Before Tiger Roll and Red Rum, which was the last horse to win the Grand National two years running?

Before Tiger Roll and Red Rum, which was the last horse to win the Grand National two years running?  For many owners, trainers and jockeys, winning the Grand National, just once, remains an elusive dream. However, several horses have won the world-famous steeplechase two – and, in the case of Red Rum, three – years running. Of course, the most recent of them was Tiger Roll who, in 2020, was denied the opportunity to attempt an unprecedented hat-trick when the National was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Before Red Rum, though, we need to look back to the interwar years, 1936, for the last horse to record back-to-back victories in the National. That horse was Reynoldstown, owned and trained by Major Noel Furlong and ridden, in 1935, by his son Frank and, in 1936, by Fulke Walwyn.

The 1935 renewal was notable for the presence of Golden Miller who, in 1934, had become the first – and, so far, only – horse in history to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup and the Grand National in the same season; sent off 2/1 favourite, Golden Miller parted company with jockey Gerry Wilson at the fence after Valentine’s Brook on the first circuit. Reynoldstown, carrying11st 4lb, jumped well and although challenged for the lead by Thomond over the final two fences, ran on strongly to bear Blue Prince by 3 lengths. In so doing, he set a new course record, 9:20.20, which would not be beaten until 1973.

Despite being sidelined with injury, Reynoldstown returned for the 1936 Grand National and, under 12st 2lb, disputed the lead with Davy Jones from Becher’s Brook on the second circuit. However, he nearly unseated Fulke Walwyn when colliding with Davy Jones at the fifth-last fence and made a bad mistake of his own at the third-last. He rallied gamely to dispute the lead again at the final fence, at which point Davy Jones’ reins came unbuckled and he ran out, leaving Reynoldstown to come home unchallenged.

Which horse was the shortest-priced winner of the Grand National?

Which horse was the shortest-priced winner of the Grand National?  In 2019, Tiger Roll was heavily backed for weeks ahead of his historic attempt to become the first horse since Red Rum to record back-to-back victories in the Grand National. Available at odds as short as 7/2 at one point, the nine-year-old was mooted as potentially the shortest-priced National winner in history. Of course, win the National he did, but was sent off at 4/1, so while he ‘inflicted the most expensive result in Grand National history’ he did not, in fact, become the shortest-priced winner of the celebrated steeplechase.

That distinction still belongs to the 1919 winner, Poethlyn, trained by Harry Escott and ridden by Ernie Piggott, grandfather of Lester. Poethlyn had already justified 5/1 favouritism when winning the so-called ‘War National’ – an unofficial substitute for the Grand National, run at Gatwick Racecourse – in 1918 and, back at Aintree the following year, was sent off at 11/4 to do so again. Shouldered with the welter burden of 12st 7lb, Poethlyn tracked the leaders for most of the way, but Piggott bided his time, making steady headway from Becher’s Brook on the second circuit to dispute the lead crossing the Melling Road near the Anchor Bridge. Poethlyn was soon ahead, clearly so by the second-last fence, and won, easily, by eight lengths.

Why is ‘The Chair’ so-called?

Why is 'The Chair' so-called?  One of just five ‘named’ fences on the Grand National Course, ‘The Chair’ is the penultimate fence on the first circuit of the Grand National and, along with the Water Jump, is jumped just once.
Neverthless,’The Chair’ stands 5’3″ high and is preceded by a 6′ wide ditch, making it both the highest and widest obstacle on the Grand National Course. Furthermore, the landing side is 6″ higher than the take-off side, so the fence is a spectacular, if formidable, test for horse and rider; its positioning, in front of the grandstand, is no accident.

Originally known as the ‘Monument Jump’, ‘The Chair’ took its name, quite literally, from the chair which, historically, stood on a concrete plinth alongside the fence. In the early days of steeplechasing, when races were run in heats, the chair was occupied by the so-called ‘distance judge’, whose job it was to gauge the distance between one finisher and the next. Essentially, any horse that had failed to pass the distance judge when the previous finisher crossed the winning line was declared ‘distanced’ or, in other words, beaten 40 lengths or more. Any such horse was considered a non-finisher and, hence, disqualified from participating in subsequent heats. Understandably, for safety reasons, the concrete plinth was replaced by a plastic replica in Nineties, but the original can still be seen in the Red Rum Garden at Aintree.

Which was the last Grand National to be run over four-and-a-half miles?

Which was the last Grand National to be run over four-and-a-half miles?  Historically, there was a time when every schoolboy – or, at least, every schoolboy with a slightly misspent youth – knew that the Grand National was run over an advertised distance of four-and-a-half miles. Of course, that was before 2013, when safety measures included moving the start forward, about a hundred yards closer to the first fence, with the result that the race was run over the shorter advertised distance of four miles and three-and-a-half furlongs. Thus, the last Grand National to be run over four-and-a-half miles was the 2012 renewal which, fittingly, also produced the closest ever finish, with Neptune Collonges beating Sunnyhillboy by a nose.

However, Aintree, along with every other National Hunt racecourse in Britain, was subsequently professionally surveyed and re-measured, along a line two yards from the inside rail rather than down the middle of the track, as had traditionally been the case. Not unexpectedly, the change in methodology lead to traditional race descriptions becoming shorter; since 2016, the Grand National has been run over an advertised distance of four miles and two-and-half furlongs, or an exact, ‘baseline’ distance of four miles, two furlongs and 74 yards. However, notwithstanding the earlier changes, horses still travel exactly the same distance they did prior to 2016.

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