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The Grand National is the biggest field of the calendar year and as such is often looked upon as a difficult betting medium. Our 2017 Grand National Tips are LIVE on the site now as we look to find the winner of the world’s most famous steeplechase. Despite the big field, there have been some huge gambles landed in the past so let’s look back at 5 of the biggest through the years.
Lining up in the Grand National 8 times, winning on two occasions, he is widely regarded as the Red Rum of his generation. The race had lost popularity with the general public and his continual participation after years of controversy went some way to redeeming the contest. His owner Harry Dyas also owned his half sister Gentle Ida who Dyas left people in no doubt of her ability. When she was withdrawn in 1897 it was left to Manifesto to saunter clear after his only realistic danger Timon came down 3 out. By the time the 1899 race came around Dyas had sold Gentle Ida but with Manifesto set to shoulder 12st 7lbs and the confidence Dyas himself proclaimed still in his ex mare, she was backed into the 4/1 favourite. Frost in the ground had led to course officials laying down a hay cover on the take off and landing sides of the fences for safety, they forgot to pick up the hay on the landing side of the Canal Turn however and on the first circuit Manifesto crumbled on landing, jockey George Williamson performing miracles to stay on board. He would say afterwards “I saw one of his legs sticking straight up over my head in the air, The toe of my boot was on the ground, and both my irons were gone, But I left everything to Manifesto, and when he recovered I just picked up the reins and went on”. When Gentle Ida fell at the next, Manifesto still had plenty to do but on the second circuit, he picked them off one by one, the 11 year old proving a popular winner. Despite Dyas’ confidence in Gentle Ida that had proved contagious with punters, Dyas himself was noted taking thousands of pounds from the betting ring, gifting Williamson nearly £3,000 for his winning ride!
Just the 5 finishers in the 1953 renewal but a gamble landed on the Irish trained winner. In the care of the legendary Vincent O’Brien, he romped clear of the depleted field to win by 20 lengths. So confident was O’Brien in the horse taking home the Grand National prize that he advised owner Joe Griffin to “have a good bet.” Griffin did exactly that, landing a windfall of £100,000 which in it’s modern day equivalent is in the region of 2 million! A faller at the very first fence the year before, he took the place of Royal Tan who many believed was the yard’s better chance when that horse was injured and having always been handy, cleared right away late on. Royal Tan would arrive at the 1954 race in one piece to form the middle leg of a hat-trick for O’Brien and back to back years for jockey Bryan Marshall. Get a look at the 1953 Grand National winner below
One of the largest on the day gambles, winner or not occurred in 2000. Trained by Ted Walsh and ridden by his son Ruby, the horse began the day as a 33/1 outsider for the Grand National. Prepped cannily for the race over hurdles and much shorter trips, the avalanche of cash began to fall, prompted in some part by the horse being put up as the Pricewise selection in the Racing Post. Runner up in an Irish National, he was described by his trainer as “too much of a thinker to be a Cheltenham horse” but Aintree proved his perfect stamping ground. He travelled with the fluency one would expect given his form over shorter trips, Walsh holding onto him for as long as possible, able to save energy for when he needed it most on the run-in. Mely Moss challenged hard at the elbow but Papillion was not to be denied, sticking his neck out for a most gallant victory, much to the delight of his many supporters.
Mike Futter’s gamble on his horse is renowned in Grand National lore. The owner of a string of bingo halls, not only did he win the better part of a million pounds from his horses victory but astounded watchers with his calm demeanour. The other owners in the syndicate understandably celebrated in style as their charge strode effortlessly clear but Futter was calmness personified. Always in the van guard, the horse hit the front shortly after they turned for home and from there, there was only going to be one winner with 12 lengths the margin at the line. Afterwards when Futter was asked about his gamble, he pulled out one of the National’s best quotes, “‘When a horse is 50-1, it only takes a stake of £10,000 to win half a million” and how much did his horse win him in total? “It is in excess of £800,000.” Some gamble in one of the toughest punting races of the entire season.
The name JP McManus is synonymous with gambles landed on the biggest stages. It comes as no surprise that one of the worst results in the history of the contest for bookmakers came courtesy of one of his inmates. It wasn’t all his money however as a nationwide gamble on the mount of a certain AP McCoy who had yet to win the Grand National took the bookmakers for an estimated 50 million pounds according to sources at Coral. The horse was freely available at 20/1 on the morning of the race but steady support saw the horse halve in price and go off the 10/1 joint favourite. The popularity of McCoy with the general public was not misplaced on this occasion, always tracking the pace, he picked up the running as they reached the elbow to clear away. He returned to finish a gallant third the next year when a 9/1 chance from a welter mark of 160, 7lbs above his 2010 win.
Our Grand National 2017 Tip will be on the site shortly but for now we have our Grand National Trends article live which can narrow the field down in the this year’s running to help find the winner.