The Grand National is on;y days away now and if the Melbourne Cup is the “race that stops the nation” the Grand National is the race that stops the world!
It’s always a fascinating race to watch with 40 horses charging down to the first fence. There has been some memorable victories so we have taken a look at the top 5 that stand out for us.
5. Don’t Push It (2010)
The “champ” AP McCoy made no secret of his desire to win the Grand National after sixteen attempts he’d still failed to add this illustrious race to his incredibly impressive cv. In the 2010 renewal of the National AP chose to ride Don’t Push It, who’d pulled up at the Cheltenham festival on his previous start.
On the morning of the race, itself Don’t Push It was a somewhat unconsidered 16/1 shot but the public got behind the champion jockey and as the starting line went up he went off as a 10/1 joint-favorite. AP settled him in mid-division early in the race to avoid any trouble and having travelled well throughout, he challenged Black Apalachi two out and hit the front at the last.
He kept on strongly after the elbow and went to give the Champ a first National victory, fittingly for long time allies JP McManus and Jonjo O’Neill. The cheer from the crowd said it all and he was definitely one of the most popular winners in recent times.
4. Tipperary Tim (1928)
As they left the paddock to head to the starting line the 1928 running of the Grand National, William Dutton heard a friend shout out “Billy boy, you’ll only win if all the others fall down!” That was because his mount Tipperary Tim was one of a rank outsider in the race.
It’s strange how accurate Bily’s friend’s words were as 41 of the 42 runners came to grief at some stage during the race. As the field came to the Canal Turn on the first circuit, Easter Hero fell, causing a pile-up and only seven horses came out of the emerged mellay unscathed.
As they approached the penultimate fence only three horses remained, with Great Span looking most likely to win ahead of Billy Barton and Tipperary Tim. Then in another twist in an already eventful race, Great Span’s saddle then slipped, leaving Billy Barton in the lead until he too then fell.
Although Billy Barton’s jockey Tommy Cullinan managed to remount and complete the race, it was Tipperary Tim who came in first at outside odds of 100/1. With only two riders completing the course, this remains a record for the lowest number of finishers
3. Foinavon (1967)
In the 1967 Grand National Foinavon was the 100/1 outsider, as the field approached the 23rd fence the now infamous Foinavon fence, John Buckingham was lagging behind. The Cyril Watkins owned horse did not have much confidence behind him as Watkins didn’t even turn up on the day.
It was Popham Down who started proceedings that led to a pile-up of horses and Jockeys being unseated, mayhem ensued with horses blocking the 23rd fence and some running back the way they had come. Luckily for Foinavon he had been lagging a nice distance behind, Buckingham was able to steer him around the backlog.
Surprisingly Foinavon now had a 30 length lead, Honey End managed to close the gap to 20 lengths but Foinavon prevailed for a famous victory.
2. Aldaniti (1981)
The story of Aldaniti’s victory in the 1981 running of the Grand National will be very familiar to a lot of racings fans. It’s such a famous victory that a move was made called Champions back in 1983. The horse was trained by Josh Gifford and ridden by Bob Champion who had recovered from cancer. That in itself is an incredible story but to add to this fairytale win, Aldaniti himself had recovered from a career threatening injury.
Aldaniti was always held in high regard by connections and prior to his injury he’d finished third in the Gold Cup and second in the Scottish National. After a year off the track he returned in 1981 with the Grand National as his target. Following a victory in the Whitbread Gold Cup, he started the Grand National as the 10/1 second favourite behind Spartan Missle.
Bob Champion settled him on the outside throughout and took it up at the 11th fence. The likeable chestnut jumped from fence to fence, never seeing another rival and the rest is history.
1.Red Rum (1973, 1974 & 1977)
Many people say that Red Rum saved the Grand National rejuvenating the race by becoming the peoples’ horse with 3 victories and 2 seconds from 5 runs in the race. Red Rum started life as a two-year-old sprinter and having spent time with a number of trainers, he ended up with Ginger McCain who very early on discovered his foot problems. They were a match made in heaven as McCain trained on the beach in Southport which proved very beneficial for Red Rums feet.
In the first of his Grand National victories Red Rum beat the Australian chaser Crisp who had made virtually all and was 15 lengths clear at the last only for Red Rum to swoop late and one one of the best Nationals in history. He retained his crown the following season with 12 stone on his back and also won the Scottish Grand National in that season.
After a brace of second’s in the race, Red Rum under Tommy Stack incredibly retained his crown in 1977 in a race that will go down in racing folklore. Red Rum was now not just a fantastic racehorse he was a celebrity.