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The Grand National is less than a fortnight away meaning our Grand National tips will be up very shortly and although we will have to wait until into April before we know the final card there were the 2017 weights released a few weeks back to give us all plenty of thoughts to chew on. It is always a difficult race to pick there winner of but there have been some incredibly dramatic contests down the years. Lets look back on 5 of the most dramatic Grand National Winners!
One of the most watched Grand National finishes yet most would be unable to name the winner. The Queen Mother’s Devon Loch was clear under Dick Francis on the run-in when out of nowhere, the horse jumped into the air, did the splits, landing on his stomach and losing all momentum. No-one knows exactly what caused the horse to do this. Some have surmised that the sun caused a shadow of the rail which the horse tried to jump, others that he was trying to jump the water jump on the other side of the rail and even that he shied away from a man waving a newspaper. Even the jockey didn’t know exactly what happened, his theory was that the horse spooked at the sheer noise from the crowd, cheering home a Royal winner. We will never know for sure, but it will always go down as one of the most dramatic Grand National’s ever run. If you haven’t seen this incredible finish, watch it below.
So famous is the 1967 running of the Grand National, that the winner of the race now has one of the fences on the course named after him! Having taken ‘Becher’s Brook’ on the second circuit, riders were not to know that as they headed to the smallest fence on the course (now the Foinavon fence) that calamity was about to ensue. The carnage came about as first fence casualty Popham Down who had been running loose with the field cut across the fence rather than jumping it, cannoning into the Johnny Leech ridden Rutherford. As others were caught up in the melee, the loose horses ran alongside the fence, forming a moving barrier to anything trying to jump. Foinavon himself was so detached from the main field that by the time he and jockey John Buckingham reached the obstacle, there was a gap to the outside, Seventeen horses were remounted but Buckingham’s mount had stolen too much of a march to be caught, landing one of the most famous victories in the contest. It really is some of the most incredible Grand National footage you will ever see. Watch it below.
Ginger McCain and Red Rum have long gone down in Grand National history, the horse as the only three time winner of the great contest. The first of those in 1973 was a race that is still shown on the Grand National day coverage even now, such was the finish. Crisp was an Australian racehorse, brought to the UK with a trip to the Cheltenham Festival the original plan where he won the Champion Chase in 1971. In the Grand National, he was given topweight of 12 stone. A bold front runner, the plan was to try and get him to settle in front but buzzed up by the occasion, jockey Richard Pitman had little choice but to allow the horse his head. The pair got to halfway around 20 lengths clear of the field, a margin that they maintained all the way into the home straight. The margin was down to 15 lengths as they cleared the final fence, embarking on the infamous quarter mile run in. At the elbow, the horse began to wobble, Pitman managing to keep him going forward as the gap shrunk to single figures. 6 lengths, 5 lengths, the run-in yawned agonizingly ahead of Pitman until barely strides from the line, the inevitable happened. Red Rum had been sent in pursuit, closing the gap down from ‘Becher’s’ second time round, getting up in the shadow of the post to land the National by less than a length. The heart goes out to Crisp every time, view it here.
The National that never was. Protesters had got onto the track delaying the start of the race and with tensions running high, a false start was almost inevitable. Once the horses were recalled, they charged the tape once more, the tape itself ending up round the neck of jockey Richard Dunwoody in an incident that thankfully wasn’t as bad as it could have been. It was a second false start but the flag of starter Keith Brown didn’t release, the flag man stood in front of the first fence didn’t see the false start so the majority of the field didn’t realise what had happened. At the end of the first circuit, the field were reduced to 14 as with trainers like Martin Pipe on the track waving their arms, jockeys began to realise that the race was going to be void. Some jockeys however mistook those on the course for the protesters who had delayed the start and continued to run the race. In a dramatic finish, it was Esha Ness for Jenny Pitman and John White who crossed the line first. The race was declared void, never to be re-run but the legacy is seen now, with changes to the starting procedure to ensure we never have the same mistakes made again.
Conditions were about as desperate as anyone could remember for the 2001 National. Few finishers were expected but even most people could not have imagined that just 2 horses would complete the course unscathed, another 2 would finish having been remounted. In an incident reminiscent of Foinavon, a loose horse caused carnage to the field at the Canal Turn first time round. A starting field of 39 were down to 13 after Canal Turn with the ground beginning to take a toll, three fallers at ‘The Chair’ left just 7 as they went out onto the second circuit. Another loose horse incident at the third fence down the side saw just 3 remain and when the reins broke on Beau at Becher’s Brook on the second circuit, the race was left as a match between Smarty and Red Marauder. Turning for home, Smarty took the advantage but even he, a horse who relished heavy ground, found the tank emptying leaving Richard Guest to steer Red Marauder home in front, a distance to the second and a further distance to the remounted pair in 3rd and 4th. A time of 11 minutes saw the slowest Grand National in a century and one of the most dramatic in recent years.
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.