Alfred Newey Winner of the Grand National

Alfred moved from Cradley to Hednesford with his family where he worked as a horse driver at the Rawnsley colliery,a horse trainer from the area had somehow noticed Alf’s potential-how is unclear! But nevertheless he spent eleven years under the man’s wing, and learned to ride under an apprenticeship scheme. Meanwhile a Manchester-born horse trainer by the name of Tom Coulthwaite had around the turn of the century, settled on the edge of Cannock Chase and established a stables at Hazel Slade which had quickly gained an enviable reputation. With the grand national approaching, Coulthwaite was readying Eremon for glory, despite the horses humble almost comically so background.

Eremon had been bought for fifty quid (50 pounds) and had worked in his youth as a cart horse, but after some intensive work at hazel slade Eremon was winning races, and Coulthwaite was confident enough in him to pit him against the very best in the biggest race of all. He chose Alf newey as the jockey, despite advise to the contrary by others in the business. The black country rider lined up with the cream of the sport at Aintree that march.

Coulthwaite would have been forgiven a self-congratulatory grin as Alf led Eremon to the front of the field from the start, in perfect conditions and in front of the packed course. Then at the second fence one of Alf’s stirrups broke, and he faced the proposition of riding out the entire race completely off–balance, just staying on the horses back would have been difficult enough, let alone taking the remaining fences at an angle.  But Then Rathvale a rival hore, threw his rider and decided to accompany Eremon all the way home, as if he didn’t already have enough on his plate, as the two rode neck and neck for the rest of the race, Alf with one eye on the chasing pack and one foot swinging free had to lean over every few yards and crack Rathvale on the head with his whip handle, it did the trick-he backed off just to follow the triumphant Eremon over the line just a yard or two behind, the black country jockey had ridden himself into the history books, despite the days mishaps, on a former carthorse.

Alf was described as being broad and short legged.

As well as the grand national he won the Scottish grand national on crinoline and the welsh champion hurdle on Assaroe, later he trained at Hednesford and sent out gracious gift to win the Liverpool foxhunters. By 1911 he was described as a trainer/jockey living at prospect house Hednesford.

Not bad for a black country miner who had started off in a little village called Cradley. I think all of Cradley turned up at the grand national that year to watch and see “our Alf romp home.

Thank you Maureen Millsom