Bell’s Life and the Sporting Chronicle provided a detailed account of the race on Saturday 28th March 1874, the article forming the backbone of the information shown below.
In the six weeks leading up to the big race, after the weights had been published, it was believed that less had been wagered ‘ante-post’. The leading racing paper of the day reported,’ To attribute this market apathy to any decline in popularity of the cross-country blue riband would be misguided, many of the present generation of chasers continue to provide great sport, whilst many owners of horses possess a greater ambition to win the National that the Derby, exchanging financial rewards for glory. There are some who surmise that the Royal Chase at Bristol seriously affects the attractiveness of the Grand National, but Mr Topham has reacted positively by increasing added money to £800 this year’. Once the long-awaited day arrived the jockeys seemed reluctant to mount, but after a couple of failures the flag fell at 3.30pm, a quarter of an hour after the appointed time. There was a level start, with Bretby, Chimney Sweep, Daybreak and Congress the first to show, but at the first fence there were falls by Congress and Last of the Lambs. At the second fence Ouragan II took a 6 length lead from Chimney Sweep and Daybreak, maintaining a strong gallop over the next few obstacles until he reached Becher’s Brook holding a five length advantage. Daybreak was a clear second, with her immediate successors being Merlin, Columbine and Chimney Sweep. With Valentine’s behind him the leader powered on to the canal side holding a commanding lead over Daybreak, while Bretby drew into third place. The Stand Water was cleared and the field took to the country again, although before reaching the first fence on the next circuit Ouragan II was joined by Columbine, the pair being attended by Eurotas, Merlin and Daybreak. Ouragan II got a second wind over Becher’s, maintaining this lead to Valentine’s whereupon Columbine and Merlin both passed him.
It’s now over the John Hanmer in the Stands for the rest of the commentary which is shown below.
The pace increased, putting paid to the chances of Furley and Congress, and the leading pair raced to the final fence in the country enjoying each other’s company until Columbine fell at the fence. This left Merlin to join the course proper with a dozen lengths lead from Chimney Sweep and Reugny. Merlin tried valiantly to keep his foes at bay, but at the second last flight of hurdles Reugny took the lead, powering on strongly to the last with a seemingly unassailable lead. However, he hit the timber, which knocked him off balance, but he had sufficient in hand to score by 6 lengths from Chimney Sweep who beat his stable companion Merlin by 4 lengths. At the same interval Defence claimed fourth, Master Mowbray was fifth and Disturbance sixth.