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7 Apr 2017

The Grand National's Biggest Successes

The Grand National has a long history of epic wins, tragic losses and shocking moments. There have been many stories of success, but some seem to stand out from the rest. These incredible stories of triumph have made The Grand National what it is today and affirmed our love of the sport, so it seems only fair that we spend some time remembering these legendary victors.

Red Rum

Throughout the history of The Grand National, there is one horse in particular that everyone seems to remember. Even 40 years later, The Grand National still recognises one of its most notable success stories, which is that of the horse Red Rum. Red Rum, whose statue at Aintree will be overlooking this year’s Grand National contenders, seems to be everyone’s favourite horse from history and has become something of a national legend over the years. Rummie’s first win was in 1973, where he overtook the Australian two mile champion chaser, Crisp, on the final stretch to the finish. Only three weeks later, he went on to win the Scottish Grand National, too. During his second visit to The Grand National in 1974, Red Rum carried the maximum weight of 12st. Despite his handicapper, Rummie was the first horse since Reynoldstown (in 1936) to win the Grand National two consecutive years in a row. And his victories didn’t end here.

In 1975 and 1976, it was the handicapper that prevented Red Rum from winning, coming second both times to horses carrying significantly less weight. In 1977, when Red Rum returned to the Grand National, most believed that the 12 year old was past his prime, but his trainer Ginger McCain had a very different opinion. Carrying the top weight of 11st 8lbs, Red Rum finished with a distance of 25 lengths between him and the nearest horse, taking home his third Grand National victory. This race has become an iconic moment in the history of The Grand National as well as the history of horse racing.

The story behind Foinavon’s victory is a true demonstration of just how unpredictable these races are. The odds were 100-1 on that day in 1967 when Foinavon snatched victory under the most unexpected of circumstances. Neither Foinavon’s rider, John Buckingham, nor his owner Cyril Watkins expected the horse to win and neither did anyone else for the first circuit. However, during the second circuit, the race took a dramatic turn when one rider-less horse, Popham Down, approached the second fence. Popham Down suddenly veered right, slamming into another horse and unseating his rider, which started a chain of knocks, tussles and falls and resulted in a tragic pileup of horses and jockeys. Many approaching horses refused to tackle the jump when they reached the fence or just added to the pileup, bringing the race to a halt. One horse was determined to finish- Foinavon. He had been far enough behind to avoid the pileup and was in the perfect position to steer around the chaotic pile and clear the fence from the outside. Before any of the riders had the chance to get back on their horses, Foinavon and Buckingham were already ahead. The fence that felled so many riders has since been named after Foinavon, commemorating his astounding victory.

Winners can be found in unexpected players and the odds can never truly predict the outcomes of these races. It’s the unpredictability that makes these races as exciting and as nail-bitingly tense as they are, which is why we love them. While some people have already placed their bets and picked out their horses, there is still time for you to find your horse. With the Ladbrokes Grand National Horse Generator you can find your favourite horse and try your luck. This year is sure to be a thrilling event, so don’t miss out on the action!