Cloister was one of the earliest Grand National greats o grace the Aintree course. He won the race in 1893, having finished as runner-up the two previous years. But this was no ordinary horse – and a great deal of speculation remains to this day about what really happened to Cloister once he had finished racing.
In the 1891 running of the race, Cloister was carrying 11st.7lbs, and was up with the leaders for most of the race. But when it came to the famous Liverpool long run-in, with Cloister traveling better than the eventual winner Come Away, Cloister’s jockey went for a gap between the winner and the rail. At this point, Come Away's jockey decided to block out Cloister and went on to win. But after an objection by Cloister’s jockey the stewards decided to leave the placings unaltered.
The following year, 1892, with an additional 10lbs to carry, Cloister tried to make the running but his extra weight took its toll and this time, he was a more distant
20 lengths second to winner Father O'Flynn.
But it was a very different story the following year. This time, despite carrying even more with 12st 7lbs, Cloister headed the field by the time they jumped the second – and he never lost it. In fact, he went gradually further clear of the field and eventually won by a huge 40 length margin – the biggest winning margin in Grand National history.
But intrigue was to follow this Aintree specialist. Cloister missed the following two years’ Grand Nationals because he was found to be lame in the days leading up to the race. But his connections thoughts Cloister had been nobbled. In fact, they were so sure the horse ha been “got at” that they hired a detective to guard Cloister before the following year’s National. Nevertheless, he was lame again and his career was over. But he still goes down in history as one of the greatest Grand National horses in the rich history of the world’s greatest horse race.