Friday 27 July 2018

Grand National 1990: Mr Frisk

Mr Frisk has the distinction of recording the fastest winning time in the history of the Grand National. In 1990, on unseasonably firm going, he completed the 4½-mile course in a time of 8 minutes 47.80 seconds, smashing the previous course record, set by Red Rum in 1973, by 14.10 seconds. Remarkably, his record still stands, despite the start line being moved half a furlong closer to the first fence in 2013, thereby shortening the overall distance of the race. 

Owned by Mrs. Lois Duffey and trained by Kim Bailey, Mr Frisk had finished a creditable fourth, beaten 7½ lengths, in the Kim Muir Memorial Challenge Cup, over 3 miles at the Cheltenham Festival on his last start before the National. Consequently, the eleven-year-old wasn’t without support at Aintree, especially on the rattling fast ground, and was sent off 16/1 co-seventh choice of the punters behind 7/1 favourite Brown Windsor, winner of the Cathcart Challenge Cup at the Cheltenham Festival. 

Mr Frisk raced prominently, as was customary, throughout the first circuit and by halfway was disputing the lead with Uncle Merlin, ridden by Hywel Davies. The pair were clear at Becher’s Brook, where Uncle Merlin pecked badly on landing and unseated his rider a few strides from the fence. Mr Frisk continued at the head of affairs and was still about 10 lengths clear with two to jump, but his advantage dwindled between the last two fences and further still on the run-in, where Durham Edition reached his quarters.

However, when galvanised by his jockey, Marcus Armytage approaching the famous “Elbow”, Mr Frisk found extra and maintained an advantage of three-quarters of a length all the way to the line. The luckless Durham Edition – ridden in the National for the third year running by Chris Grant, having finished second to Rhyme ‘N’ Reason in 1988 and fifth to Little Polveir in 1989 – finished second again, with a yawning, 20-length gap back to the third horse, Rinus.

Winning jockey Marcus Armytage became the last amateur rider – and one of just five since World War II – to win the National. Exactly three weeks later, he and Mr Frisk recorded a notable double by beating Durham Edition again, this time by 8 lengths, in what was the Whitbread Gold Cup (now the Bet365 Gold Cup) at Sandown Park. On his retirement from racing, Mrs. Duffey gave Mr Frisk to Tracey Bailey, the wife of his trainer, who evented him up to intermediate level.

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