Top 10 Grand National Long Shots
The 2017 Grand National will take place on Saturday 7th April. And as happens every year, there will be those people who’ll take a look at the horse with the longest odds and plonk their money on it. Why? Well, in a race with 40 horses, literally anything can happen. And as the follow steads demonstrate, there are those thoroughbreds that have overcome 30 fences *and* impossibly long odds to make history at Aintree.
1932 – Forbra (50/1), 1966 – Anglo (50/1), 1985 – Last Suspect (50/1)
Three 50/1 shots have won the National. Of these, it’s the success of Anglo in 1996 which is particularly eye-catching given that it won by fully 20 lengths. More remarkably still, jockey Tim Norman was injured in a car accident just two days before the race and nearly had to withdraw.
2013 – Auroras Encore (66/1)
The 6th April 2013 was a great day for Irish racing. Indeed, besides the Ryan Mania-ridden Auroras Encore (above) entering the winning circle, Irish horses also finished second, third, fourth and fifth. One can but imagine how much Guinness was guzzled down in Liverpool that night.
1963 – Ayala (66/1)
One of the most exciting Grand Nationals on record saw Ayala beat out Carrickberg by just three-quarters of a length. Ridden by Pat Buckley, Ayala was owned by the highly unlikely pair of Keith ‘father of Lester’ Piggott and hairdresser to the stars Pierre Raymond, aka Mr Teasy-Weasy.
1949 – Russian Hero (66/1)
While winning jockey Leo McMorrow deserves no end of credit, it’s the second place stead – or rather its rider – that catches the eye. Future bestseller writer Dick Francis would of course land an unwanted place in National history riding the Queen Mother’s horse Devon Lock in 1956… (see above)
1908 – Rubio (66/1)
Among the most unlikely of Grand National success stories, the American-reared Rubio was pulling trolley busses just two years before his Aintree win. There was method in his owner’s madness, however – the ‘donkey’ work built up his legs ahead of a return to National Hunt racing.
2009 – Mon Mone (100/1)
A reminder that, even in the modern age, truly extraordinary results can occur, Mon Mone didn’t let a little thing like being French prevent it from beating out the previous year’s winner Comply Or Die. Liam Treadwell was the over-the-moon jockey, Venetia Williams the overjoyed trainer and Vida Bingham the over-refreshed owner.
1967 – Foinavon (100/1)
Among the most infamous of all Nationals, it was the rider-less Popham Down that triggered a pile-up at the 23rd fence. Of the 30 horses still racing, John Buckingham’s unfancied stead was the only one to go unencumbered. In ‘honour’ of the occasion Fence 7/23 is now officially called ‘Foinavon’.
1947 – Caughoo (100/1)
A horse that cost all of £50; a jockey who, at the age of 35, thought he was past it – Eddie Dempsey’s win on Caughoo is one of those great Grand National stories, on a par with Bob Champion and Aldaniti overcoming cancer and respectively to win the big one in 1981.
1929 – Gregalach (100/1)
Even before Bob Everett rode Gregalach () into the winner’s circle, the 1929 National was guaranteed a place in history what with it being contested by all of 66 (yes, 66!) horses. As for the previous 100/1 winner, you had to go all the way back to… the year before.
1928 – Tipperary Tim (100/1)
Not until the 87th National was the race was won by a 100/1 outsider. While heading for the start, jockey William Dutton heard someone cry out; “Billy boy, you’ll only win if all the others fall!” Cue each of the 41 other horses coming a cropper and Tipperary Tim securing a truly improbable victory.