Little Polveir

Horses | Last ran in 1989
Dam - Blue Speedwell
Sire - Cantab
Dam's Sire - Escart III
Born - 1977

Little Polveir Grand National Wins

  • 1989 - ridden by Jimmy Frost trained by G B ‘Toby’ Balding

Little Polveir was a Grand National winner in the 1980s, winning the 1989 race in great style. However, there is a lot more behind his story, notably that he ran a total of four times in the race, a feat in itself, and the fact that he was bought just weeks before he won the race, all of which make him an interesting horse in the race’s history.

Foaled in 1977, it was at the end of his racing career when Little Polveir finally tasted success, he was 12 years old when he won the race. That shows perseverance and that the horse didn’t give up, also adding another dimension to the fact that he was bought just weeks before the race. Not too many people buy 12-year-old horses.

Away from the Grand National, he also won the Scottish Grand National during his career, another long-distance race, and both wins came on heavy ground, which was very much to his liking. He ran four times after winning the Grand National but failed to record a win in those, and after being pulled up in a race at the start of 1990, he was retired.

Full Results

Year Result Prize Money Handicap Jockey Trainer
1989 1 £66,840 10-3 Jimmy Frost G B ‘Toby’ Balding
1988 Fence 26 - Unseated Rider - 10-7 Tom Morgan J A C Edwards
1987 Fence 15 - Unseated Rider - 10-2 Colin Brown J A C Edwards
1986 9 - 10-3 Colin Brown J A C Edwards

Winner Of The 1989 Grand National

Little Polveir drawingThere is no doubt that conditions helped Little Polveir win the Grand National, they were perfect for him on the day, but even with that, he still needed to get around safely, jump the fences and win. The betting heat before this race was very strong, with a lot of other horses being talked about, which took the focus away from Little Polveir, even though he had plenty of race experience.

Those wise enough to dive deeper into the formbook will have seen his 1987 Scottish Grand National win, a race over a very similar distance and one on heavy ground, which he won really well. Despite that, he was allowed to go off at odds of 28/1, bigger than you would expect, though of course, his age played a part in that. As did a gamble, Dixton House was backed from 33/1 all the way down to being made 7/1 favourite, thanks to an excellent win at the Cheltenham Festival just a few weeks prior to the National, though he would fall on the first circuit.

Onto Little Polveir in the race, and jockey Jimmy Frost deserves high praise for the ride he gave him. Having his first spin in the National, but you certainly wouldn’t know it, Frost made a decisive race-winning move as early as at the end of the first circuit, which made a real difference to the contest.

He went forward on his mount, one that was loving the ground and would get the distance, as he’d proven that in the past. When Smart Tar fell at fence 21, Little Polveir had lost his closest challenger and was now three lengths clear of the field. From this moment until the end of the race, he would remain three lengths or more clear of the field, and it was all thanks to the initial move on the first circuit to get his horse to the lead and play to his strengths.

West Tip would be the one to come out of the pack and look as though he could make inroads into the lead but wasn’t able to get close, and the official winning distance when the horses crossed the line was seven lengths.

Just 14 of the 40 runners completed the course, this was a tough race with a winning time of over 10 minutes. Of course, that hampered some but certainly played into the strengths of the winner, Little Polveir.

Being Bought Before Winning The Grand National

One of the more fascinating parts of the story that surrounds Little Polveir is the fact that he was bought by a new owner just weeks before winning the 1989 race. As a 12-year-old, this stands out as being a little odd, as we don’t see too many 12-year-old horses bought and sold at that stage in their career.

Edward Harvey was the man that purchased the runner, taking him away from a group of four people who all owned the horse previously in a partnership. They’d taken the horse through his career and had some very good days, including his Scottish Grand National win in 1987.

They’d been to Aintree for the Grand National three times but failed each time, only completing the course once. They decided to sell after receiving a bid for the horse but would, of course, go on to regret that, given what happened a few weeks later.

For Harvey, he bought a Grand National winner just weeks before he was going to run. Of course, when buying, he knew he wouldn’t have the horse for long and got just four more runs out of him during the following season, all without success, but that doesn’t matter, he bought a Grand National winner, and that is what the deal was all about.

Little Polveir’s Early Years

Little Polveir spent the first part of his career going over fences, and during that time, he was already running over long distances. It was clear what his future was going to be about later down the line.

Prior to winning the Scottish Grand National in April 1987, the horse had been running at a fairly low level, with no big wins to his name. This was the win he needed, though, to get onto the big stage. He would go on to run in many more big races.

Little Polveir’s Big Race Wins

Little Polveir wasn’t really a prolific winner during his career, and when he did find the winner’s enclosure, it was mainly in lower-grade races.

However, he did have two very big days, when he won the Aintree Grand National and the Scottish Grand National. Both wins came on heavy ground, which was a key theme for his wins. He needed some cut in the ground to be seen at his best.

A win in the Scottish Grand National would come at the peak of his career and set him up as a well-known staying chaser.

His Grand National win, rather unusually, came at the very end of his career as a 12-year-old, but he didn’t let age stop him, coming up with a fantastic performance to take the race. A four-time runner in the contest, the winner of one Grand National, and a horse who had the staying power, determination and ability to go and win a big one, which he did in 1989.