Friday, July 26

GUEST POST: Most Famous Grand National Horses

There have been many memorable moments and races in the 174 year history of the Grand National. The famous steeplechase is the focal point of the horse racing calendar. Every year, hundreds of millions of people around the world watch the event, in which 40 horses hurtle round a track of four miles and three and a quarter furlongs.

A lot of the time, the moments which go down in history are the ones when an unexpected rank outsiders wins the race, shocking horse racing fanatics around the world. Given the unpredictable nature of the race, outcomes such as these are still quite possible. The most recent time something like this happened was just this year, in the 2013 event. Aurora's Encore was given odds of 66 to 1 by bookmakers. 66 to 1 is far higher than the average odds and because of this, not many people backed him.

Prior to this, the last extremely unpredictable outcome was when Mon Mome galloped to victory in to 2009 event. Bookmakers were taking odds on this horse at 100 to 1, meaning any one that did, by the off chance, back Mon Mome for the race would have won a massive return on their bet. This was the highest prices winner since over 40 years when Foinavon won in one of the most extraordinary moments in the history of the sport.

Foinavon was a relatively undistinguished racehorse until he miraculously won the Grand National in 1967. The Irish horse was in average position as they entered the final third of the race. The outcome was decided the moment he passed the 23rd fence. With only seven fences left, all the remaining horses in the race, except Foinavon, went to the ground in a mass melee. Just as surprised as everyone spectating, jockey John Buckingham found himself the last man standing as he approached the final few fences and became the only horse to make it past the finish line. The finish was so monumental that the 23rd fence was officially named ‘Foinavon’ in 1984.

Another fence which became named after an event which happened is Becher’s Brook. Captain Martin Becher was the jockey which rode the horse Conrad for the 1839 event. The jockey was famously thrown from his horse as he launched himself over the 22nd fence. The jockey took shelter in the brook immediately following the jump to avoid getting trampled by the other horses. 174 years later, the fence has still kept its name.

A list of famous horses would not be complete without a mention of Red Rum. The 70’s was when this legendary racehorse set a record following his victories in 1973, 1974 and 1977. No other horse has ever won three Grand Nationals, and the last horse to win two consecutively was decades before. Making his achievement even more amazing, was that in the two intervening years when he didn’t win (1975 and 1976), Red Rum came in second place. Many people consider this five-year stretch unbeatable.

Simone Wright-Eddison is the content editor for, the fifth most popular horse racing website in the United Kingdom according to Hitwise data. You can connect with Simone on her Grand National Facebook fan page.
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