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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Do You Know Battleship?

While reading Battleship by Dorothy Ours I fell in love with the titular horse – the perpetual underdog. I wanted to share some facts about him with you all today, so that you might find an interest in learning more about his story.

battleship horse
Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Did you know that Battleship is the only horse to have ever won both the American Grand National and Grand National steeplechase races?

  • This is even all the more impressive when you learn that the American Grand National has been run since 1899 and the Grand National has been run since 1839!
  • Battleship won the American Grand National in 1934 and the Grand National in 1938.
  • His jockey was Carroll K. Bassett at the American Grand National and Bruce Hobbs (who was 17) for the Grand National.

Now would be a good time to give a quick explanation of the American Grand National and the Grand National and what steeplechasing is:

  • Steeplechase is a style of horse racing where thoroughbred horses jump fence, obstacles, ditches, bushes, water, etc while racing through the countryside. The race distance is typically 2-3 miles.

Battleship at the far right of the photo coming over a hedge jump
Photo Credits: Montpelier Collection

  • The American Grand National is held in the United States at various race tracks – today known as the Breeder’s Cup Grand National Steeplechase (to confuse you even more)
  • The Grand National is held in Liverpool, England at the Aintree Racecourse. The jumps here are some of the most challenging with larger jumps that those found elsewhere.

Diagram of the Aintree course with the famed jumps labeled
Photo Credit: Wikipedia

  • These two races have the greatest winnings (purse) of all the steeplechase races.

Battleship was originally trained for flat racing – which is where horses race over a flat distance without hurdles.

  • He was purchased by Marion DuPont in 1931 and he was introduced to steeplechase at her farm at Montpelier, VA.

Battleship and Marion DuPont
Photo Credit: Montpelier Collection

  • He is also notable as being the son of the famed Man O’ War.

Battleship also stands out among steeplechase race horses as he was a stallion. The majority of steeplechase horses are gelded in order to prevent them from lifting their hips too high while leaping the obstacles to protect themselves. This leads to an easier and safer ride. No stallion has won the race since he did.

Battleship was retired following the Grand National, was retired to stud, sired 58 offspring, and died at the old age of 31 and is buried at Montpelier.

If you should happen to be visiting Montpelier before November there is an exhibit of Battleship being featured in the William DuPont Gallery at the Montpelier visitor center.


Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court

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