The Race at Aintree

By TOM LAVIN

BECTIVE HOUSE, BECTIVE, Co. MEATH
17th Nov. 1931
DEAR MR. BIRD : —
First I want to say that you missed one of the greatest sights that has ever been seen over Aintree Course at Liverpool. It is something that I shall remember all my life.
The only thing I can say about the mare is that she must have wings on her heart, or ot herwise she could never have performed as she has done.
I sent you a lot of “cuttings” and I have some more to send. They will explain a part of the performance and give you a small idea of the excitement and enthusiasm over the race.
If she had been running in Punchestown, or Fairyhouse, one would not have been surprised at such a reception, but when one considers it, half the City of Dublin, almost all Meath (I might say), and also the Irish in Liverpool, in fact, I think everybody at Aintree, gave her a cheer.
Now, as I saw the race, I want to describe it.
When I walked the course all round and looked carefully at every jump (on Wednesday) I made up my mind then that it was an impossibility for the mare to jump the course, especially as it was her first experience over such terrific fences. However, I took my place on the Grand Stand on Thursday just as the horses paraded down, right opposite the water jump. I need hardly say that I shivered wit h excitement until the horses started. I had a good pair of field glasses and I never lost sight of the mare from start to finish.
She was first across the first jump, — 2 lengths ahead, — then she was on even terms with “ Polorus Jack” and “Cold Punch.” She came to the water jump with desperate determination as she was fighting for her head and she crossed the jump 3rd, taking off about 3 yards in front of it, and landing about 2 yards clear of it. You could hear everybody on the stand say “Oh! what a jump!” Going through the gates she got on even terms with “Polorus Jack” and they raced neck to neck until they came to the Canal turn, where the mare took about 3 lengths off him on that jump. She led then for a good part of the way until “Sir Lindsay” came up to her. This was round the corner opposite the cottages, about 3 or 4 jumps from home where “Sir Lindsay” led her for about less than a quarter of a mile. Between the second and last jump for home they raced neck to neck, both taking off exactly together at the last jump, the mare gaining on that jump about 2 lengths, and then on the fiat run home she absolutely walked away from him leaving him eight or nine lengths behind with “Annadale” about three lengths behind “Sir Lindsay.”
Both “Sir Lindsay” and “Annadale” were dead beat and staggered home. The condit ion of “ Heartbreak Hill” when she finished surprised everybody. She was quite fresh and had not a hair turned on her. I looked her very carefully over and I could not find even a scratch on her.
I believe Mr. Ussher was the happiest man ever stood on Aintree Course. I stood in the ring with Air. Ussher and Mrs. Croft waiting for the mare to come in. Farrell, the groom, led her in. She was stopped by the crowd outside the ring and Mr. Ussher and I went to the rescue and got her through the crowd. We were almost mobbed.
I went over on Tuesday night with Air. Ussher as it, was impossible to get a berth on the boat Wednesday night. I came home on Friday.
The bookmakers in Navan and Trim were simply robbed and some of them were not able to pay.
Now I will stop alt ho I could go on for a month and in the end I could not have told it all.
All the English reporters were after Harry Ussher over the question of her being in the Stud book as going to America and Harry Ussher referred them to me, so I think we straightened the matter out right there and then. But of course it cannot be taken out of the Stud book until the next issue.
Then another question arose as to “Don Juan.” As you know there were two “Don Juans” in Ireland. One was a French horse but thank God he was not the sire of “Heartbreak Hill.”
Now I want to thank you for sending me to Liverpool and suggesting to pay my expenses. I had a small bet on “Heartbreak Hill” for myself which just cleared all my expenses nicely. I had also 10s. for Mrs. Larin and Mary and 5s. for Christine and Maggie. All the help on the place had their week’s pay on her. I believe Kevin got £9.
Mr. Ussher is very confident of the mare for the Grand National, and I can say on the way she finished and so full of going that she could have gone another mile quite easily at the same pace.
As ever,
TOM