Friday 27 July 2018

Grand National 1994: Miinnehoma

Retired trainer Martin Pipe may have saddled 4,180 winners and revolutionised the world of National Hunt racing, but even the erstwhile Master of Nicholashayne could only win the Grand National once. His sole success in the celebrated steeplechase came courtesy of the eleven-year-old Miinnehoma, ridden by Richard Dunwoody, in 1994.

Owned by local comedian Freddie Starr, who was born in the town of Huyton on Merseyside, Miinnehoma had previously finished seventh of 15, beaten 19 lengths, behind The Fellow in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. In the National, he was reopposed by The Fellow, Garrison Savannah and stablemate Run For Free, all of whom ran in the Cheltenham Gold Cup and, at 16/1, was the shortest priced of five entries trained by Martin Pipe. 

Having raced prominently for the first circuit of the National Course, Miinnehoma was left in the lead when Garrison Savannah was hampered by a loose horse and refused at the first fence on the second circuit. He was headed by Ebony Jane three fences later but, having survived a mistake at Becher’s Brook, was back in front jumping the final open ditch. He was one of four horses – the others being Just So, Ebony Jane and Moorcroft Boy – who were clear crossing the Melling Road for the final time. 

Favourite Moorcroft Boy hit the front at the second last, but folded tamely on the run-in after breaking a blood vessel, leaving Miinnehoma to fight out the finish with Just So. Just So produced a strong run in the last hundred yards or so, but although he closed to within three-quarters of a length, at one point, Miinnehoma ran on well under pressure to win by 1¼ lengths. Moorcroft Boy weakened to finish third, a further 20 lengths away. 

Richard Dunwoody, who was winning the National for the second time after his success on West Tip in 1986, later reflected, saying, “In the National he was down on one knee jumping Becher's [Brook] the second time, but he got himself out of trouble. He was brilliant round Aintree.” 

Before his death, at the age of 29, in 2012, Miinnehoma who was the oldest surviving winner of the National. Trainer David Pipe, who took over the licence from his father, Martin, in 2006 paid tribute to the horse, saying, “He was a wonderful old horse; a real character who remained at the yard until the end. He was a great champion and will be missed by all associated with him.”

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