Cloister: Grand National Legend

Early Years

Cloister entered the world with carrying a heavy burden of expectation. The black-spotted bay was the progeny of the great racehorse Ascetic, one of the greatest steeplechasers of all time.

Although it was evident from the start that Cloister would develop into a powerful horse, his owner, the Earl of Fingall, felt that Cloister’s pedigree was not well enough displayed in his build. The Earl decided to sell Cloister to his master of hounds for a paltry sum.

The Earl would regret this decision as Cloister grew into a magnificent, strong animal with an excellent temperament. Cloister was soon sold to a captain of the Lancers stationed in Ireland, and introduced to the races.

At The Races

Cloister’s first racing season was in 1889 and he performed well in several Irish hunt races, winning two prestigious races. The Lancers were relocated to India at the end of the year, forcing Cloister’s owner to sell him to the Earl of Dudley.

Cloister’s training began in earnest, and his form along with his pedigree ensured that he was prepared for only the most prestigious of races. Cloister raced his first Grand National at Aintree in 1891, and lost by the narrowest of margins in a field bursting with talent. Some attributed his loss to the tactics of his jockey, who in trying to pass race leader Come Away, had inadvertently blocked his horse’s progress.

In his next season, Cloister won five races, but was again only able to achieve a second place in the Grand National. After the Grand National the horse was sold to his third owner, Charles Duff. This marked the turning point of Cloister’s career and he began training with a top class jockey.

1893 was Cloister’s year. The horse was entered into the Grand National and promptly given top weight. Despite this crippling handicap Cloister took the lead at the second fence, and from there ran one of the greatest ever races at the Grand National, beating the rest of the field by an incredible forty lengths. Cloister was now a Grand National legend.

Cloister did not win the event again. For the next several years the horse suffered from bouts of lameness and other health problems, yet still managed to win several prestigious races including the Welsh Grand National in 1896.

In his 35-race career Cloister, Grand National legend, achieved an incredible 30 Top Three finishes, with 19 victories, all accomplished under heavy weights.