When were the most, and fewest, finishers in the Grand National?

When were the most, and fewest, finishers in the Grand National?  Ironically, the record for the most finishers in the Grand National was set in 1984, the first year in which the field was limited to a maximum of 40 runners. Favoured by unseasonably good going and carrying just 10st 2lb, Hallo Dandy, trained by Gordon W. Richards and ridden by Neale Doughty, was heavily backed to improve on his fourth place in the 1983 Grand National and duly obliged. The 10-year-old was the first of 23 finishers and was followed home by the favourite, Greasepaint, and the 1983 winner, Corbiere, with 100/1 outsider Canford Ginger the last to finish.

By contrast, the record for the fewest finishers in the Grand National was set, in foggy conditions on heavy going, in 1928. A total of 42 horses faced the starter on that occasion, but only two finished and only one jumped all 30 fences at the first attempt. A pile-up at the Canal Turn on the first circuit, initiated by the well-fancied Easter Hero, who fell into the ditch on the take-off side, decimated the field, such that only seven horses remained.

Heading into the closing stages, just five remained, but both Maguelonne and May King blundered and unseated rider at the final open ditch, four from home. Great Span, too, unseated his rider when his saddle slipped on take-off at the penultimate fence, leaving Tipperary Tim and Billy Barton to fight out the finish. Tipperary Tim appeared to be going the better of the pair at the final fence, where Billy Barton took a tired fall, leaving the unconsidered 100/1 outsider to gallop home in splendid isolation, with just a loose horse for company. Billy Barton was remounted to finsh second, a distance behind the winner.

What’s the most popular age for a Grand National winner?

What's the most popular age for a Grand National winner?  The first point to mention about the age of recent Grand National winners is that, in 2012, the race conditions were changed such that horses aged less than seven years became ineligible. However, no horse aged less than eight years has won the Grand National since Bogskar in 1940, so the change is of little consequence.

For the record, the oldest winner of the Grand National was the 15-year-old Peter Simple in 1853, while the youngest winners were the five-year-olds Alcibiade, in 1865, Regal, in 1876, Austerlitz, in 1877, Empress, in 1880, and Lutteur III, in 1909. Overall, the most popular age for a Grand National winner is nine. Nine-year-olds have won 47, or 27%, of the 173 runnings of the Grand National since its inception in 1839.

Since the turn of the twenty-first century, just one 12-year-old, Amberleigh House in 2004, has won the Grand National and no horse older than that has been successful. Otherwise, notwithstanding the previous comment about horses aged less than eight years, there has been uniform split between the ages of the winners. Five eight-year-olds, five nine-year-olds, five 10-year-olds and four 11-year-olds have won the Grand National in the last twenty runnings. In other words, apart from suggesting that relatively young, inexperienced horses should be avoided, along with those into the veteran stage of their careers, recent trends offer few clues about the likely age of the winner.

Did Venetia Williams break her neck in the Grand National?

Did Venetia Williams break her neck in the Grand National?  As far as the Grand National is concerned, Venetia Williams is best known for saddling 100/1 outsider Mon Mome to victory in 2009, making her just the second woman, after the ‘Queen of Aintree’, Jenny Pitman, to train the winner of the celebrated steeplechase. However, 21 years earlier, as a promising amateur rider with ten winners to her name, Williams did ride in the Grand National for the one and only time.

On April 9, 1988, Williams lined up on the 200/1 rank outsider Marcolo, trained by the late Peter Ransom, but parted company with her mount at the sixth fence, the infamous Becher’s Brook, and was knocked unconscious in the process. Williams was detained in hospital with a whiplash injury but, two weeks later, was deemed fit enough to return to the saddle.

However, in her very first ride back after Aintree, Williams suffered what turned out to be a much more serious fall in a novice hurdle at Worcester, which effectively ended her career. She landed head first and suffered a so-called ‘hangman’s fracture’ to her second cervical vertebra, which forms a ring around the spinal cord. Any displacement, or movement, of the fractured bone can cause damage to the spinal cord, resulting in paralysis or even death. Thankfully, in Williams’ case the fracture remained stable but, by her own admission, she was ‘very lucky, lucky not to have died.’ She nevertheless spent two months in traction.

What is the heaviest weight any horse has carried in the Grand National?

What is the heaviest weight any horse has carried in the Grand National?  The race conditions for the Grand National, including the maximum weight to be carried, have changed numerous times down the years. For example, in 1956, the maximum weight to be carried was lowered from 12st 7lb to 12st 0lb and, despite being lowered twice more, to 11st 12lb in 2002 and 11st 10lb in 2009, the legendary Red Rum remains the last horse to win the Grand National under top weight. ‘Rummy’, as he was affectionately known, made light of 12st 0lb when beating L’Escargot by 7 lengths in 1974.

However, prior to 1956, four horses carried the previous top weight of 12st 7lb to victory in the Grand National. In chronological order, they were Cloister (1893), Manifesto (1899), Jerry M (1912) and Poethlyn (1919) and, collectively, they hold the record for the heaviest weight carried by a National winner. Spare a thought, though, for the inaugural Grand National winner, Lottery who, in the days before the National became a handicap, carried 12st 0lb to a 3-length victory in 1839, albeit in the slowest time ever recorded.

A faller at the dry stone wall, again under 12st 0lb, in 1840, Lottery tried again, as an 11-year-old, in 1841. Remarkably, despite being penalised 18lb for winning the National Hunt Steeplechase at Cheltenham the previous year, which took his overall weight to an eyewatering 13st 4lb, he was sent off 5/2 favourite. Less remarkably, he was pulled up at Becher’s Brook on the second circuit.

1 2 3 4 5 19