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Winners and Losers

This page celebrates the winners and how they achieved immortality with also much respect to those unsung heroes who finished last.

The latter includes CHEERS (pictured left) who made history in 1982 when Geraldine Rees became the first woman to complete the National course. 

Did You Know that CHEERS also finished last of eleven finishers a year earlier in 1981 and is only one of two horses in the races history to have twice brought up the rear.





1967 - FOINAVON (31st of 33 at the water) - Prominent on the run down to the first fence, Foinavon was actually the second horse named in the commentary by Sir Peter O'Sullevan but  he was amongst the backmarkers by the twenty third. The rest as we know is history but Foinavon has the distinction of being the only Grand National winner of the decade to hit the front that early - FIFTEEN LENGTHS

Letting others do the hard work

1964 - TEAM SPIRIT (3/25) - Was a clear third as the runners went onto the racecourse the first time but was some way behind the dominant early leaders Peacetown and Out And About. Peacetown actually led at the first, water and last fence before he gave way to Purple Silk at the Elbow. Team Spirit was only fifth over the final fence but snatched the race near the line - HALF A LENGTH

1966 - ANGLO (13/36) - Only started to get serious on the second circuit as the blinkered Forest Prince cut a fine sight in front from the start. Forest Prince was still clear at the Anchor Bridge but he was struggling by the second last as Anglo swept past him to win by a very easy TWENTY LENGTHS

Prominent throughout

1960 - MERRYMAN II (3/17) - Took lead at second Valentines and was never headed after the 27th - FIFTEEN LENGTHS

1961 - NICOLAUS SILVER (6/21) - Left disputing the lead at 19th, led again at 20th and second Bechers. Led again at the last fence - FIVE LENGTHS

1963 - AYALA (4/33) - He may have only taken the lead in the dying strides but he was never out of the top eight throughout the race - THREE QUARTERS OF A LENGTH

Took it easy

1962 - KILMORE (14/29) - Hunted on first circuit and did not even get a mention by the commentator until second Bechers when he was still a distant sixth. Took lead at the last - TEN LENGTHS 

1965 - JAY TRUMP (12/28) - Ninth by the first Canal he had dropped back to mid division until second Bechers when he started to make his move. Avoiding the falling leader Rondetto at the twenty sixth fence he led at the last and held on - THREE QUARTERS OF A LENGTH

1968 - RED ALLIGATOR (10/26) - Not mentioned by the commentator until the seventeenth fence he took the lead at the twenty sixth, was not headed and won very easily - TWENTY LENGTHS

1969 - HIGHLAND WEDDING (9/24) - Quietly ridden on the first circuit, took lead at second Canal and was not headed again - TWELVE LENGTHS


Got to the front...and stayed there

1981 - ALDANITI (2/24) - Was only in mid-division on the run down to Bechers but found himself in the lead (far earlier than connections wanted) at the tenth fence on the fall of early leader Carrow Boy. Apart from briefly being headed at the water he remained in front to record the most emotional of victories - FOUR LENGTHS

1989 - LITTLE POLVEIR (1/25) - Having been prominent on the first circuit he took the lead on the approach to the water and he stayed in front. Joined by the riderless Smart Tar who no doubt concentrated his mind he was not headed again - FOUR LENGTHS

Prominent throughout

1982 - GRITTAR (5/18) - In a race of considerable grief early on he was always in the first five as he bided his time behind runaway leaders Carrow Boy and Sain Fillans. He took advantage of their mistakes at second Bechers and took the lead by the second Canal and stayed in front - FIFTEEN LENGTHS

1983 - CORBIERE (3/23) - Prominent on the inside he was always in the first three, leading at the twenty first and disputing the lead thereafter with Hallo Dandy. Took the lead at the Anchor Bridge and remained in front despite the fast finishing Greasepaint - THREE QUARTERS OF A LENGTH

Got a second wind and broke the runners up heart

1985 - LAST SUSPECT (5/24) - Quietly ridden on the first circuit he had joined the leaders by half way and was fourth at second Bechers and second at the Canal Turn. He had taken the lead briefly after Valentines but was slow over three out and dropped back to fourth place where he stayed until entering the Elbow. Mr Snugfit had taken the lead two out and looked to have the race in the bag but suddenly he faltered, Last Suspect rallied and swept into the lead by the wings of the water - ONE & A HALF LENGTHS

Letting others doing the hard work

1984 - HALLO DANDY (22/30) - Held up he was one of the last horses to clear the first fence. Only had four behind him at the Chair. Ridden more patiently than the year before (when he did not appear to see out the trip) he did not get a mention until after second Bechers but he was making steady progress and was seventh by the Canal Turn. A clear second by the Anchor Bridge he had taken the lead two out and swtiched to the stands side he repelled the challenge of the luckless Greasepaint - FOUR LENGTHS

Hunted round

1980 - BEN NEVIS (7/22) - Amongst the backmarkers early on he was actualy last over the fifth, Bechers and the Canal. He made gradual progress in what was a slowly run race and found himself second to long time leader Delmoss by the seventeenth. Left in a clear lead after Delmoss crashed out at Bechers. He was left in splendid isolation - TWENTY LENGTHS

1986 - WEST TIP (10/26) - Settled on the first circuit off the leaders moving to a more prominent position on the second circuit. There were a larger number of runners in contention after Valentines second circuit and he was fourth crossing the Anchor Bridge. He took the lead after the last fence going clear at the Elbow - TWO LENGTHS

1987 - MAORI VENTURE (12/29) - In mid-division early one he did not get a mention by the BBC until after the twelfth fence. Started making progress after the eighteenth despite making mistakes. Second at the last he took the lead at the Elbow - FIVE LENGTHS

Down - but not out

1988 - RHYME 'N' REASON (14/32) - Ran on the outside and was one of the backmarkers when he was down on his hind legs at first Bechers, it looked like his race was over but somehow Brendon Powell stayed on board. All chances appeared lost and he was last over the seventh fence and remained amongst the backmarkers until he started to make progress on the approach to the Chair. Getting his first mention by John Hanmer after the water as "one that was making significent progress" he was, within a fence, amongst the leaders. Second at the Canal he took the lead four out. Outjumped by Durham Edition at the second last it looked like his chance had come and gone and he looked booked for second place but he got a second (in his case a third) wind and took the lead to record his famous victory after the Elbow - FOUR LENGTHS



1970 - GAY TRIP (7/13) - There weren't many horses left at half way from what was an unusually small field but just look how easily he was going throughout the race. He may not have taken the lead until the second last but watch closely and this result was never in doubt. Apart from Red Rum the most impressive winner of the decade and one of the best of all time - TWENTY LENGTHS

1975 - L'ESCARGOT (7/16) - In a smaller field he was more prominent than he had been in previous visits and was always going easily in about fifth place. By the Anchor Bridge crossing second time he was going so well that he was almost toying with the gallant Red Rum. Tommy Carberry was even looking around him as he swept past him approaching the second last and for once Rummy had no answer - FIFTEEN LENGTHS

Prominent throughout

1978 - LUCIUS (4/18) - Prominent from the off, he was seventh by the Canal Turn and took the lead from the tenth. He had slightly lost his position by the water but thereafter was in the first two in a long dual with Sebastian V. He was not in front over the last but he rallied at the Elbow to prevail close to the line in the closest finishes ever seen at Aintree - HALF A LENGTH

1979 - RUBSTIC (3/17) - Never out of the first three from the get-go with eventual runner up Zongalero and Wagner and then Rough and Tumble but he only actually got his head in front after the last fence - ONE AND A HALF LENGTHS

Hunted on the first circuit

1974 - RED RUM (9/29) - Took it easy on the first circuit, biding his time until he joined the leaders at the nineteenth. He found himself in front probably earlier than he would have liked at the twenty first but thereafter the result was never in doubt in what was his most dominant display at Aintree and probably his greatest moment - SEVEN LENGTHS

1977 - RED RUM (5/21) - A similar story to 1977 but this time he was left in a clear lead on the fall of Andy Pandy at second Bechers and he stayed in front to record a historic third win - TWENTY FIVE LENGTHS

1972 - WELL TO DO (12/22) - In horrible conditions he bided his time on the first circuit, but on the second circuit he slowly made progress as others dropped out. By the Canal second time there were only a handful left and he was now in second place. Taking the lead before the last he repelled the fast finish of Gay Trip who surprisingly lost ground by ploughing a lone furrow on the stands side - TWO LENGTHS

Letting others do the hard work

1973 - RED RUM (3/25) - What can I say ? It was almost cruel - THREE QUARTERS OF A LENGTH

1976 - RAG TRADE (7/22) - Having appeared to have hated the experience in 1975 a year later he seemed to be much happier. Always just behind the leaders he quietly moved into contention with three fences to go and was in a line of three with Red Rum and Eyecatcher at the last fence He landed full of running and was able to overtake Red Rum after the last and despite his best efforts Red Rum could not peg him back - TWO LENGTHS

Left it Late

1971 - SPECIFY (12/20) - In mid-division on the first circuit he was still only sixth at the Anchor Bridge and fifth at the last with others looking the more likely winners. Then the leader Sandy Sprite broke down and in a blanket finish he made up a significant amount of ground to take the lead in the final two hundred yards - A NECK

Where was the National winner at half way ?

It is interesting to note how up with the pace most National winners were with a circuit to go

1st -    TEAL (52)

           SUNDEW (57)

           LITTLE POLVEIR (89)

2nd -  NICKEL COIN (51)

           ALDANITI (81)

3rd -   RUSSIAN HERO (49)

           MERRYMAN II (60)

           TEAM SPIRIT (64)

           RED RUM (73)

           RUBSTIC (79)

           CORBIERE (83)

4th -    ESB (56)

           OXO (59)

           AYALA (63)

           LUCIUS (78)

           GRITTAR (82)

5th -    SHEILAS COTTAGE (48)

           EARLY MIST (53)

           QUARE TIMES (55)

            LAST SUSPECT (85)

6th -    MR WHAT (58)

            NICOLAUS SILVER (61)

            RED RUM (77)

7th -    ROYAL TAN (54)

            L'ESCARGOT (75)

8th -    CAUGHOO (47)

            FREEBOOTER (50)

            GAY TRIP (70)

            RAG TRADE (76)

            BEN NEVIS (80)

9th -    HIGHLAND WEDDING (69)

10th -   RED ALLIGATOR (68)

            WEST TIP (86)

12th -   LOVELY COTTAGE (46)

            JAY TRUMP (65)

            MAORI VENTURE (87)

13th -   ANGLO (66)

14th -   RHYME 'N'REASON (88)

            KILMORE (62)

15th -   SPECIFY (71)

            RED RUM (74)

17th -   WELL TO DO (72)

21st -   HALLO DANDY (84)

31st -    FOINAVON (67)

I Came Last in the Grand National

Even with the modifications it still takes something to complete the course (it was the fences now it is the jockeys being told to pull up when beaten - nine were pulled up in the closing stages in 2017). So here is a tribute to those brave brave horses that quietly completed to cross the line, sometimes a very long way behind - sometimes even when the winner was in the winners enclosure. Some last placed runners in particular caught my eye.

1960 - SKATEALONG (8th) - R R Harrison (66-1)

1961 -  IRISH COFFEE (14th) - J.Magee (50-1)

1962 - CLEAR PROFIT (17th) - T J Ryan (66-1)

1963 - DANDY TIM (22nd) - Laurie Major (50-1)

1964 - SEA KNIGHT (15th) - Mr P.Nicholson (66-1) - A fairly useful hunter chaser Sea Knight ran in four Liverpool Foxhunters Chases between 1963 & 1967 winning in both 1963 and 1965. However in the sixties there was a far greater gap in class between the amateur runners and seasoned handicappers than there is today which is perfectly exampled by this performance in the National in 1964. Last across the Melling Road.....he stayed there. Already adrift by the fourth fence he plodded on at his own pace completely oblivious to the horse race going on in front of him. By the Anchor Bridge he was over a fence behind, by second Bechers two fences and as the leaders battled it out past the Anchor Bridge second time Sea Knight was clambering over the fence after Valentines. Sea Knight was not unique though, watch those wonderful black and white Nationals of the sixties (in particular the head-on view at Bechers and the third last) and most years you can spot one or more runners miles behind the others. In those days it was all about completing the course. Not sure you would get away with it today though.

1965 - MOYRATH (14th) - B.Richmond (100-1)

1966 - LOVING RECORD (12th) - B.Hannon (50-1)

1967 - GAME PURSTON (18th) - Ken White (66-1)

1968 - QUINTIN BAY (17th) - Willie Robinson

1969 - LIMETRA (14th) - Paddy Broderick (50-1)

1970 - ASSAD (7th) - Josh Gifford (28-1)

1971 - COMMON ENTRANCE (13th) - Mr M Morris (100-1) - Today he is best known as one of Irelands leading trainers who sent out War Of Attrition to lift the Gold Cup in 2006 and of course Rule the World in the 2016 National. But for some of us with longer memories "Mouse" Morris was a pretty good Irish rider in the seventies both as an amateur and professional winning an Irish National and Queen Mother Chase. Now for us anoraks he deserves special mention here for Common Entrance, the missing horse of seventies Nationals. All form books will say that after a fall at the Chair he was remounted to finish last of the thirteen finishers. But scour all the footage and you cannot see him. The BBC show him in last place approaching the Chair but his fall is not captured. Movietone do feature him jumping the water in splendid isolation but that is it. Did he really finish ? Having looked again at the head on at second Bechers and the third last I think you can just about see a "speck" in the distance - crossing the Melling Road. If this is Common Entrance then he was further behind than any other horse at this stage of the race and he can take the honour for being the furthest behind of any National finisher in the modern era. 

1972 - ROUGH SILK (9th) - David Nicholson (25-1)

1973 - MILL DOOR (17th) - Peter Cullis (100-1) - The story of Mill Door and his journeyman rider Peter Cullis is told in Chris Pitts excellent book "Go Down to the Beaten" which is reviewed elsewhere on this site. Mill Door was probably the least talented horse to run in a National of the seventies, an average point to pointer who had never won under rules. He would not have got within a million miles of the National today but in those days you qualified if you finished in the first four in a race over the National fences and he had finished a very remote last of four finishers in the previous years Foxhunters. To be fair he ran credibly on the first circuit, was seventh at first Bechers but was steadily dropping back and only had five behind him at half way. His rider, who was in the twilight of his career and had been looking to ride in a National for many years, let him hunt his way round at his own pace. By second Canal he was three fences behind runaway leader Crisp and four out he was one of several baulked by loose horses. He was put to the fence a second time, popped over it and finished. Mill Door changed hands soon afterwards but ran in the following years National and was similarly miles behind when perhaps remembering events of the previous year he fell four out.

1974 - PRINCESS CAMILLA (17th) - Martin Blackshaw (28-1)

1975 - RAG TRADE (10th) - John Francome (18-1) - What a difference a year makes - while horses have won a National first time and then hated it second time round (Anglo, Last Suspect, Miinnehoma, Bindaree) it is rare for it to be the other way round. In 1975 Rag Trade gave the impression that he absolutely hated the place, sulking in rear throughout and making sloppy mistakes to finish a very distant last of ten finishers behind L'Escargot & Red Rum. Who would have though he would turn the tables so emphatically on Rummy a year later.

1976 - INDIAN DIVA (16th) - Mr Nicky Henderson (100-1)

1977 - SAUCEY BELLE (11th*) - R F Davies (200-1)

1978 - NEVER ROCK (15th) - Kevin Mooney (50-1) 

1979 - PRIME JUSTICE (7th) - A K Taylor (200-1) - The forgotten horse of 1979, an unconsidered outsider he was in the rear throughout and apart from a mistake at the fifth he jumped soundly enough. In a race of substantial grief not one of the BBC commentators noticed him. With just seventeen standing at the water, Sir Peter O' Sullevan named all the survivors except him, after second Bechers when there were just twelve left in the contest Julian Wilson missed him and with just a handful left three out John Hanmer didn't mention him either. He finally got a mention by Sir Peter....after he had completed the course a distant seventh. Whilst only nine he didn't run under rules again.

1980 - ROYAL STUART (4th) - Philip Blacker (20-1)

1981 - CHEERS (11th) - Peter Scudamore (20-1)

1982 - CHEERS (8th) - Mrs Geraldine Rees (66-1) - GRAND NATIONAL ANORAK FACT - Cheers is one of only two horses to have twice finished last in the National. The other ? Former National hero Gamecock who ran in six consecutive Nationals between 1886 & 1891 winning in 1887 and finishing third in 1886. He only once failed to complete the course so it seems a little churlish to mention his two last places in 1889 & 1891. As for Cheers... two runs and two last places. In 1981 he had genuine each-way prospects but, partnered by champion jockey Peter Scudamore he never really got into the race and leaving his hind legs in the water didn't help his chances. He was struggling from second Bechers and finished a long way behind Aldaniti. However, whilst his performance that year would not have got a mention in the press twelve months later he became the most famous last placed horse in National history. Even the BBC cut away from triumphant Grittar and Dick Saunders to show Cheers complete the course. The horse could barely raise a canter. However the state of the horse was not the story it was that his rider Geraldine Rees (only the fourth of her sex to compete in a National) had become the first female rider to complete the course. It may have been better if the BBC had not shown them as so exhausted was Cheers that it looked as if he was close to collapse. I am sure that any professional rider would have pulled him up as he had been in rear for most of the race. Oh was the eighties and Mrs Rees was very blonde and very pretty.

1983 - DELMOSS (10th) - Bill Smith (50-1)

1984 - CANFORD GINGER (23rd) - Colin Brown (100-1) - The story of Canford Ginger is told in Anne Hollands 1988 book "The Grand National". He holds a special place in Grand National history as he remains the only horse to have finished twenty third in a National. Having lost his place by second Bechers he was quietly nursed home by Colin Brown and finished a long way behind the others. His achievement is unlikely to be broken. Had he run in 2017 I am sure he would have been pulled up  a long way from home.

1985 - CAPTAIN PARKHILL (11th) - Chris Grant (100-1) - something of an Aintree specialist he ran a total of six times over the Aintree fences but this was his only National, he completed despite suffering an earth-shattering mistake at the Chair. 

1986 - GAYLE WARNING (17th) - Mr Sandy Dudgeon (50-1)

1987 - INSURE (22nd) - Mr Charlie Brooks (45-1)

1988 - LEAN AR AGHAIDH (9th) - Guy Landau (10-1)

1989 - MR BAKER (14th) - Michael Moran (100-1)

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