THERE’S a certain irony that the very first winner of the Grand National was called Lottery. People say the National is impossible to read. But is it? It’s probably the race I have had most success in down the years, although this may well be down to luck more than judgment. So, with the above in mind, and a whiff of nostalgia in the air, I decided to delve into the history books to analyse how successful I’ve really been betting on the National down the years.
The horses I backed are bolded up…
1976: My first bet. I was five! My £1 win on Red Rum looked to be coming good until Rag Trade and John Burke grabbed him at the Elbow and came away to win. Bloody Rag Trade!
1977: Andy Pandy got my £1, well it was my favourite-ever kids’ show. Sorry Rummy! All was going well. Andy Pandy was 10 lengths clear at Becher’s second time around until he landed steeply, and despite John Burke’s desperate attempts to cling on, he was down. Of course, Rummy went on to win his third National.
1978: Second. Sebastian V. A brilliant jumper, who made most of the running but was chinned in a blanket finish. Lucius won for Gordon Richards and jockey Bob Davies for whom it was the ultimate spare ride.
1979: Total heartbreak. My tip and Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Alverton fell fatally at Becher’s. Rubstic went on to win for Scotland.
1980: I wanted my customary £1 on Ben Nevis, who went on to win at 40/1. But my brother forgot to put the bet on. Can you believe that?
1981: WINNER: Aldaniti (10/1). My first national winner. This was simply down to being seduced by the Bob Champion story: there was always going to be one winner, wasn’t there?
1982: WINNER: On a roll now! Grittar grinded his way to victory under 48-year-old Dick Saunders (7/1 fav). Amazing story.
1983: WINNER! Corbiere (13/1). All getting a bit easy this. Corbiere was a beautiful horse and a beautiful winner for tearful Jenny Pitman. I also backed one of my favourite staying chasers, Peaty Sandy, who plugged on to be sixth.
1984: I stuck with Corbiere who ran a mighty race under a huge weight to be third behind Hallo Dandy and Greasepaint.
1985: Corbiere for me. He was third again behind 50/1 outsider Last Suspect in the Arkle colours although this was probably his best performance.
1986: WINNER! West Tip, who would probably have won the previous year until his fall at Becher’s, made amends under Richard Dunwoody at 15/2.
1987: I had to stay loyal to West Tip but he came fourth to Maori Venture after going off one of the shortest-priced favourites in National history at 5/1.
1988: WINNER! I deserted West Tip for Rhyme ’N Reason, who after almost falling at Becher’s on the first circuit, rallied to record a famous win under Brendan Powell at 10/1.
1989: West Tip, now aged 12, was a gallant second to Little Polveir and Jimmy Frost.
1990: Bigsun. Actually, Bigsun was not very big at all. But he was one of the best jumpers I’ve ever seen. He finished sixth, never quite getting to the leaders.
1991: Bigsun again. He was creeping into race when he did the splits at Becher’s on the second circuit. His chance had gone and Richard Dunwoody had to pull him up. Unlucky.
1992: WINNER! Party Politics (14/1), a giant of a horse, beat Romany King after making the fences look tiny.
1993: LET’S NOT GO THERE…
1994: Moorcroft Boy and Adrian Maguire led over the last in desperate ground but had no answer to Minnehoma under a masterful ride by Dunwoody.
1995: WINNER! My lucky £1 went on 40/1 shot Royal Athlete. Why? The Jenny Pitman factor and the fact the jockey was called Jason (Titley).
1996: Party Politics fell at the third. Rough Quest and Mick Fitzgerald outclassed the field.
1997: WINNER: Lord Gyllene ran them ragged under Tony Dobbin beating Suny Bay by 25 lengths. The race was famously run on a Monday after the IRA bomb scare led to Aintree’s evacuation on the Saturday.
1998: WINNER: Earth Summit got my £1 due to the deluge of rain in the run-up to the race. Suny Bay was a brave second conceding almost two stone. Just six horses finished.
1999: Call It A Day led over the last and looked sure to win but was gobbled up by the bounding Bobbyjo and Paul Carberry.
2000: Call It A Day got my money again and ran well to be sixth under Barry Geraghty.
2001: WINNER Red Marauder (33/1). Being an Everton fan I would normally avoid backing a horse with “Red” in the title. But an exception was made for this mud-lover as he slogged his way to victory in heavy ground. Just four finishers in one of the most dramatic Nationals ever.
2002: WINNER! Bindaree was always a favourite horse of mine and showed great stamina to beat the unlucky What’s Up Boys at 20/1.
2003: Behrajan got my money but could only finish 10th to Monty’s Pass.
2004: Bear On Board finished 8th after running a blinder before tiring behind Amberleigh House.
2005: WINNER Hedgehunter (7/1) one of the easiest National winners ever.
2006: I stuck with Hedgehunter but he was a gallant second after failing by six lengths to give 18lb to Numbersixvalverde.
2007: I took a chance on Knowhere who was a bit of a dodgy jumper. So it proved, as he unseated Tom Doyle at the 8th.
2008: D’Argent was always handy and was still in contention when he fell four out leaving Comply Or Die to win for Timmy Murphy.
2009: Big Fella Thanks ran well until fading into sixth behind 100/1 winner Mon Mome.
2010: Big Fella Thanks got a bit nearer, finishing fourth after going off the 10/1 jolly. Don’t Push It landed an almighty gamble to give AP McCoy his first win in the race
2011: West End Rocker: unlucky to be brought down at Becher’s on the first circuit under Choc Thornton.
2012: West End Rocker. Fell at the second. Ouch!
2013: Teaforthree reminds me of West Tip and looks a proper National horse. Looked all over the winner until being outpaced on the run-in. I reckon he would have won without the safety modifications to the fences.
2014: Balthazar King. I’m hoping the rain stays away for this fellow and I’ve previewed the race here If Balthazar is pulled out due to the ground then Teaforthree will get my dosh again. Walkon (I know it’s heresy for an Everton fan to tip this one) is good each-way value at 50-1 based on his Topham second last season.
It’s been a while since I backed the National winner. But in 38 Grand Nationals I’ve had the winner 12 times: a £144 profit to a £1 level stake.
The Grand National? Easy money!!!