2006 Grand National  Once again sponsored by John Smith the 159th Grand National steeplechase  took place at Aintree on the 8th of April 2006. The race attracted a prize of almost £700,000 including £400,000 to the evenual winner.

In the race, the relatively unsupported Numbersixvalveverde took Nail Madden to a breathtakingly decisive win ahead of the 5/1 joint-favorite and reigning 2005 titleholder Hedgehunter ridden by the twice-victorious Ruby Walsh. He scooped second place here. Despie being a runner up. by maintaining such a high standard for two consecutive years, Walsh’s was catapulted to the upper echelons of racing fame.

Madden successfully rode the 9-year-old celebrated winner donning a yellow-spotted green color scheme that made the pair stand out from the crowd. Royal Auclair was owned by Clive Smith while Hedgehunter belonged to stable proprietor Trevor Hemmings. The credit for training Numbersixvalveverde goes to the one and only Paul Nicholls. Cornish Rebel who was steered by the legendary Joe Tizzard finished third. Only 9 of the 40 who left the starting line finished the race.

2005 Grand National

Hedgehunter , Ruby Walsh

Often referred to as John Smith’s Grand National due its sponsor, the 2005 Grand National steeplechase took place, once again, at Aintree Racecourse, Liverpool on 9th April 2005.  The total prize money this time around was an eye spinning £700,000 – with the winner pegged to collect a whopping £406,000.

With 40 horses taking part, the 7/1 favorite nine-year-old Hedgehunter ably ridden by Ruby Walsh, emerged triumphant, winning by a very impressive 14 lengths. He finished the race in a fast time too, 9 minutes 21 seconds. Hedgehunter had been capably trained by Willie Mullins.

The little-known Royal Auclair at 40/1 surprised many to give Christian Williams a seemingly unlikely 2nd place. Following hot on Auclair’s heels was yet another surprise; Brian Harding atop Simply Gifted, who was 66-1 to win. A great place bet for some no doubt.

Interesting tidbits, the race was delays by almost half an hour due to the marriage of Prince Charles to Camila Bowles. More than half of the fielded runners finished the course, which isn’t bad going. The 2005 Grand National Aintree attendance of over 70,000 was ranked as the biggest since the National of 1997.

2004 Grand National  The 2004 Grand National steeplechase event, proudly sponsored by Martell took place on 3rd of April. This was the 157th official Grand National and as per usual was held at Aintree, Liverpool – England.

In the ballpark of a number of the past Grand National tournaments, the race involved a total of 40 horses. The aggregate prize money amounted to £600,000 comprising of a generous £348,000 to the winner.

Graham Lee, a champion jockey who had impressed many times previously, finally clinched the highest honour of them all, but winning the National. He achieved this history making feat by 3 lengths atop Amberleigh – an equally star-studded victor who had showed much promise for years. Amberleigh House had been trained by Ginger McCain, a renowned English stable operator. While Amberleigh was backed before the off it was still available a 16-1.

There were 11 finishers out of 39 runners who participated in the race. Clan Royal, the chosen mount for the talented Liam Cooper, scooped the second position to claim a slice of the substantial prize money available. Lord Atterbury ridden by Mark Bradburne, finished third.

2003 Grand National  The 2003 Grand National was the 156th occurence of this prestigious race and took place at Aintree on 3:45 British Summer Time, on the 5th of April, 2003. The 10-year-old 16/1 shot Monty’s Pass was ably captained by none other than respected rider Barry Geraghty.

The unforgiving Monty’s Pass took apart the other 40 racers to clinch the Grand National crown within a terrific time of 9 minutes and 21 seconds. The impressive winner had been trained by Jimmy Mangan of Cork, Ireland.

Covering a course that stretched 4 miles and 4 furlongs, the event saw only 14 of the participating 40 jockeys cross the finishing line. Unlike the previous year when two horses succumbed to this punishing race, in 2003 one fatality was recorded. Still anything other than zero is of course a tragedy. Although the number of successful finishers decreased slightly set against 2002, the fact that Monty’s Pass ran the course in such a fast time, but this a thrilling event.

Many horses favoured before the race only succeeded in disappointing. Shotgun Willy had been a popular favorite after winning the Red Square Vodka Cup at Haydock that same year. Going off as the 7/1 likely, or rather favoured, victor, the horse paled in comparison to some less favoured competitors and tailed off midway through the race. Youllneverwalkalone, a fan of many liverpudlians for obvious reasons, had previously emboldened many fans hopes of success before finally yielding at the 11th fence as a result of injury.

Second place went to the determined Leighton Aspell mounting Supreme Glory, while Amberleigh House handed Graham Lee third slot.