It’s that very exciting time of year again: gearing up for the Grand National. We all know the story of how Captain Martin Becher gave his name to Becher’s Brook by flying over the fence without his mount, Conrad, and landing in the brook on the other side in the first Grand National in 1839. It’s claimed that he emerged sodden from the brook, declaring that until then he hadn’t know how ‘dreadful water tastes without whisky in it’.
…the history behind the eponymous Valentine’s Brook comes from an equally notable event a few years later.
http://www.sportspages.com/horse_racing/postcards/courses/aintree_valentines_brook_15226?search&q=15226. In 1840, jockey Alan Power bet that he would be leading the race at the halfway mark on his mount, Valentine. Bizarrely, the horse seemed to consider briefly how to change the course of events himself: Power was urging the horse on a furlong clear of the field as the pair approached a fence. At that point Valentine slowed almost to a walk as if he were going to pull up. Only at the last moment did the horse seem to have a change of heart (possibly aided by some urgent ‘encouragement’ from his rider) and produced a spectacular corkscrew-type leap, clearing both the fence and the brook. I doubt the horse gained knowledge or pleasure from having a fence named after him but it’s still quite an achievement. I’m looking forward to what horse/rider combination is going to surprise us this year. Any thoughts?