The Grand National is known as the most famous race within the UK and is a tough test to say the very least. Held at Aintree racecourse, it is a handicap steeplechase over 4 miles 514 yards, with horses jumping 30 fences over two laps. It is also the most valuable jump race in Europe, with a prize fund just over £1m for the first time back in 2017.
We will look through the race, as well as some key Grand National winners from 1839 to 2018.
It is the most backed horse race of the year, and it is often full of surprises. So, it is ironic that the first ever winner back in 1839 was called Lottery, who claimed the win at odds of 9/1 under jockey Jem Mason.
The current reigning champion is Tiger Roll, who won under jockey Davy Russell for trainer Gordon Elliott, who is the favourite to win the 2019 Grand National after an incredible performance in the Cross Country at the recent Cheltenham Festival.
Currently, a woman has never won the Grand National. It is Ruby Walsh’s sister, Katie, who has finished the best among the women, finishing third on Seabass back in 2012. Her brother, on the other hand, has won the National on two separate occasions, as well as winning the Irish Grand National back in 2005.
The jockey with the most Grand National wins is George Stevens. The Cheltenham-born rider won the famous race an amazing five times between the period of 1856 and 1870.
One of the most famous Grand Nationals was in 1928, when it was Tipperary Tim’s day, although his jockey, William Dutton, would not have believed his luck that day. 41 out of the 42 runners fell on what was a very misty day at Aintree, leaving Tipperary Tim to come out on top at odds of 100/1, on what was very heavy ground.
No Grand National was held between 1941 – 1945 due to the Second World War, as Aintree’s racecourse had to be used for defence purposes.
The 1950s was dominated by Vincent O’Brien, who trained three different winners in consecutive years between 1953 and 1955. Early Mist won in 1953, Royal Tan in 1954 and Quare Times completed the Irish trainer’s hat-trick in 1955.
In 2012, Neptune Collonges won the Grand National, beating Sunnyhillboy in a photo finish, arguably one of the tightest finishes ever. The grey was a 33/1 shot, who was ridden by Daryl Jacob and trained by Paul Nicholls. This was Nicholls’ first Grand National winner at his 53rd attempt.
The Grand National has taught us one thing; it always throws up a few surprises, and there will no doubt be more twists and turns in the 2019 renewal.