Considered to be one of the greatest steeplechases in the world, the Grand National is the symbol of racing. This iconic race sees jockeys, as well as trainers, go head to head in a bid to win the sport’s most famous prize. With nearly two and a half miles of turf to cover, it covers 16 individual fences which are as iconic as the race itself.
This includes the likes of the infamous Chair not to mention Bechers Brook where many thoroughbreds come a cropper. On the other hand, it is a real test for not only the horse, but the jockey who needs to maintain the pace of the ride throughout the race.
Some feature drop fences where landing is much lower than the actual take off. The drop can put some horses off which can prove to be perilous. Having to run round nearly two circuits of the course, the Grand National usually takes place during the first week of April in the heart of Aintree on Merseyside. With thirty fences to consider and a very long 494 run in to contend with it really is a fight to the finish.
The race itself dates back to 1836 with the first official race taking place three years later in 1839. Billions of dollars are wagered each and every year on the Grand National, and betting is becoming even more popular. In fact, some punters only take the opportunity to bet on this race on an annual basis. When it comes to prize fund, this has also skyrocketed with a $2.5 million prize pot on offer with more around $1 million going to the lucky winner.
Whether you have backed a winner or not here are 10 of the most famous National winners down the years.
10. Comply or Die
This British-trained racehorse was owned by David Johnson and in 2008 was ridden by Timmy Murphy. Under the tutelage of trainer David Pipe, Comply or Die won the 2008 Grand National where it just beat one of the greys in the race, namely King John’s Castle. One of the most popular bookmakers conceded that Comply or Die’s victory had cost them around $15 million. In spite of carrying an extra stone in weight, the thoroughbred came back twelve months later where he came second to Mon Mome.
9. Mon Mome
Despite the recent retirement of Mon Mome, this particular horse has already gone down in the history books. Under the instruction of Venetia Williams and based in Herefordshire, Mon Mome was a 100-1 outsider to win the National which he did to great effect. Winning by more than 10 lengths ensures that he was the biggest priced champion for more than four decades.
8. Don’t Push It
Don’t Push It gave illustrious jockey, AP McCoy, a highly sought after victory after more than a dozen attempts. This quirky thoroughbred was both quirky and full of beans but this did not stop the trainer pulling off quite an incredible success story. Don’t Push It went on to gallop to victory by five lengths from Black Apalachi. Eventually the horse had to be retired which did not happen until 2012.
Under the instruction of trainer Donald McCain, Ballabriggs romped home to victory at the 2011 Grand National. Ridden by jockey Jason Maguire, the horse went out to as far as 20-1 at one stage. However, this did not detract bets coming in and it remained in the hunt for the majority of the race. Ballabriggs stretched away in the final fences to beat off stiff competition from Oscar Time; Don’t Push It was ridden by Tony McCoy.
6. Neptune Collonges
Belonging to an exclusive club to have won the Grand National, Neptune Collonges is one of only three grey horses to race home to victory. Beating off Sunnyhillboy by just a nose, he is currently being used for a host of dressage competitions.
5. Auroras Encore
Having had to battle terrible snow storms deep in the Yorkshire moors, Auroras Encore certainly came up trumps and stormed to a wonderful victory. With odds of 66-1, this hero strode with every sinew to win by nearly ten lengths. This Irish bred horse was under English tutelage but managed to win last year’s Grand National in style. His extensive seven-year career incorporated seven magnificent years where he won six steeplechases in total.
4. Mr. Frisk
Mr. Frisk strode home to win the 1990 Grand National. This was the 144th meeting at Aintree and he is famous for completing the two and half mile course in the quickest time possible. The horse took less than eight minutes and fifty seconds to complete the course. Ridden by Marcus Armytage, Mr Frisk beat the previous record which was held by Red Rum by an astonishing fourteen seconds.
3. Lord Gyllene
Probably the most controversial Grand National race took place in 1997 when the New Zealand born racehorse Lord Gyllene was the victor. Under the leadership of trainer Steve Brookshaw, this win was best remembered for the bomb threat which halted proceedings on the Saturday. For these reasons, the National was postponed and run on the Monday.
The Grand National can be unpredictable with several outsiders winning the race. This was especially the case with the 1967 winner Foinavon. With odds of around 100-1, this outsider who was ridden by John Buckingham who managed to avoid a loose horse to storm home to victory. Although there were many giving chase, Foinavon held on. One of the fences is now known as Foinavon Fence paying homage to his remarkable victory.
1. Red Rum
This thoroughbred is one of the most recognizable names on the planet as far as horse racing is concerned. His no nonsense attacking style was highly regarded by many in the industry and achieved an incredible treble. This was during the 1970’s when Red Rum won an unprecedented three Grand Nationals in 1973, 1974 and finally in 1977. This ultimate jump test proved a breeze for Red Rum and is believed to have never fallen in close to 100 races. His 1973 was deemed to be one of the finest of all time where Red Rum closed a 30 length gap to win. After sadly passing away in 1995, you will still be able to find his remains which are across the Aintree winning post.