Less than a week now until the Grand National 2017 takes place. We have Grand National tips and a guide to the main protagonists live on the site now as we move ever closer to the big day. There have been many famous quotes from the Grand National in the past, including many from the wonderful Ginger McCain but most of them are unrepeatable! We look back at some of the most famous jockeys quotes from the big race which we can publish!
Mick Fitzgerald “Sex is an anti-climax after that!”
One of the most repeated quotes in National history and certainly one that racing pundit Mick Fitzgerald will never be allowed to forget. Speaking to the BBC’s Des Lynam in the aftermath of his 1996 Grand National triumph on Rough Quest, the words left his lips almost without thought but after a win in the most famous race in the race, who can blame him? Rough Quest had always travelled well, a tall horse with a slightly high head carriage, Fitzgerald coaxed him to the front on the run-in only for him to hang across runner up Encore Un Peu whose jockey David Bridgwater had to snatch up. It made no difference to the result however much to the delight of punters who had backed the gelding into 7/1 favourite. It was later a fall from L’Ami in the Grand National that ended his riding career, a race that gave Fitzgerald one of the greatest moments of his career but also at the age of 38 ended it. Relive the 1996 Grand National below.
Captain Becher “It was damn cold stuff without brandy in it”
The Godfather of the Grand National itself, it was on Captain Becher’s recommendation that the Grand National was first run. He met with Aintree owner, Wiliam Lynn and soon had Lynn onside in his plan for the greatest steeplechase. Becher himself would win the first ever running of the Grand Liverpool Steeplechase in 1836 on Our Duke. Upon renaming as the Grand National in 1839, Becher would return in an attempt to win the race again, this time on Conrad. As they came down to the 6th fence, Conrad refused, running into the fence rather than jumping over it, sending his jockey from the saddle over the top of the fence into the brook that ran on the landing side. He would remount his charge but on the second circuit, he would again come off at the brook, a fence that now bears his name and spawned his quote on his distaste for water without alcohol in it!
Ruby Walsh “What happened at Becher’s frightened the heart out of me, but he settled and settled. I thought to myself that whatever happens I wouldn’t move until the Elbow”
A year removed from falling at the final fence when looking tired, Hedgehunter returned in 2005 with unfinished business in the Grand National. Primed to the second, the horse absolutely tanked through the contest before Walsh lost an iron jumping the fence before Becher’s. While Walsh was busy readjusting his position in the saddle, a pair of loose horses cut across the race leader Clan Royal, forcing Walsh to snatch his mount up and lose his stride pattern into the fence. Hedgehunter pulled out a fine leap to take him to the head of the race and from there, he was always going to win with Walsh barely moving a muscle before they reached the elbow, recording a 14 length victory over Royal Auclair. Hedgehunter winning the Grand National can be seen below with Carrie Ford who is next on the quote list in 5th.
Carrie Ford “I loved it – it was a thrill of a lifetime!”
Before Katie Walsh and Seabass, it was Carrie Ford riding Forest Gunner who held the title of best result for a female jockey in the Grand National. Ford had been a huge story the year before when just 10 weeks after giving birth, she came out of retirement to ride Forest Gunner to victory over the National fences in the Foxhunters. Peter Buchanan would take the ride on the horse when he was successful a second time over the fences in the Becher chase so it was out of retirement a second time for Ford to take the mount in the Grand National itself. Still close up turning for home, his stamina began to ebb away but a 5th place finish for the 11 year old was still an exceptional performance for all concerned with the horse.
Tony McCoy “The National is about however long it takes to run that race – eight minutes of fame – but champion jockey is about racing 365 days a year. I actually wouldn’t swap any of my winners for the National”
While McCoy would eventually get the win in the National that the entire country seemed desperate for him to get on Don’t Push It in 2010, it was never held in the same regard by the man himself, at least in the early days. McCoy would soon change his tune in the aftermath of the World’s greatest race. When interviewed afterwards he would say “I’m being a big wuss. It means everything to me to win the Grand National. I’ve won lots of big races and I’m supposed to be a good jockey, but to not win the Grand National would be a bit of a negative on the CV.” Even to the most hardened of jockeys, a multiple time champion, it was still the lure of that gap on his list of big races won that drove McCoy onto a famous victory as Don’t Push It stayed on past Black Apalachi on the run-in despite his earlier protestations that he would not swop his champion jockey titles for one win in the Grand National.
Who will add their name to the winners column of the world’s most famous race in 2017. We took a look back at the key Grand National trials from earlier in the season looking for clues in our Grand National Round Up.