With any event that runs for more than a hundred years, there are going to be absolutely tonnes of records that can be broken. And the Grand National race is no different. Considering the first National ever run was back in 1839, there is a lot to explore in terms of records that have been set over the years.
With horses, trainers, jockeys, owners, and even the winning times to consider there are at least 20 different Grand National records that can be broken in any given year.
So who are the people and horses that have made their way into the history books? Who has won the most times, who has the fastest winning time and who won in the slowest time? We are going to delve deep at all the records and give you all the answers.
The only horse to ever win the Grand National three times was Red Rum. His impact on the race between 1973 and 1977 revived the race and propelled it around the world. Trained by Ginger McCain, he is one of the very few horses that have run in the race in five consecutive years.
In the two years that he didn’t win it, he finished in 2nd place. Beloved and adored there is now a statue of Red Rum outside of Aintree.
And while everybody knows about Red Rum, there is one horse that has an edge on him. In the very early days, between 1895 and 1903, there was a runner called Manifesto. He ran in the race a record EIGHT times. Not only did he win it twice, but he also came third three times and placed fourth once.
Eight other horses have won the Grand National twice. But the one that stands out above all others is The Duke. He won the first Great Liverpool Steeplechase at Aintree (later renamed the Grand National). His rider was Captain Martin Becher after whom the famous fence Becher’s Brook was named. He won the Grand national in 1836 and 1837, and came third in 1838.
Grand National Jockey Records
Forty horses need forty riders and these brave men and women have created some of their own interesting records.
The only jockey to win the race five times is George Stevens. You do have to go all the way back to 1856 for his first win on Freetrader. He also won it in 1863 on Emblem, 1864 on Emblematic, and on The Colonel in both 1869 and 1870.
The only female jockey to win the Grand National is Rachael Blackmore. She paired with Minella Times for trainer Henry De Bromhead and owner JP McManus and rode her way into the history books on Saturday, April 10th 2021.
There have been plenty of jockeys who have won it multiple times including Ruby Walsh, Leighton Aspell and of course Davy Russell on Tiger Roll.
On the other end of the scale is Richard Johnson. He famously holds the record for most rides in the Grand National. He also holds the record for most rides without a win. 21 attempts since 1997 and the best he has placed is second. And since he has now retired, he will never get the chance to add that one last trophy to his cabinet.
The first time he came close was in 2002 on What’s Up Boys and the second time was on Balthazar King in 2014. Will he ever actually win it? Watch this space.
Best And Worst Times
While the build-up to the Grand National may go on for months, the actual race only lasts about 10 minutes. Mr. Frisk won the race in 1990 in the fastest time of 8 minutes, 47 seconds.
We have to go back to the very beginning to find the slowest time. The first ‘official’ Grand National was back in 1839 and a horse called Lottery won the race. It is also the slowest recorded time of 14 minutes and 53 seconds.
Bear in mind though that the race was very very different and the obstacles were far more difficult. So a good time all things considered.
Only one horse since 1991 has managed to win the race in under nine minutes. That was Many Clouds in 2015 in a race that was won in 8 minutes 56.8 seconds.
The Grand National is well known for throwing up the longer odds winners. Sure, some of the winners go off as favourites but often that’s the exception and not the rule. Likewise with those 100/1 runners.
Generally, the horses with the longest odds have the least likely chance of winning statistically. On paper, they just don’t look like they have what it takes. But on the day, with some luck on their side, any horse can win the race.
That is why there have been five 100/1 winners. They are Tipperary Tim (1928), Gregalach (1929), Caughoo (1947), Foinavon (1967) and more recently Mon Mome in 2009.
There are others who have gone off at long odds and come second. More recently Magic Of Light started at 125/1 in the betting on the day of the 2019 Grand National. By the time the race started the mare was priced at 66/1. She came second for trainer Jessica Harrington.
In 2021, Balko Des Flos, also trained by Henry De Bromhead, finished in 2nd place having started at 100/1. In fact, nine of the 15 that finished the race started on 33/1 or more.
Field Size Records
We are very accustomed to seeing a full complement of 40 horses in the Grand National. But that hasn’t always been the case. In 1929 66 horses ran in the National. That also happens to be the year that Gregalach won the race at 100/1 odds.
When it comes to the smallest field, that is up for debate. The first few races, before it was called the Grand National, had only three or four runners. Once it became ‘The Grand National’ then the field size got much bigger.
On average there were about 20 runners each year until 1883 when only 10 ran.
Since 1984 no more than 40 runners have taken part. Even then there have been a few times when runners were withdrawn late in the game. In 2018 only 38 ran when Regal Encore and Walk In The Mill were taken out on the day of the race.
How Many Horses Finish The Grand National?
That answer changes every year. The National is a notoriously difficult race and so it’s no surprise that so few ever finish it. The highest number of finishers was 23 in 1984 when Hallo Dandy won the race.
A huge number of safety changes were introduced into the Grand National recently. Jockeys were encouraged to pull up if they felt their horses weren’t going to go the distance.
In three of the last five renewals (2015, 2017 & 2019), the race has ended with 19 finishers. And that is considered really good. It’s a rare day when more than 50% of the field actually finishes the race. In 2021 there were 15 finishers.
How many will finish the race in 2022? Will Minella Times be back to do the double? Will we see another 100/1 longshot win the race?
It’s all to play for so roll on Saturday, April 9th 2022 when all the action will unfold.