Well To Do – 1972 Grand National Winner

Well To Do was the winner of the Grand National in 1972 in what was to be his first and sadly his last appearance at Aintree. He gave his trainer Captain Tim Forster his first of three victories in the National, and to add to the trainer’s joy, he was also his owner.

Well To Do was of an outstanding pedigree having been sired by French stallion Phebus out of Princess Puzzlement – his pedigree could be traced back to three National winners: Gregalach, Reynoldstown and Royal Mail. Bred by Aline Lloyd Thomas whose late husband had owned the 1937 winner Royal Mail, he was bought by Forster as a three year old for £750 on behalf of Mrs Heather Summer.

It was three years before the gelding showed any promise of being a decent racehorse, and after winning a handicap hurdle and five steeplechases, tragically his owner died of cancer. In her will she left Forster whichever one of her five horses he would like, and he chose Well To Do.

Forster wasn’t initially sure about entering Well To Do in the Grand National and had to be convinced by Mrs Summers widower Mr John Summers, just prior to the deadline for entries to enter the horse. On the same day it became apparent that Mr Summers had been right in convincing the trainer to enter the National – the chestnut gelding won a four-mile chase at Cheltenham, coming ahead of Black Secret and Astbury, who had come second and third in the previous year’s National.

Originally the gelding had odds of 33-1, but on the confirmation of jockey Graham Thorner, Well To Do’s odds were backed down to 14-1 making him joint fourth in the betting. L’Escargot was the favourite, having won the Cheltenham Gold Cup twice, but fortunately for Well To Do he was knocked down at the third fence and by the second Becher’s, out of a field of forty-two horses there were but six left in serious contention – Gay Trip and Specify: previous winners of the race, Black Secret, Astbury, General Symons and Well To Do.

As they landed over the last fence Well To Do took a very narrow lead and by the Elbow he was locked in a battle with Gay Trip. It has since been argued that Gay Trip would have won the race had jockey Terry Biddlecombe not gone wide in search of better ground, but that is very much by the by, as this added to his twenty-two pound disadvantage enabled Well To Do to beat him by two lengths, leaving Black Secret and General Symons three lengths behind in joint third place.

Following the National Well To Do won a three mile chase at Towcester which was subsequently named after him. He never did run in the National again and upon his retirement he went back to Mr Summer in Northants, where he died in 1985. He was buried beside the dual National winner Reynoldstown.