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CAUGHOO IS INNOCENT, OK; Photos prove Irish horse won Grand National.

THE Irish Mirror has solved one of the greatest racing mysteries of the century and put the tormented spirit of long-dead steeplechaser Caughoo to rest.

After 52 years we can finally prove the little Irish jumper did not cheat in the Aintree Grand National.

Two photographs now in the possession of the Irish Mirror prove the horse DID go round the gruelling course twice.

The pictures remove a shadow of doubt which has hung over Caughoo and his jockey Eddie Dempsey for more than half a century.

Jockey Dempsey was accused of hiding behind a fence at the fog-bound Aintree course, only re-joining the race towards the end.

But now the Irish mirror has obtained two photographs of Caughoo and Dempsey going over Becher's Brook on two different occasions.

This new evidence finally vindicates the little chaser and proves he won the race fairly.

Peter McDowell, whose father and uncle owned Caughoo, said yesterday that the horse's name has now been cleared.

He said a cloud has hung over Caughoo's victory ever since another jockey accused Dempsey of cheating.

"Caughoo was a good little horse and won the National fairly," he said.

"We always knew that. We have pictures to prove it.

"The controversy started when a jockey accused Eddie of hiding behind a fence at the start of the race.

"He said he couldn't believe that Caughoo went round the course in such a fast time.

"A row broke out in the bar and Eddie was beaten up - that's how it all started - but we in the family always knew otherwise.

"Caughoo should never have been 100/1.

"It was because he was such an outsider that the rumour persisted.

"He was an excellent jumper and stayer."

He also dismissed claims that the horse's body is buried in Sutton, Co Dublin.

However, the controversy about the whereabouts of his body and head rumble on.

Peter claims when that when Caughoo died, aged 30, he was buried on the family estate at Sutton.

However, before the land was sold and developed the bones were removed and re-buried in his mother's garden in Malahide, Co Dublin - head and all.

This contradicts claims by the Deputy Mayor of Drogheda Frank Godfrey that he is in possession of Caughoo's head.

But Peter is adamant the Irish steeplechaser's body and head are buried together in Malahide.

He also claims that the head now in Frank's cottage is a fake.

However, Frank is now calling for a DNA test on the horse's skeleton to establish its true identity.

Frank said: "The horse's head is definitely Caughoo's.

"I'm convinced of that and Peter McDowell has said nothing to convince me otherwise.

"The locals around Sutton say they remember Caughoo being buried there but don't remember him being dug up again - he can't be buried in two different places.

"The story is not over yet. Caughoo's head is in my cottage and that's where it's going to stay."

Despite the unproven allegations, Caughoo's colourful career earned him a special place in Irish racing folklore.

Following his victory, his owner Jack McDowell earned a place in the Guinness Book of Records for buying the biggest round of drinks ever. He staked his claim by buying the entire contents of the bar on the Irish Sea ferry the SS Slievemore. However, before the ferry docked at Dublin's North Wall, the entire round had been drunk.

Caughoo was so heavily backed by punters in North Dublin that a local bookie went bust. However, the horse's big-hearted owner set the bookie up in business again.

Caughoo was such an outsider than when he romped home 20 lengths clear of the field the 300,000 punters at Aintree were totally silenced.

The Aintree win was the first time either horse or jockey raced in England.
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Author:Flanagn, Pat
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Aug 26, 1999
Words:633
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