Mr Frisk  The 1990 Grand National had the distinction of being the first to be run in under nine minutes – 8 minutes 47.8 seconds, to be precise – and, even after the overall race distance was shortened in 2013, remains the fastest in history. It was also the last renewal to be won by an amateur rider, 25-year-old Marcus Armytage, who partnered the 11-year-old Mr. Frisk to victory, by three-quarters of a length, over Durham Edition.

The winner was something of rarity, insofar as he was a steeplechaser who truly relished firm going; on rattling fast ground at Aintree – parched brown after the driest spring since 1910 – Mr. Frisk was in his element. Having finished a creditable fourth in the Kim Muir Memorial Challenge Cup at the Cheltenham Festival on his previous outing, Mr. Frisk was sent off co-sixth choice of the 38 runners at 16/1, behind favourite Brown Windsor at 7/1.

Mr. Frisk was always prominent and, after moving into second place heading out onto the second circuit , was left in the lead when Uncle Merlin, who’d made most of the running, blundered and unseated Hywel Davies at Becher’s Brook. Thereafter, he made the best of his way home and, although challenged by second favourite Durham Edition, ridden by Chris Grant, from the final fence, held on well on the famously long, 494-yard run-in to prevail in a driving finish. His winning time beat the previous course record – set by Red Rum after his epic duel with Crisp in 1973 – by 14 seconds.

Mr. Frisk returned to Aintree for the 1991 Grand National, but, on rain-softened ground, soon weakened and was tailed off when pulled up before Becher’s Brook on the second circuit. Nevertheless, he had already written his name, indelibly, into Grand National folklore and, with the National Course now routinely watered to provide going no faster than ‘good to soft’, his course record may never be beaten.

Corbiere  Corbiere, apparently named after a Jersey lighthouse, had the distinction of being the first Grand National winner trained by a woman. Owned by Bryan Burrough and trained by the inimitable Jenny Pitman, Corbiere may have won the world famous steeplechase on his first attempt, as a eight-year-old, in 1983, but also finished third in 1984 and 1985, behind Hallo Dandy and Last Suspect, respectively, before falling at the fourth fence in 1986 and finishing twelfth, as a twelve-year-old, behind Maori Venture in 1987.

Ridden by Ben de Haan, as he was at Aintree, Corbiere had carried 10st 10lb to victory in the Welsh Grand National , run over 3 miles 5½ furlongs on bottomless going, at Chepstow the December before his first attempt in the National proper. He had subsequently won at Doncaster and finished second in the Ritz Club Trophy at the Cheltenham Festival so, even under 11st 4lb, appeared to have a live chance at Aintree.

On his favoured soft going, Corbiere jumped enthusiastically and raced prominently throughout. He disputed the lead with Hallo Dandy for much of the second circuit, but took a clear lead approaching the twenty-eighth of the thirty fences, at which point his nearest pursuers were the Irish challengers Yer Man, ridden by Val O’Connell, and Greasepaint, ridden by amateur Colin Magnier.

Corbiere led by 3 lengths jumping the final fence, but in the final hundred yards had to withstand a renewed effort from Greasepaint, who’d been under pressure for some way; Corbiere had just enough in reserve to hold on and win by three-quarters of a length. Yer Man finished third, a further two lengths away. Winning jockey Ben de Haan, aged just 23 at the time, later said of Mrs. Pitman, “She likes the job done properly and if it isn’t she doesn’t mind telling you.”

Red Rum  Red Rum is not only the most famous Grand National winner of all time but, arguably, the most famous racehorse of all time. Unfashionably bred, but imaginatively named, being by Quorum out of Mared, Red Rum was, at one point in his career, an unremarkable sprinter, who suffered from a condition called ‘pedal osteitis’, which caused intermittent lameness. That was, of course, long before he was bought for 6,000 guineas by the late Donald ‘Ginger’ McCain on behalf of the late Noel Le Mare at Doncaster Sales in August,1972. The rest, as they say, is history.

Trained in Birkdale, near Southport, principally on a ‘gallop’, prepared by McCain himself on the nearby beach, Red Rum won his first five starts for his new connections. Consequently, on his first attempt in the National, in 1973, he was sent off 9/1 joint-favourite, alongside former Champion Chase winner Crisp, from whom he was receiving 23lb. Ridden by Richard Pitman, Crisp led the field a merry dance and was still about 15 lengths ahead jumping the final fence. Approaching the Elbow, though, the giant Australian ‘chaser started wander off a true line as Red Rum, ridden by Brian Fletcher, crept closer and closer. In the final, desperate run to the line, Red Rum overhauled the long-time leader to win by three-quarters of a length; in so doing, he smashed the previous course record, set by Reynoldstown in 1935.

Red Rum ran in the next four Grand Nationals, winning again – albeit in less dramatic fashion, but carrying top weight of twelve stone – under Fletcher in 1974 and finishing a highly creditable second to L’Escargot, under the same jockey, in 1975. He finished second again in 1976, under new jockey Tommy Stack, failing by 2 lengths to concede 12lb to Rag Trade but, in 1977, as a twelve-year-old, achieved Aintree immortality by sluicing clear of the field to win by 25 lengths and record an unprecedented third win.