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.