Monday 6 November 2023

Grand National Winner Don't Push It 2010

Grand National Winner Don't Push It 2010
Very few race fans were actually surprised to see Tony McCoy easily win the 2010 Grand National atop the talented Don’t Push It. Even though Denis O’Regan’s fruitlessly pursuing Black Apalachi had kept a better position in the preliminary lengths, this long-distinguished jockey maintained a covertly close chase every inch of the way. Finally, as the pair bolted breathlessly closer to the winning line, McCoy unbelievably galvanized his strong-willed mount to a jubilant finish! 

The relief showed on the cheerful hero’s face simply told it all…The veteran jockey couldn’t mask his excitement as thousands of race fans cheered their congratulations on the densely populated sidelines. Whereas the ferociously tussling pair had appeared equally capable of winning a few moments before, it was indeed an exponentially amazing spectacle for the consummate champion to astonishingly manage a five-length difference. 

State of Play was lucky enough to earn a definitely estimable third place, effectively hot on the heels of the two giants who galloped ahead. Paul Moloney, despite his having fallen short of the top prize, had again enjoyed a not-so-bad finish, scooping a relatively modest £98,235. The fourth and the fifth position were claimed by the Barry Geraghty/ Big Fella Thanks and Sam Twiston-Davies /Hello Bud, in that exact order. The sensibly hard-fighting twosome ultimately pocketed a worthy £49,117 and £24,605 respectively. 

It was a tremendously lucky round for the notorious gambler JP McManus, who had for many past years looked forward to a tiptop Aintree exploit, repeatedly without any strictly notable success unlike when online gambling, up to that epochal sporting season when fortune’s tables turn to his absolute favor. Lastly, McManus apparently quenched his oft-confessed craved desire for a tiptop Aintree performance that he had been so fruitlessly pursuing in numerous other Grand National meets for well over a decade or so before. 

There was also the modestly trying Nina Carbery, laboriously steering the energetic Character Building, probably in the wild hope of somehow writing history as the first-ever female rider to win the Grand National. She didn’t achieve her goal, in the end. Finishing a distant 7th position, and thus slightly outrun by the sixth-ranking Snowy Morning, the hard-working jockey perhaps merely ended up giving herself an only slightly motivating reason to give the same cut-throat chase a more vigorous stab in the coming years! 

Also dismally trailing the foremost pack was the previous year’s winner - Mon Mome – who would have seemingly pulled off some remarkable record, were it not for a 26th-fence misfortune that saw the commendably spirited horse suffer an abrupt fall…a rather momentum-curtailing slip-up that instantly favored faster-sprinting gallopers obliviously dashing past the luckless contestant. Otherwise, the great contender’s earlier looked excellent enough to grant them some glittering award at any rate. Nevertheless, it wouldn’t have been anything really as glamorous as the enviable jackpot of £521,052 that the unbeaten McCoy proudly carried home.

In addition, the openly ecstatic McCoy confessed that he was being a real big ‘wuss’… He subsequently admitted that the just-attained milestone was a well-timed breakthrough. Arguably one of the very finest jockeys in the world, he averred that his not having enjoyed a resounding Aintree conquest would have enormously tainted his otherwise colorful CV in the main. And this actually sounds convincingly a spot-on assertion for the vastly celebrated jockey who has formerly bagged dozens other high-profile trophies in likewise noteworthy races.

Incalculably encouraged by the great performance, the widely revered racing icon expressed delight that his mother and father would consequently feel highly elated like  visiting by his new Grand National milestone that seemed unlikely to happen after so many attempts. Again, McCoy was as well overjoyed that his darling wife, Chanelle, and his two-and-a-half-old daughter (Eve) would be evenly thrilled by the same inimitable attainment. 

Still excited by the historic colorful finish, the rapturous winner chest-thumped that he hoped his little daughter would grow up fully reassured of her great father’s standing as an internationally acclaimed equine sportsman. At the same time, the Grand National virtuoso generously thanked his astute trainer for having come up with the bizarre, yet clever idea of tossing a coin to decide the best horse to take to the annual championships. 

On her part, the freshly vitalized proud Chanelle McCoy was literally all smiles, after her hubby’s first-rate record in the year’s foremost racing event. She pleasingly expressed kudos to not only her profoundly industrious spouse but also extended her congratulations to the other exceptionally supportive folks in the winning blend. These featured guys such as McManus and Jonjo and Jacqui (O’Neill); mainly for what she fittingly described as a truly “fantastic achievement”.

Comment if you bet on this winner

Photo: Pixabay (free) 

Monday 8 May 2023

Rule The World Grand National Winner 2016

As the 169th Crabbies Grand National earnestly kicked off at the customary Aintree Racecourse in Liverpool, not even the most seasoned racing pundits could expect a mere 33-1 shot to miraculously clinch a dramatic victory. All the same, that’s what exactly transpired. 

The feisty Rule the World – that little-known champ who had never bagged any other steeplechase title before, simply ran faster than all his challengers to a spectacular finish! This utterly startling win watched by millions of fans excitedly following real money casino games and Grand National, both locally and on thousands of television screens across the world. 

Ably ridden by the mud-stained David Mullins, the persistent ‘magic’ horse unbelievably outpaced The Last Samuri – the vigorously chasing runner up - by a whopping six lengths! It was enough to make me hunger for the best mobile casinos. Strenuously trailing the leading duo was the doughty Vic's Canvas – the only 13-year-old participant in the race, and who also enduringly galloped home to a distant third place. 

Rule The World indeed accomplished a once-in-a-generation horse-racing exploit. He made history as the only complete novice to secure a Grand National win, with a similar feat having been equally phenomenally marked in 1958 by Mr. What. 

Trained in Ireland by Mouse Morris, the unanticipated success seems to have been made possible by the acclaimed 67-year-old’s thorough training. The triumph attracted worldwide praise as an undisputed masterstroke, especially given the fact that the Irish ace had lost his son to carbon monoxide poisoning a year before. Morris opined that he’d not expected his horse to pull off anything better than a hard-fought third position. He reportedly quipped that he’d have still deemed a lesser performance admirable enough. 

A telling sparkle appeared on his beaming face, the jubilant trainer joked that the underrated horse had “ran on like a train...Didn’t he?” Thus rhetorically posed the delighted champion trainer; somewhat betraying an awkward readiness to put up with anyone eager to oppose his patently exaggerated claim that his gifted horse had supposedly flitted like a real train.

Besides, the overjoyed training genius revealed that the out-of-the-blue front runner had in fact suffered some slight troubles jumping in earlier training sessions. According to the respected Irish horseman, the incredibly flourishing Rule The World had also sustained career-jeopardizing injuries previously - two pelvis fractures and a few other grim mid-track accidents, for instance. 

Even so, the exceedingly proud Morris didn’t hesitate to detail that Rule The World was one of the finest horses he had trained. Summarized, Morris took immense pride in the fact that the formerly unpromising horse had just catapulted his career to new heights. 

In addition, the winning jockey enjoyed the limelight. A nephew of legendary trainer Willie Mullins, David Mullins’s magical success amply proved that he’s essentially tipped for a successful career. 

Mullins shared the veteran trainer’s misgivings concerning the horse's lack of experience - candidly telling journalists that he’d also harbored worries that the new champion would lose speed as he’d earlier exhibited slight problems jumping fences. 

The event was sponsored by Crabbies – the giant ginger-beer maker who financially supported the contest for the last time after three successive sponsorships. The high-ranking live broadcast rights went to Channel 4 for the fourth consecutive year. The widely followed championship’s field proceedings were also covered by BBC Radio, having retained airing privileges for nearly a century, since 1927.

A total of 106 potential competitors sought inclusion in the 2016 Aintree race. However, the preliminary appraisal shortened the list to 96 contenders, and an even finer confirmatory review left only 87 candidates. Making four customary reservations to cater for any eleventh-hour withdrawals, the final 40 contestants were officially announced on April 7. 

The overall winner was awarded a cash prize of £561,300. The Last Samuri (ridden by David Bass), Mullin’s closest challenger, received a comparatively smaller but still covetable bounty - £211,100. Vics Canvas, adroitly steered by Robert Dunne, got a worthy token of £105,500. The fourth and the fifth slots went to Gilgamboa/Robbie Power (£52,700) and Goonyella/Jonny Burke (£26,500) in that order.

Leave a comment if you bet on this horse

Photo: Pixabay (free) 

Monday 1 May 2023

Grand National 1970 Winner: Gay Trip Wins at Top Weight

Gay Trip was the third of four different horses trained by Fred Rimell to win the Grand National. The reigning champion trainer at the time, Rimmell had already saddled E.S.B. – the main beneficiary of the bizarre collapse of Devon Loch – in 1956 and Nicolaus Silver in 1960 to victory in the celebrated steeplechase.

Gay Trip was due to be ridden by Terry Biddlecombe but, with the retained jockey at Kinnersley Stables sidelined through injury and interested in top paying online casino, was partnered by 40-year-old Irishman Pat Taaffe instead. Taaffe had been instrumental in the purchase of Gay Trip by Fred Rimmell on behalf of owner Tony Chambers, who reasoned that he should be offered the ride on account of having “virtually bought the horse”.

Gay Trip had been in decent form during the 1969/70 season, winning the Mackeson Gold Cup at Cheltenham the previous November, under 11st 5lb, and subsequently running creditably in defeat in the Massey Ferguson Gold Cup, the King George VI Chase and the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Punters with cash on the hip would have loved australia real money casinos given half a chance. Consequently, he was allotted top weight for the National – also, coincidentally, 11st 5lb – and, as a confirmed two-and-a-half mile specialist, was sent off joint-seventh choice of the 28 runners at 15/1.

Only seventh of the dozen horses still standing at the end of the first circuit of the National Course, Gay Trip was “still running away with Pat Taaffe” as the field approached Becher’s Brook, according to BBC commentator Julian Wilson. He went some way clear of the remainder, along with Vulture and Dozo, crossing the Melling Road for the final time and took a definite lead, travelling comfortably, on the run to the second last. Thereafter, the 8-year-old just drew further and further clear, crossing the line 20 lengths ahead of Vulture, with Miss Hunter half a length away in third place.

Gay Trip was a second National winner for Pat Taaffe, after Quare Times in 1955. In the intervening five decades, only Red Rum (twice), Neptune Collonges and Many Clouds have carried more weight to victory in the National and, of them, only the inimitable Red Rum shouldered top weight. 

Gay Trip ran carried top weight in the National again in 1971 and 1972. In 1971, reunited with Terry Biddlecombe, he started favourite, despite carrying 12st, but fell at the first fence. In 1972, under 11st 9lb, he failed by just 2 lengths to concede 22lb to the winner, Well To Do.

Comment if you bet on this winner

Photo: Pixabay (free) 

Thursday 13 April 2023

Tiger Roll - Grand National

Already a four-time winner at the Cheltenham Festival, as well as a Grand National winner, Tiger Roll has carved his name, indelibly, into the annals of history. However, still only a nine-year-old, and officially 8lb ‘well in’ for his attempt to become the first back-to-back winner of the Grand National since Red Rum in 1974, Tiger Roll is a top-priced 9/2 to defend his crown. 

When the Grand National weights were revealed on February 12, Tiger Roll was allotted 11st 1lb, commensurate with an official handicap rating of 159 but, following an effortless, 22-length victory in the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase at Cheltenham on March 13, his rating was raised to 167. I was so overjoyed I rushed to real money online casino in australia to fill my boots. However, no penalties are applied to horses who have won since the publication of the Grand National weights so, with British Horseracing Authority (BHA) handicapper Martin Greenwood freely admitting that he has ‘possibly underestimated’ the level of the Cheltenham form, the continued support for Tiger Roll is, perhaps, understandable. 

Indeed, Tiger Roll has the potential to become the shortest-priced favourite for the Grand National for a good many years. That said, the shortest-priced favourite in the history of the Grand National was Golden Miller who, in 1935, was sent off at 2/1 after breaking the Aintree course record the previous year; he unseated jockey Gerry Wilson at the open ditch known as ‘Booth’ on the first circuit. Betting at short odds makes new casino websites look positively thrilling. The shortest-priced winner of the Grand National, though, was Poethlyn, who was sent off at 11/4 favourite in 1919; he had also won the previous renewal, known as the ‘War National’, staged at Gatwick Racecourse in 1918. 

Before you steam into Tiger Roll, it is worth remembering that several horses have threatened to start the Grand National at, frankly, ridiculously short prices, only for punters to come to their senses on the day of the race. In 2008, Cloudy Lane, trained by Donald McCain, went into the National chasing a four-timer and seemed likely to be sent off at around 7/2, before drifting to 7/1. In 2015, it was a similar story with Shutthefrontdoor, trained by Jonjo O’Neill; seeking to give Sir Anthony McCoy his second National winner on his final ride in the race, Shutthefrontdoor came in for sustained public support before drifting to a more realistic 6/1 at the ‘off’. 

It is also worth remembering that plenty of recent Grand National winners, including Bindaree, Hedgehunter, Comply Or Die, Ballabriggs and Many Clouds, have tried and failed, to emulate Red Rum. Hedgehunter and Comply Or Die did, of course, finish second on their second attempts, in 2006 and 2009, respectively. Both horses were 10-year-olds by that stage, with Hedgehunter carrying 12lb, and Comply Or Die 15lb, more than they did the previous year so, having already won off his revised mark, which is 9lb higher than last year – and being only a 9-year-old to boot – Tiger Roll may yet be making headlines, once again, on April 6.

Wednesday 15 March 2023

Grand National 1977 Winner: Red Rum – The Making of a Legend

On April 2, 1977, Red Rum, by then a 12-year-old, galloped into racing history by winning the Grand National for an unprecedented third time. Even entering the veteran stage of his career and still carrying top weight, of 11st 8lb, Red Rum started 9/1 joint second favourite for the National. He’d disappointed in both his preparatory races, including when beaten 40 lengths by Andy Pandy – who started favourite for the National, at 15/2 – in the Grand National Trial at Haydock, but still had to concede 8lb to the current, albeit fortuitous, Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Davy Lad. 
In an eventful race, seven horses fell, unseated rider or were brought down at the first fence and heading out into the country for the second time the 42-strong field had been reduced to 24.  It reminded me of the time I searched for the best payout casinos. At that point, the leader, Boom Docker, was fully 20 lengths clear of his nearest pursuer, Andy Pandy, but refused at the first fence on the second circuit, leaving the latter with a commanding advantage. Andy Pandy was still a dozen lengths clear when he, too, slithered to the ground after jumping Becher’s Brook on the second circuit. 

Red Rum, who had raced prominently in the chasing group for most of the way, took a definite advantage at the Canal Turn, pursued by Churchtown Boy, who’d won the Topham Trophy over the National fences 48 hours earlier. While looking for online slots real money I noticed Churchtown Boy closed to within 2 lengths, apparently travelling sweetly, on the run to the second last, but a slight mistake halted his momentum and handed the initiative back to Red Rum. 

1977 Sports Personality of the Year Mr Tommy Stack & Red Rum #spoty #redrum

— History of Horse Racing (@roar1968) December 20, 2020

The rest, as they say, is history. Red Rum jumped the final fence clear of Churchtown Boy and pulled further clear on the run-in, with just a couple of loose horses for company, to win, unchallenged, by 25 lengths. He rightly received a rousing reception, the likes of which had never been heard before, nor since, at Aintree.  

Winning trainer, Donald “Ginger”McCain, typically an uninhibited, forthright character, simply reacted by saying, “All I wanted to do was cry”, as the remarkable Red Rum galloped home alone. McCain later added that he believed Red Rum would compete in the National again the following year and that he would have done, but for pulling up slightly lame in his final piece of work on the eve of the race. He was immediately retired.

Comment if you bet on this winner

Photo: Pixabay (free) 

Tuesday 21 February 2023

1958 Grand National – Mr. What Stuns All with a 30-Length Victory

The 1958 Grand National was the 112th unveiling of the internationally famous Grand National equestrian sporting showdown that occurred at Aintree Racecourse, close to Liverpool in England, on 29th March 1958. The widely followed event attracted a total of 31 contenders who were competing for then-record prizemoney nearly £14,000.

The ultimate champion happened to be the 18-1 Mr. What, outdistancing number two by a whopping 30 lengths. This winning horse was steered by jockey Arthur Freeman and coached by Tom Taaffe senior...becoming the fifth contestant to clinch the grand title since the Second World War.

According to news reports doing rounds at the time, jockey Pat Taaffe who I'm sure dabbles with roulette en ligne should have steered Mr. What instead Arthur Freeman. He, however, missed the much-sought chance to ride his father-trained horse and make the unique history that comes with such striking firsts in the competitive racing world.

Aged only eight years at that time, and proudly owned by David Coughlan, who hadn't even heard about casino games online, was enthralled by his promising gelding a winner of a major derby title for the very first time. Those in the know will nevertheless bear in mind the fact that the same equine champion had participated in sundry other sporting showdowns before, most without any exemplary results.

It is also important to note that Arthur Freeman served as the Queen Mother's professional rider...and that not many racing fans really expected him to achieve such an awesome feat that very sporting season. Putting up 6 lb(equivalent to 2.7 kg) overweight, the trophy-winning pair appeared hugely favored by the prevailing precarious ground conditions of the time. It was all seemingly credible to the unmistakable preparedness of the triumphant pair and the other stakeholders(including the trainer and owner) that possibility such a colorful victory that day.

Although the champion horse appears to have been largely favored by the tricky conditions that ruined chances for closest rivals, the year witnessed the longest winning distance. Mr. Freeman won by a staggering 30 lengths - a rather huge winning gap unwitnessed in many other similar races before, or even long after.

Keen followers of the annual racing event will remember that 1958 The national champion would continue to participate in the succeeding years...somehow inking nearly equally spectacular records - maintaining a third position in the 1959 and 1962 unveilings. 

Nonetheless, Mr. What did not win any other Grand National title or excel thus exceptionally in any other similarly high-profile equine competition.

The winning duo survived two pretty encumbering blunders - at the very last jumping point and at the Becher's brook. The impact of these potentially destabilizing obstacles got summarily swept away by the sheer wisdom of the old proverb that it's indeed well that which ends well.

The two midtrack mishaps, however, proved costly, as Arthur was later diagnosed with minor head injuries that greatly affected his sporting career. He resorted to training at Suffolk, at which later equine instruction station he churned out excellent products such as Tibidabo...that unforgettable sprinter who won the National Hunt Centenary in 1966. This minor victory was nevertheless nothing compared to his unforgettable big day back in 1958.
He was all the same able to make do with other averagely rewarding victories in several other fairly rewarding races like Juvenile Hurdle on Le Bel and King George VI Chase using Lochroe. These post-1958 successes served to portray the prizewinning jockey as a real history-changing equestrian icon of superlative skill.

Arthur was born on January 7th, 1926 - to a Zetland huntsman named Bill Freeman. He began by racing on the flat in 1939 for George Lambton, a Newmarket trainer of remarkable repute. And he actually came from an illustrious pedigree of great racers that included his elder brother Bill's riding a Cap-A-Pie to emerge first in the Ebor for Lord Derby.
Having had a colorful stint in the war as an infantryman, Arthur came out rather battle-hardened go-getter and ready for gritty action on crowded racecourses. And he in such contests excelled with tremendous success, his 1958 National being crystal-clear evidence of this fact.

A season later, he rode as second jockey (behind Dick Francis); a tough assignment that he capably undertook for Peter Cazaletat, a major in the local military ranks.

In 1955, he steered the French-trained M'As-Tu-Vu for the Queen Mother, thus taking a prominent part in the year's National. He again tried his luck in the same event the following year, without much success, finishing nineteenth.

Sunday 5 February 2023

Did Jenny Pitman Train Two Horses to Win the Grand National?

Jenny Pitman is a legendary horse trainer in the world of horse racing. She was the first woman to train a Grand National winner and has trained several other successful horses over the course of her career. Two of her most notable Grand National winners were Cobiere and Royal Athlete. In this essay, we will examine the careers of these two horses and their impact on Jenny Pitman's legacy as a trainer.

Cobiere was a bay gelding that was trained by Jenny Pitman and owned by the Burrough's family. He was best known for his win in the 1983 Grand National, where he finished the race in a time of 9 minutes and 47 seconds. Cobiere's win in the Grand National was a significant achievement for Jenny Pitman, as she became the first woman to train a winner of the race. Cobiere was a popular horse with racing fans and was widely regarded as one of the best horses of his generation.

Royal Athlete was another of Jenny Pitman's Grand National winners. He was a bay gelding that was owned by the G & L Johnson and trained by Jenny Pitman. Royal Athlete was best known for his win in the 1995 Grand National, where he finished the race in a time of 9 minutes and 4 seconds. Royal Athlete's win in the Grand National was a testament to Jenny Pitman's skills as a trainer, and it cemented her place as one of the top trainers in the sport.

Both Cobiere and Royal Athlete were highly successful horses and their wins in the Grand National had a significant impact on Jenny Pitman's legacy as a trainer. Jenny Pitman was widely regarded as one of the top trainers in the sport, and her wins in the Grand National only served to further solidify her reputation. The two horses were popular with racing fans and were widely regarded as some of the best horses of their generation.

In addition to their success in the Grand National, both Cobiere and Royal Athlete were also successful in other races. Cobiere won several races, including the Welsh National, while Royal Athlete won several important races, including the Hennessy Gold Cup. Their success in these races further demonstrated their talent and versatility as racehorses, and it solidified their place in the annals of horse racing history.

In conclusion, Jenny Pitman is a legendary horse trainer who has trained several successful horses over the course of her career. Two of her most notable Grand National winners were Cobiere and Royal Athlete, who both won the race in the 1980s & 1990s. These two horses had a significant impact on Jenny Pitman's legacy as a trainer, and they are widely regarded as two of the best horses of their generation. Their wins in the Grand National and other important races further demonstrate their talent and versatility as racehorses, and they cement their place in the annals of horse racing history.

Wednesday 4 January 2023

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.

Photo: Pixabay free for commercial use and no attribution 

Friday 23 September 2022

Richard Johnson – Grand National

If and when Richard Johnson lines up for the 2019 Grand National, aboard Rock The Kasbah, trained by Philip Hobbs, he will break the record – which he already holds jointly, with Sir Anthony McCoy – for the total number of rides in the celebrated steeplechase. 

However, Champion Jockey-elect Johnson will, no doubt, be hoping to bring to an end his unenviable record of 20 rides without success. Johnson, 41, made his first attempt in the Monday National – so-called after it was postponed by 48 hours following a coded IRA bomb threat – in 1997 but was unseated by his mount, Celtic Abbey, at The Chair, towards the end of the first circuit. 

Indeed, it was another five years, and another five rides, before Johnson completed the National Course. However, when he did, he looked briefly as if he might end his Grand National ‘hoodoo’ before it was even worthy of the name. In 2002, Johnson led over the final fence on the well-fancied What’s Up Boys, trained by Philip Hobbs, and was 3 lengths clear at the Elbow. Yet, he was run down by Bindaree, to whom he was conceding 16lb, in the last 75 yards and finished second, beaten 1¾ lengths. 

Johnson completed the National Course again in 2003, finishing tenth of 14 finishers on Behrajan, trained by Henry Daly, but failed to do so for another six years. In 2010, he completed the National Course for just the third time ever, but his remote ninth of 14 finishers on Tricky Trickster provided little, or no, consolation in the race won – at the fifteenth time of asking – by his arch-rival Sir Anthony McCoy on Don’t Push It. 

Johnson pulled up at The Chair on Quinz in 2011 but completed the National Course for the next three years running. He once again finished out with the proverbial washing on Planet Of Sound in 2012 and Balthazar King in 2013, but returned to partner the latter into second place, beaten 5 lengths, behind Pineau De Re in 2014. 

Balthazar King was consequently well fancied for the 2015 Grand National but fell heavily at the Canal on the first circuit. Johnson was again out of luck in 2016, pulling up Kruzhlinin at the third-last fence and, after riding in the Grand National for 20 consecutive years without success, did not have a ride in the race in 2017 or 2018. 

Few would deny that Johnson deserves to win a Grand National, but his overall record at Aintree – two second places and 14 non-completions from 20 rides – hardly inspires confidence. However, Johnson is on the record as saying that if he does take a ride in the Grand National he wants to do it on a horse with a ‘good chance’ so, maybe, just maybe, Rock The Kasbah can provide the ‘jewel in the crown’ of his glittering career.

Monday 16 August 2021

1968 Red Alligator Shows His Teeth to Rivals

The 1968’s event marked the 122nd staging of the Grand National equestrian race that occurred at Aintree Racecourse, a few miles away from Liverpool in England. According to detailed archival records, the lively occasion took place on the 30th of March…and was won by Red Alligator by a legendary 20 lengths – one of the most resounding victory margins in the entire history of the centuries-old gaming meet. 

The teeth-brandishing Alligator was adeptly steered to the aforementioned historic triumph by the unflinching Brian Fletcher. The same champion jockey would again propel Red Rum to typically picture-perfect exploits in the 1973 and 1974 Nationals. 

The most conspicuous participator was Tim Durant, atop Highlandie – the oldest rider to ever successfully complete the Aintree circuit at 68 years of age! 

It was an also exhilarating victory for the 9-year-old horse …a comparatively tender age for a winner in such a noteworthy international competition. The young victor was owned by one fella named Mr J. Manners, a comparably less known horse handler of little regional fame. 

The successful contester had been trained by one Denys Smith of Durham County. Denys did not expect his marvellous prodigy to bring him such exemplary honours. He however later confided to journalists that he knew his modest protégé to be a petite beast of immense ability and firm discipline. 

Placed at the impossible odds of 100/7, it had been clearly indicated that not many locals and global sports fans anticipated the pair’s record-breaking performance. Another astonishing aspect to the whole victorious mix was the fact that Brian Fletcher was only 19 years at the time he achieved this spectacular feat. 

As grateful racing history shows, Brian would go ahead to clinch equally stunning exploits a couple of years later. For instance, t6he same rider steered the variously honoured Red Rum to a picture-perfect victory – a maiden success for the then still-inexperienced galloper…duplicating the same feat not many years later, to give the now-well-known sprinter the indelible intercontinental fame we know today. 

Denys Smith – the colourful event’s winning trainer – died in November 2016 aged 92, and with an elegant racing record to his name. Operating from his renowned base in Bishop Auckland in County Durham, the lately-fallen sporting hero gave the racing world more 1,600 winning horses from his famous stables. What made him an especially remarkable equestrian dealer was that he issued great gallopers for both flat and jump racing events.

Derek Thompson, a longstanding assistant to the unbeatable Smith of the 1968 Grand National fame, averred that his boss was one of the finest sporting icons in the whole of the English equine-gaming fraternity…and that he was really lucky to have had the chance to serve as his assistant at the Bishop Auckland training premises. 

Red Alligator had emerged third in the previous year’s National version. He also had been tipped as a top favourite in 1969 but he succumbed to encumbrances at the nineteenth fence. Owned by the not-very-well-known James Manners, the triumphant rider had fruitlessly run for the grand title the previous year on the same runner…but his little chances were ruined by the so-called “Foinavon pile up”, someplace around the 23rd fence. 

Due to ensuing melee, the popular jockey remounted but was not able to reclaim the lost preliminary pace due to the ensuing mayhem – finishing third to Foinavon. The greatly endowed horse was said to have been taken to the stalls for prescriptive drugging and did not achieve any record really close to his earlier Aintree glory of the preceding year. 

The ensuing general lack of success notwithstanding, the horse’s 1968 victory was grandly commemorated by a local brewing giant - where trainer Denys Smith had been a passably honoured patron of longstanding…naming the drinking joint after the admired equine instructor. 

And as a lasting testament that endures to this, you’ll find therein the trainer and winning horse’s photos posted on whatever visible remains of the time-dulled walls of the olden beer-dispensing facility. 

Although Brian Fletcher’s gallant attainment in the year’s Aintree clash is a feat of no mean repute, posterity will best remember him for more vivacious accomplishments in 1973 and 1974…. when the incisive man of horses piloted Red Rum to immortalize his name with two consecutive Grand National titles. His performance in the 1975 National didn’t fall short of lasting accolades, too.