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Thursday 7 May 2009

Bloggers' Grand National - Pre Race Information

(continued from previous post)
Well, how is the training going?
Are you feeling fit and raring to go on this adventure?

The race cannot be run as yet for several reasons:

1. I have not written it.
2. Several key runners are on vacation, or 'on holiday' as us Brits say.
3. The course is not ready.
Meanwhile I will show the pre race betting at the end of this post.
Also, I would warn you that a Grand National can end in absolute chaos - so be diligent on your big day. To illustrate just how wrong things can go and what monumental cock-ups can occur during this event it is worth relating the famous 1993 occasion when the entire race had to be scrapped because of two false starts. This caused the loss of countless millions of pounds and probably several heart attacks amongst the punters, certainly amongst some book makers. I took the following article from a BBC commentary dated 3 April 1993.

The 1993 Grand National ended in 'shambles'

The Grand National ended in chaos after a series of events at the start which reduced the world-famous horse race to a shambles.

An estimated 300 million people around the world were watching the race, held at the Aintree racecourse in Liverpool, live on television, when 30 of the 39 riders failed to realise a false start had been called and set off around the racetrack.

The Jockey Club was forced to declare the race void after several riders completed both laps of the gruelling 30-obstacle course and passed the finish line before they realised their mistake.
Aintree decided against a re-run of the race, and bookmakers faced repaying the £75 million in bets placed on the race.

False starts
The disastrous sequence of events began seconds before the race was due to start, when protesters got onto the track near the first fence.
They were spotted, and after a delay, the race officials asked horses and riders to line up again.
Then there were two false starts caused by horses getting tangled up with the starting tape. On the second false start, the recall flag, which signals riders to pull up once they have started, was not waved, and all but nine riders raced away.

The recall man, Ken Evans, was interviewed by stewards to find out why he did not wave his flag.

Frantic shouting
The crowd shouted frantically at the jockeys to get them to stop, and officials tried desperately to flag them down from the side of the track, but without success.

In the end, 11 riders had completed the first circuit before pulling up, and seven never realised anything was wrong, racing right to the finish line in the four-and-a-half-mile (7 km) race.

Esha Ness, a 50-1 outsider trained by Jenny Pitman and ridden by John White, crossed the line first. "I could see there were only a few horses around, but I thought the others had fallen or something," White said after the race.

Mrs Pitman, who became the first woman to train a first Grand National winner in 1983 with Corbiere, was devastated.

"This is no Grand National, even though I have won it," she said.

The owner of Esha Ness, Patrick Bancroft, is understood to be considering suing Aintree over the £76,000 prize money for first place.

David Pipe, spokesman for The Jockey Club, said there would be an urgent inquiry into the incident.

In Context
Doubts over the competence of the recall man, Ken Evans, were quickly dispelled.

Recordings of the race showed that Keith Brown, the starter, raised the red flag which was to give him the signal that a false start had been declared - but crucially, did not unfurl it, making it almost impossible to spot.

Ironically, those horses which completed the course did so in the second-fastest time in the race's history.

The only other time the race has failed to run since it began in 1839 was during the Second World War, from 1941-45, although it was postponed in 1997 after a suspected IRA bomb warning.

Trainer Jenny Pitman went on to win the Grand National again in 1995, with Royal Athlete.

She was awarded the OBE in 1998 and retired from racing in 1999.

A re-run of the race was seriously considered, would you believe? I fail to understand how officials would consider how any horse, even Super Horse, could run it all again after completing a gruelling 4 and a half mile race over 30 fences in record time! I remember listening to the event in sheer disbelief on my radio - I thought it was a comedy sketch!

Well, back to our race!

Already betting has been heavy on the blogger's Grand National with two favourites emerging:

2/1 Authorblog, Granny on the Web

3/1 Menopausal Old Bag, Grumpy Old Ken, Breeze

4/1 Retired & Crazy, Crystal Jigsaw, Nuts in May

6/1 God of Another World, Sniffles & Smiles

8/1 The Things we Carried, Robynn's Ravings, Lakeviewer

10/1 The Girl from Cherry Blossom Street, Marmite Toastie, Kathy's Klothesline

12/1 The Mighty Sam, Val's Ramblings, Valleys Mam

20/1 Clouds and Silvery Linings

50/1 Plato's Procrastinations

100/1 Bar these

And finally, several of you have asked me what happened to my status with the priest when "What's Up Boys?" fell from grace within the horse racing community.

Well, let's go back to the horse's hey-day. I was the best thing since sliced bread and after the Pope himself, you may remember - as I have explained in my last post. My mother had passed away earlier in the year of 2001 and this was about the time "What's Up Boys?" was peaking in racing circles. The priest kindly offered to say a Mass for her and agreed, at his suggestion, to include my father who died way back in 1986. He offered to 'do them as a job lot' together, which was very nice of him, since they were not Catholics, and neither was I. Also, cryptically he called me a "Good Samaritan" from the pulpit during one of his sermons, after I had volunteered to do a task for him. He did not name me as such but gave me a nod and a wink from the pulpit which was the equivalent of shouting my name from the church spire for the whole town to hear - never mind, he meant well. We continued for several years our coded semaphore messages during services concerning the racing timetables and probability of this wonder horse winning until "What's Up Boy's" was injured and eventually had to retire from racing, and then to stud as his reward.

As soon as that happened it was as if I was ex-communicated and reverted back to my humble rank within the pews - a mere commoner and worthless sinner of sinners amongst my fellow members of the congregation. Nice while it lasted.

We always knew 'Father' was keen on horse racing because when my daughter was little, he visited us unannounced one Saturday morning and placed a pound coin in her hand - he told her in front of my wife and I to ask "Daddy" to place a bet on a horse running at 2.30 at Cheltenham that afternoon. I forget the name of the horse but I duly placed the bet and was inspired to back £5 from my own wallet for the 'nag' to win. This was in 1985 and as far as I know the blooming horse is still running! Next time I saw him I remarked that his tip was hardly backed by Divine Inspiration.

(To be continued ~ watch this space for THE RACE!)


  1. Are we all in training then? No wonder I feel so tired! I am bet at 4 to 1 then......... mmmmmmhhhhh!

  2. I'm afraid my horse will collapse during this grueling training, and I will have to run this myself...Under these circumstances, I certainly can understand the odds against me...there are some champions afoot as well!! By the time we're through, I may need the Father to say a Mass for me...Let's get this over with soon!!! Quick now, put me out of my misery! Still smiling, Janine

  3. Oh that is not fair, Mr Eddie. I've been ready since.....mmmm...well never mind..I've been cyber practicing.

    10/1...wohooo! :-)

    Listen Mr Eddie I am short, tiny and fragile.
    Can I get a pony instead?

  4. 3/1? this horse is ready to run!

    Training? Can I eat bisquits and tea..because I just did? I'll have oats in the morning promise!

    Eddie, you're so much fun! Let the races begin!


  5. I'm ready and willing and...What exactly we do?

  6. I don't understand betting odds but I think I'm still in the running.... Yes? Hmmm is there any chance of a headstart so my legs can get used to moving at faster speeds LOL

  7. All this horsey talk and odds and such....I am a simpleton about such things! Having said that, I am apt to learn (I think)..... There was an old mare in my distant past; my uncle tossed me, along with my cousins upon her back. She promptly took off at a gallop and tossed the three of us to the ground. I love animals, but keep my distance around horses. I know, I know, I am not actually riding a horse; just telling you I don't know much about this business........

  8. Oh Eddie - better move me to the 100/1 ranking. It'll pay HUGELY if I come in but I'm afraid if I have to jockey this poor thing it'll need more than luck and skill with me astride. May I put it in a trailer and pull it with my truck around the track at break neck speed? Maybe THEN there's a chance!

  9. I don't know anything about odds-making, but I know something about coming in first! (Yes, that was a throw-down challenge to my fellow combatants.)

  10. I'm slow, roly poly and mostly lazy, but if I show up at the start will someone wheel me to the finish? I'm in...whatever it is I am in. Let me know.

  11. I am here visiting from a number of mutual blog friends, among them Erin of Woman in a Window, Rosaria of Sixtyfivewhatnow and Chad of God of Another World.

    Mind if I sit in the bleachers and snoop around a bit, while the horses warm up?


  12. Eddie,
    thank you for your reply and for including me in the lineup! I have good news for you: my odds could greatly benefit if you visit my OTHER blog, the English speaking one!

    I'm saddling my mare... Ciao

  13. That's hilarious, Eddie.

    In ..... training .... (puff) .... can't ..... talk ..... now .........

  14. Eddie, don't you realise that I'm trying to retire and now you have me running around like a two year old again! Shame on you!!

  15. Fascinating, I learned something today while wasting time on my computer :-) Thank you!
    Don't believe Woman in a Window, she's a lean, mean racing machine.

  16. Oh, and I listened to your daughter on the mp3 player-- VERY nice. I have to get me one of those players!

  17. I'm in super shape! Can't wait!

  18. Blimey! I started off cracking up with this post. Some funny quips.
    Will have to come back & read the rest! Otherwise I will "get the sack!" (and that's not hay I'm talking about!)
    I see I am out of the race but I sorted out some over zealous horses! Yes.. I'm good at that! Not just an old nag though! A promising rider! That's me!

  19. You are already a friend! How can anyone who knows you resist your humor and kindness? You made my day! THANKS, Eddie!

  20. From you: I consider we are all brothers and sisters in blogland and I feel rather Biblical about this, as though we have just "Cut the Covenant" and are walking together between the carcasses, to unite us together in a kind of round table of this present age.

    From me: God bless your kind heart, Eddie! May it be as you say!


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