Bell’s Life and the Sporting Chronicle provided a detailed account of the race on Saturday 10th March 1866, the article forming the backbone of the information shown below.
Although the racing press had, up to this point, been critical of the race as a handicap, there was a noticeable change in attitude this year, commenting ‘Recent judicious changes, which cannot be too highly appreciated, to say nothing of the magnificent amount of money added by Messrs Topham, have rendered the Aintree cross-country contest once more worthy of the title Grand National.’ The delayed start, 20 minutes after the appointed time, was due to a hold up at the scales because of the large field of 30 runners, rather than the fault of Mr Marshall, the starter. Sir William refused to start, a trait shown in previous races, but Thomastown and Mistake were not so reticent, setting a brisk early gallop. Over the first fence Ace of Hearts took up the mantle, but Ibex hit the fence so hard that he fell into the ditch and lay there unharmed until extricated after the race. At the second Ace of Hearts blundered into the dyke and threw out about 20 of his rivals, leaving Creole at the head of affairs. At the third the field was reduced still further by the falls of King of Hearts and Philosopher, a much reduced number led by Creole on towards Beecher’s Brook. He led by several lengths from Hall Court, Mistake and Milltown, continuing his front running tactics over Valentine’s Brook, where Hall Court hit the rail and pitched headlong, his jockey doing well to keep the partnership intact. On the racecourse proper, Creole led the way from Philosopher and the newly energised Hall Court, this trio setting a brisk pace on to the second circuit. Over Beecher’s and Valentine’s Creole remained a healthy leader, although Merrimac, Salamander and Cortolvin began to emerge as threats. As the final hurdle came into view, Creole and Salamander were clear of their opponents, but Salamander was still full of running and proved the stronger by fully 10 lengths. Four lengths behind was Cortolvin, who passed the gallant Creole on the run-in, while Lightheart was fourth, Merrimac fifth, and The Doctor walked over the line in sixth place.