Facts & Figures

Records

  • The first race was held in 1839, but it started in inauspicious circumstances, going off two hours late after confusion over weighing procedures. The aptly named, and 5-1 favourite, Lottery came home first.
  • The 1929 National featured the most starters in the race when 66 horses lined up.
  • The smallest field was in 1883 when just 10 faced the starter.
  • The fastest ever time is the 8 minutes 47.8 seconds Mr Frisk recorded in taking victory in 1990.
  • The slowest time is the 14m 53s it took Lottery to win the first National in 1839.
  • The smallest number of finishers was in 1928 when Tipperary Tim, a 100-1 outsider, was the first of two past the post.
  • The greatest number of horses to finish was 23 in 1984. Hallo Dandy, ridden by Neale Doughty, was the winner. 17 completed last season.
  • The 1997 Grand National, which was won by Lord Gyllene, was the 150th running of the race at Aintree and Sir Peter O’Sullevan’s 50th and final commentary for the BBC.
  • 2013 saw the first screening of the race by Channel 4.
  • The shortest price winner was Poethlyn at 11-4 in 1919.

The Course

  • The first five Grand National’s included one jump that was a stone wall. It was situated where the water jump now stands.
  • Becher’s Brook earned its name when a top jockey, Captain Martin Becher, took shelter in the brook after being unseated. “Water tastes disgusting without the benefits of whisky” he reflected.
  • The Chair is the tallest fence at 5ft 2ins, and the broadest. The fence got its name as it was once alongside the seat used by the distance judge.
  • The fences at Aintree are made up of spruce from the Lake District. The cost of the building work is tens of thousands of pounds and takes a month to complete.
  • As well as horse racing, Aintree has also hosted a European and five British Grand Prix. Stirling Moss won his first Grand Prix in Liverpool in 1955.
  • The change seemed to work in 2014 as no horse lost his jockey until the Canal Turn, although there were plenty of early casualties last year.

Horses

  • Red Rum is the most successful horse, having won the Grand National three times: 1973, 1974 and 1977.
  • The oldest winning horse is Peter Simple, aged 15 (1853); the youngest winning horses were Alcibiade (1865), Regal (1876), Austerlitz (1877), Empress (1880), Lutteur III (1909), all aged 5.
  • Abd-El-Kader was the first horse to win back-to-back Nationals, in 1850 and 1851. The Colonel, (1869 & 1870), Reynoldstown (1935 & 1936) and Red Rum (1973 & 1974) have also retained the crown. Can Many Clouds join this elite club this year?
  • Moiffa won in 1904 – having disappeared a year earlier. On a trip to Liverpool from New Zealand, Moiffa’s ship was shipwrecked. The horse was presumed lost at sea before turning up on an outcrop south of Ireland.
  • The legendary Golden Miller won in 1934 and became the only horse to complete the Cheltenham Gold Cup-Grand National double in the same season. Garrison Savannah narrowly failed to emulate the feat in 1991.
  • Manifesto has run in more races than any other horse. Between 1895 and 1904, he ran in eight races, winning two and coming third on three occasions. He only failed to finish once.
  • Two Russian horses, Reljef and Grifel, competed in the 1961 Grand National, but neither finished. Horses from Hungary, the Czech Republic and Norway have also run in previous Grand Nationals, although all with similarly disappointing results. Hungarian chaser Buszke was pulled up in 1868, while Gyi Lovam, the first Czechoslovakian challenger in 1931, came to grief at Becher’s, was remounted but fell again four fences later. The Czech-trained Essex, Fraze and Quirinus all carried automatic top-weight in the 1980s and 1990s but failed to complete. The 2000 renewal saw the first Norwegian-trained runner in the shape of Trinitro, but he got no further than the first fence where he fell.
  • Japanese thoroughbred, Fujino-O captured four consecutive renewals of the prestigious Nakayama Daishogai in his homeland before being sent to Britain to be prepared for Aintree by trainer Fulke Walwyn. The seven year-old was given the automatic top-weight of 12st and failed to get competitive under his welter burden in 1966, eventually refusing under Jeff King.
  • Five winners were bred in France — Alcibiade (1865), Reugny (1874), Lutteur III (1909), Mon Mome (2009) and Neptune Collonges (2012). Mely Moss, who was runner-up to Papillon in the 2000 Grand National and the 1996 and 2015 runners-up Encore Un Peu and Saint Are, were also French breds.
  • In 1998, Earth Summit, owned by a six-strong partnership, became the first winner of the Grand National who was also successful in both the Scottish and Welsh Grand Nationals.
  • Only three greys have won the Grand National – The Lamb (1868 and 1871), Nicolaus Silver (1961) and Neptune Collonges (2012). Suny Bay finished second to Lord Gyllene in 1997 and filled the same spot behind Earth Summit in 1998. King Johns Castle was second in 2008.
  • Thirteen mares have won the Grand National, but the most recent was Nickel Coin back in 1951. Since then, the mares Gentle Moya (2nd 1956), Tiberetta (3rd 1957 and 2nd 1958), Miss Hunter (3rd 1970), Eyecatcher (3rd 1976 and 1977), Auntie Dot (3rd 1991), Ebony Jane (4th 1994) and Dubacilla (4th 1995) have all finished in the first four.
  • The complete list of winning mares is: Charity (1841), Miss Mowbray (1852), Anatis (1860), Jealousy (1861), Emblem (1863), Emblematic (1864), Casse Tete (1872), Empress (1880), Zoedone (1883), Frigate (1889), Shannon Lass (1902), Sheila’s Cottage (1948) and Nickel Coin (1951).
  • In 1923, Sergeant Murphy became the first US bred horse to win the race. He is also the joint-second oldest horse to win, at age 13, alongside Why Not (1884). The US bred Battleship, son of the famous Man o’ War, became the first (and so far only) horse to have won both the Grand National (in 1938) and the American Grand National (which he won four years earlier).
  • 1991 was the seventh and final year that the Grand National was sponsored by Seagram. Aptly, the race was won by a horse named Seagram, bred in New Zealand. 1997 saw another New Zealand-bred winner in Lord Gyllene.

Jockeys

  • Tony McCoy is the most experienced jockey in the history of the National – his final ride in 2015 was his 20th National. McCoy won his only National on Don’t Push It in 2010. He took the record from Tom Olliver who rode in 19 Nationals – winning three – despite spending time behind bars in a debtor’s prison. In 2016 Richard Johnson will ride in the National for the 20th consecutive year since Celtic Abbey became his first mount in 1997 (unseating him at The Chair). Johnson has twice been runner-up, on What’s Up Boys (2002) and Balthazar King two years ago, but is yet to win.
  • George Stevens is the most successful jockey in the history of the National with five wins. His final triumph came in 1870 on The Colonel. Stevens died three months after finishing sixth in the 1871 race.
  • Together with the Lincoln Handicap run on the Flat at Doncaster, the Grand National forms leg two of the ‘Spring Double’. The only jockey to have won both contests is Dave Dick, who captured the Lincoln on Gloaming in 1941 and the Grand National on E.S.B. in 1956.
  • Bruce Hobbs is the youngest jockey to have ever won the race. The 17-year-old triumphed aboard Battleship in 1938.
  • The late Dick Saunders is the oldest ever winner of the Grand National, partnering Grittar to victory in 1982. Saunders was 48 at the time. He was the first member of the Jockey Club to partner a Grand National winner.
  • Brian Fletcher (1968 Red Alligator, 1973 and 1974 Red Rum) shares a 20th century record with the legendary Jack Anthony (1911 Glenside, 1915 Ally Sloper, 1920 Troytown), both jockeys having ridden three National winners.
  • Plenty of riders have won the Grand National on their first attempt. The most recent are Ryan Mania (2013 Auroras Encore), Liam Treadwell (2009 Mon Mome), Niall ‘Slippers’ Madden (2006 Numbersixvalverde), Ruby Walsh (2000 Papillon), Jason Titley (1995 Royal Athlete), Nigel Hawke (1991 Seagram), Jimmy Frost (1989 Littler Polveir), Dick Saunders (1982 Grittar) and Maurice Barnes (1979 Rubstic).
  • Ruby Walsh holds the best record of current jockeys, having won the Grand National twice, on Papillon in 2000 and Hedgehunter in 2005.
  • Jockey William Watkinson recorded the first riding success for Australia in 1926. He was killed at Bogside, Scotland, less than three weeks after winning the Grand National.
  • Prince Karl Kinsky, an Austro-Hungarian nobleman, was the first jockey from outside Britain and Ireland to ride when he made a winning debut on board his own mare Zoedone in 1883.
  • Tsuyoshi Tanaka, the son of a champion boxer, became the first Japanese jockey to ride in the Grand National in 1995, although his taste of the Aintree experience proved to be brief as he fell at the first fence on The Committee.
  • American amateur Tim Durant was 68 when 15th on Highlandie in 1968 (although he remounted at Becher’s second time).
  • In 2012, Richard Johnson beat the record for the most rides in the National without a win. He has now ridden in the race 19 times without bettering the runner up spot in 2002 on What’s Up Boys. There are 12 other riders who have never won (or have not as yet won) the National, despite having had more than 12 rides in the race. They are:
  • David Casey (1997-2015): finished third once in 15 attempts;

    Jeff King (1964–1980): finished third once in 15 attempts;

    Robert Thornton (1997–to date): never in first three in 14 attempts;

    Bill Parvin (1926–1939): finished second once in 14 attempts;

    Tom Scudamore (2001-2015): never in first three in 14 attempts;

    Graham Bradley (1983–1999): finished second once in 14 attempts;

    Chris Grant (1980–1994): finished second three times in 13 attempts;

    Stan Mellor (1956–1971): finished second once in 13 attempts;

    David Nicholson (1957–1973): never in first three in 13 attempts;

    George Waddington (1861–1882): finished second once in 13 attempts;

    Walter White (1854–1869): finished second once in 13 attempts;

    Andrew Thornton (1996-2013): never in first three in 13 attempts.

  • Peter Scudamore technically lined up for thirteen Grand Nationals without winning but the last of those was the void race of 1993, which meant that he officially competed in twelve Nationals.
  • Many other well-known jockeys have failed to win the Grand National. These include champion jockeys such as Terry Biddlecombe, John Francome, Josh Gifford, Stan Mellor, Jonjo O’Neill (who never finished the race) and Fred Rimell.
  • Three jockeys who led over the last fence in the National but lost the race on the run-in ended up as television commentators: Lord Oaksey (on Carrickbeg in 1963), Norman Williamson (on Mely Moss in 2000), and Richard Pitman (on Crisp in 1973). Pitman’s son Mark also led over the last fence, only to be pipped at the post when riding Garrison Savannah in 1991.

Female Jockeys

  • Since Charlotte Brew became the first in 1977, female jockeys have participated in 19 Grand National’s. Brew attracted huge media attention when partnering her own horse Barony Fort. She was a guest on the BBC Sports Personality of the Year show and the Daily Mirror arranged a day-trip on Concorde to Washington. She was also unseated in the 1982 race.
  • Geraldine Rees became the first to complete the course (albeit in last place) in 1982. She fell at the first a year later and went on to train for 12 years in Lancashire, before retiring in 2010.
  • In 2012 Katie Walsh (sister of two-time winner Ruby Walsh) achieved the best placing by a woman to date – 3rd place on Seabass. In 2013, she rode that same horse when he was sent off as favourite, but he could only finish 13th. She also led up Papillon, when trained by her father and ridden by Ruby to win in 2000.
  • National winning trainer, Venetia Williams, also rode in the race, falling at Becher’s first time when riding 200-1 chance Marcolo in 1988.
  • Nina Carberry, now assistant to trainer Noel Meade, is the most experienced female rider, having finished on four of her five starts.
  • Gee Armytage had to pull up her aptly-named mount, Gee-A, in 1988. A dual Cheltenham Festival-winning rider, she is the sister of Marcus Armytage – rider of the 1990 winner Mr Frisk – and became personal assistant to multiple champion jump jockey A P McCoy.
  • Rosemary Henderson finished fifth when aged 51 on her own 100/1 shot Fiddlers Pike in 1994. She subsequently wrote a book, ‘Road To The National’, about her exploits.
  • There was huge media interest in Carrie Ford when she finished fifth in 2005 on Forest Gunner, trained by her husband Richard. Ford, then 33, had given birth to her daughter Hannah 10 weeks earlier.
  • Here is the complete record of lady jockeys to date:
Year Jockey Horse SP Result
1977 Charlotte Brew Barony Fort 200/1 Refused, 26th fence
1979 Jenny Hembrow Sandwilan 100/1 Fell, 1st fence
1980 Jenny Hembrow Sandwilan 100/1 Pulled up, 19th fence
1981 Linda Sheedy Deiopea 100/1 Refused, 19th fence
1982 Geraldine Rees Cheers 66/1 Completed, 8th & last place
1982 Charlotte Brew Martinstown 100/1 Unseated, 3rd fence
1983 Geraldine Rees Midday Welcome 500/1 Fell, 1st fence
1983 Joy Carrier King Spruce 28/1 Unseated, 6th fence
1984 Valerie Alder Bush Guide 33/1 Fell, 8th fence
1987 Jacqui Oliver Eamons Owen 200/1 Unseated, 15th fence
1988 Gee Armytage Gee-A 33/1 Pulled up, 26th fence
1988 Venetia Williams Marcolo 200/1 Fell, 6th fence
1988 Penny Ffitch-Heyes Hettinger 200/1 Fell, 1st fence
1989 Tarnya Davis Numerate 100/1 Pulled up, 21st fence
1994 Rosemary Henderson Fiddlers Pike 100/1 Completed, 5th place
2005 Carrie Ford Forest Gunner 8/1 Completed, 5th place
2006 Nina Carberry Forest Gunner 33/1 Completed, 9th & last place
2010 Nina Carberry Character Building 16/1 Completed, 7th place
2011 Nina Carberry Character Building 25/1 Completed, 15th place
2012 Nina Carberry Organisedconfusion 20/1 Unseated, 8th fence
2012 Katie Walsh Seabass 8/1 Completed, 3rd place
2013 Katie Walsh Seabass 11/2F Completed, 13th place
2014 Katie Walsh Vesper Bell 40/1 Completed, 13th place
2015 Nina Carberry First Lieutenant 14/1 Completed, 16th place

Trainers

  • Vincent O’Brien trained three successive winners – all different horses – in the 1950s. The roll of honour read Early Mist (1953), Royal Tan (1954) and Quare Times (1955).
  • The last permit-holder to train the Grand National winner was the late Frank Gilman, the Leicestershire-based farmer, who was responsible for Grittar in 1982.
  • Jenny Pitman, Venetia Williams and Sue Smith are the only women to have trained a Grand National winner. Pitman captured the race for the first time with Corbiere in 1983. She succeeded for a second time with Royal Athlete in 1995 and finished second with Garrison Savannah in 1991. Superior Finish took third spot for the trainer in 1996. The last of her 39 runners, Nahthen Lad in 1999, came 11th. She also trained the winner of the National that never was – Esha Ness. Venetia Williams was successful with Mon Mome in 2009, whilst Sue Smith trained the 2013 winner, Auroras Encore.
  • Fred Rimell and George Dockeray are is the most successful Grand National trainers having each guided four different horses to victory. Rimell trained ESB (1956), Nicolaus Silver (1961), Gay Trip (1970) and Rag Trade (1976), whilst Dockeray trained Lottery (1839), Jerry (1840), Gaylad (1842) and Miss Mowbray (1852). Ginger McCain also had four winners, but with just two horses, Red Rum (1973, 74 and 77) and Amberleigh House (2004). His son, Donald, joined the roll of honour by training 2011 winner, Ballabriggs.
  • Fred Winter has a unique place in jump racing history as the only person to have won the Cheltenham Gold Cup, Champion Hurdle and Grand National as both a trainer and a jockey. He trained two Grand National winners – Jay Trump (1965) and Anglo (1966) – and partnered two victors, Sundew (1957) and Kilmore (1962) – during a remarkable career.
  • Two French-trained horses have won the Grand National, Huntsman (1862) and Cortolvin (1867). , Both were trained by Yorkshireman Harry Lamplugh, who also rode Huntsman to victory. Lutteur III, noted as a British-trained Grand National victor, held plenty of allegiance to France. His jockey Georges Parfremont and owner James Hennessy were Frenchmen and the horse had only arrived at the Epsom yard of trainer Harry Escott that season to get accustomed to the English style of racing.
  • The only Welsh-trained horse to win was Kirkland in 1905, although Evan Williams has remarkably had a horse placed in five consecutive renewals.
  • Rubstic, trained by John Leadbetter in Roxburghshire, became the first Scottish-trained winner, with victory in 1979.
  • Irish-trained horses have enjoyed by far the most success of international participants, with 16 winners since 1900, including six since 1999. Also, a number of Irish-bred horses (including Red Rum, and Golden Miller and Many Clouds last year) have won the race under English trainers.
  • Since 1900 five successful jockeys went on to train Grand National winners as well – Algy Anthony, Tommy Carberry, Aubrey Hastings, Fulke Walwyn and Fred Winter.
  • Martin Pipe, who broke many records during his training career, had more runners in a Grand National than any other trainer when saddling 10 of the 40-strong field in 2001 – with the remounted Blowing Wind doing best in third place.

Owners

  • The Prince of Wales, later to become King Edward VII, owned the 1900 Grand National winner, Ambush II.
  • A number of other famous names have owned the National winner including Freddie Starr (Miinnehoma, 1994), Anne, the Duchess of Westminster, (Last Suspect, 1985), Teasie Weasie Raymond, the celebrated hairdresser (Rag Trade 1976) and Fred Pontin (Specify, 1971).
  • In 1950 Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother had her first runner in the race in Monaveen, who finished fifth. Six years later she would witness her Devon Loch collapse on the run-in, just yards from a certain victory.
  • The favourite for the 1968 race, Different Class, was owned by actor Gregory Peck.
  • A 12/1 shot, What A Friend, running in 2011, was part-owned by Sir Alex Ferguson. He was pulled up by jockey Daryl Jacob before the 27th fence. He also ran in 2013.
  • Also in 2011, owner of Blackpool Tower, Trevor Hemmings, enjoyed his second win in the race (Hedgehunter in 2005 and Ballabriggs in 2011). Hemmings made it a hat-trick last year thanks to Many Clouds.
  • He is now one of the leading owners are alongside James Machell – Disturbance (1873), Reugny (1874) and Regal (1876) and Noel Le Mare – Red Rum (1973, 1974 and 1977) with three wins each too.
  • The first success for an American owner came in 1923. Sergeant Murphy had been bought by John Sanford, a carpet trader, and given to his son, Stephen, who was then at Cambridge University.
  • Jock Hay Whitney was one of the unluckiest owners in the history of the Grand National. The future US Ambassador to the United Kingdom won the Cheltenham Gold Cup with Easter Hero in 1929 and the nine-year-old was a gallant second in that year’s Grand National under the mammoth weight of 12st 7lb. Whitney was responsible for 14 runners in total between 1929 and 1951, with Sir Lindsay finishing third in 1930 and Thomond II occupying the same position in both 1934 and 1935. The multimillionaire also had the opportunity to buy future dual Grand National winner Reynoldstown when the great chaser was five, but could not travel to Ireland to see the horse due to work commitments.
  • American sewing-machine heir F Ambrose Clark sold the seven-year-old Kellsboro’ Jack to his wife Florence for £1 in 1933 on the advice of trainer Ivor Anthony in the hope that a new owner would bring more luck. Kellsboro’ Jack, who started at 25/1, won by three lengths.
  • Jim Joel was 92 when Maori Venturi won the 1987 Grand National, while Noel Le Mare was three years younger at 89 when Red Rum gained his record-breaking third Grand National success in 1977.
  • Bryan Burrough, a 23-year-old stockbroker from Henley, owned Corbiere, who was trained by Jenny Pitman, to win in 1983. Brian Walsh was 26 when Silver Birch took the 2007 renewal.