Rhyme ‘N’ Reason

Rhyme ‘N’ Reason Owned by Miss Juliet Reed and trained by David Elsworth at Whitsbury Manor Stables near Fordingbridge, Hampshire, Rhyme ‘N’ Reason is best remembered for winning the Grand National, on his first and last appearance, in 1988. However, earlier in his career, when trained by David Murray Smith, he’d won the Mumm Novices’ Chase at the Grand National Meeting and the Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse and, two seasons later, remained a force to be reckoned with in staying chases.

Indeed, your correspondent witnessed his first win of the 1987/88 season, in the Lingfield Park Handicap Chase on December 12, 1987. Carrying just 10st 1lb, Rhyme ‘N’ Reason was last of the six runners at the end of the first circuit – provoking a snide “never trust a Welshman” from a colleague to whom I’d advised him at 4/1 – but eventually won comfortably by 5 lengths.

Notwithstanding a fall in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, which his jockey, Brendan Powell Snr., maintains he would otherwise have won, Rhyme ‘N’ Reason was defeated just twice in six starts en route to Aintree the following April. He was beaten a length by Playschool in the Welsh National at Chepstow and 8 lengths by subsequent Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Charter Party in the Gainsborough Handicap Chase at Sandown, but nevertheless well fancied for the National at 10/1 joint second favourite.

His cause was aided by the fall of 17/2 favourite Sacred Path at the first fence but, according to Powell, “At Becher’s Rhyme ‘N’ Reason did the splits and sat down and I thought that was our chance gone.” However, the nine-year-old recovered and steadily crept back into contention, taking the lead at Valentine’s Brook. Durham Edition, ridden by Chris Grant, passed him on the run-in, but Rhyme ‘N’ Reason rallied to win by 4 lengths.


Bobbyjo Bobbyjo, who won the Grand National in 1999, became the first Irish-trained winner of the world’s greatest steeplechase for 24 years. In fact, he was saddled by Tommy Carberry – who as a jockey, rode the last winner from the Emerald Isle, L’Escargot, in 1975 – and ridden by his son, Paul.

Bred by Liam Skehan and owned by Robert “Bobby” Burke, Bobbyjo was the subject of a major gamble on the day of the race and was sent off fourth favourite of the 32 runners, at 10/1, despite racing from 14lb out of the handicap. Tommy Carberry said later, “Before the race I knew the horse was a stone wrong in the handicap, but he [jockey Paul Carberry] didn’t know that, and I didn’t tell him.”

In any event, under a typically patient ride from Carberry Jnr., the nine-year-old travelled well throughout the four-and-a-half mile contest, but wasn’t asked for an effort until the fourth last fence. Slightly outpaced with two to jump, he was one of half a dozen horses still in contention at the final fence but, switched right to deliver his challenge, drew clear in the closing stages for an emphatic, 10-length victory. Blue Charm finished second, at 25/1, with Call It A Day, at 7/1, a neck behind in third place.

Bobbyjo ran in the Grand National again in 2000 but, carrying his correct weight of 11st 6lb, weakened from Becher’s Brook on the second circuit to finish eleventh of 17 finishers behind Papillon. He never won again.


Reynoldstown Reynoldstown, owned and trained by Major Noel Furlong, had the distinction of winning two consecutive Grand Nationals, in 1935 and 1936, on his first two attempts. On the first occasion, Golden Miller, the winner in 1934, started 2/1 favourite – the shortest-priced favourite in the history of the Grand National – but, controversially, unseated rider Gerry Wilson at the Canal Turn on the first circuit. In an eventful race, in which only four of the 27 starters finished, with 17 falling before halfway, amateur rider Frank Furlong, the son of the trainer, steered a safe passage on Reynoldstown. The eight-year-old led over Becher’s Brook on the second circuit and remained prominent until taking a definite advantage between the last two fences and staying on well to beat Blue Prince by 3 lengths at odds of 22/1.

The following year, Reynoldstown carried top weight of 12st 2lb and was ridden by Fulke Walwyn, who was still an amateur at the time. Having jumped Valentine’s Brook on the second circuit almost upsides leader Davy Jones, Reynoldstown stumbled at the next fence, losing ground, but the pair remained clear of their pursuers. Coming back onto the racecourse proper, Reynoldstown made headway again and already looked the likely winner when Davy Jones ran out at the final fence with a broken rein. Consequently, Reynoldstwon only had to be pushed out to beat Ego by 12 lengths. In so doing, he not only became the most notable winner of Fulke Walwyn’s riding career, but the first horse to win back-to-back Nationals since Poethlyn 18 years earlier.

Despite winning on his first two attempts, Reynoldstown never ran in the Grand National again. Consequently, of the seven horses who have won two, or more, Grand Nationals, Reynoldstown is the only with a 100% record.