Wednesday 8 April 2015

Grand National 2015: The Making of a Grand National Winner

4:15 Aintree (Saturday, 11th April). Horse racing fans across the world anticipate the greatest National Hunt Steeplechase: The Crabbie's Grand National 2015. 

Run over 4 miles 3 1/2 furlongs, 30 jumps, two circuits, the ultimate test of equine and jockey. Last year Pineau De Re won for trainer Dr Richard Newland at odds of 25/1, ridden by Leighton Aspell. 

Gallant. Bold. Magnificent.The National is a story to be told...   

Karl ''The National Man'' Wales is our expert who annually plunders the bookmakers' satchels. He says: 

''Although I fully expect Balthazar King & Rocky Creek to run huge races this year, in my opinion, they don't feature value at odds of 10/1. However, I'm confident four horses will give you a run for your money.

Across The Bay will give a bold show for the first circuit. At odds of 50/1 he looks a good back to lay bet. Donald McCain's eleven year old ran a cracking race last year before being carried wide by a loose horse which ruined his chance. He will travel with zeal.

One horse stands out:

Night In Milan. This gelding has the making of a Grand National winner! Now a nine year old, this son of Milan out of an Irish mare [Chione] is trained by Keith Reveley, ridden by his son, James.

''At odds of 33/1 this horse is my NAP. Definitely worth an each-way bet.''

David Pipe's Soll has experience over course and distance - an improving horse. This ten year old gelding has won both starts this year and holds each-way claims at 20/1.

Third and fourth selections - both worthy of small each-way wagers - include Alvardo at 20/1 & Mon Parrain at 50/1.''

The Grand National is steeped in racing history but did you know...

William Lynn founded this race after setting out a course, building a grandstand, and Lord Sefton laid the foundation stone on 7th February 1829. The Grand National may have been raced for the first time in 1836 although this is a point of contention. Three races had been ignored in the belief they were held at Maghall and not Aintree. However, leading historians, including John Pinfold, have unearthed evidence that these races were actually held at Aintree. If true, the first winner of the Grand National was a horse called The Duke, who won the following year.

Previously the record books detailed that this race was inaugurated in 1839. It was promoted as unique race with much larger fences than conventional courses. This race was won by a horse aptly named Lottery, ridden by Jem Mason.

Biggest odds & fewest finishers:

Five horses have won at odds of 100/1 including Tipping Tim 1928 when 41 of the 42 field fell. Only two riders completed the course. This remains the record for the fewest number of finishers.

Most bizarre loser:

In 1955 Devon Loch, owned by Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, jumped in the air and belly-flopped on the turf when looking certain to win.

Luckiest winner:

Foinavon has to be the luckiest winner. In 1967, Popham Down hampered the majority of the field at the 23rd fence [later named Foinavon]. This Irish horse was so far behind that was able to see the trouble ahead and jump the fence to win at odds of 100/1. His owner had so little faith he went to Worcester instead!

Most emotional winner:

In 1981 Bob Champion and Aldaniti touched the heart of a nation. Two years earlier Champion had been diagnosed with cancer and given months to live. His horse had suffered with chronic leg problems and doubtful to make the race. However, after a slow start the pair went on to win by four-and-a-half lengths from Spartan Missile. Their story was made into the film - Champions, starring John Hurt.

Fastest winner:

In 1990 Mr Frisk won in the fastest time - under nine minutes.

Oldest winner:

A horse was called Peter Simple. He was 15 when victorious in 1853. Five horse have won aged five - the last of those in 1909 named Lutteur III. For safety, horses must now be seven years or older to compete.

The greatest:

Red Rum – the only horse to win the Grand National three times, and runner-up on two other races.

Be safe.