The Grand National serves a bit like great music in that it pin-points times in your life. I’m no advocate of animal cruelty, far from it, but this event is that never fails to make one feel small – in ways you connect emotionally to a much larger picture.
When I was very very young I would scream at the television shouting on “my horse”. I can recall watching in total joy as a 7 year old shouting on Andy Pandy in 1977. This was the first Grand National I can recollect. Red Rum won its 3rd Grand National, all the way through I was asking my Grandfather and Mother “will I have enough to buy a kite with my winnings?”. My Mum backed Red Rum and my Grandfather always had an uncanny knack of selecting horses that did very well.
Lucius was to win in 1978 but my memories of that year are not so strong. In 1979 Rubstic provides stronger memories winning at 25/1.
1980 saw Ben Nevis win at 40/1. I can recall my Aunt kicking herself for not backing it due to her Scottish roots.
That’s the magic of the Grand National. It’s the only race where you blindly scan all of the horses pre-race. You naturally are drawn to certain horses and cast others aside with no real information. You just like their names or maybe the jockey has a similar name to a friend or family member.
Arguably 1981 provides the ultimate fairytale Grand National winner. My Uncle made a game on a piece of A4 paper. We cut all of the horse names out of a newspaper and rolled a dice to see if they fell at the fences. A one on the dice meant the horse had fallen. With 2 circuits only a few horses completed and believe this or not Aldaniti won. It was a brilliant way to pass the morning waiting for the race.
When it came to bet on the race we forgot what had just happened. No one backed Aldaniti. It won and remains the only time when everyone watching, no matter who they’d backed was moved by the jockey overcoming cancer tale that you really could not even dream-up. Magical.
Grittar (1982) I can remember being a very strong favourite and it convincingly winning the race. Likewise Corbierre (1983) was strongly fancied and a deserving winner.
1984 saw Hallo Dandy win at 13/1, a rare price and not at all an unlucky one. Last Suspect won in 1985 at a headscatching 50/1 giving it’s royal owner some unrequired extra dosh.
West Tip (1986) was a very strong favourite, but this is a race anyone can win. Maori Venture (1987) won but not without a serious challenge from Big Brown Bear whom I had backed at 200/1.
I was kicking myself for not backing Rhyme ‘n’ Reason in 1988 due to recently getting into the Beastie Boys – it all looks so much easier after the race.
Little Polveir was a popular choice due to its endearing name in 1989 winning at 28/1. Mr. Frisk gave its American owners something to shout about in 1990 at 16/1. In 1991 Seagram too was a popular winner at 12/1.
Party Politics with hindsight also caused kicking of heels in 1992 as it followed a General Election. Obvious really?
Around this time I can recall half of Moseley backing Roll A Joint for obvious reasons. Surely it was going to win. Well it did so well it had to be shot.
1993 saw the bizarre void race where the horses and jockeys rode on oblivious. I pitied a good friend who’d backed the winner that was never to be.
1994 saw Minnehoma win at 16/1. With The Simpsons being essential viewing at this time another reasons to kick oneself reared it’s head – D’oh!
Royal Athlete won in 1995 at 40/1 with a fine display. The following year a strong favourite was to win again at 7/1 Rough Quest romped home.
1997 saw my only (backed) winner. Lord Gyllene lead all the way and won at 14/1. Favourite Earth Summit won the following year at 7/1.
In 1999 I woke up on a friends floor after a heavy night out. All morning he and his housemates were all quoting in a Irish accent “go on Bobbyjo“. No one backed it and it won at 10/1.
Pappillon was another horse that looked an obvious winner after the event at 10/1 in 2000. Red Maurader 2001 was a decent outsider at 33/1 in 2001 in wet conditions.
In 2002 a mate called my mobile on the morning of the Grand National and just said in a stupid accent Bindaree and hung up. I ignored the suggestion and it won at 20/1. Damn.
2003 saw Spectrum 48k owners kick themselves at Monty’s Pass won at 16/1. Amberleigh House too looked like an obvious choice after the event in 2004 at 16/1.
Ruby Walsh got his National winner in 2005 with the appropriately named strong favourite Hedgehunter which powered home at 7/1.
Numbersixvalverde was one of those “it’s got too awkward a name to back” horses in 2006 – it won at 11/1.
2007 gave us a winner with a great Grand National name. Silver Birch was disciplined enough to win at 33/1.
Joint favourite Comply Or Die won in 2008 at 7/1. The following year (2009) had bookies celebrating across the country as Mon Mome won at 100/1.
Tony McCoy won in 2010 on joint favourite Don’t Push It at 10/1. Last year (2011) Ballabriggs won at 14/1.
For no logical reason this year I feel a horse around 40/1 will win. There’s quite a few of them. I’ve gone for Rare Bob and Alfa Beat. Don’t follow my tip, i’ve no idea what i’m doing, good luck though…