Grand National Names

Grand National Names Victory for the all-too-well-named ‘Lottery’ in the first ‘official’ Grand National – or the Grand Liverpool Steeplechase, as it was known at the time – in 1839 foreshadowed events at Aintree for years to come. Even to this day, the outcome of the revered steeplechase remains notoriously unpredictable; so much so, in fact, that many people who bet on the race choose their selection because it has a name that is amusing, whimsical or otherwise appealing for some, not-altogether-obvious, reason. You see, why some will be analysing who will win the Grand National in 2020, others will be thinking ‘what’s in a name?’.

 

Red, for example, is an important colour in Asian, especially Chinese, culture, where it symbolises good luck, happiness and prosperity. Red Alligator, at 100/7, in 1968 was the first Grand National winner with ‘red’ in his name, but he was followed shortly afterwards by the inimitable Red Rum, who won in 1973, 1974 and 1977 at odds of 9/1, 11/1 and 9/1, respectively. More recently, Red Marauder was one of just two horses that survived the 2001 Grand National unscathed – and one of just four finishers in all, winning by a distance at odds of 33/1.

 

Likewise, gold and silver are precious metals symbolising wealth. Golden Miller, returned at 8/1 in 1934, has been the only ‘gold’ National winner so far and, while the victory of Ascetic’s Silver, at 20/1, in 1906, is beyond living memory, two more ‘silver’ winners, Nicolaus Silver, at 28/1, in 1961 and Silver Birch, at 33/1, have lined the coffers of those inclined to ‘follow the money’, so to speak.

 

The rules surrounding the naming of racehorses, imposed by the spoilsports at Weatherbys, means that truly laugh-out-loud names are few and far between, although 1975 winner L’Escargot – French for ‘The Snail’ – no doubt raised a smile with the once-a-year betting brigade just two years after Britain entered what was the Common Market. Party Politics, the 1992 winner, wasn’t particularly amusing, either, but was at least topical, winning at 14/1 just five days before the Conservative Party, led by John Major, confounded opinion polls to win the General Election that year.

 

Anyone born in Scotland, or with a background in mountaineering, or both, may have delighted in the entirely unexpected victories of Foinavon, at 100/1, in 1967, and Ben Nevis, at 40/1, in 1980. Earth Summit, albeit sent off at a comparatively paltry 7/1 favourite, was another National winner along the same lines in 1998.

 

Victory for the all-too-well-named ‘Lottery’ in the first ‘official’ Grand National – or the Grand Liverpool Steeplechase, as it was known at the time – in 1839 foreshadowed events at Aintree for years to come. Even to this day, the outcome of the revered steeplechase remains notoriously unpredictable; so much so, in fact, that many people who bet on the race choose their selection because it has a name that is amusing, whimsical or otherwise appealing for some, not-altogether-obvious, reason.

 

Red, for example, is an important colour in Asian, especially Chinese, culture, where it symbolises good luck, happiness and prosperity. Red Alligator, at 100/7, in 1968 was the first Grand National winner with ‘red’ in his name, but he was followed shortly afterwards by the inimitable Red Rum, who won in 1973, 1974 and 1977 at odds of 9/1, 11/1 and 9/1, respectively. More recently, Red Marauder was one of just two horses that survived the 2001 Grand National unscathed – and one of just four finishers in all, winning by a distance at odds of 33/1.

 

Likewise, gold and silver are precious metals symbolising wealth. Golden Miller, returned at 8/1 in 1934, has been the only ‘gold’ National winner so far and, while the victory of Ascetic’s Silver, at 20/1, in 1906, is beyond living memory, two more ‘silver’ winners, Nicolaus Silver, at 28/1, in 1961 and Silver Birch, at 33/1, have lined the coffers of those inclined to ‘follow the money’, so to speak.

 

The rules surrounding the naming of racehorses, imposed by the spoilsports at Weatherbys, means that truly laugh-out-loud names are few and far between, although 1975 winner L’Escargot – French for ‘The Snail’ – no doubt raised a smile with the once-a-year betting brigade just two years after Britain entered what was the Common Market. Party Politics, the 1992 winner, wasn’t particularly amusing, either, but was at least topical, winning at 14/1 just five days before the Conservative Party, led by John Major, confounded opinion polls to win the General Election that year.

 

Anyone born in Scotland, or with a background in mountaineering, or both, may have delighted in the entirely unexpected victories of Foinavon, at 100/1, in 1967, and Ben Nevis, at 40/1, in 1980. Earth Summit, albeit sent off at a comparatively paltry 7/1 favourite, was another National winner along the same lines in 1998.

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