Ten memorable Grand Nationals

  • Last Updated: April 1 2014, 16:08 BST

We look back on ten of the most memorable Grand Nationals, from Devon Loch to Don't Push It.

Don't Push It: AP McCoy's National winner
Don't Push It: AP McCoy's National winner


Devon Loch's collapse 50 yards from the winning post with the race in his grasp will always be one of the great mysteries of the turf.

An enthusiastic crowd thought they were about to witness the first Royal victory in the Grand National for 56 years when the nine-year-old, owned by jump racing's biggest patron, the Queen Mother, took up the running three fences from home in the hands of Dick Francis.

Devon Loch was clear of his nearest pursuer ESB when he suddenly sprawled and slithered to the ground turning a National dream into a nightmare.

Whether it was the tumultuous cheers from the stands that startled the horse or that he was trying to negotiate the water jump on the other side of the rails, Devon Loch was cruelly denied his place in the National roll of honour.


Luck plays a big part in the Grand National and the lottery of the race was no better illustrated than by the victory of 100-1 shot Foinavon.

He was even considered a no-hoper by his connections with the owners not going to Aintree and his trainer and regular rider John Kempton preferring to go to Worcester.

No-one could have possibly predicted what happened.

Foinavon was 30 lengths behind the leaders when the aptly-named loose horse Popham Down caused mayhem at the 23rd fence, the smallest on the course and the one after Becher's.

With jockeys flying over the fence instead of horses there was utter chaos but somehow John Buckingham managed to avoid the carnage.

By the time the others got going, Foinavon was 100 yards clear and he was still 15 lengths ahead of Honey End at the line to record one of the luckiest wins in the race's history.

RED RUM (1973)

Who would have imagined that when he won the first of his three Grand Nationals in 1973, Red Rum would have been referred to as the villain of the piece.

But the race will always be remembered as much for the performance of Crisp than it will be for the horse who became a National institution.

Crisp gave one of the most spectacular exhibitions of jumping ever seen at Aintree, the Australian chaser setting up an enormous lead by the second circuit.

He looked to have the race in the bag but one rival continued to make steady, relentless inroads on the leader.

That was Red Rum, who in receipt of 23lb, finally caught the floundering Crisp five strides from the line to win by three-quarters of a length.

It came as no surprise to discover that the course record had been smashed by 18 seconds.

Crisp never ran in the National again but Red Rum became an Aintree legend and his remains rest alongside the winning post.


The remarkable triumph of Aldaniti and Bob Champion is pure fairytale.

Two years before their emotional victory, the odds were stacked against either of them making it to Aintree.

Aldaniti's career was in the balance after he had broken down while Champion was diagnosed with testicular cancer and told he had eight months to live.

Amazingly both were nursed back to health to take their place in the world's greatest steeplechase, but the dream almost died at the first fence where Aldaniti made a bad mistake.

He recovered and Champion allowed him to bowl along up front.

Taking a clear lead from the ninth fence, Aldaniti kept up the gallop and although tiring on the run-in, he responded to Champion's urgings to hold Spartan Missile, ridden by 54-year-old John Thorne, by four lengths.

Fittingly the story was turned into a movie, Champions.


Jenny Pitman made history by becoming the first woman to train the winner of the Grand National.

She had suffered heartache in the race when she was married to Richard Pitman who had been agonisingly beaten on Crisp by Red Rum 10 years earlier.

But Corbiere, ridden by Ben de Haan, made up for that with a thrilling victory over Greasepaint, holding the Irish raider's late challenge by three-quarters of a length.

It was a triumph that helped earn Mrs Pitman the title 'first lady of Aintree'.

Corbiere returned to finish third in the following two seasons while the trainer captured a second National with Royal Athlete in 1995.


A most remarkable winner in a dramatic race. Connections of the David Elsworth-trained gelding were confident of a big run beforehand, but he was virtually out of the race at Becher's.

He landed in a heap at that daunting obstacle and it is one of racing's miracles that Brendan Powell kept the partnership in one piece and the horse hauled himself back up.

It nonetheless left him miles behind, but he worked his way back into it and was left in front five from home when Little Polveir fell.

But his concentration began to wander and Durham Edition made what looked a race-winning move two out and shot clear.

That only served to galvanise Rhyme 'N' Reason, however,

and he gave chase with renewed vigour, sweeping past 100 yards from the line to win going away.

MR FRISK (1990)

A race all about Mr Frisk and his amateur rider Marcus Armytage as they became the latest to deny the luckless Durham Edition.

Out on his own from Becher's on the second circuit, at one stage he held a huge lead under his 25-year-old partner only to have it whittled down to just a couple of lengths coming to the last as Durham Edition closed with every stride.

But there was more left in the tank and Mr Frisk picked up again to hold on by three-quarters of a length, breaking the record time set by Red Rum in 1973 by a staggering 14 seconds.

Trainer Kim Bailey had spent a few years persuading his American owner to run Mr Frisk, and everything came right as he got the lightning-quick ground he loved so much.


No-one will ever forget the year Lord Gyllene won the National. Not just because he won looking like he could go round again, but it was the year when the famous race was run on a Monday.

A bomb scare reduced Saturday afternoon's spectacular to chaos when the announcement was made that entire course would have to be evacuated. Even the BBC's Des Lynam was famously ushered off air.

Jockeys, trainers, owners and thousands of racegoers were forced to take refuge where they could in Liverpool and everyone gathered again 48 hours later.

Lord Gyllene's connections had managed to get a flyer and were one of the first lorries to leave the racecourse on the Saturday.

They were not hanging about in the race itself, either, as Lord Gyllene and Tony Dobbin powered to a 25-length success that equalled Red Rum's 1977 winning margin.


The day Ruby Walsh really came to prominence as the 20-year-old produced an ice-cool ride to land a huge day-of-race gamble on Papillon, trained by his father, Ted.

What was even more remarkable was that it was young Ruby's first ride in the big race.

Available at 33-1 earlier in the day, his odds went into freefall and he was a 10-1 chance at the off.

Papillon travelled supremely well and took to the unique fences with aplomb.

He also showed he had no stamina worries as he repelled Mely Moss by a length and a quarter for a win which could be said to have marked the start of an era.

DON'T PUSH IT (2010)

It had to happen eventually, and at the 15th attempt, and after more than one hard luck story along the way, it did as Tony McCoy ended his hoodoo in the world's greatest steeplechase.

A few eyebrows were raised when McCoy elected to partner Don't Push It from his choice of JP McManus-owned runners.

But on the day the money came as he was backed into 10-1 joint-favouritism, surely more out of the public's faith in McCoy than anything the form book revealed.

So it was the perfect outcome for all concerned as McCoy nursed his mount round the big fences to allay stamina fears, in truth looking the winner from some way out.

Never one for a flying Dettori-style dismount, McCoy's delight - and relief - was evident as he waved his whip in salute at the packed grandstands on passing the post. A lifetime's ambition achieved - job done.