On which horse did Jimmy Frost, father of Bryony, with the Grand National?

Although a respected trainer in Buckfastleigh, Devon and a former Grand National-winning jockey, Jimmy Frost is probably best known, nowadays, as the father of Bryony Frost, who has taken the world of National Hunt racing by storm since riding her first winner, as an amateur, in February 2015. Nevertheless, Frost Snr. rode his first winner under National Hunt Rules, Mopsey, at Taunton, at the tender age of 15 in February, 1974, and his last, Bohill Lad, at Exeter in March, 2002.

All told, in his 28-year career, Jimmy Frost rode 510 winners under Rules, but arguably the most memorable of them all was Little Polveir in the 1989 Grand National. Having finish a respectable, albeit remote, ninth of seventeen finishers behind West Tip in the 1986 Grand National, Little Polveir had unseated rider at The Chair in 1987 and, again, at the thorn fence five from home in 1988. By the time April 8, 1989 rolled around, the former Scottish Grand National winner was a 12-year-old and considered by some observers to be past his prime. Nevertheless, he had recently been bought by Edward Harvey and transferred from his previous trainer, John Edwards, to Gerald ‘Toby’ Balding.

Saddled with just 10st 3lb on his favoured heavy going and ridden by Jimmy Frost, who was making his Grand National debut at the age of 30, Little Polveir was sent off at odds of 28/1 to win the celebrated steeplechase. He led with a circuit to race and, having narrowly avoided some errant spectators turning for home, showed admirable bravery to fend off his pursuers in the closing stages. He eventually passed the post 7 lengths ahead of West Tip, with former Cheltenham Gold Cup winner The Thinker half a length further back in third place.

Who is, or was, the most successful trainer in the history of the Grand National?

In the history of the Grand National, the original ‘Master of Ballydoyle’, Vincent O’Brien, had the distinction of saddling three winners in a row, namely Early Mist, Royal Mist and Quare Times, in 1953, 1954 and 1955, respectively. However, three men have saddled four Grand National winners apiece and are, jointly, the most successful trainers in the history of the Grand National.

In the pioneering days of the Grand National, Epsom-based trainer George Dockeray was the first to achieve the feat when, in 1852, the unfancied 50/1 chance Miss Mowbray, ridden by Mr. Alec Goodman, beat Maurice Daley and Sir Peter Laurie by a length and half a length in the fourteenth renewal of the famous steeplechase. Dockeray had previously trained the winner of three of the first four ‘official runnings of the Grand National, namely Lottery (1839), Jerry (1840) and Gaylad (1842).

Over a century later, Fred Rimmell, a.k.a. ‘Mr. Grand National’, became the second trainer in history to saddle four Grand National winners when Rag Trade beat Red Rum by two lengths in the 1976 renewal. Rimmell, of course, was the trainer who had benefited from the dramatic collapse of Devon Loch in 1956, but aside from E.S.B., whose jockey Dave Dick admitted ‘was a terribly lucky winner’, also saddled Nicolaus Silver (1961) and Gay Trip (1970).

Last, but by no means least, Donald ‘Ginger’ McCain, trainer of Red Rum, who achieved legendary status by winning the Grand National in 1973, 1974 and 1977, finally achieved his fourth win, at the age of 73, in 2004. On that occasion, the twelve-year-old Amberleigh House, ridden by Graham Lee, defeated co-favourite Clan Royal by three lengths.

Which horse has carried the most weight to victory in the Grand National?

In recent years, the maximum weight that any horse can carry in the Grand National is 11st

10lb. Indeed, since the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) lowered the maximum weight carried from 11st 12lb to 11st 10lb in 2009, the highest weight carried to victory in the Grand National is 11st 9lb, by Many Clouds in 2015. However, looking further back in the history of the Grand National, certain horses have been encumbered with eye-watering amounts of weight.

The first ‘official’ running of the Grand National, as the Grand Liverpool Steeplechase, took place in 1839 and was won by Lottery, trained by George Dockeray, carrying 12st 0lb. However, when Lottery returned to Aintree for the 1841 Grand National such was his perceived superiority over the opposition that the racecourse authority decreed that he must carry a penalty, of 18lb, which increased his weight to a staggering 13st 4lb. Remarkably, Lottery still started favourite, at 5/2, but was pulled up at Becher’s Brook on the second circuit. An even more astonishing weight-carrying performance was recorded in 1900, when Manifesto – who had already won his second Grand National, under 12st 7lb the previous year – humped 12st 13lb into third place. Manifesto aside, three other horses, namely Cloister (1893), Jerry M (1912) and Poethyln (1919) carried 12st 7lb to victory in the Grand National.

Does Cloth Cap represent Trevor Hemmings best chance of winning another Grand National?

In November, 2020, Trevor Hemmings identified Cloth Cap as one of the two horses most likely to provide him with a record-breaking fourth Grand National winners. For the record, the other one was Deise Aba, a seven-year-old trained by Philip Hobbs, who has failed to complete the course on both attempts, so far, in the 2020/21 National Hunt season.

Cloth Cap, on the other hand, made a respectable seasonal debut when third, albeit no match for the first two, in a handicap chase at Cheltenham in October en route to the Ladbrokes Trophy, formerly the Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup, at Newbury the following month. Carrying minimum weight of 10 stone and sporting first-time cheekpieces, the eight-year-old jumped well at the head of affairs and kept on strongly in the closing stages to win, comfortably, by 10 lengths.

Cloth Cap has yet to win over further, but did finish third, beaten just 4 lengths, on his one and only attempt over a marathon trip, in the Scottish Grand National at Ayr in April, 2019, which augurs well for his stamina over 4 miles 2½ furlongs at Aintree. He has won four of his 16 steeplechases, all on good or good to soft going and, although he did fall once over hurdles at Ayr, he has jumped around Ascot, Cheltenham (twice) and Newbury without incident. Cloth Cap has no experience over the idosyncratic National fences, but is currently available at 25/1 ante post, which could look generous by the time April, 2021 rolls around.

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