April 15, 2024

Foremost pic: Grasp Robert coming into the winner’s circle in 1924 with jockey Bob Trudgill, being led by Lord Airlie, with Aubrey Hastings to the proper smiling. From the gathering of Francis X. Murray. Used with permission.

On this very day in 1924, a Donegal ‘plough horse’ grew to become the unlikely winner of the world-famous Aintree Grand Nationwide.

‘Grasp Robert’, was born, bred and skilled just some miles exterior the border city of Castlefin.

The thoroughbred was raised by Mr Robert McKinlay on his farm at Sessiaghmore, on the again highway between Castlefinn and Convoy. When not on the racing, he was used to plough McKinlay’s land, therefore the nickname ‘plough horse.’ 

In keeping with his grandson, Mr Terence McKinlay, Grasp Robert’s sire (father) was known as ‘Moorside II’ and his dam (mom) was known as ‘Dodds’, acquired from Robert Patterson of Manorcunningham.

When the foal was born he was an “huge measurement” and, when he was two years-old, he was despatched to The Curragh to be skilled by Mr Maurice Reidy. Nonetheless, Mr Reidy wrote to Mr McKinlay to say the horse was “an excessive amount of overgrown” and though quick, he couldn’t compete with the opposite horses of the identical age.

Mr Reidy suggested that the horse be taken again to Castlefin and to make a “chaser of him.” Grasp Robert was skilled as a ‘chaser’ by a Mr Anthony in 1919, nonetheless, he was returned to Mr McKinlay once more as he was deemed to be “no good.”

He additionally refused to work in chains on the farm and was subsequently offered to Mr JT Elliott of Strabane for £50. Mr Elliott saved him for round six weeks and, a part of that point, he was at grass in a discipline subsequent to the Donegal Railway line.

“Someday, when a practice was passing, he took fright, jumped the gates onto the road and galloped alongside the railway observe for about two miles in entrance of the engine,” Mr McKinlay stated.

Grasp Robert was offered a number of instances, together with to Mr HJ Fordham of Royston, Hertfordshire in England in October, 1921. Mr Fordham gained a lot of races with him earlier than promoting him on to Main Sidney Inexperienced and, lastly, to Lord Airlie. The remaining, as they are saying, is historical past.

Jockey Bob Trudgill on 1924 Grand Nationwide winner ‘Grasp Robert’

Now, a New York primarily based Irish-American author, Fran Murray, is planning to show the story of Grasp Robert right into a nonfiction novel. Mr Murray, who runs the web site www.masterrobert.horse, spoke to Donegal Each day this week.

“I imagine this horse has a narrative which reinforces the (Grand Nationwide) occasion’s nice custom, and can curiosity your readers,” he stated.

“Grasp Robert’s achievement is the consummate Grand Nationwide story – occurring when horse racing reigned supreme within the sporting world – that includes an unlikely winner (with an unlikely successful jockey) and a high-profile discipline of horses, jockeys, trainers and homeowners,” he added.

“It was very probably the highest-attended single-day sporting occasion on the planet in 1924 (250,000 estimate, together with King George V).”

In keeping with British Pathé, a world-record 45 cameramen filmed the occasion, representing a milestone within the evolution of reside occasion filming. A British Pathé silent movie of the race could be discovered on-line right here: https://bit.ly/1924GrandNational 

To search out out extra about Mr Murray’s upcoming novel, and to contact him, go to www.masterrobert.horse

Fran Murray at Bryson’s pug, Magherafelt, Co Derry.

Centenary right this moment of Donegal horse’s well-known Grand Nationwide win was final modified: March twenty eighth, 2024 by Cronan Scanlon