What’s the smallest number of finishers in the Grand National?

It would be reasonable to assume that the smallest field ever assembled for the Grand National, just ten in 1883, also resulted in the smallest number of finishers. However, on that occasion, the actual result was quite the contrary; Jolly Sir John refused at the fourth fence and Cortolvin fell at the second fence on the second circuit, but the other eight runners all completed the course.

The smallest number of finishers in the Grand National actually occurred in 1928, when 100/1 outsider Tipperary Tim beat the only other finisher, Billy Barton, who was remounted after falling at the final fence, by a distance. Ironically, race featured what was, at the time, the largest field ever assembled for the Grand National.

However, a mêlée at the Canal Turn on the first circuit caused, in part, by Easter Hero, who landed on top of the fence and slipped back into the ditch and, in part, by Eagle’s Tail, who refused, put paid to 18 of the 42 starters and further drama was to follow. Heading out into the country for the second time, only six horses remained in contention; that number was reduced to three by the departures of De Combat at Becher’s Brook and Maguelonne and May King at the fourth-last fence. Of the remaining trio, Great Span was travelling best when unseating rider at the second-last and when Billy Barton fell at the last Tipperay Tim was temporarily left alone.