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Spring Highlights


The Topham & The Foxhunters

Churchtown Boy 

The Topham Trophy - a very very brief history 1949-1989

First run in 1949 to celebrate the Tophams purchase of Aintree. No horse has ever managed to win this race and the National in the same season and few tried. The nearest to complete the double in the early days was Lord Seftons IRISH LIZARD who won the race in 1953 before finishing third in the National two days later. Of other winners, LITTLE YID who won a total of four races over the National fences could not see out the National distance, CADAMSTOWN fell in his National attempts whilst JOHN JACQUES nearly got round in 1959

Of the sixties heroes FRESH WINDS blazed the trail until the nineteenth fence in the 1961 National while DAGMAR GITTELL, BARBERYN and RED TIDE, the only other Topham winners to compete in the National all failed to finish. DOZO was to finish fourth in Gay Trips National in 1970

Apart from CHURCHTOWN BOYs heroics in 1977 (when his Topham win was followed up by the performance of his life chasing home Red Rum two days later) the Topham was not really much of a National trial during the seventies. Four other winners attempted the double but only SUNNY LAD managed to complete the course (CHARTER FLIGHT, RIGTON PRINCE and CLEAR CUT failed). OUR GREENWOOD ran in the National of 1980 some five years after his Topham triumph.

The Topham did provide one moment of glory in the saddle for Jonjo O`Neill when he won on CLEAR CUT as he famously failed to complete the course in all his National rides whilst the race also saw the last racecourse appearance of the legendary Flyingbolt widely considered to be the second finest steeplechaser after Arkle. He was way past his prime when he lined up in 1971 and unseated at the fence after Valentines. 

The dapple grey Inch Arran was a popular winner for the Queen Mother providing the master of Fairlawne, Peter Cazalet with his final winner before his death the following month.

Mrs Topham died in 1980 and by 1982 with the Topham family having no involvement with the day to day running of Aintree the word "Topham" had become something of an irrelevance to the authorities and so in 1983 the word was removed and thereafter the race was run under a variety of sponsored guises : -

1983 - 84   The Kaltenberg Pils Chase

1985 - 87   The Whitbread Trophy Chase

1988           The Glenlivet Trophy Chase.

In 1989 following the death of the man attributed with revitalising Aintree, the astute clerk to the course, John Hughes the race was appropriately re-named in his honour and as the John Hughes Trophy it was run until 2001. For many though the race would always be the "Topham" and in 2002 to the delight of purists like myself the race was re-named the Topham Chase. 

The Topham Chase Roll of Honour 1949-1989

1949      CADAMSTOWN     (J.Powell)                                 J.Brogan           24 

1950      CULWORTH     (W.Hall)                                           R.Curran           16 

1951       CULWORTH     (W.Hall)                                           R.Curran           18 

1952      BALYMAGILLAN     (Ireland)                                    P.Taaffe           15 

1953      IRISH LIZARD     (H.Nicholson)                               R.Francis           17 

1954      LITTLE YID    (R.Renton)                                           G.Slack            17 

1955      STORMHEAD     (W.Hall)                                          P.Farrell           14 

1956      JOHN JACQUES     (W.Wharton)                             J.Power           10 

1957       ROUGHAN     (N.Crump)                                         H J East           14 

1958       ROUGHAN     (N.Crump)                                      F T Winter          16 

1959       CLANYON     (W Johns-Powell)                    G.Underwood           19 

​1960       FRESH WINDS     (W.Whiston)                                S.Mellor           21 

1961        CUPID`S CHARGE     (P.Cazalet)                             W.Rees            13 

1962       DAGMAR GITTELL     (R.Renton)                            J.Gifford           22 

1963       BARBERYN     (W.Stephenson)                      M.Scudamore          20 

1964       RED TIDE     (R.Turnell)                                                J.King           14 

1965       HOPKISS     (A.Kilpatrick)                                           E.Harty          13 

1966       WALPOLE     (H R Price)                                          J.Gifford          24 

1967       GEORGETOWN     (N.Kubisch)                            P.Mahoney         23 

1968       SURCHARGE     (J.Barclay)                               S.Davenport          16 

1969       DOZO     (G B Balding)                                               E.Harty         20

1970       CHARTER FLIGHT     (R.Turnell)                                J.Haine         23

1971        RIGTON PRINCE     (W A Stephenson)                   J.Enright          15

1972       SUNNY LAD     (T F Rimell)                                    K B White          17

1973       INCH ARRAN     (P.Cazalet)                                      D.Mould          14

1974       CLEAR CUT     (W.Hall)                                          J J O'Neill           18

1975       OUR GREENWOOD   (T W Dreaper - Ireland)     T.Carberry          18

1976       LICTOR     (E.C Courage)                                 D.Sunderland          12

1977       CHURCHTOWN BOY     (M.Salaman)                        C.Read          26

1978       CANIT     (T F Rimell)                                                C.Tinkler          15

1979       ARCTIC ALE     (D L Moore - Ireland)                  Mr J Fowler         23

1980       UNCLE BING     (R.Head)                                     J.Francome         24

1981        MR MARLSBRIDGE     (D.Gandolfo)                         P.Barton          18

1982       BEACON TIME     (F T Walwyn)                              K.Mooney         26

1983       TIEPOLINO     (K.Bishop)                                          H.Davies          19

1984       FABULOUS     (J S Wilson)                                     A.Stringer          23

1985       SMITH'S MAN     (Jenny Pitman)                             M.Perrett          21

1986       GLENRUE     (T.Casey)                                       R.Dunwoody          22

1987       STRATH LEADER     (J A C Edwards)                      T.Morgan          15

1988       WIGGBURN     (Anne Hewitt)                                  M.Williams         19

1989       VILLIERSTOWN     (W A Stephenson)                 S.Sherwood           7

Topham winners in the National

1949       CADAMSTOWN - 1950 (fell 7th), 1951 (fell 1st)

1953       IRISH LIZARD - 1951 (fell 1st), 1952 (bd 1st), 1953 (3rd), 1954 (3rd), 1955 (11th), 1957 (fell 6th)

1954       LITTLE YID - 1953 (ref 27th), 1955 (pu 25th)

1956      JOHN JACQUES - 1959 (fell 26th)

1959      CLANYON - 1960 (fell 28th)

1960       FRESH WINDS - 1961 (ur 19th) - ran a total of ten times over the National fences

1962       DAGMAR GITTELL - 1963 (pu 29th)

1963       BARBERYN - 1967 (ref 27th)

1964       RED TIDE - 1965 (fell 4th) - ran six times over National fences

1969       DOZO - 1970 (4th)

1970       CHARTER FLIGHT - 1971 (pu 27th)

1971        RIGTON PRINCE - 1972 (pu 23rd)

1972       SUNNY LAD - 1973 (15th), 1974 (16th)

1974       CLEAR CUT - 1975 (fell 2nd)

1975       OUR GREENWOOD - 1980 (fell 23rd)

1977       CHURCHTOWN BOY - 1976 (11th), 1977 (2nd), 1978 (ur 15th), 1979 (fell 22nd), 1980 (bd 3rd)

1982       BEACON TIME - 1983 (hampered & ur 20th)

1985       SMITHS MAN - 1987 (11th), 1988 (pu 3rd)

1986       GLENRUE - 1987 (ur 3rd)

An incredible eleven winners of the Topham won the race on their only ever visit to Aintree (Ballymagillan, Hopkiss, Walpole, Georgetown, Surcharge, Canit, Arctic Ale, Uncle Bing, Mr Marlsbridge, Fabulous & Strath Leader)

Dual winner CADAMSTOWN ran in the Topham four times. The second dual champion ROUGHAN raced six times over the National fences. 1956 winner STORMHEAD ran in five Tophams and eight races in total. 1961 winner CUPIDS CHARGE who also won a Molyneux Chase at the autumn meeting ran six times over the National fences. 1973 hero INCH ARRAN was unbeaten in both his races over the National fences having won the only running of the BP Chase in October 1972. 

The Liverpool Foxhunters Chase

First run in 1923 the Foxhunters was originally run over the same course and distance as the National. After some fairly miserable runnings the race was reduced in distance in 1950. With a few exceptions most of the winners were a fairly mediocre bunch, few tried the exertions of the National and most were found woefully not up to the task. To be frank the race only produced four great winners between 1947 & 1989, MERRYMAN II and GRITTAR went on to taste Grand National victory the following year (and both came to the National with such high reputations that both were favourites), the wonderful CREDIT CALL won a record three Foxhunters from his six starts but was never allowed to take his chance in the National and probably the greatest Hunter Chaser of all time SPARTAN MISSILE, who, of course chased home Aldaniti in 1981. Sorry but you can forget the rest.

Foxhunters Chase role of honour 1946 - 1989

1946       Not run    

1947       LUCKY PURCHASE     (S C Banks)                                   Mr J.Nichols       6 

1948       SAN MICHELE     (H W Metcalfe)                                  Mr A J Cunard      12 

1949       BALLYHARTFIELD     (M J Makin)                                     Mr J.Straker       5 

1950       HILLMERE      (Dalton)                                                Mr P.Brookshaw      14 

1951        CANDY II     (R.Brewis)                                                       Mr R.Brewis      17 

1952       PAMPEENNE II     (H.Alexander)                                Col H.Alexander      11 

1953       SOLO CALL     (R.Brewis)                                                   Mr R.Brewis       7 

1954       DARK STRANGER     (L A Colville)                                     Mr J.Bosley      14 

1955       HAPPYMINT     (J S Wight)                                              Mr A.Moralee      13 

1956       MR SHANKS     (J A Keith)                                                  Mr J.Everitt       8 

1957       COLLEDGE MASTER     (L.Morgan)                                  Mr L.Morgan      6 

1958       SURPRISE PACKET     (Mrs S.Richards)                          Mr T.Johnson     13 

1959       MERRYMAN II     (N.Crump)                                                  Mr C.Scott     10     

1960       APRIL QUEEN     (M.Fear)                                                    Mr J Daniel      8 

1961        COLLEDGE MASTER     (L.Morgan)                                   Mr L Morgan     8 

1962       DOMINION     (K.Beston)                                                  Mr C Foulkes     12 

1963       SEA KNIGHT     (W A Stephenson)                                Mr P Nicholson    15 

1964       AERIAL III     (M.Fear)                                                            Mr J Daniel      8 

1965       SEA KNIGHT     (W A Stephenson)                               Mr P NIcholson     14 

1966       SUBALTERN     (C.Alexander)                                        Mr J Lawrence     13 

1967       MINTO BURN     (Miss B Johnson)                                    Mr B Surtees     10 

1968       JUAN     (P.Wills)                                                                      Mr P Wills      8 

1969       BITTER LEMON     (V.Rowe)                                                  Mr V Rowe    15 

1970       LISMATEIGE     (P.Wates)                                                     Mr A.Wates      5 

1971        BRIGHT WILLOW     (G.Cure)                                               Mr J.Chugg     15 

1972       CREDIT CALL    (W A Stephenson)                                     Mr C.Collins      8 

1973       BULLOCK`S HORN     (R.Turnell)                                       Lord Oaksey     14 

1974       LORD FORTUNE     (Mrs J Brutton)                                Mr D.Edmunds     10 

1975       CREDIT CALL     (W A Stephenson)                                  Mr J.Newton      10 

1976       CREDIT CALL     (Mrs R.Newton)                                       Mr J.Newton       9 

1977       HAPPY WARRIOR     (F T Winter)                                Mr N.Henderson     20 

1978       SPARTAN MISSILE     (M J Thorne)                                Mr M J Thorne     19 

1979       SPARTAN MISSILE     (M J Thorne)                                Mr M J Thorne     15

1980       ROLLS RAMBLER     (F T Winter)                                 Mr O.Sherwood     24

1981        GRITTAR     (F.Gilman)                                                    Mr C.Saunders     25

1982       LONE SOLDIER     (J.Docker)                                          Mr P.Greenall      12

1983       ATHA CLIATH     (P.Mullins - Ireland)                             Mr W P Mullins      8

1984       GAYLE WARNING     (J S Dudgeon)                              Mr A.Dudgeon      17

1985       CITY BOY     (Mrs J Mann)                                   Mr T.Thomson-Jones      18

1986       ELIOGARTY     (D J G Murray-Smith)                             Miss C.Beasley     20

1987       BORDER BURG     (J S Delahooke)                                          Mr A.Hill      25

1988       NEWNHAM     (M A Johnson)                                          Mr S.Andrews      23

1989       CALL COLLECT     (J.Parkes)                                               Mr R.Martin      16

Run over four and a half miles until 1950

Run over two miles, seven and a half furlongs between 1950- 1976

Run over two miles, six furlongs from 1977

Foxhunters winners in the National

1947     LUCKY PURCHASE - 1949 (8th)

1948     SAN MICHELLE - 1949 (fell 23rd), 1950 (fell 23rd)

1954     DARK STRANGER - 1955 (fell 10th)

1957/1961  COLLEDGE MASTER - 1958 (pu 18th), 1962 (14th)

1958     SURPRISE PACKET - 1959 (fell 22nd)

1959     MERRYMAN II - 1960 (WON)

1960     APRIL QUEEN - 1961 (fell 1st)

1963     SEA KNIGHT - 1964 (15th) - ran in the Foxhunters four times in total

1964     AERIAL III - 1967 (pu 19th)

1968     JUAN - 1969 (ref 17th)

1971      BRiGHT WILLOW - 1972 (7th)

1973     BULLOCKS HORN - 1972 (ref 11th)

1978/1979  SPARTAN MISSILE - 1981 (2nd), 1983 (ur 22nd), 1984 (16th)

1980     ROLLS RAMBLER - 1982 (ref 22nd)

1981      GRITTAR - 1982 (WON), 1983 (5th), 1984 (10th)

1986     ELIOGARTY - 1984 (15th) - ran in the Foxhunters four times in total

1987     BORDER BURG - 1988 (pu 29th)

1988     NEWNHAM - 1989 (10th)

1989     CALL COLLECT - 1990 (8th)

Lady riders in the Foxhunters 1976 - 1989

Charlotte Brew made history in 1976 when she became the first female rider to compete over the National fences when she partnered Barony Fort to finish last of four finishers and in doing so qualified for the following years National. In 1986 Caroline Beasley made history when, winning the Foxhunters becoming the first female rider to win a race over the big fences. She had a great record on Eliogarty but was surprisingly not on board when he contested the National in 1984.

1976       Miss Charlotte Brew  - BARONEY FORT (4th) 

1979       Miss C Caroe - BLACK FRIAR (bd 1st)

               Mrs D Grissell - MOONSTONE LAD (fell 1st)

               Mrs Rosemary White - KING KONG II (ur 7th)

               Mrs Jane Sloan - NEW ARCTIC (ur 15th)

1980       Mrs Janet Selley - SEA SWELL (6th)

               Mrs Rosemary White - KING KONG II (fell 13th)

1981        Mrs Jenny Hembrow - SANDWILLAN (13th)

1982       Miss T Gray - NEW FORMULA (6th)

1984       Miss Margaret Wilson - ROADHEAD (fell last)

1985       Miss Caroline Beasley - ELIOGARTY (ur 7th)

               Mrs C.Elliiott - BUECHE GIOROD (5th)

               Mrs N.Oliver - WISE LADY (fell 10th)

1986       Miss Gee Armytage - GALA PRINCE (4th)

               Mrs J.Arthur - VEREMENTE (ref 15th)

               Miss Caroline Beasley - ELOGARTY (1st)

               Mrs Joy Carrier - KING SRUCE (12th)

               Miss Sue French - JUST A GHOST (fell 7th)

1987       Miss Caroline Beasley - ELIOGARTY (2nd)

1988       Miss J.Barrow - LE BAMBINO (13th)

               Miss Caroline Beasley - ELIOGARTY (fell 10th)

               Miss Katie Rimell - THREE COUNTIES (fell 10th)

Two lost races

The Champion Chase

First run in 1881 the Champion Chase was initially designed as a "consolation" race for horses who had failed in the National the day before and is notable in 1936 for confirming GOLDEN MILLER`s dislike of Aintree when he famously fell at the first fence in the Champion Chase the day after he had sensationally unseated in the National. When the race was moved to the Autumn meeting in 1940 the race seemed something of an irrelevance although it did provide PRINCE REGENT with some compensation for his failure in the National the previous April. Although in 1946 it was worth more than both the Cheltenham Gold Cup and Champion Hurdle combined the race was on borrowed time when it was moved back to the Spring meeting in competition with the newly instigated Topham Trophy. The race quietly slipped from the calender after 1950.

Role of honour

1946 PRINCE REGENT    (Ireland)                          T.Hyde  3 

1948 LUAN CASCA    (H.Smythe)                       T.Molony  8 

1949 FREEBOOTER    (R.Renton)                        T.Molony  6 

1950 FINNURE    (Beeby)                                    R.Francis  5


N.B :  The race was not run in the 1945-46 season and in 1946-47 staged at the Autumn meeting. In the 1947-48 season the race was brought back to the Spring meeting which meant that the race was not staged during 1947.

Further reading : The Complete Record - issue 39 (Paul Davies - 2005) 

The Stanley Chase

Whilst the idea of a novice chase run over the National fences may seem like madness to todays racegoer, the Stanley Chase was a fixture of the Spring meeting from 1893.  Run over two and a half miles with (until 1935) the water jump as the first fence it was traditionally run on the opening day of the National meeting. From 1936 an additional National fence was added next to the Chair which would eventually form part of the Mildmay course. This became perhaps more realistically the first fence. The race never took in the Chair. During its history it produced four winners who would go on to triumph in the National (Jerry M, Ally Sloper, Gregalach and Kellsboro` Jack) whilst four others (Kirkland, Rubio, Troytown and Bogskar) contested the Stanley Chase without success. Despite its ability to attract good runners, the Stanley is remembered as a pretty scary race best consigned to the dustbin of Aintree history. Perhaps it is the notorious 1947 running when all sixteen horses fell (Billykin was remounted to win) that the Stanley Chase is remembered for. After that farcical running the race was on borrowed time, the winners did not amount to much and the announcement of the building of a "nursery  course" for potential National runners with scaled down versions of the fences effectively sealed the races fate. The construction of the Mildmay Course rendered the Stanley Chase obsolete and few mourned its passing in 1952.

Role of honour

1946 LUAN CASCA     (H.Smythe)                  A.Brabazon 16 

1947 BILLYKIN (rem)     (C.Nicholson)                T.Molony 16 

1948 BLAKELY GROVE     (I.Anthony)               J.Maguire 13 

1949 CARMODY     (W.Stephenson)                  T.Molony 14 

1950 KNUCKLEDUSTER     (J.Gosden)                 A.Jarvis  7 

1951  SHAEF     (J.Gosden)                                    A.Jarvis  6 

1952 FINVARRA     (A S Kilpatrick)                     R.Morrow  6


Further reading : The Complete Record - issue 49 (Paul Davies - 2008) 

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