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, 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. 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.



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