This was run on average going and the weather was clear. It took place on 26th March and the time was 10 mins 14 3/5 secs.


When Old Joe won the National in record time for owner Johnstone Douglas he is reported to have made his owner 14000, the equivalent in today's terms of just under 1 million. It is further believed that Tommy Skelton received 1000 (equivalent to 70000 in todays money) as a gift from the grateful owner. Indeed Tom was lucky to have picked up the chance ride when his owner could not make the weight of 10st 9 lb.

Old Joe.JPG (146385 bytes)

The picture shown above is of Old Joe, but with owner Johnstone Douglas in the saddle. It was left to professional rider Tom Skelton to guide the winner home. It is widely believed that Tom Skelton was his professional riding name, but that his real name was Tom Tagg. Thomas Cheshire Tagg was born in 1868 at Newhall, South Derbyshire, son of Thomas Tagg and Elizabeth Cheshire. He rode his first winner in 1879, a flat race at Lichfield, but it was in steeplechasing that he was to make his name. He rode in the Grand National 7 times and, remarkably, he was placed third, first, second and fourth in his first 4 attempts before being unplaced on 3 subsequent attempts. Burgh trainer George Mulcaster acknowledged after the race that Old Joe had shown signs of lameness before the race and that he had considered withdrawing him.

Rumour has it that, at one stage in his career, Old Joe had pulled a milkcart.

I am indebted to Angie Heape, a distant relation of Tom Tagg, for the pictures on this page, and to her daughter Francesca who has inherited racing blood from her famous relation.

The picture below shows the house, 62 Grange Street, Burton on Trent, where Tom Tagg spent his early years.

Tom Tagg house.JPG (69712 bytes)

The picture opposite shows Tom Tagg as a famous coachman on the London to Dorking route.

Pos. Horse Jockey Owner
1 OLD JOE T Skelton Mr Douglas
2 TOO GOOD Mr H Beasley Count Erdody
3 GAMECOCK W E Stephens Mr E Jay
4 MAGPIE Mr W Woodland Mr E Woodland
also THE BADGER A Nightingale Baron C de Tuyll
also CORONET Captain Lee-Barber Mr J G Muir
also CORTOLVIN W Dollery Mr Abington
also LADY TEMPEST Mr W Beasley Mr P M V Saurin
also ROQUEFORT Mr E P Wilson Mr A Cooper
also FRIGATE Mr J Jones Mr Broadwood
also REDPATH Mr G Lambton Mr P J Zigomala
also JOLLY SIR JOHN Mr C N Waller Mr F Gibhard
also BLACK PRINCE Mr Nightingall Captain Machell
also BILLET DOUX J Behan M Zborowski
also THE LIBERATOR Mr S Woodland jnr Mr E Woodland
also BELMONT Westlake Mr J Daly
also HARRISTOWN Mr J Purcell Mr J Purcell
also FONTENOY J Page Mr Iquique
also SINBAD A Hall Mr L de Rothschild
also SAVOYARD G Kirby Baron W Schroeder
also LIMEKILN W Brockwell M Zborowski
also AMICIA F W Cotton Mr H Wood
also CONSCRIPT H Escott Captain Child
3/1 Coronet Tom Tagg coach.JPG (102008 bytes)
5/1 Roquefort
7/1 Too Good
9/1 Frigate
100/6 Redpath
22/1 Lady Tempest
22/1 Savoyard
25/1 Sinbad
25/1 Old Joe
25/1 Amicia
25/1 The Badger
33/1 Belmont
40/1 Jolly Sir John  
50/1 Gamecock
50/1 Black Prince
50/1 Cortolvin
66/1 Harristown
100/1 The Liberator
100/1 Conscript
100/1 Billet Doux
200/1 Magpie
200/1 Fontenoy

Tom Tagg 2.JPG (63873 bytes)

I am indebted to John Davis, the Great Grandson of Thomas Cheshire Tagg.   Tom Tagg (Skelton) rode in 6 Grand Nationals.   The first in 1885 he came 3rd on Black Prince, in 1886 1st on Old Joe and in 1887 2nd on Savoyard.   He rode Ringlet to 4th in 1888 and in 1889/90 on both occasions he rode Voluptuary.  He also rode on the continent and his first race was on the flat at Lichfiel which he won.   He was 11 years old. Tom also won several other big races such as the Grand Sefton and the Lancashire Chase on Savoyard in 1887.   In 1887 he also won the Prince of Wales Chase on Scottish Minstrel and in 1888 he won the Sandown Grand Prize on Astrakan.    By 1891 he was on the road coaches and competing in tournaments against the likes of The Fownes Brothers, Alfred Vanderbilt and Bertram Mills.   He drove the Perseverance, Londo to Dorking 1897 to 1911 and the Raynard and Red Rover coaches from 1911 to 1914.   He trained racehorses from about 1919 to 1936 at his own stables at Woodlands Road Stables in Barnes, Surrey.   From here he went to work for Bertram Mills the owner and creator of the famous Bertram Mills Circus.    Mr Mills was a friend of Toms for over 40 years and in 1938 Tom became Master of the Horse for Mills until his death in 1946.  

I am very grateful to both John Davis and Jacky Jones for carrying out such detailed research. Unbelievably, John was able to get hold of an newspaper account of the race and allowed it to be included below:-

tom tagg 1886.JPG (556683 bytes)

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