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  Grave Matters: Sketchley Village, Leicester, England

Photo: Google maps marked by Robert Nichols

Location of Sunloch's grave
"X" marks the spot where Sunloch fell and was buried

SUNLOCH (1906, by Sundorne and out of Gralloch by Trayles) was the surprise 100:6 odds winner of the 1914 Grand National Steeplechase at Liverpool, in which he beat twenty others, among them the great French jumper Lutteur III, the excellent 'chaser Rory O'Moore, and the 1913 Grand National winner Covertcoat. He was bred by Henry Black, a tenant farmer at Frisby, Leicestershire, who had his mare Gralloch covered by Sundorne, a fairly good handicapper that had become a travelling country stallion, and was in the neighborhood, for a fee of 2 guineas. Used as a saddle horse and taken hunting by Black, he was purchased by trainer Tom Tyler for 300 guineas for a client whose name has been shrouded in contemporary press reports because he was arrested shortly after Sunloch won a steeplechase in Leicester in 1913. Tyler assumed ownership, and Sunloch won two chases in December of 1913, and placed second in a Leicester steeplechase and won a Derby steeplechase in March of 1914, before the Grand National. In the National, his jockey William J. Smith said he let Sunloch "please himself...because he has been hunting and I knew he was clever." Sunloch went to the lead early on, and was never headed. A month later he was purchased by sportsman Sir Charles Assheton-Smith, the owner of the Grand National winners Jerry M. and Covertcoat, but never did much afterwards, and eventually went back to Tyler's hands. In Tyler's ownership he competed at age thirteen in the 1919 Grand National, where he was pulled up. He was sold to Charles Aldridge of Sketchley Hall in Sketchley Village, Burbage, Leicestershire and was still in training for an attempt at the Grand National of 1920. In February 1920, while being exercised in a field adjacent to Sketchley Hall by groom James Bunker, he "crossed his front legs" -- or, according to a family story, stepped in a hole -- and "crashed to the ground," having broken a fetlock. He was humanely dispatched with a gun by Dick Webb, an Aldridge groom, and buried on the spot. His hooves were removed, and at least one is still in possession of descendants of Dick Webb. The "X" on the Google Map above, marks the location of his burial, according to Webb family members and Jack Nichols, who is married to Webb's grandaughter.
-- P.E.

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