In the 1985 Grand National, West Tip ridden by Richard Dunwoody was going conspicuously well when he fell at Becher’s Brook on the second circuit. Few would have thought the horse would go on to have such a tremendous Grand National record at that point – but his ever taking part in a horse race of any kind had looked even more doubtful just a few years earlier.
In 1982, he was injured in an accident involving a lorry just outside his stables and it was thought he may have to be put down. He had to have 80 stitches and, the following year, he had a heart murmur, and broke down on both front legs in the Midlands National. But this strong son of Gala Performance was made of sterner stuff. He went on to a full recovery and was much-fancied for the 1985 National when Becher’s got the better of him. Nevertheless, he was back the following year and this time, he didn’t put a foot wrong – winning by two lengths at odds of 15/2 from Young Driver, with Classified in third and Mr. Snugfit fourth. West Tip really was
a traditional steeplechaser and a National hero. In the next two runnings of the National, he finished fourth on both occasions and even in 1989, as a 12 year-old, he finished second, and 10th the following year before his owner, Peter Luff, retired the old warrior. He'd also managed to finish a close fourth in the Cheltenham Gold Cup along the way.
Richard Dunwoody, one of the most successful jump jockeys ever, rode West Tip in all his Nationals. The Ulsterman rode 1,699 winners in the UK and was champion jockey three times. But Dunwoody was just 22 when he won the 1986 National.
After 1992, West Tip enjoyed a happy retirement in the care of Becky Titterton at her dairy farm near Warwick, but still made special guest appearances, including appearing as the "mystery guest" on BBC's Question of Sport. He also returned to Aintree on several occasions to parade with other former winners.
He died aged 24 in July 2001 and goes down in history as the greatest National horse of the 1980s.