For a race in excess of four and a quarter miles, with 30 fences to negotiate, it’s no surprise that there have been plenty of big priced winners down the years in the Grand National. Two of them have come recently, causing the biggest Grand National shocks since the 1960’s! Our Grand National Tips will be up shortly as we look to find the winner of the 2017 running. Is there something running this year to add their name to the biggest shocks in the Grand National?
A monster field of fifty seven (the largest field since 66 in 1929) faced the starter on ground officially described as heavy. Conditions were perfect for a shock and the Irish trained Caughoo, a horse bought for a mere £50, was stood in the wings, ready to provide exactly that. The winner of the Ulster National in both 1945 and 1946, that was not enough to convince punters that the horse was worthy of support. The race was run in thick fog and caused controversy as Daniel McCann who finished runner up on Lough Conn claimed that Caughoo had not run the course. He alleged that winning jockey Eddie Dempsey had hidden the horse in the mist on the first circuit, waited for the horses to come back round again and joined back in! This later was proved to be false using photographs of the event that showed Caughoo further round the course but it makes for a great tale.
Just two years after Caughoo, another winner for the bookies on paper but ‘The Worker’ was a popular paper at the time with 50,000 members of the Communist party at the time in the U,K. Whilst amounts have never been specified, those close to party members at the time suggest that the bookies will have been well hit. Regarded before the race as an unlikely stayer, he proved the doubters wrong, keeping on strongly to pick up the Dick Francis ridden Roimond on the run-in. Francis who would suffer further National bad luck 7 years later on Devon Loch started his career with Russian Hero’s trainer George Owen. Francis had once stayed with the horse all night after an attack of colic only to see his old friend, fly past him after the final fence. A faller at the first fence in two of his last three attempts at the race (coming down at The Chair on the other occasion) he was never to get his head back in front from 27 further starts.
Forty seven horses went to post in 1963 with the teenager Pat Buckley, riding the winner. Trained by Keith Piggott, the father of Lester, the horse had shown little during the majority of his career, including when going through the sales ring for only 40 guineas as a three year old following a poor flat career. A failure as both a hurdler and a hunter, it was a return to the sales that saw him end up in Piggott’s hands. His faith began to be repaid when the horse won on three occasions in 1961 but it was two years later that his judgement was to prove well founded. The horse made just one mistake under Buckley at the Canal Turn the first time. Ironically it helped him as on the second circuit, Buckley sent the gelding through the hole he had previously created! A length down at the final fence, Ayala gradually ground down the leader Carrickbeg to land a huge surprise in the world’s most famous steeplechase. You can watch the race below.
One of the most famous winners of the race. He avoided absolute carnage at the fence that now bares his name, the one after Becher’s Brook. From his position trailing the field, jockey John Buckingham was able to steer his mount to the outside of the fence and steal a march on his rivals who remounted to give chase. More details and a video of this famous race can be found in our article, the 5 most dramatic Grand National Winners.
One of a number of recent renewals that has thrown up a long priced winner, Liam Tredwell did the steering for Venetia Williams. He was only able to finish 10th the year before off a mark of 141 and despite a win at Cheltenham in December beating the smart Star De Mohaison, he was unfancied in his 2nd go at the big fences from an inflated mark of 148. Tredwell took the brave mans route round the inside, his charge covered up in the field in the early stages. It was not until they got to the third last that suddenly all eyes were drawn to the green colours of the winner. He bounded clear up the run-in to score by 12 lengths from Comply Or Die, the biggest shock for over 40 years to land Tredwell a win on his first ever ride in the Grand National. Mon Mome’s triumph in the race can be watched below.
Venetia Williams was only the 2nd woman to train the winner of the Grand National in 2009 but it wasn’t long before Sue Smith became the 3rd, another woman with a huge outsider claiming the Aintree glory. Hindsight is a wonderful thing in horse racing and having finished 2nd in the Scottish National the previous year off a mark of 143, a run off 137 in the Grand National itself left him very well handicapped on the best of this form. Form was the issue however, He had failed to complete in three of the seven starts between the two National’s and got no closer than 24 lengths behind the winner in the other four. The Grand National fences have been known to spark horses back into life in the past and so it proved again. Ryan Mania having to sit tight a couple of times early on but he came there strongly heading to the last and there was never going to be any other result but a skinner for the bookies.
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.