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Five Most Memorable Grand Nationals
The Aintree showpiece is an iconic sporting event that has often captured the hearts of a nation. Officially ran for the first time back in 1839, the almost four and a half miles race is the most strenuous equine test in the National Hunt calendar.

There have been many Grand National stories – good and bad – over the years that reached both the front and back pages of the national newspapers, and if current bookmakers’ favourite Many Clouds was to repeat his success from last year, then the nine year-old would be another fairy tale to go down in history with the likes of Reynoldstown (1935-36) and more latterly Red Rum (1973-74 & 77) as multiple Aintree winners.

One of the most emotional endings to a Grand National came back in 1981 when Aldaniti, ridden by Bob Champion claimed the most prestigious event in jumps racing. Champion was diagnosed with testicular cancer two years previously, and with intense treatment he battled his way back into the saddle. It was a true triumph through adversity for Champion, in a story that captured the nation. Trained by Josh Gifford, Aldaniti – who also battled chronic leg injuries throughout his career – beat Spartan Missile by four lengths to return as the 10/1 winner to the delight of the Aintree crowd.

At the fifteenth attempt, Sir Anthony Peter McCoy finally realised his dream back in 2010 with his National success on Don’t Push It. After winning virtually everything worth having as a jump jockey, McCoy celebrated his victory on the 10/1 shot with emotion rarely seen before by the champion jockey. Don’t Push It narrowly took the lead at the final fence with Black Apalachi close behind. A titanic battle ensued until after The Elbow, but McCoy eventually gained the upper had to give both trainer Jonjo O’Neill and owner JP McManus their first wins in the prestigious race.

No article of this nature would be complete without Devon Loch’s amazing catastrophe in the 1956 Grand National. After jumping the 30th and final fence, the horse – owned by the Queen Mother and ridden by Dick Francis – inexplicably stumbled inside the last half furlong with the race at his mercy. ESB - who was pencilled in for second place - gratefully accepted the unexpected invitation to win the National by ten lengths from Gental Moya, followed by Royal Tan in third place. Francis remounted Devon Loch, but to no avail, and the horse sadly finished unplaced in an unlikely ending.

The seventh fence – and 23rd on the second circuit - of the Aintree racecourse is called Foinavon. It was christened after the 1967 National as 28 of the 44 participants climbed Bechers’ Brook for the second time, but carnage ensued at the next as Popham Down – who was running as a loose horse – unexpectedly ran down the 23rd fence and caused a huge pile-up. Foinavon was so far behind that jockey, John Buckingham was able to steer clear of the melee and jump clear from the rest of the field and was never repelled at odds of 100/1 in one of the biggest upsets in National history.

Anyone who knows anything about the Grand National would recognise the name of Red Rum. The most decorated horse in the race’s history claimed his maiden win back in 1973 – but it was far from a cakewalk. Racing under a light weight of 10st 5lbs, Red Rum was around 15 lengths behind runaway leader, Crisp at the final fence. The Australian horse was giving Red Rum 23lbs and that burden was ultimately the telling factor as the Ginger McCain inmate, ridden by Brian Fletcher, pipped the tiring Crisp in the dying strides in what is still the fourth-fastest time since records began.
Many Clouds
Many Clouds
by Carine06
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