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BIG GRAND NATIONAL.

STEEPLECHASE AT AINTREE.

WOMAN OWNER'S SUCCESS.

AUSTRALIAN'S CHANCE RIDE

[from our own correspondent.] LONDON, April 5. There were GG runners—the greatest number in history—for the Grand National, at Aintrcc. The horses were started all in ono line, and a temporary number board had to be erected alongside the normal structure, in order to accommodate the record number of runners. They all cleared the first fence, but at. the end of the first time round only 22 were upstanding. At the end of the race only eight horses were up, and an almost unconsidered outsider. Gregalach, was the winner, taking the lead two fences from home, and getting in six lengths ahead of the. favourite, Easier Hero (Mr. J. 11. Whitney), with Mr. R. McAlpine's Richmond 11. third.

Largo parties travelled to the Liverpool course by air. Many women used the air liners that left Croydon. In one machine move than half (lie 20 passengers were women The Duke of Westminster had provided a wonderful marquee containing an old-fashioned drawing room with a real old-fashioned fireplace. Prince George was among the record crowd—estimated to be nearly 300,000—t0 sec the thrills of the

Mrs. Gemmell's Gregalach had little support., and its chances in such an unwieldy field were generally considered negligible. In many iisls of odds tho horse was not even mentioned except in the "100 to 1 tho field" quotation. The winner hails from Tom Leader's stable, which lind previously won with Sprig. This is the filth time in seven races that the Grand National has fallen to a horse trained at Newmarket. Leader had five runners ill the race, and expressed surprise afterwards that Gregalach should have beaten his stable companions. Sprig, Blight's Boy and Mount Etna, all of whom disappeared early in the race. Sandy Hook ran remarkably well for tho same establishment. One ol First Purchases. Mrs. Gemmell is the wife of a North of England sportsman, who is interested in tho Donaldson shipping lino and other steamship companies. It was not until a few years ago that Mr. and Mrs. Gemmell became keenly interested in racing, and one of the first steeplechasers purchased was Gregalach, who came up at the Newmarket December sales in company with Grakle. Both belonged to Mi'. T. K. Laidlaw at that time, and were trained by Tom Cculthwaite. Gregalach made 5000 guineas, and the other -1000 guineas, and it is a coincidence that both completed tho course. As a five-year-old Gregalach brilliantly won the Stanley Steeplechase at Liverpool. His new owner scut him into Captain Whitaker's hands, but the horse developed a "leg" and was turned out of training for six months, and he did not run last year until November, when he had joined the Wroughton House teams. He is a. horse of a much finer type than last year's winner. He takes a high standard among Grand National winners. The successful rider, R. Everett, was born in Australia, and was in the Navy until 1921. when he went to South Africa for a few years, riding as an amateur on the flat there. He continued to ride us an amateur on coming to England, becoming a professional last year. This was his second ride in the Grand National.

Everett was originally to have taken the mount on Golden Rebel, who broke down. He received a message from T. Leader a few days before offering him the ride on Gregalach, but it was not until within 21 horn's of the race that this arrangement was definitely ratified. He had never been on the horse's back until the day of the race. After the race Everett said Gregalacli jumped beautifully throughout. Scene of Disaster.

it was a splendid start (says the Morning Post representative). Easter Hero did not take long to single himself out from the rest, and held a clear lead at the second fence. The initial jniuu had caused no trouble, but the open ditch in front of the third fence was the scene of disaster for about a dozen compeiitoi'S. Lord Dalmeriy, who watched the race from the private stand near Valentine's Brook, stated that 29 horses jumped the canal turn fence. This jump,- so fatal for Easter Hero last year, was safely negotiated by him this time, though he did not fake it quite so cleanly as most of the others. On the whole the favourite's jumping was perfect, and he was still well in front at. the water. Two fell at til J brook, namely, Ardoon's Pride and Kilbrain. Between the last two fences Gregalach headed the favourite, and. gamely though the latter struggled on. lift was beaten by six lengths, Moloney easing him a little at the last. As an example of the luck of the game ik is recalled that only a few days previously Gregalach fell when competing for the Select Steeplechase at Sundown Park.

There was no thrill in the finish, because Oregalach's victory was assured when once tan had landed over the last fence. People were too astounded to give the winner and his jockey t-ha big cheer their plucky effort deserved. Gregalach had pretensions to be in a Grand National field, and so many others had not. That at least was a satisfactory point about the result. Tho fact that he had list. <ilb. in his handicap was because he had won the Stanley Steeplechase on the course two years ago.

Congratulations to Owner. Mrs Gemmell received the congratulations which were showered upon her with a rather breathless smile, for she seemed a little bewildered at her horse's victory, as if she could hardly realise the significance of it all. It was something •of an ordeal for her even to reach the unsaddling enclosure. to which the police had to force a wjy for her through the crowd. Mrs. Gemmell always had filth in the ability of her horse to perform at least with prominence, and. what is more to the poinl. she backed her opinion and persuaded sonio of her friends to follow suit. The reception which Easter Hero received afterwards was as enthusiastic as that accorded the winner. A dense crowd pressed forward to pat the horse, and some bold admirers pulled hair 3 from his tail . as souvenirs of a performance which ranks high among the finest and moist stirring in the long history of the Grand National. By far the best story of the race and the incidents leading up to it was that told by the young man who has suddenly found himself famous. Robert Everett, the rider of the winner. Here is what he told "Ajax" of the Evening Standard about himself, and how he came to ride Gregalach : "1 was born in Australia and came to this country with my people. T fancied the Navy, so I joined up, but after a spell found I did not care much for the life, so I left the sea and journeyed to South Africa. I could ride a bit when I was a youngster in Australia, and I fancied being something of a jockey. 1 was in South Africa for over throe years, and got a bit of riding as an amateur, out there. It was in 1925 that I returnel to this country, and started to rise over hurdles as an amateur. I rode a fair number of winners, but it was only about two years ago that I got a chance to ride over fences. Really a Chance Ride. "The mount on Gregalach was reallv a chance ride. I was engaged for Golden Rebel, and when he broke down it was a fortunate circumstance for me. I said, more in a joko than anything else, to led Leader, 'J haven't got a l'ide iu the National, so you might find me one, Jed. I never expected to hear anything more, but on Sunday they rang me up and asked me if I would ride Gregalach. I said I w.mld, and went to Newmarket to ride the horse in a gallop last Wednesday. That was the first time I had been on him, but I never jumped a. fence on him until today. It was only yesterday that, it was definitely settled that I should have tho ride. "I had ridden only twice over the course. I had the mount on Rossieuy in 1 lie National last, year, but did not get very far. But ! finished fourth on Bnllyhanwood in tho Grand Sefton last November. I never had any anxious moments in the race He nearly bumped me off at the first fence, he jumped so big: and I have never been so high in my life. 1 let him settle down in his own time, and as we went on he took every fence in the approved stvle without making any serious mistake. "It was in the second circuit (hat 1 began to get anions them in earnest, and when we got to the Canal Turn I took him across to the left and jumped close to the wing so that from being fifth I jumped into third pines. f was then in close compniiv with Easter Hero, Richmond IT and Sandy Hook. I lost Sandy Hook a bit further on. and as we came ou to the racecourse I thought it was time to see what 1 could do The horse answered well, and I went past the iired Ecster Hero just before getting to the last, fence but one. I knew 1 had won then, and though my horse was very tired the top-weight was in even worse plight." . And that is how Gregalach made history for himself and a comparatively young and unknown rider.

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/NZH19290508.2.145

Bibliographic details

BIG GRAND NATIONAL., New Zealand Herald, Volume LXVI, Issue 20249, 8 May 1929

Word Count
1,616

BIG GRAND NATIONAL. New Zealand Herald, Volume LXVI, Issue 20249, 8 May 1929

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