‘Grakle’ won the Grand National Steeplechase in 1931 and his owner, Mr Cecil Rowson Taylor, lived at Brook Hall, Chester Road, Tattenhall. Mr Cecil Rowson Taylor was a cotton broker in Liverpool and was President of the Liverpool Cotton Association Ltd between 1927-28. He was also a racehorse owner. In celebration of Grakle’s Grand National success, Mr Taylor is said to have distributed a half crown piece to every child in the village. ‘Grakle’ is buried in the grounds of Brook Hall, having died in 1940.
The race, at that time over 30 obstacles and worth £9,310 to the winner, is likely to have been just as captivating in the 1930s as currently. In fact, the circuit may have been relatively more challenging since in recent years it has been significantly modified to reduce the number of injuries and fatalities. ‘Grakle’ at his fifth attempt, trained by Tom Coulthwaite and ridden by jockey Robert V Lyall, recorded a record time.
The Grand National Trophy, shown below, is solid silver and measures 31 inches across (from the tip of each handle) and stands 21 inches high (including the plinth). The relative of Cecil Taylor who kindly provided this image for the Website, stated that she ‘could barely hold it’.
The inscription reads: ‘Grand National Steeplechase’ 1931 won by Cecil R Taylor’s ‘Grakle’ in record time 9 minutes 32 1/5 seconds. Trained by T Coulthwaite. Ridden by RV Lyall.
The Jockey’s Trophy awarded to Robert Lyall is seen below.The Trophy is a silver gilt twin handled cup, made in London around 1930, and mounted on an ebonised plinth base with a silver plaque inscribed ‘Rider’s Cup’. Jockey Robert Lyall’s career ended shortly after this win when he was crippled in a point to point accident.
‘Grakle’ was also regularly ridden by Keith Piggott (father of the illustrious Lester Piggott) but injury denied him a National victory as a jockey. Ironically, Keith Piggott was injured with a thigh problem at the time of the 1931 Grand National Steeplechase.
The 1931 Grand National footage and clip can be viewed in black and white as presented by The Pathe Gazette (www.britishpathe.com – ‘The Grand National 1931’ – Version 1) and shows ‘Grakle’ triumphant at his fifth attempt and in record time. Both the horse and rider are shown being led into the winner’s enclosure accompanied by a police rider, together with throngs of applauding enthusiasts. The film includes footage of at least 16 of the 30 fences.
‘Grakle’ was a beast of a horse who required expert handling, in fact the ‘Grakle’ noseband (sometimes called a figure of eight) was named after him. It was designed specifically to contol him as he was renouned for pulling hard during a race.
Mr Cecil Rowson Taylor died in 1941 and left an estate of £197,362. He bequeathed £500 to each of his stable lads as well as bequests to servants, his hairdresser, and £50 to Thomas Davenport, employee at Tattenhall Railway Station.