The word ‘win’ does not even come close to Mr. What’s slaughter in ’58. He won by an incredible 30 lengths; the longest winning distance since 1893.
Owned by Mr. D. Coughlan but more noteably trained by Tom Taafe, the horse won in a time of 9 minutes and 59 seconds in heavy conditions. Taafe had originally wanted his son to ride for them, but contract implications to Ballydoyle hindered a family affair.
A week out, Taafe called upon the Queen Mother’s jockey, Arthur Freeman, to race for him. I do not think even he knew the opportunity that had fallen into his lap.
Freeman took Mr. What to the middle of the pack as Never Say When took the lead at the start. As the second circuit began, Mr. What seemed to transform into a completely different horse.
Realising the slow pace, Freeman made a decision to push Mr. What to the front and calmly drew alongside Athenian and Goosander. As those two struggled, Mr. What had plenty left in the tank and comfortably went through the gears to take the lead.
In merely a few fences, Mr. What had a substantial lead and was not slowing down. Disaster struck as he stumbled on the last fence, but Freeman did a great job of balancing him and securing an unexpected, illustrious win.
Tiberetta (28-1) gave a valiant effort and pulled away herself finishing second by 15 lengths. Third place was won by Green Drill (28-1) while the favourite, Wyndburgh (6-1), rounded up the top four.
The race morning was a dreary one as rain poured down and made the going heavy. Although all of the riders cleared the first fence, only seven managed to finish.
Mr. What’s dominating win was a spectacle to see. His gruelling determination to produce gold in the heavy conditions was inspirational; especially considering he was 6 lbs overweight.
He became the fifth Irish-bred horse since the War to win the Grand National. Mr. Coughlan also broke a three year streak of female owner’s taking a win.
Mr. What added two third place finishes in the ’59 and ’62 Grand National; but will always be remembered for his devastatingly brilliant performance in 1958.
Starting Price: 18 /1
Age: 8 years
Winning Distance: 30 lengths
Owner: Mr. D.J. Coughlan
Jockey: A. Freeman
Weight Carried: 10 st. 6lbs
3rd: Green Drill