Well, I mean it actually is 2021, but in comparison to the 2020 Grand National which was a ‘virtual’ affair it’s certainly time to party this time around. Granted this year’s Grand National won’t have roaring Aintree on-course crowds, but it is at least taking place, and indeed shaping up to be something special. With expected TV audiences worldwide into the hundreds of millions, racing fans are primed to see if one of (if not ‘the’, by time of the race) the shortest priced Grand National horses ever can claim the win. Cloth Cap, set to be ridden by Tom Scudamore, is just 7/2 with several bookmakers. Confidence from punters comes from an impressive season which includes winning the Ladbrokes Trophy, and with a low weight he’s an obvious choice.

In our embedded Betway video, Katie Walsh (a high achiever in the event in her own right), discusses the challenges that women jockeys faced (and still face!) to gain recognition in the Grand National. With plenty of obstacles in their path (even Ginger McCain said of Carrie Ford, that the race was ‘no place for a woman’ – she finished an impressive 5th) it ‘s been a tough road, but Walsh herself placed 3rd in 2012, drowning out the noise and naysayers. This year at least three women look set to take the reigns in the race. I’ve got my eye on the Paul Nicholl’s trained and Bryony Frost ridden Yala Enki at 40-1. It’s worth a punt for the outsider fans amongst us! Whatever you’re on, enjoy the race!

In the history of steeplechasing, just two horse have won both the Cheltenham Gold Cup and the Grand National. The legendary Golden Miller did so, in the same season, in 1934, but it is less well remembered that L’Escargot won the Cheltenham Gold Cup twice, in 1970 and 1971, before winning the Grand National in 1975.

Trained by Dan Moore and ridden, throughout his career, by Tommy Carberry, L’Escargot actuakky ran in the Grand National four times in all. On his first attempt, in 1972, he parted company with Tommy Carberry at the third fence but, in 1973, he completed the course, finishing a creditable, if remote, third behind Red Rum, who was receiving 23lb. In 1974, even a 24lb pull wasn’t enough for him to reverse the form with Red Rum and he finished second, beaten 7 lengths.

In 1975, all eyes were, understandably, on Red Rum, as he attempted an unprecedented hat-trick but, on his favoured soft going, and a further 10lb better off at the weights, L’Escargot proved more than a match for his old rival. Red Rum jumped the third-last fence just in front, but approaching the second-last L’Escargot eased ahead, with Carberry, not for the first time, glancing over his shoulder for non-existent dangers. The pair continued to match strides until the final fence, but on the run-in it was ‘one-way traffic’, with L’Escargot drawing further and further clear to win, comfortably, by 15 lengths.

Immediately afterwards, owner Raymond Guest made a gift of L’Escargot to Joan Moore, wife of his trainer, who said that the 12-year-old would ‘never race again’. However, L’Escargot did run once more, in the Kerry National at Listowel the following September, much to the annoyance of Guest, who took him back and shipped him to the United States, where he died nine years later.