Legends are made in the Grand National
The Hallowed Turf of Aintree is where legends are created, dreams realised and sporting immortality bestowed upon a select group of sporting heroes, both equine and human who have triumphed in the greatest horse race of them all, The Grand National. Let’s take a look at a few of the races that stood out from yesteryear.
1973 Red Rum wins the first of his three Grand National titles
The Nation’s favourite racehorse, Red Rum, won the Grand National a record three times (more than any other horse) and his triumph in 1973, forty years ago, is widely regarded as one of the greatest triumphs in the race’s history. At one point more than 30 lengths adrift of the pacesetter, Red Rum and jockey Brian Fletcher dourly wore down the long-time leader of the race, Crisp, to win by three quarters of a length after a dramatic dash past the elbow to win in a record-breaking time of 9 minutes and 1.9 seconds. Red Rum went on to win again in 1974 before writing his way into the history books by claiming his third and final victory in 1977 by 25 lengths. An Aintree legend, he was buried beside the course’s winning post in 1995.
1983 Jenny Pitman becomes the first female trainer to win the Grand National
The then 36-year old trainer Jenny Pitman became the first woman to train a Grand National winner since the race was first run in 1839 when Corbiere won under jockey Ben de Haan, from Irish challenger Greasepaint. The horse went on to run in four more Grand Nationals, finishing third on two occasions. Pitman later said, “That win for Corbiere in 1983 was absolutely astounding for someone with my background, basically a girl with her backside hanging out of her jeans. To have a National winner was so unreal. But I did feel that year was the best chance I would ever have of winning the National. And I wanted my mum and dad to be there, so I made sure they were at Aintree to see it. There’s no doubt about it, watching your horse running down to Becher’s makes you very religious. You’re saying ‘please let him get over this fence okay. I’ll stop smoking, I’ll stop swearing’. But I never said I’d stop telling fibs.”
1993 The race is famously voided after a false start
In 1993 Jenny Pitman sent out her second winner of the race with 50-1 shot Esha Ness only for the race to be declared void because of a false start. Thirty of the 39 riders failed to realise a false start had been called and set off around the racetrack. Officials decided not to re-run the race at a later date and the bookies were forced to return all bets placed on the race, estimated to be worth £75 million. However, Pitman was back in the winners’ enclosure for real two years later when Royal Athlete, unfancied at 40-1, won in 1995.
2003 Monty’s Pass wins and a £1 million gamble is landed
Mike Futter, a member of the five-strong Dee Racing syndicate that owned the Irish trained Monty’s Pass backed the horse in the ante-post market at 66-1 and then at prices right into his starting price of 16-1. When Monty’s Pass won by 12 lengths under jockey Barry Geraghty, Futter found himself £800,000 better off, whilst the overall syndicate’s swag bag was rumoured to be in excess of £1 million.