Which jockey holds the record for the highest number of wins in the Grand National?
Granted that the last of his record five wins came over 150 years ago, in 1870, is would be fair to say that the most successful jockey in the history of the Grand National is hardly a household name. However, the jockey is question, George Stevens, benefited from the tutelage of Tom Olliver, himself a Grand National-winning jockey and, in 1856, at the age of 22, won his first Grand National on Freelander. Carrying just 9st 6lb, the 25/1 chance was left in third place at the fence now known as ‘Foinavon’ on the second circuit, took the lead on the turn for home and, after a protracted duel with the eventual runner-up, Minerva, who became entangled in the final hurdle, finally prevailed by a length.
Stevens achieved his second and third victories in the Grand National courtesy of back-to-back victories aboard the 7-year-old mare Emblem and her 6-year-old half-sister Emblematic in 1863 and 1864, respectively. Wins number four and five also came in consecutive years, 1869 and 1870, but this time aboard the same horse, The Colonel. On the first occasion, Stevens employed exaggerated waiting tactics, as was his custom, and steered a wide course, which allowed him to avoid trouble in running. He did not take closer order until crossing the Melling Road for the final time, but swept into the lead at the second-last fence to win comfortably by 3 lengths. On the second occasion, Stevens rode a similar race and, although involved in a neck-and-neck battle with eventual runner-up The Doctor on the run-in, The Colonel prevailed again, albeit narrowly.