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.

Lord Gyllene The Grand National in 1997, postponed by 48 hours after Aintree Racecourse received two coded bomb threats from the Provisional IRA, will always be remembered as the ‘Monday National’. Unfortunately, probably less well remembered will be the winner, Lord Gyllene, a New Zealand-bred gelding owned by the late Sir Stanley Clarke and trained by Steve Brookshaw.

Sir Stanley Clarke, of course, acquired nine racecourses over the years, starting with Uttoxeter in 1988, and it was at the Staffordshire track that Lord Gyllene did most of his racing in Britain. Indeed, in his Grand National-winning season, he won three times at Uttoxeter, including the Singer & Friedlander National Trial Handicap Chase, over 4 mile 2 furlongs, in which – not for the first time – he jumped notably well.

Ridden in the National by 24-year-old Ulsterman Tony Dobbin, Lord Gyllene took the lead at the second fence and, again, put in an exemplary round of jumping. He did, however, come within a whisker of being carried out by a loose horse at the water jump at the end of the first circuit. Nevertheless, he kept up a relentless gallop and, by the fourth last fence – where his nearest pursuer, Suny Bay, blundered – he could already be called the winner.

Approaching the second last fence, Dobbin asked Lord Gyllene for maximum effort and his mount responded, opening up a clear lead, which he extended all the way to the winning post. At the line, he was 25 lengths ahead of Suny Bay, with 100/1 chance Camelot Knight in third, 2 lengths further back, and 40/1 chance Buckboard Bounce in fourth, another 1¾ lengths away.

Having won the National by the widest margin since Red Rum in 1977, Dobbin was quick to praise Lord Gyllene, saying, ‘He is such an athlete; he just measures up every jump and flies. I never [sic] looked round ‘til after the Elbow and the run-in, but I never saw a soul.’

Grand National 2019 Recap The Grand National held in 2019 was the 172nd occurrence of this prestigious racing event, which is held at Aintree racecourse, near Liverpool each year. This jewel of National Hunt racing, is always much anticipated and this year was certainly no exception to that, taking place on the 6th April. The event is of course part of a three day festival of racing and so racing also took place on the two days prior the main event.

112 entries for the race were received, with 40 eventually starting, the maximum allowed. Nation wide the race, as has become customary, drew in audiences of millions. In fact ITV’s figures hit a peak audience of 9.6 million viewers, which was well up from the 8.5m figure of 2018. This just goes to show how there is no wavering in the attraction of the Grand National over time, the National is destined to be a ‘must see’ event, year on year.

Part of the reason for the increase in viewership may well have been the prospect of Tiger Roll winning back-to-back Nationals, a feat that was last seen way back in the days of Red Rum in 1974. Indeed, Tiger Roll did manage to pull off this remarkable achievement, much to the delight of those watching at home and those on the course. All got to witness a little piece of history. 66-1 shot Magic of Light gave Tiger Roll the biggest challenge, leading two fences out. Class eventually showed at the final fence though when Tiger Roll pulled away, repeating rare back to back wins, something that was 45 years in the making!

Tiger Roll was, understandably, heavily backed making him the first favourite to win the National in some 11 years. 19 of the 40 horses completed the race.

 

Top Five Finishing Positions

1 Tiger Roll 9 (Age)  4/1 Davy Russell (Jockey) Gordon Elliott (Trainer)
2 Magic of Light 8 (Age)  66/1 Paddy Kennedy  (Jockey) Jessica Harrington (Trainer)
3 Rathvinden 11 (Age)  8/1 Ruby Walsh (Jockey) Willie Mullins (Trainer)
4 Walk In The Mill 9 (Age) 25/1 James Best (Jockey) Robert Walford (Trainer)
5 Anibale Fly 9 (Age) 10/1 Mark Walsh (Jockey) Tony Martin (Trainer)