Mares running in the Grand National are now commonplace but very few actually win the race. There are various reasons for this, and in our latest Paddy Power guide we’ll take you through the history of mares at the Grand National.
From the very first Grand National mares in 1839 through to the last mare to challenge for the trophy in 2019, female horses have a rich history in this race. But there are some strange anomalies about mares at the Grand National that bettors may want to be aware of before they place their bets…
What are mares?
Before we look at mares in the Grand National it’s worth knowing what mares are all about. Mares in horse racing is a term for female horses, and the account for roughly one-third of all racehorses. However, there are fewer mares in steeplechase races compared to, say, bumper and flat races.
This is because steeplechase races require greater physicality and stamina than the average thoroughbred racehorse. And, like humans, male horses are generally physically bigger and stronger than female counterparts. There’s not a huge difference, but it’s enough to create a disparity between the two sexes in horse racing.
First mares at the Grand National
There were three mares that competed in the first ever Grand National in 1839: Charity, Paulina, and The Nun. Now, The Nun was the 1/6 favourite but came seventh, while Paulina was the top-placed mare in third. Charity didn’t finish, but that wasn’t the end of her National story…
First mare to win the Grand National
Indeed, two years later Charity rocked up with jockey Horatio Powell and won the National as an 11-year-old at odds of 14/1. It was a magnificent ride that saw her beat Cigar by a length to claim victory.
Grand National winning mares
Charity set a trend for mares in the early years of the Grand National. In total 13 mares have claimed victory in this race, but none since 1951. Here’s the list of those 13 Grand National winning mares:
- 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)
- Nickel Coin (1951)
Will a mare win the Grand National again?
The beauty of the Grand National is that it’s something of a lottery. Horses priced as far out as 100/1 can somehow cross the line first. And there’s no reason why mares cannot in the future begin to pick up wins.
However, there is a big sticking point here. Whether it’s an unconscious bias in the industry, or just a preference to send successful National Hunt mares to a stud farm, the majority of horses running at the Grand National are geldings.
It means that mares have the odds stacked against them if they are to win the National. Two or three will perhaps run in the race each year, and in a field of 40 their chances of claiming victory are slim.
Saying that, there’s no reason why a mare cannot rewrite history. In 2019 Magic of Light came second at odds of 66/1 behind Tiger Roll.
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