The Top 10 Greatest Grand National's Of All Time

We look at the 10 best Grand National's of all time.
We look at the 10 best Grand National's of all time.

With the 2021 Grand National fast approaching, Joe Tuffin has looked back on past renewals of the great race and picked out his Top 10...

10. Mr Frisk - 1990

Seeing in the Top 10 is the still record holder Mr Frisk, who boasts the accolade of completing the Grand National in the fastest time - despite the course being shortened by 342 yards in 2013 - getting round the challenging Aintree fences in 8 minutes and 47.8 seconds. Ridden by amatuer rider Marcus Armytage - who is also the last amatuer to win the great race - Mr Frisk set a brutal pace from the front of the pack, accompanied only by Uncle Merlin with the pair some six lengths clear of a very stretched field as they approached Becher's Brook for the second time. The latter mentioned got rid of his Jockey at the dauntingly challenging fence and left Mr Frisk in splendid isolation, where he was allowed to tackle the Aintree fences unchallenged for the remainder of the second circuit. After jumping the last two lengths clear of Durham Edition, he entered a battle all the way up to and past the elbow, but toughed it out to break new boundaries with a sub nine minute National and record one of the great Aintree wins.

9. Foinavon - 1967

A race so crazy that the winner's name has been permanently etched into Aintree history with the Foinavon fence - the 7th and 23rd obstacle in the Grand National - serving as a reminder for the simply bonkers event that happened there in 1967. A horse so unfancied with odds of 100/1, and his owner and trainer not even bothering to attend the race with the latter going to Worcester with some of his other runners, he was the lucky recipient of a 23rd fence melee in which two loose horses caused all 28 of the 40 runners still in the race to either fall, refuse or unseat - all but the unfancied Foinavon, who emerged from the pack still partnered by his jockey John Buckingham - who was making his debut in the race. Remounting was allowed back then and 17 rekindled their parterniships with their mounts to give chase to Foinavon, who was now some 30-lengths clear, but it was all in vain and history was made as he became only the second triple figure winner of the race in the post WW2 era.

8. Amberleigh House - 2004 

A hugely popular winner for the Aintree faithful, Amberleigh House brought trainer Ginger McCain his fourth Grand National a whopping 31 years after training Red Rum to win his first of three Nationals (more on that later). But not only was this National so good for stoking the nostalgia of yesterday's heroes, it was also the manner in which he won the race which is worthy of all the praise Hedgehunter (who would win the race the following year), Clan Royale and Lord Atterbury had strided clear of the pack, with Amberleigh House barely even considered turning for home and a probable 999/1 on the Betfair Exchange if ran in the modern era, but as the leaders petrol officially hitting empty, Amberleigh House - who wasn’t even in the picture at the final fence - plugged on to record a hugely memorable victory for the Mereseyside faithful. Considered an Aintree great due to running five times in the National and 11 times in all over the Aintree fences without falling, Amberleigh House is fully deserving of a place in the top 10.

7. Mon Mome - 2009

How could you not include the only triple figure winner of the modern era? Especially when, not only did he win the race, he won it very very well - 12 lengths to be exact. A first ride in the race for the late Liam Treadwell saw his unfancied mount Mon Mome stalk the pace all the way round before scooting up the rail after the second last to take a share for the lead at the final fence and draw clear - sending the bookies into delirium. He’d go on to prove his class with a third-placed finish in the Cheltenham Gold Cup the following year but could never replicate his success on Merseyside, falling in 2010 and pulling up in 2011. But his name will forever be cemented into National history for his 2009 romp - and it could be some time before we see another manage this feat.

6. Don’t Push It - 2010

The almost unarguable greatest Jockey of all time had about a thousand strings to his bow by the end of the 00’s but there was one race that always eluded him, and that was the Grand National. After 14 attempts at the great race, the best he had managed to achieve was a 3rd placed finish in 2001, 2002 and 2005 respectively, but the win had still never come. Step forward a well-fancied JP McManus runner and the lucky 15th go finally saw AP cross the fabled finish in front aboard Don’t Push It. Black Apalachi almost didn’t get the memo and was fought a brave battle on the run in to claim second, but AP’s trademark strong drive saw him galvanise his mount to Aintree success to send those backing the winning-most jockey into a glee filled explosion, as the man who had conquered all but the highest peak in racing finally stood tall at the top on Merseyside. A vital piece of National Hunt history worthy of a place in the top 10.

5. Red Marauder - 2001

Another Grand National that will live long in the memory for many due to how utterly bonkers it was, Red Marauder’s Aintree success will always be remembered for it’s diabolical conditions which resulted in only four completing the marathon race - though most importantly all jockeys and horses were completely ok. Indeed, the carnage caused by the bottomless ground and the subsequent loose horses it spawned meant that only 13 were still left in the running after they had jumped Valentines for the first time, only the ninth fence in the race, and more had fallen by the third fence than the entirety of the 2019 National. Carnage at The Chair knocked another three from the running - including joint-favourite Edmond - and only seven were left to take on the second circuit, including the 2000 winner Papillion ridden by a certain Ruby Walsh, as well as AP McCoy’s mount Blowing Wind. Neither of these would make it far however, with one of the many loose horses scattered on both sides of the Melling Road causing yet more chaos and wiping three from the race at the second fence on the final circuit. By the time Becher's Brook had rolled around, we had a match race with Red Marauder and Smarty the only two to still have an operating partnership, causing AP McCoy to say “I looked up at the big screen and saw there were only two horses still racing. I shouted to Ruby Walsh, 'Come on, let's get back up'" - such was the possibility in these days due to remounting. Of course by then the win was out of the question for both, and Red Marauder sewed up the race three from home when stretching clear of Smarty to win the slowest Grand National for 100 years. A brave ride on a brave horse and one that will be remembered for quite some time.

4. Neptune Collonges - 2012

Everyone loves to see a grey win, but everyone would prefer it when the manner in which they win is so tense and close that it makes for one of the finest races of the era. That is exactly what happened with the Paul Nicholls trained Neptune Collonges nearly ten years ago, as the stunning and much loved grey required every inch of the Grand National trip to collar Sunnyhillboy on the line and win the closest Grand National of all time. So little separated the two after slogging it out for all four-miles-and-four-furlongs that the judges took a minute and a half to separate them in the photo - providing one of the most tense waits for connections and backers of both protagonists that they’re ever likely to experience. Having watched it back to write this piece, it’s still unbelievable that Neptune Collonges managed to get up when you consider where he was at the elbow, but the old boy battled on so gamely to claim a memorable victory before duly being retired at the grand old age of 11. A first National for Paul Nicholls, a first National for Daryl Jacob, and the first grey to claim the great race since Nicolaus Silver back in 1961. Iconic.

3. Red Rum - 1977

A horse and a race that needs no introduction, the 1977 Grand National saw Red Rum claim a history making third success at Aintree by a whopping 25 lengths under top weight. After claiming both the 1973 and 1974 National’s Red Rum, or ‘Rummy’ as he’s affectionately called was already a household name, but his 1977 success as a 12 year old would be sure to cement his name onto the minds of all the British public for many years to come. Having finished second in both 1975 and 1976, the dream of a third was starting to vanish with this almost certainly going to be his last run in the race, but after taking up the lead at Becher's Brook on the second circuit after the 15/2 favourite Andy Pandy fell when leading, Rummy showed all the willingness and class of a horse five years his younger and his lead slowly started to increase after the second last, much to the delight of those at Aintree who were willing him home with an eruption of joy. To this day he remains the only horse to win three Nationals, and having finished second in his other two attempts at the race - it’s unlikely we’ll ever see any horse master Aintree to the same level he did. The race will also be remembered as the first Grand National in which a female Jockey competed in, with 21-year-old Charlotte Brew riding 200/1 chance Barony Fort - who unfortunately refused at the 27th.

2. Tiger Roll - 2019

Did we ever think we’d see back-to-back Nationals ever again? It had been 45 years since Red Rum managed the feat, but Tiger Roll is no ordinary horse and he was having no ordinary season as he headed to Aintree, an almost unbackable 4/1 favourite for the big race. His 2018 National saw him win by the skin of his teeth as Pleasant Company wore him down, and the challenge would be greater this time round as he was burdened with third top weight of 11st 5lb, but the little Tiger who had delighted so many that year with an unlikely success in the Boyne Hurdle at 25/1 followed by an unforgettable fourth Cheltenham Festival success in the Cross Country, set Aintree alight with a dazzling defence of his National crown - with no heart stopping finish this time. He had gained so much popularity after his 2018 success and arguably became the first since Red Rum to truly become a household name, but the atmosphere, delight and eruption of joy he caused in 2019 will live long in the memory of this current generation of fans, who for so long had no National hero to cling onto. It’s a shame the Covid-19 pandemic robbed us and the Tiger of a shot at a record-matching third success, but his back-to-back success’ puts him into a very elite club which could be waiting quite some time to gain another member.

1. Red Rum - 1973

It was a tough decision trying to rank the top three, though it was only ever going to be between those three, but it’s Red Rum’s first victory that gets the nod as the greatest Grand National of all time. The race - though won by Red Rum - will be more remembered as the one that got away from Crisp, who some say ran the best race in Grand National history despite finishing second. See, Crisp, an Australian born horse who picked up all the major Jumps racing accolades in his country of birth, was carrying an unprecedented top weight of 12 stone, something that is not permitted these days. After success in the 1971 Champion Chase - ran over the minimum trip of two-miles - connections of Crisp targeted the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 1972 followed by a bold bid for success in the National in 1973 and for most of the race it looked as if this crazy feat was going to be achieved. Nicknamed ‘The Black Kangaroo’ due to his impressive jumping ability, he took up the lead after jumping Becher's Brook for the first time and shot off in front, building up an almighty lead that measured 20-lengths as they went out for their second circuit. This lead continued to grow throughout the race with those in control of the cameras struggling to fit the field in the frame, and by the time Becher's Brook came around for the second time it was only Red Rum that looked to have any form of chance of wearing him down - though he was still well over 20 lengths back. Coming up to the last Crisp still had a 15-length lead over Red Rum - the pair a long way clear of the field - but his petrol tank had officially hit empty and Red Rum slowly started cutting into the lead to start the longest ‘Will he? Won’t he?’ in history. The answer was that he would, and Red Rum passed a near walking Crisp to win his first National in dramatic circumstances. Heartbreak for Crisp, delight for Red Rum, and a race that will forever be remembered as the best in the race's glorious history.

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