Story of Shaun Spadah: How Grand National Winner of 1921 Was Prepared for Race, Daily Racing Form, 1922-12-27


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STORY OF SHAM SPADAH How Grand National Winner of 1921 Was Prepared for Race. Patriot McKenna, His Breeder, Bought ltnsialka, Dam of Jumping Crack, from Friend at 1olitical Dinner. The Grand National Steeplechase, run at the Aintree course, Liverpool, England, is the greatest jumping race in the world. The fences are higher and more difficult than on any other course, the distance of four miles and 856 yards is sufficient to try the stamina of the stoutest horse, and the various natural hazards of the course are such as to make completion of the course a genuine accomplishment. The winners of the Grand National for the most part have been horses of unusual jumping quality. Many steeplechasers of sensational ability have tried to win the Aintree "blue riband" of races through the field and failed, and it is not unusual for some despised outsider, whose chances prior to the running have attracted little or no interest from the followers of the future books, to carry his rider to the finish line in front of the others. The winners of this great race for the most part have been seasoned campaigners horses which have gone through years of active competition in England and Ireland before attempting this most difficult cf all steeplechases. Often they arc horses which have failed to show more than ordinary ability over the other jumping courses, but which have the exceptional and peculiar qualities which give them the edge over the Aintree ground. AX INTERESTING CAREER. Not the least interesting of these Grand National winners is Sliaun Spadah, which won the race in 1921. Sliaun Spadah was bred at Streamstown, County Westmeath, Ireland, by Patrick Mc-Kenna, who is a prominent figure in Irish livestock circles. At one lime he took an active part in politics. An ardent supporter of John Redmond, he twice tried to secure a seat in Parliament, first at the general election of 1909, when he was the Nationalist candidate for North "Westmeath, and again at the bye-election in South Longford in 1917. In the latter contest he was beaten by thirty-seven votes. The idea may cross the readers mind that these political allusions have nothing to do with the immediate business in hand. As a matter of fact, however, it was during the election campaign of 1909 that there took place a transaction which is really the beginning of the Shaun Spadah story. Michael Cleary, a veterinary surgeon at Mullin-gar, gave a dinner in honor of Mr. McKenna, so that he might meet some of his supporters. Mr. Cleary had for many years been a breeder of bloodstock. Hayden, winner of the Jubilee Handicap in 1908, was a product of his stud. At the time of the dinner he was disposing of some of his brood rnares, and suggested that Mr. McKenna should buy one of them. EXCITES HIS SrOItTIXG INSTINCT. The latter was not specially interested in bloodstock, but, as he himself expresses it, Mr. Clearys proposal excited his sporting instinct an instinct that is part and parcel of every Irishman and on the recommendation of his host he agreed to take Rusialka, pronounced by Mr. Cleary to be the best of the bunch of mares he was parting with. When the deal was completed the seller, by way of encouragement, made the chance remark, "Maybe youll breed a Grand National winner from her." Rusialka is by Bushey Park Sylvia, by Sylvanus son of Wild Dayrell, from Sheelah, by Artillery. Sylvia, which did not race, was the dam of eight winners, including Gracie, which produced Dinneford, Politesse and Bella Gallina. Sheelah, which was mostly put to half-bred horses, was the dam of Eblana, whose granddaughter, Pella, bred The White Knight- Ultimately Sheelah waa sent to Austria, though twenty-three years old at the time of her deportation. Rusialka had bred two foals when she became the property of Mr. McKenna. She was again in foal to Crathorne, and Mr. Cleary stipulated that he should have the produce. It happened to be a filly, which has become the dam of a winner. One of Mr. McKennas neighbors at Streamstown was Mr. Richard Cleary, brother of Michael. Richard, a trainer of steeplechasers, owned the stallion Easter Prize, and to that horse Rusialka was sent during the stud season of 1910. Shaun Spadah was the result of that mating. While a foal Shaun Spadah was brought to deaths door by eating the berries of a poisonous weed that resembles Indian corn in appearance. Careful nursing pulled him through the illness that and his strong constitution. After that he was kept mainly in a stable and became a great pet of the young members of Mr. McKennas family, who trained him to eat raw eggs. He was often given as many as a dozen a day for the sheer joy of hearing him crunch the shells. Shaun Spadah received the name he bears because of his docility and submissiveness. Shaun is the phonetic spelling of the Gaelic word Sean, which is the English "John." Spadah pronounced "Spoddagh" is the rough, unused portion of a peat bog. Shaun Spadah is, therefore, to be interpreted as "John the Bogman," or "John the Bogtrot-ter," applied to a listless, lazy, long-suffering man reared in a bog. When a yearling Shaun Spadah was sold to Mr. Richard Cleary, who at once had him broken with a view to racing him on the flat the following year. "Not," writes Mr. Cleary, "that I expected much of him in that sphere ; but I find that horses trained as two-year-olds make the best chasers, provided they are not overdone. I sent Shaun Spadah to A. Anthony with instructions .to the effect that unless he thought him a bit extra he was to come back to me in May to ho turned out to grass. Shaun had one race, and though he ran well we thought it better not to keep him in training. He was rested up and two or three weeks prior to the Liverpool ordeal Shaun Spadah won a steeplechase at Kempton Parle After that he never saw a fence until he went to Aintree. Poole does not believe in training Grand National horses over big fences, nor in giving them "long and strong work" in fact, he prides himself on being unorthodox in his methods.

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