Lucius Grand National Wins
- 1978 - ridden by Bob Davies trained by Gordon W Richards
A one-time runner in the Grand National and one-time winner, Lucius took the race in 1978. Unfortunately, we were not able to see him defend his crown, which is disappointing because he was still in the prime of his career, injury the following season cut that short.
However, he did have one win to his name in a race that had a dramatic ending to it. Any one of five runners could have won as the horses hit the elbow, but it was Lucius that stuck it out the best to come out on top by half a length.
The Grand National would be the final time we saw him race, disappointingly, and he was unable to defend the title he won.
Winner Of The 1978 Grand National
In the build-up to the 1978 Grand National, all the talk was about Red Rum. He was going to attempt a fourth Grand National success, but eventually, he didn’t make the race due to injury. Earlier in the season, Lucius had won three minor events, moving up in the weights, but it was two narrow defeats right before his National run that really put him into the picture.
As high as 40/1 at one point before these runs, he was sent off as a 14/1 shot on the day, with plenty of people hoping that the horse would continue to show the improvement we had seen from him throughout the season and go on to win this.
The drama would come right before the race, however. Regular pilot David Goulding was supposed to take the mount on the Gordon Richards trained runner but suffered an injury which kept him out of the race. Of the spare riders at Aintree on the day, Richards chose Bob Davies, the former champion jockey, to take the ride.
When jumping on his back in the parade ring, it was the first time that Davies had sat on Lucius, the pair had no rapport whatsoever. This was clear to see in the opening stages of the race, and it wasn’t until the second circuit that Davies began to take a few risks, looked comfortable with the horse, and actually tried to put him in the race to win it.
The field was still well bunched, and there were plenty of runners left in the race too. Ground described as good, combined with a steady pace, led to a slightly easier test than normal, despite the marathon trip here.
Coming to the last, Davies had really found a rhythm on Lucius, and they were one of five potential winners of the race as they came up the home straight. Lucius was going well and staying on strongly, but Sebastian V and Drumroan were both also closing well and trying to catch Davies on the leader.
The pair managed to kick again and kept a narrow distance between them and the chasing pack, reaching the line first for Lucius to take the title. The official winning distance was just half a length, the front five were separated by very little, and the race will go down as being one of the closest, best fought finishes of the Grand National.
It was the first time that Lucius had been in the race and also the last time we would see him. For jockey Bob Davies, this would be his first win in the contest, at his fourth attempt, and just the second time he had completed the course. Trainer Gordon Richards was also winning his first Grand National, though he would go on to have further success in the race some years later.
Injury Brings An End To Career Early
As mentioned, the win in 1978 would be the one and only time that we saw Lucius in the Grand National, which was a real shame. He won the race as a nine-year-old, so he was still in the prime of his racing career.
However, injury the following season would rule him out of defending his crown and would also force him to retire early from the sport. A slow and steady grower, it wasn’t until the 1978 race that Lucius was deemed good enough to get into the race, so he wasn’t able to compete prior to his win.
Given that we went through the 70s with a number of horses dominating the Grand National, it was disappointing not to have the winner defending his crown at the end of the decade, especially as the horse would have still been young enough to do himself justice.
Lucius’ Big Race Wins
For the vast majority of his career, Lucius was running in lower-grade races, he rarely moved into the better end of the racing calendar. His wins all came at a relatively low level before the Grand National, and this was mainly due to him being a slow, steady improver, who was able to go through the handicap weights and keep finding a little more to win races.
Even in the year of his Grand National success, he won three times before the big one, but these were all at the start of that season and in lower-grade races.
He did run in both the Yorkshire Chase at Doncaster and Whitley Chase at Haydock in his build-up to the Grand National, two strong races for staying chase horses. Despite running well in these and giving further hope of his Grand National credentials, he wasn’t able to win either.
His biggest day in the sun came shortly after, the one and only big win of his racing career, the 1978 Grand National.