In the world of horse racing, few events capture the imagination quite like the Grand National.

A test of endurance and skill, this legendary has etched itself into the hearts of horse racing fans worldwide.

Every year, as horses and riders navigate the challenging Aintree course, new stories of triumph and heartache unfold.

But among the many champions that have galloped into history, some stand out more than others.

So let’s relive some of the best moments in the Grand National and discover the which winners truly top the list.

From legendary performances to unforgettable underdog stories, these are the favourites that have defined this iconic race.

1977 – Red Rum’s Third Victory

The fact that Red Rum has made the list as a favourite Grand National winner should surprise absolutely nobody.

His story is well known but it was the victory in 1977 that truly cemented his legendary status.

From humble beginnings as a horse nobody wanted, he went on to be the greatest of all time under the guidance of trainer Ginger McCain.

Achieving unparalleled success in the race, he won in 1973 and 1974 before finishing second in 1975 and 1976.

So when he returned in 1977, the handicapper took no chances, lumbering him with a whopping top weight of 12-00.

Despite this, the race was a spectacle of Red Rum’s dominance. At the age of 12, which is often considered past the prime for most racehorses, Red Rum showcased his enduring class and stamina.

The race was run on a sunny day with good ground conditions, ideal for a fast race. Red Rum, ridden by jockey Tommy Stack, took the lead at the 22nd fence and never looked back.

His victory was decisive as he finished 25 lengths ahead of the runner-up, Churchtown Boy.

Red Rum’s impact on the Grand National and horse racing in general was profound.

His three victories in the Grand National, a feat that remains unmatched, set a benchmark for excellence.

1967 – Foinavon’s Surprise Victory

While we all love an underdog and know that the Grand National can throw up a few surprises. However, they don’t usually come more astonishing than Foinavon’s win in 1967.

It is still, to this day, one of the most extraordinary tales in the history of horse racing.

This race is remembered for the dramatic and almost chaotic events that unfolded during it, turning it into a story of the underdog triumphing against all odds.

Foinavon was not considered a contender by any stretch of the imagination. His odds of 100/1 reflected his status as an unlikely winner.

He was an unremarkable horse, known more for his calm temperament than for any racing prowess. On the day of the race, he was ridden by jockey John Buckingham, a last-minute replacement.

The defining moment of the race occurred at the 23rd fence, a relatively small obstacle by Aintree standards.

This fence became the scene of one of the most infamous pile-ups in Grand National history.

A loose horse, Popham Down, veered to the right, causing a chain reaction that brought down many of the leading contenders.

As more and more horses got entangled in the melee, the fence became an almost insurmountable barrier.

At this point, Foinavon was trailing well behind the pack. Buckingham, seeing the pile-up from a distance, was able to steer Foinavon around the other horses and clear the fence.

This unexpected turn of events left Foinavon in the lead, which he extended, eventually winning by 15 lengths.

Foinavon’s victory is a classic underdog story and highlights that in this race, more than any other, anything can happen.

The fence where the pile-up occurred was subsequently named after Foinavon as a reminder of the race where a rank outsider made history.

2021 – Rachael Blackmore Makes History

For much of this race’s history, women were not allowed to compete as jockeys.

That was until in 1977, at the age of 21, Charlotte Brew became a history maker as the first woman to ride in the Grand National.

That fact often gets lost in story of Red Rum’s third victory but it was a milestone that paved the way for Rachael Blackmore forty four years later.

With no Grand National in 2020, she made her third attempt at the race in 2021 on Minella Indo. Little did she know she was about to write herself into the history books.

The public backed her all the way from their tv screens at home. The bets came flooding in, some from a handy online casino bonus, so much so that she was backed into fourth favourite on the day with on odds of 11/1.

The race was run under unique circumstances due to restrictions and there were no spectators at Aintree.

Blackmore’s ride was tactically astute. She kept Minella Times well-positioned throughout the race, close to the leaders but not expending too much energy too early.

As the race progressed, her position improved, and by the second circuit, it was clear that she was in contention for the win.

Over the final few fences, Blackmore steered Minella Times clear of the field, and they crossed the finish line comfortably ahead of the competition, nearly seven lengths clear of Balko Des Flos, also trained by de Bromhead.

The significance of Blackmore’s victory cannot be overstated. The Grand National had never been won by a female jockey since its inception in 1839.

Blackmore’s win was a breakthrough, shattering a longstanding gender barrier in one of the most prestigious events in horse racing.

1981 – Aldaniti & Bob Champion

When it comes to the Grand National, hope and perseverance are as vital as luck and skill.

And no runner and rider have epitomised this better than jockey Bob Champion and his horse Aldaniti who won the race in 1981.

The story is particularly remarkable because of the personal struggles of Bob Champion.

In July 1979, Champion was diagnosed with testicular cancer. His battle with the disease was gruelling and doctors had told him that his riding career was likely over.

But determination won out and his return to horse racing was nothing short of miraculous, driven by his singular goal to ride in the Grand National.

Aldaniti’s story is equally compelling. The horse had experienced a series of leg injuries, which at one point had put his racing career in jeopardy.

His recovery was a long and uncertain process, but like Champion, Aldaniti showed remarkable resilience.

With each fighting their way back from seemingly insurmountable odds, their story captured the public’s imagination.

The race itself was dramatic. Aldaniti displayed incredible stamina and heart, and Champion rode expertly.

They took the lead at the final fence and held off a late challenge to win the race.

The emotion of the moment was palpable – Champion, having overcome cancer, and Aldaniti, having battled back from debilitating injuries, achieving what seemed impossible.

Their story was so compelling that it was later made into a film, Champions, in 1984, with John Hurt playing Bob Champion.

Champion then established the Bob Champion Cancer Trust, which has raised millions for cancer research.

Aldaniti and Bob Champion’s victory, remains one of the most iconic moments in sports history and a favourite Grand National win for many.

2012 – The Photo Finish

It’s easy to pick out the history making moments when we think about our favourite Grand National wins. However, the 2012 race is often forgotten in the sea of inspiring and heartwarming stories.

This was the year that Neptune Collonges and Sunnyhillboy went toe to toe all the way to the finish line.

Won by Neptune Collonges, the 2012 renewal is remembered as one of the most thrilling and closely contested finishes in the history of the race.

Neptune Collonges, a grey horse trained by Paul Nicholls and ridden by jockey Daryl Jacob, clinched victory in a dramatic and nail-biting finish.

This race was, as always, challenging and gruelling. Neptune Collonges started with odds of 33/1, making him a relatively unfancied outsider.

He was kept towards the front of the pack but not in the lead for much of the race, which proved to be a strategic move by Jacob.

But as the race entered its final stages Neptune Collonges was in third place jumping the last fence, behind Sunnyhillboy and Seabass.

In an incredibly tense finish, Neptune Collonges gradually closed the gap on Sunnyhillboy.

The two horses crossed the line almost together, and a photo finish was needed to determine the winner.

The photo finish revealed that Neptune Collonges had won by a nose, making it one of the closest finishes in the history of the Grand National.

It also meant that Neptune Collonges was the first grey horse to win the race since Nicolaus Silver in 1961. Plus, it was the first Grand National victory for trainer Paul Nicholls.

Conclusion

We’ve taken you through what we believe to be the top five best Grand Nationals though whittling them down was no mean feat.

We didn’t even get to mention back-to-back victories for Tiger Roll, Red Marauder winning the race that never was in 2001 or when A.P. McCoy finally won the race on Don’t Push It in 2010.

That’s just the nature of the race. Like Jamie Wall, a casino expert, every year the winner has a story many of which stay with us long after the race has finished and the crowd has packed up and gone home.

It will be interesting to see if the winner in 2024 can do the same.