A staple of British culture. A race that transcends the sport of kings. An event that prompts many to flock to their nearest Paddy Power shop and have a flutter. The Grand National is worthy of the title of the world’s greatest steeplechase.
The allure of the Grand National is compounded by the many tales, triumphant runs and jaw-dropping moments that have captivated the public over the years. Foinavon. Red Rum. Aldaniti. Devon Loch. The highs and lows of National Hunt racing perfectly encapsulated in one race.
The latest chapter of the Grand National story is due to be written at Aintree Racecourse on April 10. To celebrate the race’s welcome return after last year’s renewal was scrapped due to the coronavirus pandemic, Paddy Power News has taken a look at five of the best winners in the 21st century.
Tiger Roll – 2019
Where else to start? It’s special when a horse captures the public imagination and Tiger Roll stole the nation’s hearts when galloping clear of Magic Of Light at the last to become the first horse since the iconic Red Rum in the 1970s to win back-to-back Grand Nationals.
The magnitude of the Tiger’s second win is really quite something when all the trends defied are taken into account. As proven in the previous years, winners generally don’t return to Aintree the following year to gallop to victory again – but he did. It’s a race rarely won by horses carrying more than 11st – but he did. It’s also a race where favourites don’t tend to win – but he did… at 4/1!
It’s a great shame that Tiger Roll will not be running in the 2021 Grand National to attempt a third win due to connections complaining about his handicap but his place in folklore is already secure. Retirement was floated as a prospect but the 11-year-old’s stunning table-turning defeat of Easysland in the Cross Country Chase at the Cheltenham Festival highlights his huge appetite for the game.
Many Clouds – 2015
One of the classiest winners in recent memory, Many Clouds carried the heaviest weight to victory since Red Rum’s second success in 1974 when staying on to claim the 2015 Grand National with a sub-nine minute run.
Many Clouds landed a hat-trick before placing sixth in the 2015 Cheltenham Gold Cup to justify his lofty position in the weights. He made light work of his rating and 25/1 odds to hand jockey Leighton Aspell his second successive win in the race after riding Pineau De Re to glory the previous year.
The Oliver Sherwood-trained horse was back the following year but was hampered by a breathing problem and a lost shoe. Many Clouds sadly passed away after winning the Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham in January 2017.
Mon Mome – 2009
The first 100/1 winner since Foinavon in 1967, Mon Mome was rarely first past the post but saved his career-best run for the perfect time.
The French horse’s first crack at the National in 2008 was nothing to write home about when finishing 58l behind Comply Or Die. As a result, Mon Mome was written off as a long shot by tipsters the following year but defied the odds and a rise in the weights to storm to a 12l defeat of the defending champion and make Venetia Williams the first female trainer to triumph since Jenny Pitman in 1995.
It was also an incredible way to cap off jockey Liam Treadwell’s first season in jump racing. Mon Mome’s victory proved to be one of many famous results for Treadwell, who tragically died at the age of 34 last year.
Hedgehunter – 2005
Paddy Power’s resident jockey-turned-pundit Ruby Walsh claimed his second win in the world’s greatest steeplechase as Hedgehunter more than made up for a nasty fall at the last in the previous year’s renewal when prominent. A thorough demolition of the field – 14l from Royal Auclair in second – confirmed the class of Willie Mullins’ runner as he became the first horse since Rhyme ‘n’ Reason in 1988 to carry 11st or more to victory. It was a thrilling race that featured a shocking moment when Tony McCoy’s ride Clan Royal was taken out by loose horses when leading.
Irish-trained Hedgehunter was next seen in the UK finishing second in the Cheltenham Gold Cup and ran a cracker at Aintree weeks later when carrying top weight of 11st 12lb to give up his National crown to Numbersixvalverde by 6l.
It was another tough task carrying top weight in 2007 at the age of 11 but Hedgehunter got home to finish ninth of the 40 runners. He was back for a final crack a year later and lugged home 11st 12lb to come 13th.
Red Marauder – 2001
One of the most infamous renewals in history as just four horses completed the course in brutal conditions. Incredibly, just seven runners and riders were still going after the first circuit with a loose horse chasing chaos at Foinavon.
Red Marauder and Smarty were soon the last two left standing on the back straight, although Tony McCoy and Ruby Walsh managed to remount Blowing Wind and Papillon to finish a long way behind. The leading duo slugged it out before 33/1 shot Red Marauder pulled clear a couple of fences from home to win by a distance.
It was the penultimate time Red Marauder was seen on track – he placed fourth in a Class 3 at Newcastle two years later – but his place in the history books was guaranteed.
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