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 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.

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.

Also known as the Martel Grand National in recognition of the race sponsors the 2000 Grand National marked the 153rd Grand National steeple-chasing race.  It took place on the 8th April 2000, at Aintree Racecourse.

The race was won by Papillon – ridden by respected jockey Ruby Walsh. In the latest stages of the the race Papillon pulled further ahead of the hotly pursuing clutter of challengers.  Winning in a record time of 9 minutes and 9.7 seconds , the 10/1 shot Papillon had been trained by the victors father – Ted Walsh, so was something of a family affair.

Ruby Walsh’s triumph drew applause from both fans and media, as Papillon trounced all the 17 of the 40 competitors who successfully crossed the finishing line. Fortunately, no injuries or fatalities were reported this year, which is always good to know, considering Becher’s Brook and The Chair have proved fatal for some horses in years gone by.

During the Grand National, the notable favorite – Dark Stranger – was all out of luck when rider Tony McCoy took a fall at the 3rd fence. Star traveler took a  nosedive, too, when Richard Johnson hit the 25th fence. Promising prospect, Earthmower, who won the welsh National and was 14-1 disappointed too.

The globally watched event was aired in the UK on BBC.  Jim McGrath’s unmistakable voice thundered the typical  commentator’s theatrics and vocal overtures from start to end of this entertaining race!