The roll of honour reads like a who’s who of Jumps racing royalty, with jockeys such as Sir A P McCoy, Ruby Walsh, Barry Geraghty and Fred Winter having ridden a winner in the race. Same can be said for the trainers, with Ginger McCain synonymous with the Aintree showpiece.
However, much like the race itself, the winner’s list does throw up plenty of surprises. Namely from some of the names missing. Here are just a few racing legends who haven’t tasted success in the big one.
Nicky Henderson is by far the most high profile current trainer yet to win the Grand National.
In his time as a trainer he’s won 64 races at the Cheltenham Festival, including two Cheltenham Gold Cups, seven Champion Hurdles and a whole host of Grade 1 races, but so far the Grand National has eluded him.
In fact, it’s not just the Grand National, it’s indeed any National. He’s yet to pick up both the Scottish and Welsh Nationals too. The closest he got was in the 1987 running when his runner The Tsarevich was just outstayed by Maori Venture in the closing stages.
There’s still plenty of time however, and no better than the present. This year he will saddle ____ who will have the task of breaking Henderson’s duck in the race.
‘Dicky’ Johnson is on course to land his fourth Stobart Jump Jockeys’ title this season, having finished second numerous times to legend Sir AP McCoy. Like his old adversary Richard has had trouble landing the National, despite a career of phenomenal success.
The National eluded Sir Anthony until 2010 before Don’t Push It finally landed the spoils. Richard so far has hit the bar twice finishing second in 2002 and 2014 on What’s Up Boys and Balthazar King.
This will be Richard’s 21st attempt at winning the race, and he will be riding the Philip Hobbs-trained Rock The Kasbar on Saturday. Could this be his year?
The eight-time Champion Jockey rode 1,678 winners in an illustrious career. He was also awarded and MBE for services to British horse racing.
Although no Grand Nationals to speak of, he did managed to win four Welsh Grand Nationals and two Scottish Grand Nationals in an illustrious career in the saddle. His best finish came in 1985 coming 3rd on Corbiere, despite leading with two fences to jumps he eventually finished a well held 3rd.
Behind Sir AP McCoy and Peter Scudamore, John Francome remains the third most successful National Hunt Jockey of all time. He has been dubbed by some pundits the dubious title of ‘best jockey never to have won the Grand National.
Francome spoke a memorable fall in the 1976 Grand National, “I’ll never forget falling off a horse called Golden Rapper in the 1976 National. We were leading at Bechers Brook, second time around, his ears were pricked and he was still tanking along. Except that on landing his nose ended up about an inch from the ground. I have a picture of the moment at home.”