Golden Miller has the distinction of being the only horse in the history of British racing to complete the Cheltenham Gold Cup-Grand National double in the same season. Owned by eccentric millionairess Dorothy Paget, trained by Basil Briscoe and ridden by Gerry Wilson, Golden Miller was, undoubtedly, the most famous steeplechaser of the interwar years. He had unseated previous jockey Ted Leader at the Canal Turn on the second circuit, when still in contention, on his only prior attempt over the National fences in 1933 but, fresh from his third consecutive win in the Cheltenham Gold Cup – just 17 days earlier – he started 8/1 second favourite for the 1934 Grand National.
Despite carrying the welter burden of 12st 2lb, Golden Miller got the better of a titanic struggle with the eventual second, Delaneige, who was receiving 10lb, throughout the final half mile, jumping the last upsides and striding away on the run-in to win by 5 lengths. In so doing, Golden Miller set a new course record of 9 min 20.4 sec, which would stand until smashed by Red Rum 39 years later. The Sporting Life of the day called him “The Finest Chaser of the Century”.
Golden Miller won the Cheltenham Gold Cup again in 1935 and, despite carrying top weight of 12st 7lb, was sent off the shortest-priced favourite in the history of the Grand National, at 2/1, to repeat his Aintree heroics. However, Golden Miller propped, as if trying to refuse, approaching the eleventh fence, which has a 6-foot wide ditch on the take-off side and, although he negotiated the obstacle, parted company with Gerry Wilson. Recriminations followed, with Basil Briscoe blaming Wilson for jumping off and Dorothy Paget blaming Briscoe for training her horse too hard. In any event, Wilson lost the ride on Golden Miller and Briscoe requested Paget remove all her horses from his yard shortly afterwards.
Wilson said later, “I’m convinced The Miller was frightened by what seemed like a mirror glinting in his face. Something startled him.” Certainly, Golden Miller refused at the same fence in 1936 and again in 1937, so his erstwhile jockey may have had a point.