A brief history of the world’s greatest horse race

April 24th, 2013 by admin

With the 2013 National just behind us – and a long wait until next year’s race, it seemed like the ideal time to take a brief look back down the years at a few of the highlights the great race has thrown up through the years…

  • Famously, the first official winner in 1839 (the 1839 race is considered the first official running – though a predecessor race was held three times from 1836-38) was called Lottery. Incidentally, The Duke won the 1836 and 1837 “Great Liverpool Steeplechases” at Aintree, which would later become Grand National. And his jockey was none other than the legendary Captain Martin Becher after whom Becher's Brook was named. The Duke was third in 1838.Lottery was the 5-1 favourite for the first official running. At this time, most of the fences were small country banks, but they included a stone wall - and much of the course was un-turfed.
  • The race didn’t become a handicap until the 1843 running. The most famous National horse in the early era was Manifesto. He won the race twice - in 1897 and 1899 - and ran in a total of eight Nationals, making the placings no fewer than six times!
  • In the 1928 National after a pile up at the Canal Turn, only two horses completed the Aintree course and Tipperary Tim came home the 100-1 winner.
  • The five-time Cheltenham Gold Cup winner, Golden Miller, also won the National in 1934 and remains the only horse to have won both great races in one season.
  • In 1956, the Dick Francis-ridden Devon Loch was famously well clear on the long run-in when he

suddenly and inexplicably flopped onto his belly. ESB went on to win.

  • Red Rum made his racecourse debut at Aintree in 1967 at Aintree as a two-year old – on the day before that year’s National. Red Rum clearly liked the course as he dead-heated for first place.
  • In 1967, Foinavon was the only horse that managed to avoid a pile-up at the one after Becher’s Brook on the second circuit– and went on to win at 100-1.
  • Crisp was caught in the very last stride by Red Rum in 1973. The race is probably the greatest in National history. The Australian chaser Crisp was carrying an incredible 23 pounds more than Red Rum who would, of course, go on to prove himself the greatest National horse ever. The race set a new record of nine minutes, 1.9 seconds. Crisp’s luckless jockey was Richard Pitman; 10 years later, Richard’s former wife Jenny Pitman became the first female trainer to win the National with Corbiere.
  • In 1977 the legendary Red Rum won for a third time - a remarkable feat and one which is unparalleled in horse racing history.
  • Geraldine Rees was the first lady jockey to complete the course – on Cheers in 1982.
  • Mr Frisk recorded the fastest National time ever in 1990.
  • The 93 National is the race that never was when around half the field wasn’t recalled after a false start. In 97, a bomb-scare caused the National to be delayed by two days.
  • In 2012, the race’s closest finish ever saw Neptune Collonges get up by a nose to pip Sunnyhillboy on the line.

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