The man credited with being the youngest jockey to win the Grand National was Bruce Robertson Hobbs. Hobbs was born on December 27, 1920 and, thus, was just 17 years and three months old when he partnered Battleship to victory on March 25, 1938. The diminutive 11-year-old, who stood just 15.2 hands high – coincidentally, the same height as Tiger Roll – was owned by renowned Virginia horse breeder Marion duPont Scott and trained by Hobbs’ father, Reg, in Lambourn, Berkshire.
Sent off at 40/1, Battleship nearly unseated rider at the seventh fence, now known as ‘Foinavon’, but Hobbs was helped back into the saddle by fellow jockey Fred Rimmell, and nearly fell after a bad mistake at the third last. Nevertheless, despite being forced wide on the run-in, ran on well to pip the big Irish horse Royal Danieli, who had led by 2 lengths at the final fence, by a head. Hobbs said later, ‘I thought it was half a length, but they gave it as a head and all the Irish said if there was a photograph I would have been second.’
Bruce Hobbs was not only the youngest jockey to win the Grand National but, at 6’4″, far and away the tallest. Battleship, for his part, was the first American-bred horse to win the Grand National and the first entire to win since Grudon in 1901; indeed, no entire has won the Grand National since.