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The Grand National is the biggest race in
National Hunt horse racing


Each year this world-famous race attracts huge crowds to Aintree and on television. A maximum field of 40 runners negotiates the 4m4f distance, where there are 30 huge fences for them to get over if they are to complete the course.

Training a Grand National winner is the ultimate goal for any trainer in the sport. This year’s race was won by "One For Arthur" for Lucinda Russell. The Scottish-trained horse was very popular with punters, as he was one of the leading daily horse racing tips with online sites such as The Winners Enclosure, who felt he would be perfectly suited to Aintree.

Here is a look back through the history of the Grand National at five of the best training performances for the Merseyside contest.


Ginger McCain - Red Rum - 1973, 1974 & 1977

Red Rum is the only horse in the history of the Grand National to have won the race three times. Even to this day, the Ginger McCain-trained horse is talked about as a Grand National legend and he was even buried near the winning line at Aintree when he passed away. McCain’s chaser always produced his best form at Aintree, where he also came second on two occasions.


Red Rum

Credit: Anaglogs Daughter via Twitter


The Merseyside-based trainer use to take his horse down to Southport beach for a number of workouts ahead of the race. McCain believed the sea and sand was good for the horse’s legs and it certainly did him no harm as he was always at his peak in April for the world’s most famous steeplechase.


Josh Gifford – Aldaniti – 1981

One of the greatest fairytale stories the Grand National has produced is when Aldaniti came out on top in 1981. The result eventually led to a Hollywood movie. Jockey Bob Champion returned to racing after receiving cancer treatment to ride the horse that year to score by four lengths.

Aldaniti was a horse who was sadly plagued with injuries throughout his career. Gifford, therefore, did an excellent job to ensure his horse had recovered from a leg injury before the Grand National to run in the race. The pair were greeted by a huge reception when they returned to winner’s enclosure that day.


Jenny Pitman – Corbiere – 1983 & Royal Athlete - 1995

In 1983, Jenny Pitman became the first woman trainer to win the Grand National when Corbiere was successful at odds of 13/1. Twelve years later she repeated her feat as she trained Royal Athlete to victory in the 1995 contest.

Pitman is one of a few trainers who have been able to train the winner of the Grand National and Cheltenham Gold Cup. She was very good at preparing her horses for the long distance tests in the sport.  


Kim Bailey – Mr Frisk – 1990

No trainer has arguably had their horse in better shape ahead of a Grand National as Kim Bailey did in 1990 with Mr Frisk, as the 11-year-old went round the course in the fastest winning time in history, with eight minutes and 47.80 seconds.

What is even more remarkable is that Mr Frisk went on to win the Whitbread Gold Cup just three weeks later at Sandown to complete an incredible top race double.


Paul Nicholls – Neptune Collonges - 2012


Neptune Collognes

Credit: Jamie Clarke via Twitter


Up until 2012, Champion Trainer Paul Nicholls had never won the Grand National, but the timing of his maiden success could not have been any better. Nicholls needed to win the Aintree race in order to climb back to the top of the prize money standings that season. His grey horse carried 11-06 on his back and got the better of Sunnyhillboy in a photo finish. The horse had run in the Cheltenham Gold Cup just weeks earlier but was back to his best again to come out on top in the 40 runner field.

The 2018 Grand National will be the 171st running of the race and the best trainers in the UK and Ireland will be looking to add their name to roll of honour.




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