue 74, 29 March 1938
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