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Useless stuff you really don't need to know

Taken from the original Grand National Anorak site here are some lists of really useless bit of information that only the most obsessed of you National anoraks out there will find even remotely interesting 

The Greatest Front Running Perfomances 1946 - 1989

1- Crisp 1973 - It could not be anyone else really. So much has been written about Crisps performance in 1973 that there is not a lot I can add. Giving away lumps of weight to his opponents, Crisp took the lead after early leader Grey Sombrero made a mistake at first Bechers. It was not apparent just how far in front he was until after the Anchor Bridge Crossing but he was by now a distance in front and when the unfortunate Grey Sombrero crashed out at the Chair Crisp was a full six seconds ahead of his nearest pursuar. He should have been getting tired by now but if anything Crisp was further ahead - "what a fantastic ride Dick Pitman is having on Crisp - I can`t remember anyone so far ahead at this stage in the National" called commentator Julian Wilson. After Valentines only Red Rum appeared to be making any impression on Crisp but as they crossed the Anchor Bridge second time Rummy was still a distance behind. It was only after the last fence that Crisp started to weaken. At the entrance to the Elbow Crisp wandered a little and Pitman grabbed his whip in a vain attempt to keep Crisp going straight. Unfortunately the one smack with the whip had the opposite effect and Crisp veered to the left and lost valuable momentum. By the time he had the running rail to help him it was too late. So tired was Crisp and Red Rum so full of running that Peter O`Sullevan called Red Rum the winner yards before the winning post. 

Red Rum would have to wait another twelve months for immortality for the 1973 National belonged to Crisp.

Now I am sure that there are many of you who, when watching the closing stages of the 1973 race, pray for Crisp to get home, but let me take you to an alternate universe (my wife is a Star Trek fan so it`s not too hard for me to do this). In the alternate Aintree universe Richard Pitman doesn`t pick up his stick at the entrance to the Elbow and Brian Fletcher in a rare Aintree error of judgement leaves his challenge a fraction too late. Crisp just gets home and wins the 1973 National. Crisp though is very tired and pictures of the exhausted horse being led into the winners enclosure do not go down well. 1974 comes with the racecourse having been sold to Bill Davies and Red Rum wins his first National. By the 1975 race though, things are not going well for Aintree. Davies has alienated the racing authorities with his audacious plans for an Aintree Derby and an extention of flat racing. He also angers the Liverpool people by drastically raising the entrance prices. L`Escargot beats Red Rum in front of the smallest crowd in living memory. The race does not capture the public imagination and much is made in the press of this "dire" race where there have been two fatalities. Red Rum hardly gets mentioned. Whilst he has been a better than average National winner he is not a hat-trick seeking superstar. When the Jockey Club give their ultimatum to Bill Davies in December 1975 that if he does not co-operate they will transfer the National to Doncaster no one steps in to help. The Jockey Club are good as their word and the race is removed from Aintree. Davies is by now losing interest and starts trying to seek a buyer for the course. The 1976 National is staged at Doncaster on the same card as the Lincoln. Thirty runners (the maximum allowed) sees Rag Trade win with Red Rum (who of course was not so effective over Birch fences) only sixth. Bill Davies soldiers on but the National meeting without the National (two days of flat racing and a couple of races over the Mildmay course) is not a success (Davies had sulked and refused to spend the money maintaining the National course). Some dire flat racing in the summer of 1976 on rock hard ground is the last racing staged at Aintree. By the end of the decade Davies has sold the course to a property developer and Aintree is now a housing estate comprising "Topham Drive", "Paddock Parade" ,"Valentines Crescent" with the "Bechers Sports & Leisure Centre" nearby. As for the National, with mixed meetings becoming increasingly unpopular in the eighties the Doncaster National is eclipsed by the increase in prestige of the Irish & Scottish Nationals. Eventually moved to January it replaces the Yorkshire Chase. In 2006 the Betfair National was run at Southwell (sixteen runners) whilst Doncaster was being redeveloped.

A scary scenario I know but my theory has always been that Red Rum was the real saviour of Aintree - if it wasn`t for his achievements the public would not have missed the National had it had disappeared. Crisp had to lose in 1973 because Red Rum needed to win the race and ultimately save the National.

2 - Forest Prince 1966 - Forest Prince won the very last race over the National fences at the old Autumn meeting when he landed the Molyneux Chase in October 1965. The following year in his one National start he took the lead at the fourth fence and stayed in front until the second last when he was collared by the unconsidered outsider Anglo. This was not a flashy performance by any means as he was never more than five lengths in front at any stage but in my view this was a gutsy, honest attempt and of all the front running displays that dominated the Nationals of the Sixties this is my favourite. Forest Prince never raced at Aintree again.

3 - Peacetown 1964 - The only horse to have led a National at the first fence, the water and at the last. Peacetown is the forgotten horse of the 1964 National as after the last fence he ploughed a lone furrow on the stands side finishing third and all photographs of the finish miss him out.

4 - Teal 1952 - He didn't quite make every yard of the running, the legendary Freebooter was in front at the tenth fence and was also leading with a better jump at second Bechers. However, Teal was with the leaders from the off and held a clear lead over the first nine fences. After the tenth it was a dual with Freebooter that lasted until the 1950 hero uncharacteristically fell at the second Canal Turn. Then he had to see off the Dorothy Paget owned Legal Joy with whom he shared the lead until the last but he had the measure of him and eventually won easily. Sadly he never got the chance to have another go.

5 - Lough Conn 1947 - This Irish tained runner actually blazed the trail in two Nationals. In 1946 he held a clear lead when he misjudged the nineteenth (which had had a large hole knocked out of it from the first circuit). The theory that you should 'never go for the gap' was never clearer as he and three others came down. But in 1947 he put up a clear round. He led from the start and was in a clear lead at the water. Musical Lad tried to join him at the seventeenth but he was quickly dispatched and by second Bechers he was in a clear lead. He was joined three out by the unconsidered outsider Caughoo who swept past him at such speed it was as if he had just started....and that was the rumour that went around for years. The 1947 National was run in attrocious conditions with little visibility from the stands and there were some that believed that Caughoos rider Eddie Dempsey had pulled up his mount in the mist at Valentines only to re-join the field on the second circuit. It seemed the only reasonable explanation for the speed at which he finished. Certainly that was what the rider of Lough Conn believed and according to Reg Greens book " A Race Apart" the two jockeys later came to blows over this. However, check all the photos and the movietone and Caughoo is there throughout, he simpy ran a blinder on the day and as with so many National winners he never repeated that form. Lough Conn tried to lead again in 1948 but after a few fences he started to fall back and he was struggling by the water when he was pulled up. A broken blood vessal was the cause of his lacklustre display and he did not return to Aintree.

6 - Sundew 1957 - Taking the lead when Armorial III crashed out at the fourth fence he put in one of the worst displays of jumping of a National winner hitting fence after fence but he stayed on his feet to make it third time lucky. He was a giant horse who came from a tiny string where he was the only steeplechaser and he provided Fred Winter with his first victory as a jockey.

7 - Aldaniti 1981 - Everyone of course gets emotional when discussing Aldaniti`s victory - the broken down horse, the cancer-stricken jockey etc etc. But, let us not forget that this was also a great front running performance. Aldaniti hit the front far sooner than was planned after Carrow Boy was hampered and fell at the tenth fence. Having taken the lead he was only headed once thereafter by Royal Stuart at the water jump and when the latter was carried wide by a loose horse Aldaniti regained the lead and stayed there. To me the circumstances of this victory always seem to overshadow the manner in which the race was won.

8 - Armorial III 1956 - This front runner, running in the colours of Madame Hennessy that were also carried by the legendary Mandarin made nearly all the running in 1956 until he crashed out at the fence after Valentines on the second circuit. That effort was perhaps not surprisingly overshadowed by the drama of Devon Lochs collapse yards from the post with the race at his mercy. Armorial III came back the following year and was in the process of doing the same again when he fell in identical fashion but this time at the fourth fence.

9 - Boom Docker 1977 - Whilst he only led for ten fences Boom Docker finds himself in our top sixteen for the manner in which he led. With the leaders from the start he was left in the lead at first Bechers when Sebastian V over jumped and fell. By Valentines he was jumping superbly and emulating Crisp by the time he was back on racecourse he was a distance in front. With his nearest rival Sage Merlin, falling at the Chair Boom Docker was a full two seconds further ahead of his latest pursuer than Crisp had been at the water. Still full of running as he went out onto the second circuit he surprisingly refused at the first fence. It is a mystery why he did so as he hadn`t put a foot wrong up until then and was showing no signs of weakening. Perhaps it was because he was so far ahead that something unnerved him. Boom Docker holds the record for being the furthest ahead at half way and for that alone he deserves to be mentioned here.

10 - Out and About 1963 - Both his runs in the National produced front running performances but whilst his 1964 run was overshadowed by the heroics of Peacetown the first two thirds of the 1963 National belonged to him. Taking a clear lead from the outset he stayed in front until the Canal Turn second time. Remaining with the leaders he blundered and unseated his rider at the twenty seventh fence.

11 - Little Polveir 1989 - One of only three National winners since the war to have led at the water. Little Polveir took the lead after the Chair and was three abreast at half way with outsider Kersil and previous hero West Tip. Little Polveir took advantage of the inside berth and led out onto the second circuit where he remained in front. It was a great front running performance for a twelve year old who was having his fourth and final start in the race. A worthy winner on the day his win was sadly overshadowed by the events at Bechers first time.

12 - Freddiths Son 1962 - Another National run on heavy going but amazingly this year there was hardly any grief on the first circuit with only thee horses falling or unseating their riders. Freddiths Son and Duplicator shared the lead on the first circuit with Freddiths Son leading until the Canal Turn. For most of the first circuit these two raced clear of the third horse Dandy Tim who was himself clear of the others. When Dandy Tim unseated at the water and Duplicator fell at the nineteenth Freddiths Son found himself once again in a clear lead. Despite a terrible jump at the Canal Turn he remained in front until the twenty seventh. He faded but completed the course. This was a remarkable performance for a horse who was making his debut over the unique fences. He never returned.

13 - Delmoss 1980 - Delmoss ran in four Nationals between 1980 & 1983. A horse who liked to dictate the pace his best front running performance in the National was his first. This was not a vintage National by any means with a mediocre field running on desperately heavy ground. Delmoss was in front by the first fence and stayed there despite some terrible jumping. Fence after fence he clouted but somehow he managed to stay on his feet....that is until second Bechers. Having been overtaken by Ben Nevis on its approach he hit the top of the fence and came down. Having got his jumping together he blazed the trail for a circuit in both the 1982 & 1983 Nationals when ridden by Bill Smith.

14 - Surprise Packet 1959 - This outsider who had won the previous years Foxhunters only ran in the one National but with a young Gerry Scott (who was making his National debut) he took the lead by the first and was running away with the race until he hit the top of Bechers second time and he took the most ugly of falls. Scott was to gain recompense the following year with Merryman II but perhaps wisely Surprise Packet was not asked to try again

15 - Tea Fiend 1960 - The first televised National saw the first in a sequence of great front running performances during the decade. Tea Fiend took the lead at the first and was clear by the Anchor Bridge Crossing. Apart from showing a dislike to the fence after Bechers (where he slowed to a virtual walk on both circuits) he jumped well until surrendering the lead to Merryman II & Badenloch at the Canal Turn. He struggled thereafter but stayed on to finish a distant fifth. He ran the following year and fell at the very first fence.

16 - Ordnance 1953 - He blazed the trail in such a fashion that by half way the field was considerably strung out and there were only a handful following him who appeared to have any chance of winning. Perhaps he did not like company as by the time Early Mist had cut his lead down and was upsides him at the twentieth fence he fell.

An alternate honours board - if the race was run over one circuit that is


1946     Lough Conn

1947     Lough Conn

1948     First of the Dandies

1949     Roimond

1950     Cloncarrig

1951      Gay Heather (?)

1952     TEAL

1953     Ordnance

1954     Conneyburrow


1956     Armorial III

1957     SUNDEW

1958     Goosander

1959     Surprise Packet 

1960     Tea Fiend  

1961       Fresh Winds  

1962      Freddiths Son  

1963     Out And About 

1964     Peacetown

1965     Rondetto  

1966     Forest Prince 

1967     Princeful

1968     The Fossa

1969     Steel Bridge 

1970     Villay  

1971      Astbury  

1972     Fair Vulgan  

1973     Crisp

1974     Pearl of Montreal  

1975     Glandford Brigg  

1976     Spanish Steps  

1977     Boom Docker  

1978     Sebastian V  

1979     Wagner  

1980     Delmoss 

1981      Royal Stuart  

1982     Delmoss 

1983     Delmoss 

1984     Burnt Oak 

1985     Dudie  

1986     Doubleuagain  

1987     Lean Ar Aghaidh  

1988     Lean Ar Aghaidh



Thats galling - falling when leading

It is bad enough falling but think how bad it must be for connections for your horse to come to grief when leading. Here are some very unfortunate horses who had the misfortune to leave the race when leading.

The following are all covered above



1956 & 1957- ARMORIALL III 


1948 & 1950 - CLONCARRIG holds the record for the most falls in the National - SIX - six time he ran and six times he fell. He was actually a very good Aintree horse and twice won at the Autumn Meeting but he had no luck in the National itself. In his first National in 1948 he was leading when he unseated at the thirteenth fence. Clearly this was his bogey fence as in 1950 when he was engaged in a clash of the titans with Freebooter he was leading at the same fence on the second circuit and going, if anything stronger than the eventual winner when he hit the top of the fence and came down.


1949 - ACTHON MAJOR was enjoying a great race and had a clear lead when he took a horrible looking fall at the tenth fence.

1950 - ANGEL HILL - this outsider was surprising everyone when he unseated at the second Canal Turn.

1965 & 1967 - RONDETTO - A great Aintree favourite and former winner of the Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup at Newbury. Rondetto ran in five Nationals but only completed once when finishing third to Highland Wedding in 1969. Prior to that he led from the thirteenth fence in 1965 before falling at the fence after Valentines and in 1967 he was actually first over the twenty third fence but in the confusion he unseated Johnny Haine in the process.

1971 - GAY BUCCANEER led the field until the Canal Turn first time when he was hampered by a loose horse who carried him so wide that he went from first to last in a manner of strides. Although he finished the course he could not get anywhere near the leaders thereafter. Ironically a year later when he was running loose he did his best to try and carry out the leader Fair Vulgan at the water. 1971 also saw the mare MISS HUNTER unseat when leading at the Chair and BEAU BOB unseated after jumping Bechers second time in a clear lead (this was not picked up by either the BBC or Movietone cameras)

1975 - Charlie Swans dad Captain Donald Swan blazed the trail on ZIMULATOR until coming a cropper at the fourth fence

1976 - John Francome and GOLDEN RAPPER took the lead approaching Bechers second time. Taking the brave route down the inside where the drop was at its fiercest they took the most frightening of falls which left Francome unconscious. Fortunately the horse got up without a scratch but he never returned to Aintree.

1977 - BOOM DOCKER is dealt with above but after he refused the favourite ANDY PANDY was left in front and by Bechers second time was clear when he fell.

1978 - TIED COTTAGE and Tommy Carberry on the horses only visit to Aintree blazed the trail until first Bechers when they fell. As one wag observed "they tried to jump the fence lengthways".

1979 - Another early leader PURDO and Bob Champion fell at first Bechers

1981 - CARROW BOY was unlucky at the tenth fence as a loose horse crossed his path on the approach which clearly unsighted him as he simply crumpled on landing.

1988 - STRANDS OF GOLD gave Peter Scudamore a crashing fall at second Bechers having taken the lead at the previous fence. LITTLE POLVEIR took over and was looking all over the winner when an innocuous mistake at the twenty sixth sent rider Tom Morgan into the air. Twelve months later the horse made amends for this error for new connections.

1989 - STEARSBY - A former winner of the Welsh National and Mildmay Memorial at Sandown was disputing the lead with West Tip over Valentines and the tenth fence which he cleared with ease. However, at the eleventh he simply galloped into the fence throwing rider Brendan Powell (who had tasted National glory just twelve months before) through the fence whilst the horse remained on the other side poking his head over to see what all the fuss was about.

The following horses deserve a mention as although their National experience was extremely brief (for all this was their only Aintree visit) but they were all leading when they fell at the very first fence. There is nothing like going out at the top - QUITE NATURALLY (1953), DUFFLE COAT (1977), DEEP GALE (1982)

Four loose horses who actually ran very well

1964 - LIZAWAKE (1st) - One of several to come down this year at the Chair. This was one of the closest finishes in years so his efforts in coming first were completely ignored but he features prominently in photographs of the finish.

1966 - PACKED HOME (4th) - Unseated Tommy Carberry at Bechers first time and continued amongst the leaders for the rest of the race.


1987 - BROWN TRIX (1st) - The greatest performance by a loose horse of all time. BROWN TRIX was ridden by a fifty year old plus amateur who really had no place to be in the National. Having got rid of his inexperienced pilot at the third fence the horse put in a superb round of jumping to trounce eventual winner MAORI VENTURE. If he`d had a proper jockey on board who knows what he could have achieved (he had been a useful horse in his younger days when trained by Fred Winter). Two years later he tried again and this time it all went horribly wrong.

1989 - SMART TAR (1st-dead heat) - Up with the leaders on the second circuit the last horse to carry the famous Courage colours in the National unseated Carl Llewellyn at the twentieth fence. Continuing as if still in the race for real he raced neck and neck up the Elbow with the eventual winner LITTLE POLVEIR - I can`t separate them.

Changes to the terms & conditions for the race 1946 - 1989


The race is open for six year olds and upwards who have been placed first, second or third in a steeplechase in a steeplechase over three miles or in a steeplechase of any distance over the National fences.


The race is open for six year olds and upwards who have won a chase over three miles or finished in the first four in a race over the National fences.


For six year olds and above who have won a race valued between £1,500-2,000 during the previous two and a half years or have finished in the first four in a steeplechase over the National fences.


Minimum chase value raised to between £2,000-2,500.


Maximum permitted field of 40 runners introduced. Entry qualifications reduced to just one win in a steeplechase over the previous two & a half years. Best turned out prize and prize for stable employee repsonsible for the winner introduced.


Trophies introduced for winning trainers & jockeys


Minimum age for runners increased to seven years


Fifth & sixth placed prizes introduced.

Racecard Numbers

Not the most scientific way to pick your National winner but here is a novel way of doing so . Here are the winning race card numbers for all National winners since 1946

 1    Red Rum (74), Red Rum (77)


 2   Royal Tan (54), Gay Trip (70), Rhyme n Reason (88), Many Clouds (15)

 3   Tiger Roll (19)

 4    L Escargot (75), Aldaniti (81), Neptune Collonges (12)


 5    Freebooter (50), Jay Trump (65), Maori Venture (87), Royal Athlete (95)


 6    Oxo (59), Rag Trade (76), Ben Nevis (80), Grittar (82), Corbiere (83), Mr Frisk (90), Earth Summit (98), Don t Push It (10)


 7     Early Mist (53), ESB (56), Sundew (57), Specify (71), Rough Quest (96)

 8    Merryman II (60), Red Rum (73), West Tip (86), Party Politics (92), Miinnehoma (94)


 9    Lucius (78)

10    Quare Times (55), Lord Gyllene (97), Red Marauder (01), Ballabriggs (11)

11     Lovely Cottage (46), Last Suspect (85), Seagram (91), Hedghunter (05)

13    Teal (52), Papillon (00), Tiger Roll (18)

14    Team Spirit (64), Highland Wedding (69)

15    Mon Mome (09)

17    Amberleigh House (04)

19    Bobbyjo (99), Montys Pass (03)

20   Well to Do (72)

21     Russian Hero (49), Little Polveir (89), Bindaree (02)

22    Sheilas Cottage (48), Anglo (66), Red Alligator (68), Rubstic (79), One for Arthur (17)

26    Numbersixvalverde (06)

28    Noble Yeats (22)

29     Nickel Coin (51), Nicholas Silver (61), Pineau deu Re (14), Rule the World (16)

30     Silver Birch (07)

33     Caughoo (47), Mr What (58), Comply or Die (08)

35     Auroras Encore (13), Minella Times (21)

38     Foinavon (67)

40     Ayala (63)

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