What sort of record do grey horses have in the Grand National?
The short answer is lamentable, or so it might appear, at first glance. Up to and including the 2021 renewal of the Grand National, the world famous steeplechase has been run 173 times, but has been won by a grey horse on just four occasions, or just 2% of the time. However, if you consider that just 3% of thoroughbred racehorses are grey, in the first place, and grey horses are more susceptible to certain health issues, including equine melanoma, in later life, perhaps their record in the Grand National isn’t so bad after all.
In any event, The Lamb was the first grey horse to win the Grand National, battling to victory on heavy going in 1868, as a six-year-old. Indeed, having missed the next two renewals of the Grand National, for various reasons, The Lamb returned to Aintree in 1871, as a nine-year-old; having jumped well, he quickened clear in the closing stages to win the celebrated steeplechase for the second time.
The next grey horse to win the Grand National was Nicolaus Silver, fully 90 years later, in 1961.
Favoured by the firm going, the Fred Rimell-trained nine-year-old established a narrow advantage approaching the final fence and only had to be kept up to his work on the run-in to beat the fading Merryman by 5 lengths.
After another 51-year hiatus, the last grey horse to win the Grand National was Neptune Collonges in 2012. A stable companion of Denman and Kauto Star, behind whom he had finished third in the Cheltenham Gold Cup four seasons earlier, the 11-year-old earned his own place in Aintree folklore when catching Sunnyhillboy in the final stride to win by a nose.