“The ultimate test of horse and rider”.
This is how the Grand National at Aintree is described. Run over a distance of four miles and two-and-a-half furlongs, with 30 obstacles over two laps to be jumped, it’s not for the faint-hearted. Particularly as many of the fences are larger than other national hunt races. Consequently, it’s difficult to predict the winner, especially if you’re mulling over the Grand National latest odds – it’s rare the favourite goes on to win. So, while you may be looking to back Cloth Cap this year, let’s take a look back at favourites who have previously won this blue riband race.
2019: Tiger Roll (4/1F)
In 2019, Tiger Roll became the first horse since Red Rum, 45 years previous, to win back-to-back Grand Nationals. The favourite was ridden by Davy Russell for a second time in the Aintree race, and it landed trainer Gordon Elliott a third victory. Going over the final fence, Tiger Roll was level with ranked outsider Magic of Light, but managed to pull away in the home stretch to land an historic win. Sadly, the recent Cross Country Chase winner at Cheltenham won’t be challenging for a hat-trick this year, after being handed one of the top weights in the handicap.
2010: Don’t Push It (10/1JF)
It was lucky 15 for jockey, AP McCoy, as after the 15th attempt, the Northern Irishman won the Grand National. He made his debut in 1995, with three third-place finishes his best result prior to success on the joint-favourite. Don’t Push It jumped the last fence level with Black Apalachi (14/1), but managed to pull away and win by five lengths. Other joint-favourite, Big Fella Thanks, ridden by Barry Geraghty, finished in fourth. The 2010 race also marked a debut win for trainer Jonjo O’Neill and owner JP McManus.
2008: Comply or Die (7/1JF)
Both Comply or Die, and Cloudy Lane went into the 2008 National as joint-favourites, and media attention was largely focused on the latter. But he was never really in contention, and finished in sixth place. But the plaudits were with Comply or Die, who held off a strong challenge from King Johns Castle to win by four lengths. The win landed Irish jockey Timmy Murphy his first National in 11 attempts, as he cruised to victory after jumping the final fence.
2005: Hedgehunter (7/1F)
Hedgehunter, ridden by the legendary Ruby Walsh, ran to victory in the 2005 National. After a slow start and a couple of mistakes, the pre-race favourite took the lead after Tony McCoy’s ride Clan Royal was taken out by a loose horse at Becher’s Brooke, and stayed on strongly to draw clear in the run-in. The margin of victory was an emphatic 14 lengths over the unfancied 40/1 chance, Royal Auclair. It was Walsh’s second win in the National, having previous ridden Papillon in 2000.
1998: Earth Summit (7/1F)
A torrential downpour caused havoc to the turf at the 1998 Grand National, making it only the fifth time since 1977 that the race was run on soft ground – but this didn’t affect the winner Earth Summit, ridden by Carl Llewelyn. The 7/1 favourite was a former Scottish and Welsh Grand National winner and completed the treble ahead of 11/1 chance, Suny Bay – a record that stands to this day.