Sunday, 11 April 2010

The Story of Sprig

Many congratulations to Don't Push It for his Grand National win on Saturday, and to Tony McCoy, winning at last after 15 rides in the race.

In 1927 the Grand National was won by a horse called Sprig.   Sprig (by Marco out of Spry) was bred in Herefordshire by my husband's great-uncle, Dick Partridge.   Capt. Partridge had always intended to ride his horse in the Grand National, but sadly he was killed in 1918, with just weeks to go before the end of the war.   His mother decided to fulfil her son's dream and sent Sprig to leading trainer Tom Leader.   He proved very successful over both hurdles and jumps, and after two unsuccessful runs in the big race, finally won in 1927, ridden by his trainer's son, Ted, and carrying 12st. 4lb, more than any horse has won with since (or ever will, since top weights are now much less).

Apart from Sprig's win, the race was notable for two other reasons:  the King was present, and congratulated Mrs. Partridge, and it was the first time the race had been broadcast.   In the Golden Valley, Sprig's home in Herefordshire, people coming home from hunting that Saturday heard all the church bells in the valley ringing and knew that their local horse had won.

Mrs. Partridge and Sprig

Sprig eventually retired to Herefordshire and lived to a good old age.   When he died he was buried in one of the fields, but my mother-in-law decided to preserve some mementoes of him, so she had him dug up again and cut off his tail and his hooves - which we still have!

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