Welcome to a new post here at zoelouisesmithx.com. Today’s post is a new post in my Horse Racing History series. I hope you enjoy!
The 1908 Grand National was a strange one because the horse who won it had actually already been retired. How? Why? So many questions. So let’s get right into it!
Rubio was an American bred racehorse. He was bred by James Ben Ali Haggin in the Rancho del Paso stud in California in 1898 by Star Ruby out of La Touera. As a yearling Rubio was sent to the United Kingdom when he was purchased for 15 guineas by a Northamptonshire farmer and horse dealer Septimus Clark in 1899. He then sold him to Major Frank Douglas-Pennant for 95 guineas. As a four year old Rubio was sent hunting. However, being a good judge of horses, Major Frank Douglas-Pennant soon noticed that he had a lot more to him than most of the horses around him so he made the decision to look to sell him as a potential racehorse with a reserve of 60 guineas. However, he failed to reach his reserve so therefore Major Frank Douglas-Pennant decided to send Rubio as a 5 year old to be trained as a racehorse with the successful trainer Brian Bletsoe.
Rubio started as a relatively successful horse. In his first season he won three races from three starts, however very soon after he broke down badly and his vet advised him to be removed from training. Based on this advice Rubio was sent to the landlord of the Prospect Arms Hotel in Towcester to ferry guests between the station and the hotel. Rubio seemed to enjoy his new role and in 1906, just three years later, it was decided that Rubio would go back into training as a racehorse once again.
This time, Rubio entered into training as a racehorse with Fred Withington. He got back to race fitness and ran once in his first season, this time at Kempton where he finished third. In 1907, Rubio only ran 3 times, including one win at Towcester where he carried 12 stone.
We then move into the most fascinating year, 1908. Rubio was doing well, so it was decided he would be entered into the Grand National. However, he wasn’t fancied at all, he wasn’t even the most fancied in his own stable. Another horse also trained by Fred Withington called Mattie McGregor was the most fancied horse of the stable. Therefore first class jockey Ernest Piggott was given the ride on Mattie McGregor and the stable jockey William Bissill was given the ride on Rubio. It is said that Bissill was very unhappy about being given the second string horse to ride, however Piggott was riding in France for a regular owner he rode for and they would not release him to ride Mattie McGregor. It was then decided stable jockey Bissill would ride Mattie McGregor and a jockey who had previously won on Rubio as a 5 year old Henry Bletsoe would ride him. However, sources also say that Rubio was then trained by William Costello, so therefore it was not the same stable which caused so much drama between the jockeys in the first place.
There were 24 runners in the race and it was the 1905 winner Kirkland who headed the betting. However at a massive 66/1, Rubio ended up beating Mattie McGregor and winning the race. This was the first time a horse who had retired to do another job was actually brought back and managed to win a Grand National.
Sadly, Rubio returned in 1909 however fell at the water jump. He returned to the stables and the vets found he had broken down again so the decision was made to retire him completely from racing with immediate effect.
So there we have it, a retired horse winning one of the biggest races in the world. An incredible story to research and I had to share! My history series is a very interesting one, but they always seem to be shorter posts, however I hope you enjoyed it and I shall see you in my next post!