Our Favourite Grand National ‘What The F-?!’ Moments

The official line is that the Grand National is such a popular race because of the nature of the challenge it poses to all of the 40 horses and their riders. This might be the case though we have a different view. Rather, we believe that the Aintree National is so popular because it so frequently produces ‘WHAT THE F-?!’ moments and the high chance of there being another leads millions of people to tune in every year.

Below are a few of our favourite instances from recent Grand National history. Have you a different list of favourites? Let us know!

Grand National 2001

The 2001 Grand National is best remembered for seeing only four horses finish, two completing without coming into some sort of trouble.

Aintree’s heavy conditions weren’t exactly conducive to perfect racing, though the frequency of fallers (20) was stunning.

Most came a-cropper at the first jumping of the Canal Turn when a loose horse decided to come between fence and the second pack of runners, causing all jockeys to slow their horses.

There were seven still standing with a circuit to travel, that being reduced to two when four refused at fence 19 and the always prominent Beau went at the 20th. Two refusers were remounted (Blowing Wind, AP McCoy; Papillon, Ruby Walsh) though neither could catch eventual winner Red Marauder who would see off Smarty by a distance.

By some minor miracle, no horses fatalities were recorded.

Clan Royal – Grand National 2005

Jonjo O’Neill’s Clan Royal was a strong 9/1 chance after taking second place in the 2004 running . He was also carrying the hopes of champion jockey AP McCoy who was looking to win the race on his ninth attempt.

Unlike in 2004 when Liam Cooper was content to keep Clan Royal in the mid-division until late, McCoy was keen to keep the horse handy, riding second behind Glenelly Gale following the initial exchanges.

Clan Royal cut to the inside of the long time leader ahead of the Chair and put in a superior jump to take the lead from the Arthur Moore charge. At this point, no trouble was on the scene, McCoy was being given a plumb ride and anyone who was willing to bet against his first victory would have been very foolish indeed.

And then, two riderless horses emerged following the remaining runners embarking on their second circuit. Clan Royal had put five lengths between himself and the field just before Bechers but McCoy’s dreams of a National triumph ended when one of the riderless mounts looked to chase the other dragging Clan Royal wide. The second charge cut in front of National fancy to escape the playful advances of the first horse, turning McCoy’s horse back on himself in front of the fence and the jockey tumbling to the floor.

Hedgehunter would go onto take the Aintree crown a season after falling at the last.

Across The Bay – Grand National 2014

A similar turn of events to the 2005 debacle. Donald McCain’s Across the Bay was looking to make all in the Grand National last year, taking the lead in the very early stages and jumping respectably.

The nose-banded charge held a clear lead over Valentine’s with the falling of the also prominent Long Run and The Rainbow Hunter. Across The Bay had already avoided a pair of loose horses when another cut in front of McCain’s runner around the turn after the water jump to carry him off the track. Henry Brooke got his entrant to rejoin the field and ended up finishing the race in 14th.

No one needs reminding that Pineau De Re would go on to take the plaudits. He looks to go again this year.

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