Described as the ultimate test of horse and rider, the Grand National is the most valuable jump race in Europe, boasting a handsome purse of £1 million. The famous but demanding fences of Aintree Racecourse are where legends are made, with the feats of many horses etched into the history books. The most recent running was won by Tiger Roll more about him later and the Gordon Elliott-trained horse is the early favourite in the 2020 Aintree Grand National betting odds. Here, we take a look at some of the winners that made folklore.
1. Tipperary Tim (1928)
The 1928 renewal will forever go down in history as the race with the fewest finishers with only two of the 42 entries completing the course. Tipperary Tim was a 100/1 write-off, with amateur jockey William Dutton in the saddle. Before the race, his friend shouted: “Billy boy, you’ll only win if all the others fall!” and never has truer word been spoken. The ground was heavy and a thick mist filled the air. As the field approached the Canal Turn on the first circuit, a pile-up ensued and only seven jockeys remained seated on their horses. On the second circuit, this number was cut to three, with Tipperary Tim in third, behind Great Span and Billy Barton. Great Span unseated his rider at the 29th fence, while Billy Barton also fell his jockey managed to remount but it was too late and Tipperary Tim recorded a remarkable victory.
2. Foinavon (1967)
1967 saw another 100/1 chance win the Grand National and Foinavon’s story will forever be remembered, as he gave his name to fences 7 and 23 in 1984. It may well be one of the smallest fences on the course, but in 1967, it caused one hell of a melee. It was on the second circuit that the most dramatic moment of the race took place. Popham Down, who had unseated his rider at the first fence, was loose, and he fell into Rutherfords, who in turn brought down more than five other horses, with the race virtually being brought to a halt. Foinavon had been so far behind the pack, his jockey John Buckingham had time to avoid the pile-up and was the only one to successfully jump the 23rd fence. A lead of 30 lengths was cut to 15 after many jockeys remounted and made up ground, but Foinavon won against the odds to much disbelief.
3. Red Rum (1977)
You cannot talk about the Grand National without mentioning Red Rum. He is the leading horse with three wins in the showpiece, the first coming in 1973. It was that debut win which is often considered one of the greatest comebacks in National history, as he secured victory after being 30 lengths behind. However, it’s the way in which he returned for his third and final win in 1977 that we will look back on. After earlier back-to-back victories, Rummy came second in the intervening years of 1975 and ’76, so to triumph again at the famous circuit has to be among the greatest moments in horse racing. Red Rum entered the 1977 race as a 12-year-old, with many deeming him too old to win the National for a third time. It wasn’t until the 22nd fence that he took the lead when the pre-race favourite Andy Pandy fell, but his advantage gradually grew and Rummy won his hat-trick of Nationals by 25 lengths over second-placed Churchtown Boy.
4. Don’t Push It (2010)
Having won all the big races as a jockey over the years, the Grand National appeared to be the only one to elude racing legend Tony McCoy until 2010 that is. The Northern Irishman was entering his 15th Grand National, but had never been successful and another loss would have seen him equal Jeff King’s record for the most rides without winning. He was in the saddle of joint-favourite Don’t Push It, trained by Jonjo O’Neill and it was a first win for both jockey and trainer alike. It was a year to remember for McCoy, who not only finally won the prestigious Aintree centrepiece, but went on to become the first (and to date, only) jockey to win the BBC Sports Personality of the Year.
5. Tiger Roll (2019)
Last year, Tiger Roll became the first horse since the legendary Red Rum to manage back-to-back Nationals and he looks to make history this year, not only emulating the great with a hat-trick of wins, but blowing him out of the water with successive victories. He was ridden by Davy Russell again and went into the race as the favourite also becoming the first favourite since Comply or Die in 2008 to win. Elliott had a good chance of success, training 11 of the entries, breaking the record for the most horses in a single running. It was a thrilling race with Tiger Roll and Magic of Light (66/1) neck-and-neck going over the final fence. The former managed to pull clear to win by five lengths and fans will be hoping he’s back to his Aintree best next month.
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