Tuesday, 15 October 2019

Monty's Pass Takes 2003 Grand National

Monty's Pass Takes 2003 Grand National
Monty’s Pass inked a breathtaking win during the 2003 Grand National showpiece, held at England’s Liverpool’s Aintree racecourse. The noteworthy event is also referred to as the Martell Grand National, in an enduring centuries-old effort to commemorate the lucky bearers of the year’s sponsorship privileges. The apparently in-form 10-year-old won attained these laudable accolades under the adroit ride of one Barry Geraghty – a really experienced equestrian sportsman of longstanding status.

The chiefly fortunate winning rider and galloper are both internationally viewed as astonishingly gifted racetrack competitors. The champion horse had been trained in Ireland by Jimmy Mangan and smartly outran the second runner to come first by a decisive victory margin of 12 lengths!

Obviously, this wonderful job not only entered history’s fairest chronicles as one of the biggest winning margins ever but also ranked among Aintree’s swiftest cases: 9 minutes and 21.7 seconds! Plainly stated, it was the creditably rare sort of distinguishing conquests that most well-knowing equine sporting aficionados would naturally expect from a richly endowed racer of Geraghty’s singular skill and endurance.

The usually 4.5-mile course attracted the regular field of 40 contenders, with only a paltry 14 of them completing the conventionally designated circuit. One of the most discrete aspects that defined the really testing showdown was the unforgettable high number of immobilizing horse injuries and jockeys casualties witnessed that memorable day. A notable case in point – the altogether unsuccessful Warren Marston and his likewise unlucky ride Goguenard lost the entire showpiece after stampeding into a crashing melee at the 19th fence

You Never Walk Alone, a previous top favourite with the crowds - mostly due to a prior cosy dalliance with the Liverpool Football Club – ended up with a broken leg…instead of the eagerly awaited first-position medals and laurels. Even though the minor harm was shortly effectively restored, it had seemingly cost the pair the whole race, already. A fairly little-known rider Gerry Supple also faced a lot of obstacles that included a terribly fractured wrist and a wrecked nose.

Ruby Walsh’s Willy had been 2003’s leading pre-match favourite, his decent prospects having momentarily risen after a terrific display of prowess in the Gold Cup tourney, staged earlier at Haydock. The 7-1 shot however extinguished the wildly soaring crowd hopes as he sluggishly trailed top sprinters throughout the heated chase…ultimately pulling up at the 21st fence, at which fateful juncture the previously highly favoured choice encountered a terminal mishap.

Iris Bleu was another noteworthy contester who had elicited a huge deal of interest among spectators and bookmakers alike. The proud riding choice of the sufficiently renowned Tony McCoy’s had joined the clash as an 8-1 joint-favourite, a clear contrast when casually compared to the eventual winner’s 16-1 entry odds.

Monty’s Pass’s ratings had barely improved a few hours before the start of the annual confrontation – inching markedly closer to the crest from the originally predicted success chances of 40-1. Some sports media outlets like the accurate Racing Post had forecast the outstanding win some months to the ultimate yearly tussle.

Barry Geraghty’s triumph earned simultaneous honours for Dee Racing as they owned the 2003 event’s top-ranked galloper. Some of the well-known horse-owning establishment’s executive caught by media cameras celebrating this new achievement included Ian Rose, Noel Murphy, Muir Higginson, and Adam Armstrong. The evenly happy trainer Jimmy Mangan joined the tiny excited crew in relishing the extraordinary performance, their bliss-filled faces radiating heroic gleams in the searing spring sun. 

When he was finally reached for news comment, Geraghty simply described the whole conquest as a vivid authentication of his tireless practice, skill, and an undeniable measure of providential luck…maintaining the pompous air of the real sporting ace he still is today – wearing an evidently surefooted pro’s pose seeming to unflinchingly ask, “Who didn’t know Barry Geraghty does win these things, after all?” 

Tirelessly trailing Barry Geraghty and Monty’s Pass was Leighton Aspell, mounting the tenacious Supreme Glory. The third position went to Graham Lee and Amberleigh House; the horse who went ahead to clinch the 2004 National title. Barry Fenton finished fourth, atop the fairly dauntless Gunner Welburn. Lastly, Joe Tizzard steered Montifault to a quite-commendable number-five finish…and thus expediently earned himself a snug slot in the memorable roll of the big day’s five most impressive contestants.

Comment if you bet on this winner

Friday, 4 October 2019

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!

Comment if you bet on this race

Thursday, 23 May 2019

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.

Tuesday, 30 April 2019

Sundew Inks a Spectacular Win in the 1957 Grand National

The 1957 Grand National was the 111th staging of the annual Grand National steeplechase at Aintree Racecourse, located in Liverpool, England. The widely watched championships were won by Sundew, a 20/1 shot who'd already shown a great deal of racetrack prowess in a couple of other preceding equestrian meets. 

The event’s overall winner was spectacularly ridden by Fred Winter, the proud product of Frank Hudson’s terrific training genius. It is actually one of the most accurately predicted wins that did not disappoint the optimistic guess of fans. The top pair's resounding victory also doubles up as one of the best winning margins ever. 

It happened to be Sundew's third round to try the international race's widely coveted jackpot, having fruitlessly fought for similar honours previously - in 1955, and again in the 1956 Nationals. 

The event attracted an odd number of thirty-five horses, unlike the modern day customary count of forty contenders. While much of the occasion's facts and figures remain shrouded in mystery, a fair number of snapshots still immortalize the thrilling racecourse spectacle. 

A rather striking aspect of that year's clash was that all the participants finally managed to safely return to the stables. This places the 1957 Grand National among the most casualty-free of all such meets that have been held since their inception, well over two centuries ago.  

The winning jockey - Fredrick Thomas Winter - entered British National Hunt's racing annals as the only guy to win the Grand National both as a jockey and trainer. It's a genuinely infrequent exploit attained by very other riders and trainers in the favourite game's richly variegated history. 

In particular, the iconic equestrian maverick emerged four times victorious in the British jump racing champion. As a further testament to his limitless gaming prowess, the unbowed equine sporting ace reigned eight times as a National Hunt winning trainer.

Thus his 1957 National victory atop Sundew did not come as a totally unforeseen achievement...for, even as his entry odds quite easily prove, the successful runner had severally shown a great deal of really promising sprinting éclat in key preceding tourneys.

His most illustrious racetrack feat probably came in 1962, when he inked a pretty unforgettable victory on Mandarin; during the Grand Steeplechase de Paris at the famous Auteuil. All these impregnable stunts were despite the fact that the industrious jockey was a bit unwell, and his horse wasn't in the best shape either.

Born on 20 September 1926, the English equestrian legend went down history books as one of the most finessed horse riders to ever achieve unimaginably huge gaming fame at a really tender age...hence becoming all the more commendable when you consider the fairytale-like additional that he doubled up as a trainer as well. 

The always triumphant man of horses would eventually breathe his last in 2004, aged 77 years. Adoring tributes swiftly began to trickle in from all the four corners of the earth, fittingly commemorating the awards-decorated life of a truly iconic man of extraordinary horse-riding talent. 

Even today, Fred Winter still occupies a highly prestigious slot in the whole history of British horse-gaming fraternity for a multiplicity of notable reasons. 

He was, for instance, the only professional rider to clinch first-place titles in three of Europe's most important equine championships. For these uncommonly outstanding racing milestones, Winter was declared CBE in 1963. And remains an exceedingly auspicious description he shares with very few other equestrian champions, even among the present crop of 21st-century gaming celebrities. 

For a swift recap, the leading horse in the 1957 Grand National Sundew, aged years then. The second place went to a fairly unknown horse dubbed Wyndburgh, ridden by Jockey Michael Batchelor. Clear details about the respective prize monies pocketed by the respective top finishers do however remain rather scanty up to the current moment. 

The third position went to Tiberretta who was steered by Alan Houghton. The fourth place was claimed by Glorious Twelfth/Jumbo Wilkinson and The Crofter/Jimmy Power pairs respectively. 

Hart Royal, Virginius, and Rendezvous III are listed among the memorable day's most notable non-finishers. However, as has earlier been noted above, the time-honoured race did not witness that many mid-circuit mishaps leading to fatalities.

Tuesday, 2 April 2019

1967 Foinavon Wins Grand National at Odds of 100/1

1967 Foinavon Wins Grand National at Odds of 100/1
Held on 8 April, the 1967 Grand National became the 121st staging of the renowned Grand National steeplechase at Aintree Racecourse, close to England’s Liverpool area. While archival details of the preceding and succeeding Nationals remain scanty, this one remains toweringly popular simply because it was won by a rank outsider at the dismal odds of 100/1. 

As luck would rarely have it, Foinavon happened to be the only horse to successfully outmanoeuvre a pace-crippling melee at the twenty-third fence… bagging the year’s Grand National jackpot. 

Going by a booming voice record of commentator Michael O’Hehir detailing the infamous 23rd-fence chaos of 1967, the winner wasn’t anywhere close to victory initially. First to be hampered by the hellish mayhem was Rutherfords, then Castle Falls and Rondetto. Third to suffer was Princeful, followed by Norther and Kirtle Lad and Fossa and everyone else…till Foinavon went off on his own – easily winning the momentous race. 

Owing to the ensuing ill turn of events, all of the earlier stages of the clash was inconsequential, although 28 out of the enrolled 44 contesters rushed safely past the 22nd fence. There was however a notable fatality that took place at the third, in which Vulcano got mortally injured and later euthanized. 

Popham Down, a notorious runner who had given dreadful hints by unseating his rider at the opening fence, was the cause of all these wide-ranging misadventures. Veering rather dramatically toward his right-hand side at the fateful fence, he slammed Rutherfords out of place and pace, unseating Jockey Johnny Leech. 

A chaotic pileup arose and within few seconds, the rest were caught up in the unfolding pandemonium. It was utterly impossible for previous trailblazers to jump over the disaster-prone fence and the melee brought the entire showdown to a near halt. The final champ was the luckiest horse in entire clutter – upsetting all betters’ fortunes and giving lucky bookmakers an instant reason to smile all the way to the bank. 

It was as such an unbelievably fortunate coincidence for the outright undistinguished Foinavon to clinch the year’s loftiest accolades, despite his being the slowest horse in the whole contest. BBC’s commentator’s shrieks of sheer wonderment split the air as the fluking galloper sprinted toward the finishing line, well over 100 yards ahead of the chaotic pileup behind. 

Foinavon’s owner had travelled to Worcester on the very racing day, and didn’t expect to receive any inspiring news from Aintree. And as the actual running began and entered the troubled fence, the slow-moving galloper was so much behind such that jockey John Buckingham had sufficient time to skirt around the growing tumult.

Being the only horse to safely go over the 23rd fence, Buckingham was taken aback to find himself enjoying a whopping 30 lengths lead. And while 17 of the fallen pairs remounted successfully to give him considerable chase, none was able to catch up with the lucky duo, who dashed past the finishing line with a 15-length winning margin. Josh Gifford, a leading favorite from the outset, pursued the luck-enabled champion with relentless fury but just couldn’t cover the distance between them quickly enough. 

After the surprising developments, Michael O’Hehir opined that Becher’s Brook and the Valentine’s – such strangely luck-bringing obstacles – might one day come to be renamed Foinavon. And quite strangely, in 1984, a bunch of Aintree executives renamed the fence Foinavon fence. 

The horse had been turned down by three jockeys, terming him a poor nonstarter with infinitesimal chances of success. Even the ultimate jackpot-winning Buckingham seems to have unenthusiastically opted for the unpromising choice for want of better mounts. 

The second place went to most hardworking chaser after the luck-favoured winner, Josh Gifford and Honey End. The third rank was grabbed by Brian Fletcher’s Red Alligator, then aged 10 years. The fourth and the fifth slots went to the Greek Scholar/Terry Biddlecombe and Packed Home/Tommy Carberry pairs respectively. 

Elsewhere, 1967 doubled up as the first year when Red Rum first appeared at Aintree, aged only 2 years…and in a 5-furlong sprint, held a day before the National event. The then debuting mount would visit the same grounds for his unprecedented 3rd Grand National title ten years later.

Wednesday, 27 March 2019

Tiger Roll - Grand National

Could Tiger Roll be the next Red Rum
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. 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. 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.

Tuesday, 26 March 2019

Richard Johnson – Grand National

If and when Richard Johnson lines up for the 2019 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, 25 March 2019

1968 Red Alligator Shows His Teeth to Rivals

Red Alligator wins Grand National 1968
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.

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

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.  


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.

Sunday, 3 March 2019

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? 


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.