The Complete Grand National 2019 Guide

The Complete Grand National 2019 Guide
Around 600 million people across the world will tune in to watch the drama unfold at the 172nd annual Grand National on April 6. It is the richest jumps race in the world, replete with a £1 million prize purse, and it attracts all the leading long distance chasers in the business. The National transcends the sport of horseracing and stands as one of the great sporting events in the entire calendar. Even people with minimal interest in the National Hunt scene will enjoy a cheeky flutter and the anticipation will continue to mount as we approach the big day. 

Race Features

The Grand National at Aintree captures the imagination due to the epic nature of the trip, which is run over a gut-busting 4 miles and 514 yards. The horses must clear 30 fences over two laps. These are not just any fences, they are fearsome, treacherous fences like Becher’s Brook, The Chair and Canal Turn – so gruelling they have names. The Chair is the 15th fence and, at 5ft 3ins, it is the tallest in the race. The runners must clear a 6ft open ditch as they take off and land safely on the far side, which is 6ins higher. Two jockeys lost their lives at this fence in the 19th century. 

Canal Turn provides a number of problems for jockeys and their mounts due to the 90-degree turn that immediately precedes it. Several horses refuse to jump the Canal Turn and it has witnessed several pile-ups over the years. Becher’s Brook is the 6th and 26th fence, named after the jockey who fell from his mount there in the first ever Grand National and took shelter in the brook. No wonder 63% of the horses do not complete the race.  

Runners

The Grand National is famous for its huge field of leading jumpers from across Great Britain, Ireland and further afield. A total of 112 entries have been received for the 2019 renewal, but a maximum of 40 runners will start the race. This year Tiger Roll fever is certain to sweep the nation. Gordon Elliott’s star nine-year-old is bidding to become the first runner since the legendary Red Rum in 1974 to win this famous race for the second year in a row. It is a monumental ask, but he just won a second consecutive Cross Country Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, finishing a comfortable 22 lengths clear of the chasing pack. Tiger Roll has proven himself to be a brilliantly versatile horse and he will try to defy a weight of 11 stone 1 pound to win the race. If you check out the sports spread betting markets, you will see that Tiger Roll is out in front, ahead of the likes of Anibale Fly. However, it is more than a decade since a favourite won the National, and we have seen several long odds victors in recent years, so many punters will prefer to look at long shots. It always descends into a thrilling war of attrition and it will be fascinating to see who prevails this year.

Prize Money

£1 million prize purse is on offer for the Grand National, but only 25% of the runners will receive a piece of it. The winner is given £561,300, which could be a life-changing sum for some of the smaller owners. The runner-up takes home £211,100, while the third-placed horse is given £105,000. That drops to £52,700 for fourth, £26,500 for fifth, £13,200 for sixth, £6,800 for seventh, £3,600 for eighth, £2,000 for ninth and £1,000 for the horse that finishes 10th. 

Stats and Trends

Punters love to lump on the favourite at the Grand National, but it is worth noting that these horses are only successful 15% of the time. Spectators at Aintree witnessed 7/1 favourites romp to victory in both 2006 and 2008, but since then the long-shots have ruled the roost and Tiger Roll will now aim to defy that trend. The shortest-priced winner was 11/4 shot Poethlyn in 1919. Contrast that with 100/1 hopeful Tipperary Time, who won in 1928 as one of just two horses that finished the race. 

Peter Simple is the oldest horse to ever win the race, at the ripe old age of 15 in 1853, while five different five-year-olds have won the race, but none since 1909. Nowadays horses aged 10 or over have the best recent record. Horses that either won or placed last time out have also flourished here, and you should look for runners that have secured victory over hurdles at some point in the season. Irish raiders have dominated in recent years, which is positive for connections of Tiger Roll, but trainer Gordon Elliott will have a strong hand as he will not want to put all his eggs in that basket. 

Horses aged eight or lower have struggled recently, as have those aged 13 or older, so the sweet spot really is 9-12. Normally you want the horse to be well rested, as runners that have raced in the previous 50 days struggle with this epic trip. Runners that were tested to their limits at Cheltenham usually flop in the National, but Tiger Roll might be excused as he coasted to victory. Twenty-six of the last 27 runners were officially rated 137 or higher, which is also worth keeping in mind. Twenty-five of 27 winners had previously won over a distance of at least 3 miles, so you should look for horses that can handle a long trip. At least 10 chase starts has been the minimum requirement for National winners over the past decade.

How Is Betting on the Grand National Different to Other Races?

The Grand National Is Unlike Any Other Race
In the coming weeks, you will start to hear more about the Grand National. It starts with a whisper but grows day by day until 5:15 pm 6th April when when it becomes a roar. 

The Grand National isn't like any ordinary race. It has a history, reputation and story that's literally embroidered into the heart of horse racing. Say the name: ''Red Rum'' and someone will tell you a story of a horse that won the Grand National three times in the 1970s, trained by Ginger McCain. Then, you will hear a personal story about betting on Red Rum, perhaps themselves, a Dad, uncle, grandparent, the spouse. Stories passed on from generation to generation. Remember when... 

There can't be many people who don't have something to say with pride. 

The Grand National is one of those races where anything is possible. Or, perhaps, we should say, almost anything is possible. There have been five 100/1 winners in the history including Foiavon 1967, who is one of the most famous winner simply because he is a winner that shouldn't, perhaps, have won. 

As with so many aspects in life, circumstance ruled the day and the most unlikely of horses won. Whether a horse price over 100/1 will ever happen, only time will tell. I guess it is possible. Certainly the favourite don't have the best record. The number of the jolly, old favourite who fall at the first fence is unknown to me but I get a feeling it has been a bad starting point for many. 

Horses priced around the 14/1 mark always reminded me of a fair betting guide. Something with a bit of a price, a fighting chance, and often a horse with experience or strong credentials. It will be interesting to see how this year's race pans out. 

The race doesn't seem to capture the sparkle of yesteryear but it is a lot safer than the old days which just isn't acceptable this day. 

Will I be betting on the race? 

No. 

I don't know anything about National Hunt horses and I don't like betting for ''fun''. I find losing money frustrating at the best of times and I would rather spend it wisely on a two-year-old race which I understand and appreciate. 

There will be plenty of punters betting for their lives and even more having a flutter for the first time. It is the type of race where you can get lucky. It's strange how often first-bettors have a bit of luck. As with most bets, I would rather a have my ounce of favour with a big priced selection than a 6/4. Not that we are going to see a horse priced one and a half to one in the Grand National. You have to go back to 1960 for a horse to be priced 13/2 favourite. Merryman II took the honours from trainer Neville Crump. 

From what I can see, the shortest priced horse to ever win the National is Poethlyn who was priced 11/4. It would take something exceptional to have such a short priced horse theses day. So in conclusion, there is every chance a big winner could take the Grand National this year. Whether a huge price or a favourite, have a small bet and just hope it is your lucky day.

Beginners Guide to Betting the Grand National

The Grand National is one of those races that doesn't need an introduction. Taking place at Aintree, Liverpool it is the world's most famous steeplechase. It is viewed by millions of racing fans who keep coming back for more. 

What makes the Grand National different from many horse races is that the whole family love to bet. Everyone sits around the box (TV) in the corner ready for the race to begin. This year, our household will be like so many across the UK. Checking the colour of their horse, remembering its name and, of course, taking note of the betting odds. 

I'm sure you are like me, calculating the winnings before the first fence has been jumped.

(In fact, even before the race has started.) 

That reminds me, set the reminder on your phone for 5:15 pm, Aintree, Saturday, 6th April 2019. 

Get seated. A nice cup of tea and a couple of biscuits to mop up any spillage from your saucer as the excitement builds. Now here's the important part. The Beginners Guide to Betting on the Grand National. Here you can bet on the Grand National and claim a free bet. It's important because so many bookmakers want you to bet with them so you can receive bigger odds or bonuses by shopping around. 

Let's take a quick review of the betting for the 2019 Grand National. The likely favourite is Tiger Roll who won the Grand National in 2018. Could this horse be another Red Rum who won three times in the 1970s? Only time will tell, but he's here with a favourite's chance. Tiger Roll could be worth a bet at 10/1

Other fancies include Rathvinden, who is in good form after winning comfortably on his return to racing at Fairyhouse in February. Bookies have this bay gelding, trained by Irishman Willie Mullins, priced 12/1. You have to go back to 2005 when Hedgehunter won for the stable. A long time between drinks! 

A horse which may go well at speculative odds is Elegant Escape. This seven-year-old may be a touch immature for a race of this stature. His trainer, Colin Tizzard, is still looking forward to his first National winner. On the plus side, this rare talent has won the Welsh National, which is often a good indicator of a horse's chance, and he's earmarked as a possible Gold Cup winner.

Anibale Fly finished fourth in last year's National. Can Tony Martin's charge defy the weights after that sparkling effort? This gelding is owned by legendary punter J P McManus who won with Don't Push It (2010), the year Tony McCoy finally won got the monkey off his back to taste victory in the getting steeplechase of them all. 

Whichever horse you bet, lady luck can decide your fate. The likes of Foinavon, who won at odds of 100/1 in 1967. His owner gave him so little chance he went to a different racecourse to watch a different horse! For those betting for the first time, here are a few pointers. Even though it doesn't seem very scientific you may get lucky by following a favourite name, colour or number. Remember there are 40 runners! (In case you have a penchant for the number 53). The betting odds are often shortened toward the start of the race, so take a price when placing your bet. Simply say: ''Can I take the price, please!'' and you are likely to see the benefit come to the starting price (SP). 

Other than that, please, if you are sitting next to your old gran and her horse hits the front, watch out for that boiling cup of tea. 

Good luck.

Record 47 Irish-Trained Horses Among 112 Initial Entries for 2019 Grand National

Irish-trained horses have won eight of the last 20 runnings of the Grand National, and Emerald Isle raiders account for a record high 47 of the 112 initial entries for the Aintree showpiece on Saturday, 6 April 2019. 

That equates to just shy of 42 per cent of potential runners, although a maximum field of 40 can go to post in the extended 4m 2f Merseyside marathon. Last year, Ireland had the first four home in the Grand National and all of those horses could line-up again. 

Despite Oddschecker reporting odds being slashed for no Irish runners at Aintree due to Brexit, the 2018 winner Tiger Roll heads the ante-post betting with most bookmakers. History is against Gordon Elliott's Gigginstown House Stud-owned gelding, however, as he seeks to emulate Red Rum and be only the second dual Grand National winner in modern times. 

Tiger Roll is something of a Cheltenham Festival specialist. Like erstwhile stablemate Cause Of Causes before him, he won both the four-mile National Hunt Chase as a novice over fences and later the three and three-quarter miles Cross Country Chase. 

A similar campaign is on the cards for Elliott's plucky long-distance horse, who previously won the Triumph Hurdle over 2m as a juvenile. Tiger Roll seems to come alive in the spring, but winning back-to-back Grand Nationals would definitely be a career best.





Pleasant Company, who was a diminishing head runner-up for Willie Mullins 12 months ago, again looks to be trained with the race in mind. As with Tiger Roll, bookies' ante-post prices vary for the Malcolm Denmark owned 11-year-old who has twice completed the unique Grand National course with its spruce covered fences. 

Leading Irish owner JP McManus often has more than one iron in the fire at Aintree, and potentially joining last year's fourth Anibale Fly - who again looks sure to be high in the weights - could be Enda Bolger's Cross Country specialist Auvergnat. 

The French-bred nine-year-old proved his stamina on the Bank Course at Punchestown on his first try over four miles back in April when prevailing by a neck over stable companion Josies Orders. Auvergnat has since followed in the hoofprints of Tony Martin's Anibale Fly by winning the valuable Paddy Power Handicap Chase at the Leopardstown Christmas Festival. Both of these McManus owned Irish raiders are available at a general 33/1 in the 2019 Grand National betting prior to the weights being published on February 12. Others sporting his famous green and gold hooped silks could also line-up on Merseyside. 

Besides Tiger Roll, Elliott's County Meath stable holds 21 further entries including last year's third Bless The Wings, who is now aged 14. Of those, 11 are Gigginstown owned and they feature the 2018 Irish Grand National winner General Principle.




Just like Tiger Roll at Aintree, he prevailed by a head in the Fairyhouse Easter Festival feature. Irish National runner-up Isleofhopendreams and the fifth horse home Folsom Blue, now both 12-year-olds, get entries here too. 

Mullins only has 10 for the Grand National, and joining Pleasant Company and Isleofhopendreams is Rathvinden - the National Hunt Chase winner from the 2018 Cheltenham Festival. Both Rathvinden and General Principle are 33/1 chances for Aintree. 

Pairofbrowneyes and Polidam are seasoned handicappers from County Carlow handler Mullins' stable, and his potential Grand National team also includes former Ladbrokes Trophy winner Total Recall. 

Joseph O'Brien still has his whole training career ahead of him, but the son of all-conquering Flat racing master Aidan has a potentially well-weighted sort in Vieux Movran. The 10-year-old French import was second to Auvergnat in Paddy Power Chase - improving from fifth last season behind Anibale Fly and running off 4lb higher.

A number of the Irish jumps scene's smaller yards are also represented by initial Grand National entries. Sandymount Duke and Magic Of Light hail from the stable of Cheltenham Gold Cup-winning trainer Jessica Harrington. 

Henry de Bromhead has a couple for Gigginstown entered too in Valseur Lido and Sub Lieutenant. Ross O'Sullivan, husband of former crack women's amateur jockey Katy Walsh, also has two in Baie Des Iles - who got round Aintree and was last of 12 to finish last year - and Irish Grand National seventh Call It Magic.

Horses that Made Some Neighs in Belmont Stakes

Belmont Stakes 2019
Among all racehorses in Belmont Stakes Race, Justify is the top star nowadays. It is a big kahuna horse that has been skillfully ridden by Mike Smith and carefully trained by Bob Baffert. It’s famous for being undefeated, keeping its career record of 5 starts – 5 wins – 0 seconds – 0 thirds. 

There are many other racehorses, however, that made neighs in Belmont Stakes Race, as well. In no chronological order, the following are other racehorses that are justifying their potentials. against Justfiy’s title. 

Blended Citizen 

After nine races with Kyle Frey as its jockey and Doug F. O'Neill as its trainer, Blended Citizen finally had a first-place finish at the 2018 Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont Park. He finished the run through drawing off handily in the final half-furlong, earning a 110 Equibase Speed Figure, which is the second-best of his career, in the 1 1/8-mile race.

A manifested relationship for Belmont’s dirt track, constant Equibase Speed Figures, and a fitting stamina pedigree are the said reasons for Blended Citizen to be menaced as one of Justify’s challengers in Belmont Stakes.

Bravazo 

Bravazo might be one of Justify’s big opponents, especially with the guidance of its trainer, D. Wayne Lukas and its jockey, Luis Saez. Bravazo. Bravazo placed sixth in the Kentucky Derby and was known to be one of those 20-horse field’s biggest long shots. Not only that, but he also became the second placer in Baltimore for the Preakness. 

Gronkowski

You might guess it right. Gronkowski is named after Rob Gronkowski, one of the New England Patriots Tight end. Gronkowski wasn’t able to join Kentucky Derby due to being infected. However, now he is restarting to train for Europe's Burradon Stakes with its trainer Chad C. Brown and is ready to take a dominant run again with his jockey, Jose Ortiz. 

Hofburg 

Hofburg placed seventh at the Kentucky Derby while being ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr. and trained by William I. Mott. Many surmised that he might be one of those spoiler candidates with pretty good odds with it. If only basing in a purely physical perspective, Hofburg may compete against Justify well. Noble Indy Noble Indy is the second horse of trainer of Todd Pletcher in the Belmont Stakes Race. While being ridden by its jockey, Javier Castellano, 

Noble Indy

kept on either setting or stalking the pace in his last five races until he won the Louisiana Derby on March 24, last year. 

Noble Indy is one of those underrated horses with great potentials that can place second after Justify or even take advantage of a normal performance by the favorite and pull off an upset win. 

Restoring Hope 

Restoring Hope with its jockey, Florent Geroux finished 12th in the 5th of May Pat Day Mile, last year. Similar to its name, Restoring Hope is restoring hope for his trainer, Bob Baffert. Baffert has recently left anticipating comments about what will Justify face in competition with Restoring Hope. 

Tenfold 

Tenfold became known to have auspicious talents after winning its first two starts at Oaklawn Park at the distance of 1 1/16 miles. Although just being fifth in the Arkansas Derby, Tenfold will sooner or later hit the top with Victor Espinoza, a three-time Preakness winner, as its jockey.

After which, it came back a longshot Preakness Stakes competitor and rallied impressively through the stretch to finish third, with only three-quarters of a length behind Justify. Continuing this and with the help of its trainer Steve Asmussen, Tenfold might be at the top of the Belmont Stakes stretch. 

Vino Rosso 

Although Vino Rosso barely reached the top in many of his races specifically for the Wood Memorial Stakes by NYRA Bet, still it performed with a sharp three-length win to qualify for the Kentucky Derby. In fact, Vino Rosso raced wide throughout in the Derby with John Velazquez as its jockey and Todd Pletcher as its trainer. It was never been contended until it continued on through the stretch to finish ninth. It’s one of those horses with a potential to post an upset win. 

Takeaway 

Currently, Justify has a dominant history of Preakness Stakes victory which can be found in any sports tv sites like the ones in https://www.tvg.com/promos/kentucky-derby/.There has been no horse that had come within 2 ½ lengths of Justify in Preakness Stakes yet. In addition, he has been speculated to have a great opportunity to become the 13th Triple Crown winner in United States Thoroughbred racing. That’s why winning against Justify would be really a hit.

1969 Highland Wedding Wins Grand National for Toby Balding

1969 Highland Wedding Wins Grand National for Toby Balding
The 1969 Grand National marked the 123rd vibrant unveiling of the Grand National equestrian racing competition that happened at the timeless Aintree Racecourse, close to Liverpool in England. The event took place on 29 March that year and was won by Highland Wedding. 

The overall winner was a fairly less-known contender who was participating in the international meet for the third consecutive round. Rather coincidentally, the actually twelve-year-old runner triumphed by a 12-length distance! 

The title-winning horse was ridden by jockey Eddie Harty and had been trained by Toby Balding. Prior to Harty’s clincher performance, all eyes had been on Red Alligator - the big day’s prime favourite at the beginning of the monumental tourney. The top-rated pick’s hitherto shiny prospects, however, took an abrupt nosedive when he suffered an irreparable fall at the 9th fence. 

The champion gelding had come a long way. His first participation in the historical clash was during the 1967 gaming season. Nevertheless, that initial trial did not prove very fruitful for the then hardly seasoned rookie – he only managed position eight. 

The following year’s National attempt would become the gradually-improving contester’s second effort, this time marking a slight step-up by finishing seventh. The up-to-that-time-uncelebrated vanquisher surprised many with his amazing victory when he came out first, barely three years into the nationwide sporting extravaganza. 

Highland Wedding was bred by John Caldwell of Ayrshire; formerly acquired from Canadian and American equine gaming enthusiasts Charles Burns and Thomas McCoy. Paying honourable tribute to his former owners, the gelding ran the first race donning Canada’s colours. And, upon that maiden plunge proving chiefly unsuccessful, he in 1968 tried redeeming missed fortunes by wearing Canadian tints again…which, sadly, proved only slightly more rewarding than the preceding shot. 

With these shades harbingering possible further losses, Burns thoughtfully shifted to the more captivating United States colours and registered resounding success herein described. The 1969 Grand National triumph has however been mainly attributed to the starring jockey’s huge dashing finesse. 

Trainer Toby Balding’s colossal coaching experience has on the other hand not escaped the kudos of reasoned views worldwide. They assert that it’s the evenly shared input of both the masterful rider and the astute instructor that birthed that epoch-shaping Aintree victory. 

Yet, a positively persuading number of on-looking fans rest out-and-out convinced that the brilliant racing skill of the riding ace must have brought evidently much more into the day’s eye-dazzling showing. 

The expectedly happy Mr. Balding could be seen hugging and patting on the back his partners immediately Harty put a seal to the animated chase. And a swift media briefing came up few minutes after the exemplary feat…with both thankful supporters and kin huddled close to the all-smiling champion. 

He confided feeling extremely elated at the excellent performance by a horse he highly appreciated as a “total product” of the larger “system”. 

As the interview carried on into those usual privy details descriptive of such victories, Balding explained that the jackpot-clinching contestant caught his fancy on television. He’d later obtain him for a friend and client Peter Calver, who doubled up as an amiable neighbour back at his main residence. 

Little did he know – or he so movingly confessed to media interrogators – that the ordinary-looking acquisition would wrap up such terrific honours a short time later. 

Highland Wedding seems to be one of the very few National titleholders with particularly long and tremendously dappled pre-winning histories. Prior to his being sold to Burns and McCoy, he’d done incredibly well in the Eider Race…during which noteworthy Newcastle tournament he’d emerged first. 

Upon this 1966 proof of spotless talent, the not-yet-well-known runner’s prospects began to brighten progressively and finally inched into the top three Aintree favourites. 

Harty and his indomitable charge had had it all apparently well-planned, even the two preceding editions in which he didn’t exactly impress as much…only that luck seemed to have twice eschewed him at the second Belcher’s Brook. 

This is the jinxed spot where the future hero’s erstwhile impressive momentum eased into inexplicably fizzled out in both 1967 and 1968. He, even so, seized the following version’s more favourable occasion to salvage the gleaming glory that had eluded him before. 

Prominent English and Irish equine racing opinion leaders have since especially applauded the 1969 victorious team’s sheer optimism. With the same horse having lost two consecutive battles at the same venue, it should have looked practically useless fronting him a third time. But that what the Balding-led bunch did, and easily prevailed against real insurmountable odds! 

It’s also worth pointing out the main fact that both Eddie Harty and his indomitable mount displayed a cleverly pre-calculated mix of resilience and restraint in the opening circuit. They only started to loom ever constantly larger on the leading group a minute or so into the second circuit. 

Then a rare shaming faux pas occurred, as the booming commentator’s voice erroneously declared that Harty and galloper had fallen. But he’d soon find himself outright stunned when the reportedly fate-trapped pair commanded an increasingly widening gap beginning from the Canal Turn.


In the end, the stark contrast ultimately happened – Eddie Harty (a past Olympic rider) and Highland Wedding pulled off an indelible 12-length victory!


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Hot Favorite Earth Summit Wins 1998 Grand National

Earth Summit Grand National Winner 1989
Earth Summit, a pre-match 7-1 favourite, successfully outran other contesters participating in the 1998 Grand National to pass the finishing post distinct streets ahead at Aintree Racecourse. Maintaining a chiefly judicious pace from the very start, jockey Carl Llewellyn beat Sun Bay (the 2nd runner) by an extraordinary 11 lengths. Samlee and St Mellion Fairway took distant third and fourth position, respectively. 

Such a ‘superbly judged’ run – as a lively BBC coverage immediately described it - had hardly been before seen at the Liverpool’s time-honoured racing facility. As many longstanding gaming experts rightly explained, the shiny performance narrowly paralleled another similarly tremendous record inked by the same rider back in 1992. 

Again, it was not only Llewellyn’s worthy show of skill but also a likewise solid testimony for Nigel Twiston-Davies’ superior horse-training prowess.

Nigel Twiston-Davies seemed completely clueless at first, and just tensely looking on as the tough chase kicked off and the participants coursed along the ancient gaming arena. Evidently, very little could at those early moments tip the experienced trainer about the huge honours that lay ahead of him. 

Some minutes later, the consummate equestrian coach was however spotted celebrating and hugging Llewellyn quite heartily in the finishing area. 

In what has since been commonly described as the most unfavourable British weather conditions for a Grand National showdown, Earth Summit overcame such notoriously inclement climatic circumstances to pull off an unprecedented 11-length finish…confirming the rosy pre-contest predictions he’d earned from the majority of Aintree aficionados before the event’s kickoff. 

Official statistical records prove that the literally murky clash noted three racetrack fatalities – with Do Rightly, Pashto, and Griffins Bar emerging out of the harsh National scuffle with outright mortal wounds.

Close observers have also unanimously lauded the top horse’s ‘perfect start’ – having met all his fans’ wild expectations as a deserving 7-1 favourite ahead of the competition. 

Earth Summit came out as the only renowned runner who really lived up to prior punters’ anticipations…while other would-be champs such as Rough Quest and Suny Bay desperately drifted to less-shiny forecasts hours to the start, and eventually fell distantly short of the glossy pre-race wagers they’d previously attracted from optimistic supporters. 

The unforgettable steeplechase showpiece was preceded by a rare torrential downpour. But, immediately the interrupting drizzling had ceased, the officiating starter Simon Morrant paced undeterred his designated post, and at once formally ushered anxious clutter into the long-awaited tussle. 

Shortly after, Pashto became the first casualty to crash to the rain-drenched floor at some point along the initial fence. 

With many mud-encumbered pairs falling out of the weather-affected circuit, Greenhil Tare Away was sighted making positive moves up the testing field, a few minutes into the historical chase. Almost simultaneously, Decyborg began to create some gap between the two candidates, even with the frontrunners breaking into an apparent casual banter that lasted some brief moments. 

On the other hand, a bunch of furiously advancing competitors soon started to emerge from the rear. Subsequently, the leading duo then called off their budding chitchat so as to better fight the growing opposition behind them. 

Toward the end of the first circuit, any keen spectator might have easily noted the cutthroat pursuit put up by real soft-ground pros such as Cel de Brion and St Mellion Fairway. Minutes later, as the collectively energized huddle eased into the second circuit, the day’s ultimate winner remained tactfully inconspicuous…slyly beguiling himself among then still-middling sprinters like Sun Bay and other hard-to-notice eventual top performers. 

Having thus clandestinely but very calculatingly trailed their colleagues throughout much of the track, both Sun Bay and Earth Summit finally shot into limelight as they dashed past the Becher’s Brook – commanding an invincible lead. All of a sudden, the latter gained even greater momentum and began to gradually outdistance his closest challenger.

Although Suny Bay tried all the harder to keep up with the winning galloper, he appeared to lack the requisite strength to outdo the more determined pair. In the end, amid deafening ululations issuing from the unbelieving crowds, Carl Llewellyn unstoppably piloted his resolute mount to trounce second-placed Graham Bradley by an unmistakable 11 lengths.

The third-ranking horse was Samlee – steered by the thoroughly practised Richard Dunwoody, swiftly followed by Andrew Thornton's St Mellion Fairway and Kenny Whelan/Gimme Five, in that particular order.



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The 1999 Grand National: Bobbyjo Steals the Show for Team Carberry

More famously remembered as the Martell Grand National for corporate sponsorship sakes, the 1999 edition of this centuries-old steeplechase showpiece was won by Irish-bred Bobbyjo. In a demonstrably rare show of unfading skill, the 9-year-old inked an indelible record when he successfully retained the very title he’d clinched dramatically a year before. 

Besides, the distinct nine minutes within which twice-winning runner completed the keynote race was equally emphatically descriptive of the defending champion’s sheer racetrack tenacity.

After a mostly winless 24 years dominated by various exotic horses, the entire Irish racing sorority reeled under a smothering cloud of utter collective demoralization. Subsequently, they all with a similar went for a surefire pick that would ease the near-impervious discouragement brought by lacklustre racing seasons. 

In a word, the whole of Ireland’s leading equestrian fraternity joined heads and hands toward a unified purpose: to carry home the following National top honours, come rain or shine! And with a singularly hope-inspiring background powerfully demonstrated by his yesteryear’s admirable performance, Bobbyjo became every far-seeing Irish horse-handling pro’s best guess. 

Still unready to take the slightest blind risk, those vindictive folks undertook a greater deal of more thoroughgoing deliberations as a defeat-united community with a common pent-up bitterness. 

Finally, the then reigning Aintree conqueror satisfied all as the much-sought win-win bet for the neck-break waterloo ahead…and this foolproof communal strategizing proved lethal enough in the end! 

Owned by a smart enterprising compatriot with vast concerns in horseracing and horses generally, Bobby Bourke prayed for the best as his stable’s finest hope entered the giant clash. Concurrently, the finally twice-honoured Tommy Carberry happened to be conventional pick’s coach, plus the title-winning jockey Paul Carberry biological father - an epochal rarity at any rate. 

At first, that guardedly unpretentious coaching ace readily endorsed his countrymen’s undivided decision to field his rigorously tutored charge. And registering after a resounding success, the astonishingly modest fellow couldn’t even give any faint attempt at the habitual chest-thumping Aintree fans had been accustomed. 

Breaking from traditional indulgences in excessive self-elevations, the simply self-effacing nerd issued nothing more than tacit media remarks, all through seeming to give the greater credit his son. And whatever lesser morsels of apparent praises, those the humble sportsman pushed over to his jointly scheming countrymen who’d made it all possible on the tense duelling grounds.

If you still are a sceptical doubter of the clever maxim that truth is naturally stranger than fiction, then you’re literally ‘in for it’ – as they say. Now, it’s this very self-abasing Tom Carberry who had won Ireland’s last jackpot, after which polished masterstroke the perennially victory-eluded region would remain without any win until Bobbyjo avails a soothing emphatic triumph in 1998. 

In a similar vein, the closing game of the yester-millennium’s Grand National editions featured a retinue of distinctive changes. One key alteration availed extra numbers 41 to 43 as standby reserves to cater for eleventh-hour withdrawals. 

To curb devious manipulations by conniving jockeys and stable proprietors, a new clause deterring horse participation in multiple races at the same venue within the National’s designated timeframe. This latter amendment sought to end rampant unethical arrangements under which a single runner could be ill-used by fortune-stricken of avaricious riding professionals, trainers, owners, or shady proxies advancing sundry foxy ploys. Properly informed racing adherents may nevertheless generally acknowledge that the aforesaid notorieties had reduced markedly about a decade to the 1999 event. 

Paul Carberry, an industrious horse-riding protégé of his own father’s excellent nurturing, shared the occasion’s most reminiscent splendours with…a classic parenting milestone in the main; an attention-grabbing father-son Grand National thrill that would be yet unbelievably replicated in the succeeding grand gaming season. 

The second-biggest cash giveaway went to a somewhat unfamiliar horse, forebodingly christened Blue Charm – a manly exploit creditable to the genius legworks of a probable apprentice, Lorcan Wyer. With a 10-length distance and just a neck separating the 2nd and 3rd pairs, Richard Dunwoody evidently capitalized on Call It a Day’s unusual steel to decisively trounce the fourth-ranked Adrian Maguire/Addington Boy pair by 7 lengths. 

Last of all, wrapping up the cheerful day’s divergent marvels and tales were the determined fifth finishers: Brian Harding and Feels like Gold, crossing the ultimate line five lengths behind Maguire and his mount.

Papillon Millennium Grand National Winner for Ted Walsh

The predictably exciting 2000 Grand National went straight into the extensive annals of competitive English equine sporting as the only keynote international race to be won by a father-son combination. The event’s most triumphant horse was the then 9-year-old Papillon…a top mount actually piloted by the immensely talented Ruby Walsh and properly trained by his dad - Ted Walsh. 

Thus, quite surprisingly, the very closely blood-related aces emerged winners as jockey and trainer respectively. And unbelieving gasps of wonder rend the air…describing the utter bafflement following both child and parent coming first in the same, star-studded horse-riding combat! 

Again, the keenest of equestrian gaming enthusiasts will also easily recall the fact that it’s the same mercurial rider who added an extra feather to his already well-decorated cap by winning the 2005 National title on Hedgehunter. 

Achieving a strikingly rare first, both the senior and junior Walsh really enjoyed their fair share of worldwide fame – one for a majestic ride like no other, the other for having so painstakingly coached the year’s most illustrious galloper. 

This is however not to say that the runner’s excellent performance had in any way eluded the prior predictions of accomplished eyes. An extensively trusted 10-1 shot, Papillon’s near-flawless jump in preceding championships had inspired a huge deal of previous fanaticism at home and abroad...earning the gallant ride thousands of decent success predictions as a highly promising second-favorite. 

As close watchers at the legendary racecourse could well attest, the day’s eventual winner didn’t attain such overwhelming Aintree accolades without creditable opposition from other tough-competing fighters. For instance, Mely Moss gave him a sure deal of untiring heat as the two leading contesters careered vigorously past the final straight. 

Nevertheless, the Charlie Egerton-trained candidate proved hardly capably of undoing his more energized rival, and only managed to scoop a soothing second place. 

Due to its eminent coincidences, the 2000 National version is commonly viewed as one of the most prominent Grand National tournaments of all time. The former event obviously earned an especially greater measure of extra publicity when its increasingly adored champ again defeated all Aintree frontrunners to claim the 2005 edition’s title. 

Considering Papillon’s matchless dash – marked by uncharacteristic jumps and gallops on both occasions – overwhelmed fans and foremost sports opinion makers remained sufficiently convinced that the twice-winning marvel was easily the finest runner of the young millennium. 

Another contributor to the 2000 National enigmatic reminiscence is the very outstanding Ted Walsh himself…possibly, too, Europe’s most victorious head of a richly talented racing family. You’ll call to mind the well-known circumstance that the lucky model racer doubles up as the proud lead proprietor of an amiable family-based horse-training enterprise located at Kill County Kildare. 

And, in addition to all the aforementioned accomplishments detailed hereinabove, the gifted patriarch has sired a respectable line of other naturally endowed riding heavyweights. 

The now-elderly racecourse veteran’s unmistakable scions comprise his joint prizewinning replica Ruby Walsh, renowned Irish racetrack official Jennifer Walsh, and the enduring female trier who has enjoyed boundless accolades in many men-dominated steeplechases. All these miscellaneous exploits by the revered Teds instantly morph into something of an entire phenomenon once you throw in the founding geek’s uncountable achievements in preceding nationwide competitions. 

A good case in point is that old fellow’s unblemished scorecard as a consummate amateur entrant in several Irish showdowns some years ahead of the striking twin wins at the exact unfolding of the millennium. 

Consequently, thousands of sharp-brained fanatics blessed with particularly sharp memories can with complete awe and adoration recollect senior Ted’s four-time Cheltenham triumphs…all of which impossible feats the heroic horse connoisseur dramatically easily accomplished against scores of insufferably skillful opponents in historic equestrian battles both in Ireland and England. 

Another maybe less remarked uniqueness that made 2000’s continentally followed game is that the first and second-finishing horses were both nine years old. That was the new face Norman Williamson’s second-placed Mely Moss, an initial 25-1 favorite trained by Charlie Egerton.

Elsewhere, Robbie Supple – an indeed demonstrably ‘supple’ jockey of no middling riding prowess – managed to steer Niki Dee to a third-place finish, a conspicuous 7 lengths behind. Philip Hide’s evident hardwork didn’t leave him unrecognized, either; for his strapping Brave Highlander completed fourth, oh-so precariously trailed by the world-reckoned Adrian Maguire on Addington Boy…with a mere neck between the two closely tussling pairs! 

And now here’s a closing tidbit to keep avid gaming-loving aficionados thinking about their mainstay pastime longer than this piece could stretch…well, it’s worth keeping in mind that it was Ted Walsh happened to be the very first of the deafeningly thundering cheerers to extend Ruby Walsh a warm, congratulatory handshake immediately he crossed the winning line! 

Eyes became at once transfixed upon the simultaneous title-winning father and son, the mutually thankful heroes patting each other’s back for the suddenly mesmerizing, once-in-trillion act…a shrilly inspiring image that the stunned onlookers couldn’t even wildly hope to behold again in their lifetime.

Red Marauder Wins 2001 Grand National at 33/1

Red Marauder Wins 2001 Grand National
Red Marauder trounced a clutter of 39 other contenders to achieve a perfect Grand National title at Aintree Racecourse, against a myriad of unprecedented setbacks. The debonair galloper inked a truly laudable record by beating a handful of other better-known horses enrolled for the momentous sporting duel.

All these historical developments unfolded on Saturday, 7 April 2001…an uncharacteristically eventful day chiefly marked by a lot of noteworthy firsts and feats. Also referred to as the Martell Grand National in honour of the main sponsors of the great international championship, the exceedingly memorable gathering attracted a huge deal of negative hullabaloo from diverse formal and informal quarters
.

2001’s was actually the 154th official staging of the annual equestrian derby customarily held at the traditional Liverpool’s Aintree horseracing arena. Only a 33/1 shot, the surprising champion won the tourney by a ‘distance’.

Ridden by the renowned Richard Guest, the top horse indeed proved quite capable of doing a great job – a praiseworthy achievement sealed in a timing of slightly more than 11 minutes. Coincidentally, this also happened to be the inaugural season for a jockey-cum-trainer to win a Grand National title.


In the above-mentioned respect, it was an authentic double-honour for the hardworking jockey and trainer. Owned by Norman Mason, the latter accepted to the internationally acknowledged fact that Guest was a truly gifted equine gaming star. Meticulously coached for a long, painstaking four to five years, the favourite pick spent earlier ages receiving expert sports lessons for the calculative rider, who would later use him to earn unprecedented National accolades.

Richard Guest, going by the formal details provided in the official license for the victorious mount, was formally described as the assistant proprietor of the County Durham’s Crook – the very humble stable and equestrian enterprise proudly owned the fledgeling winner. Guest’s unmistakable riding zeal was embodied in his unique colour selections of three azure hoops on the sleeves, all stylishly finished off with a blue-and-red decorated cap.


Although the year’s tussle drew the usual maximum of 40 competitors, only a surprising two completed the designated track. Two extra horses were however later re-mounted for a somehow ceremonious completion of the remaining part of the formal circuit.


All the same, this last-minute effort didn’t succeed in undoing the well-noted truth that they year’s episode was marred by a wide range of mid-course mishaps. Even local and worldwide journalists covering the important occasion were quick to recognize the aforementioned fact.


The Canal Turn proved to be the most jinxed spots that largely significantly fateful day – with a total of eight near-mortal mishaps. Shortly after the event’s start, top commentators from around the globe took to various publicity platforms to criticize what they termed as largely unsafe weather conditions for a worldwide gaming fete. Even the meet’s official organizers couldn’t refute the allegations that the racetrack was just too soggy for jockeys and their unfortunate mounts.


In a somewhat opposing rejoinder, some unflinching members of the officiating crew maintained that the purportedly ill-navigable ground in effect provided a cushioning softness…and, hence, the equally conspicuous complete absence of any fatalities that day. According to them, critics sounded ‘deliberately ungrateful’ to the evidently providential climatic gift kind Nature had offered on the said ‘fortunate turn’.



In addition to the controversies detailed hereinabove, the 2001 National edition ran smack against the longstanding rebuttals that the yearly competition is essentially determined by mere luck than real skill. No wonder, with just four out of forty completing the established distance, Red Marauder and Richard Guest barely eclipsed Smarty and his comparatively less lucky mount by a sheer ‘distance’…with the third and the fourth ranks going to Blowing Wind and Papillon respectively. 


The winning runner pocketed the £290,000 jackpot, having been left in what was universally referred to as an ‘eerie isolation’ – with a clear-cut head-start enough to clinch the epic prize. In some way depicting the soggiest ground conditions under which the luckless scuffle was executed, Richard Guest termed the scarcely navigable Aintree turf as the ‘worst circumstances’ in which he’d trodden in his rich racing career.


Last, of all, the 2001 Martell Grand National made history as the only race in which all the successful finishers won a tidy monetary award. While previous money earners had to struggle to beat a bunch of sterling gallopers and their proficient guides, it was a stark contrast that time around…you only needed to cover the preset track circuit to take home an honourable name and glittering cash reward!


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