Grand National: Scotland’s previous National hero

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RYAN Mania became the first Scottish jockey to win the Grand National for 117 years on Saturday, following in the colourful hoofsteps of amateur David Campbell who won at Aintree in 1896 before going on to become a war hero, General in the British Army and Governor of Malta.

Campbell appears to have been born in England in 1896 and was educated at Clifton College in Bristol. As his surname suggests, however, he had strong Scottish roots and his father was Major H. Wooton Campbell of the Cameron Highlanders. Campbell went to Sandhurst Military Academy before joining the cavalry and serving the 9th Queen’s Royal Lancers. In the mid 1890s he made a name for himself as a talented amateur jockey on board a horse called The Soarer, which he apparently won on the toss of a coin.

Their finest hour came in the 1896 Grand National when then Lt. Campbell piloted The Soarer to a 40-1 success by one-and-a-half lengths, beating the 1895 winner Father O’Flynn into second in a 28-horse field. ‘Soarer’ became Campbell’s nickname during a distinguished military career. He was a veteran of the Boer War and was mentioned in dispatches six times during the First World War, in which he was wounded several times and fought in the major battles of the Western Front. He was Governor of Malta from 1931 until shortly before his death on the island aged 67 in 1936.