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.

2002 Grand National  2002 saw the 155th official staging of the annual Grand National event. Held on 6th April at Aintree near Liverpool, the race was won by the 20/1 shot Bindaree, mounted by Jim Culloty. Bindaree had been trained by Nigel Twiston-Davis at the Grange Hill facility in Naunton.

The winning time stood at exactly 10 minutes and 3 seconds, a marked improvement from over 11 minutes registered by the previous year’s winner. The 2002 Grand National race had a rather diminished field that only accommodated a maximum of 40 runners. This was due to the number of injuries received in previous years.

Of the 40 competitors who took part in the 2002 Grand National, only 11 completed the course. Although this was still a disappointing low, it was at least an improvement on previous years, so a step in the right direction. A total of 9 horses fell at the very first fence while 2 fatalities took place during the race, The Last Fling at the 2nd Canal Turn and the ill-fated Manx Magic at the twentieth fence.

BBC One broadcast the electrifying race, with a viewership of close to 9 million, with only 300,000 watching on ITV.

Other top contenders included the prized Ad Hoc steered by Paul Carberry, the 1999 titleholder cheered on by thousands. However it couldn’t quite achieve its former glory. Both the promising Supreme Glory and the long-time favorite Moor Lane puled out prior to the race.

From first to fifth spot, witht he horses and jokeys riding them: Bindaree/Jim Culloty, What’s Up Boys/Richard Johnson, Blowing Wind/ Tony McCoy, Kingsmark/ Ruby Walsh, Supreme Charm/Robert Thornton. As evidenced in this finishing top five there is a certain absence of many high-flying riders. Nonetheless, this made for an interesting national, and again it was a relief that not so many injuries occured this time around.

2001 Grand National  Taking place on 7th April 2001, the 2001 Grand National marked the 154th annual Grand National race at Aintree, near Liverpool in the UK. The race was won by the 33/1 shot Red Marauder who was ridden by Richard Guest. Although legally owned by Norman Mason, Guest was both the registered trainer and jockey, quite a rarity in racing.

The unstoppable Red Marauder, trounced other seemingly determined participants in the ferociously contested 40-racer event. Of all those taking part only two horses emerged free of injury, a staggering statistic when you consider how many took part (eight fell at the Canal Turn alone). With the winner recording a time of over 11 minutes, the 2001 Grand National proved somewhat unique in his regard. Two horses were remounted to complete the race and claim 3rd and 4th spots.

Among those taking part was Edmond, the titleholder of the Welsh National held in 1999. However, the highly supported 10/1 shot favorite fizzled out at The Chair – where he fell into the ditch extinguishing his chances of victory.

Moral Support was also held in high regard, but unfortunately succumbed at the Canal Turn, tossing over the fence jockey Richard Johnson. This was a sad end to a leading favorite who had thrilled thousands of fans at the Welsh National event about four months previous.

Other noteworthy participants at the misfortune-laden, yet glamorous tournament included the outgoing champion Papillion and Mely Moss.