The 10 Best Grand National Fairy TalesPublished April 2, 2017
One of the most endearing things about the Grand National is the number of unfancied horses who have won the race. Whereas many of the biggest races are dominated by a few superstars, the Grand National is a race which can take seemingly ordinary horses and turn them into stars.
There have been some wonderful fairy tales in the history of the Grand National. Here’s our pick of the best 10 stories the famous race has seen, all of which could have been all the more wondrous if you’d backed them with a Free Grand National Bet.
Rubio has one of the strangest stories of any Grand National winner. Before running in 1908, he had already been retired from racing after breaking down. Rubio was then sold to the landlord of a pub in Towcester where he pulled an omnibus, sometimes covering 30 miles before getting a rest.
You won’t find that in any training textbooks but it gave Rubio plenty of strength which he displayed when winning the biggest race two years after returning to racing.
Tipperary Tim (1928)
Jockey William Dutton didn’t harbour too much ambition about winning the Grand National aboard Tipperary Tim. Nor, clearly, did his friends with one shouting at him, “Billy boy, you’ll only win if all the others fall down.”
The wisecracking friend was left as shell shocked as everybody else as he saw all 41 of Tipperary Tim’s horses either fall or unseat their rivals leaving the 100/1 shot to cross a foggy winning post unchallenged.
An incredible 57 horses ran in the 1947 renewal, the largest field since 1929. Happily, all 57 were fit and well after the race but there can only be one winner and this time it was the 100/1 shot, Caughoo.
The Irish outsider cost owner, John McDowell, just £50 but he showed great heart and jumping prowess to grind out the win on testing heavy ground.
A horse has to have done something remarkable to get a fence named after it at Aintree and that’s certainly the case with the winner of the 1967 Grand National, Foinavon.
Foinavon looked every inch a hugely unfancied 100/1 as he trailed the field by a long way approaching the 23rd jump. But, a loose horse veered across the leaders causing a massive pile up. Foinavon was so far behind that he managed to avoid the trouble and win comfortably.
Red Rum (1977)
When talking about the history of the Grand National you have to talk about the only horse to have ever won the race three times, Red Rum.
Red Rum is not only a much-feted name in the world of horse racing, he’s one of the biggest stars in the history of British and Irish sport thanks to what he achieved in 1977.
After winning in both 1973 and 1974, Red Rum’s popularity remained despite second placed finishes in the next two renewals. But, the Irish horse’s name was written firmly in the history books with his 1977 win under jockey, Tommy Stack.
Bob Champion (1981)
Bob Champion was happy just to get a ride at the 1981 Grand National. Two years before the race, doctors had told the jockey that his testicular cancer was terminal and that he only had months to live.
Champion defied those odds to make a full recovery and then defied the bookies’ odds to win the 1981 renewal on board Aldaniti. The horse had itself overcome illness earlier on in life which all added to the fairy tale that would later become a film called Champions.
West Tip (1986)
When West Tip was hit by a lorry outside of his stables in 1982, it looked for all the world as though his racing career was over. In fact, he recovered stronger than ever and could always be identified by the distinctive scar the accident left.
West Tip’s fairy tale came when winning the 1986 Grand National but in total, this legend of Aintree competed six times.
Ginger McCain (2004)
There’s a statue of Ginger McCain at Aintree Racecourse which tells you a great deal about how well regarded the late trainer is.
McCain was a used car dealer who really made his name as a trainer after turning Red Rum from a no-hoper with a delibitating bone disease into a three-time Grand National winner.
31 years after winning his first Grand National as a trainer, McCain won the race for the final time with Amberleigh House thanks to the horse’s tremendously strong finish.
Mon Mome (2009)
Where do you start with the stories surrounding Mon Mome’s win in 2009?
For a start, the win made Venetia Williams the first female trainer to saddle a Grand National winner for 14 years. Then there’s the jockey, Liam Treadwell, who was making his debut in the race.
The trainer, jockey and the horse’s connections all played down Mon Mome’s chances before the race but the nine-year-old hacked up by an incredible 12 lengths to land a few lucky punters a big win at odds of 100/1.
Tony McCoy (2010)
Sir Tony McCoy is one of the very best jockeys of all time. The Northern Irishman dominated the sport during his career, becoming Champion Jockey in each of the 20 years in which he was a professional.
Despite his brilliance, McCoy just could not get his hands on the Grand National. That was, until the 2010 renewal. That was the year he finally won the big one aboard Don’t Push It, one of the most popular results in the race’s history.