Richard Johnson – Years at the Top – Happy Retirement!

Good Morning!

Welcome to a new post here at zoelouisesmithx.com. After the news a couple of weeks ago that Richard Johnson was retiring from the saddle I have decided to have a look at some facts and figures of his career so I can compile them all into this post for you all. As many people know by now, Richard was the first person within racing to give up his time and allow me to interview him (twice) and has always supported me and helped me with anything I’ve ever needed, which I appreciate more than anyone realises. The day I first interviewed him, he knew it was the first one I was doing and he knew I was nervous, so he took his time, didn’t rush me and he allowed me to make mistakes, he then spoke to me after the interview and gave me encouragement and support to continue doing what I loved and that’s exactly what I did and I am so glad I did! If you missed my interviews with Richard you can read them here… 2017: https://zoelouisesmithx.com/2017/10/20/worcester-races-exclusive-interview-with-richard-johnson/ and 2019: https://zoelouisesmithx.com/2019/11/22/an-updated-interview-with-champion-jockey-richard-johnson/ . I hope you enjoy those! However, without further ado, I’m just going to jump right into it.


Richard Johnson OBE was born on July 21st 1977 in Hereford, England into a racing family, especially with his mother being Sue Johnson, a horse racing trainer. At 16 years old Richard left school to work for David Nicholson.

Richard’s first win came in April 1994 when he won on Rusty Bridge at Hereford, which turned out to be his only win of the season. However, the following season the 1995-1996 season, Richard rode 56 winners and became the Champion Conditional Jockey at just 18 years old. And he didn’t stop there, the next season 1996-1997 was the first time Richard rode 100 winners in a season ending up with 102 and from that year Richard rode 100 winners every single season (apart from the 2020-2021 season when Richard has retired on 73 winners).

1996 was a pretty good year for Richard, not only did he ride 100+ winners, but those winners also included some pretty big races. Starting with the Towton Novices’ Chase (Class A Grade 2) at Wetherby on the 11th of January on Mr Mulligan, a 3/1 shot who beat the 11/10 favourite Call It A Day by a massive 15 lengths.

Richard then won again on Mr Mulligan a month later on February 14th in the Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase (Class A Grade 2), this time as the 9/4 favourite, beating 4/1 shot Nahthen Lad by 15 lengths again.

It was then April 11th when Richard had another big win when winning the European Breeders Fund ‘national hunt’ Novices’ Handicap Hurdle Final (Class A Grade 3) at Cheltenham on board Miss Optimist, a 9/1 shot for David Nicholson.

Richard’s first Grade 1 win of many also came in 1996 on April 24th when he won the Heineken Gold Cup on Billygoat Gruff for David Nicholson at 7/1.

Moving swiftly into 1997, we then have another brilliant season for Richard, starting with a win in the Seagram Top Novices’ Hurdle (Class A) on April 3rd on Midnight Legend (11/2) beating the team of Mick Fitzgerald and Nicky Henderson with the 100/30 favourite Sharpical by 2 lengths. The very next day, on April 4th another Class A came along, when Richard won the Belle Epoque Sefton Novices’ Hurdle on board Forest Ivory (11/2) actually beating a rare Aidan O’Brien horse, Private Peace (11/2) in second being rode by Charlie Swan.

Richard then headed over to Ireland and Punchestown where he won the Country Pride Champion Novice Hurdle (Grade 2) on the 7/4 favourite Midnight Legend, beating the Aidan O’Brien and Paul Carberry partnership with Whats The Verdict (9/1) by 2 and 1/2 lengths.

Moving into the 1997-1998 season, Richard started with winning the William Hill Haldon Gold Cup Chase Limited Handicap (Class A Grade 2) at Exeter on board Viking Flagship (9/1) for David Nicholson, beating stable mate Mulligan (2/1) by 5 lengths.

Richard then won the Bonusprint Bula Hurdle (Class A / Class 1) at Cheltenham on December 13th on board Relkeel for David Nicholson, beating the Martin Pipe and AP McCoy team with the 13/8 favourite Pridwell by 1 and 3/4 lengths. Just 2 weeks later on December 27th, Richard headed to Wetherby with 4/9 favourite Viking Flagship, winning the Castleford Chase (Class A / Class 1).

It was 1998 when Richard would win another Grade 1 when heading to Punchestown on April 30th on board the 2/1 favourite Zafarabad winning the I.A.W.S Champion Four Year Old Hurdle by just a neck. It was almost a year before Richard won another big race, this came on March 18th 1999 when he won the Bonusprint Stayers’ Hurdle Grade 1 at the Cheltenham Festival on a 40/1 shot Anzum, beating the 2/1 joint favourite Le Coudray who was owned by JP McManus, trained by Aidan O’Brien and rode by Charlie Swan by just a neck.

The following month on April 9th, Richard headed to the Aintree Festival and won the Grade 2 Mumm Mildmay Novices’ Chase (Class A) on the 100/30 favourite Spendid – Coincidentally beating a horse trained by who would become Richard’s number 1 trainer, Philip Hobbs with Village King (11/2).

Richard travelled back to Ireland on April 29th where he won the Grade 1 Ballymore Properties Champion Stayers Hurdle at Punchestown on Anzum (7/1). Richard had plenty of Grade 2 and 3 success during the year, however his next Grade 1 came on December 18th 1999 at Ascot when he won the Cantor Fitzgerald Long Walk Hurdle (Class A) on again on Anzum (4/1) beating the 4/9 favourite Deano’s Beeno by 17 lengths who was rode by AP McCoy and trained by Martin Pipe.

Moving into the 21st century, Richard won the Tote Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase Showcase Race Grade 1 in March 2000, on Looks Like Trouble (9/2). He then had many Grade 1, 2 and 3 success over the years including the Tingle Creek Chase and Queen Mother Chase, both with Flagship Uberalles, the County Handicap Hurdle and Victor Chandler Bula Hurdle both on Rooster Booster and many more.

Also want to note that Richard came second on What’s Up Boys in the Grand National in 2002, which turned out to be his best position in the race, also meeting this when coming 2nd again in 2014 on Balthazar King.

The next race I want to mention is the Champion Hurdle (Grade 1) in 2003 when Richard won on 9/2 shot Rooster Booster for Philip Hobbs by 11 lengths. When I interviewed Richard he said this was one of this favourite rides of his career.

I am going to jump ahead a little while now as if I went through every single graded race Richard won I would end up having a post which is about a 3 hour read. So let’s jump to 2012 and on March 13th Richard won the Glenfarclas Handicap Chase (Cross Country Chase) at the Cheltenham Festival on Balthazar King (11/2). In 2014, Richard won the same race on the same horse, this time at 4/1 and in the same year he finished 2nd in the Grand National on Balthazar King at 14/1 which was the closest Richard got to winning the big race (for a secon time) and again, when I spoke to him, he said that was also one of his favourite races in his career.

We also have the Midlands Grand National in 2014 when he won on Goulanes (13/2F). The Peterborough Chase in 2014 with Wishfull Thinking (13/2). The Denman Chase in 2015 on Coneygree (15/8F) as well as the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at Haydock in 2015 on the recently retired Definitly Red (9/4).

We also have my favourite ever horse, Native River who partnered with Richard when winning the Mildmay Novices’ Chase, Hennessy Gold Cup Chase in 2016 and the Welsh Grand National all in 2016, followed by the Denman Chase and Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2018, the Many Clouds Chase in 2019 and the Cotswold Chase in 2021.

There was also La Bague Au Roi who won the OLBG Mares Hurdle in 2017, Ladbrokes Novices’ Chase and Kauto Star Novices’ Chase in 2018, Flogas Novice Chase in 2019. As well as Thyme Hill who won the Persian War Novices’ Hurdle, Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle and Challow Novices’ Hurdle in 2019 as well as the Long Distance Hurdle in 2020.


Now we’ve had a brief overview, I want to look at Richard Johnson vs AP McCoy because their rivalry ruled the sport for a long while so let’s just have a little look. Overall AP McCoy finished with 4204 British career wins and 144 Irish career wins whereas Richard Johnson finished with 3799 British career wins and 19 Irish career wins.

From the 1995-1996 season until the 2014-2015 season AP McCoy won and retained the Jump Jockey Championship, however Richard was always on his tail and in the 2015-2016 season after AP retired, Richard took over as Champion Jockey and ended up winning it 4 times, before Brian Hughes won it in the 2019-2020 season.


Now, I’ve summed up Richard’s career, but now let’s look at the Big Race Wins. Let’s start with the Cheltenham Festival:

Cheltenham Gold Cup x 2 (Looks Like Trouble – 2000 & Native River – 2018)
Champion Hurdle x 1 (Rooster Booster – 2003)
Queen Mother Champion Chase x 1 (Flagship Uberalles – 2002)
Stayers’ Hurdle x 1 (Anzum – 1999)
Triumph Hurdle x 3 (Made in Japan – 2004, Detroit City – 2006 & Defi du Seuil – 2017)
Supreme Novices’ Hurdle x 1 (Menorah – 2010)
Champion Bumper x 1 (Cheltenian – 2011)
Baring Bingham Novices’ Hurdle x 1 (Massini’s Maguire – 2007)
Arkle Challenge Trophy x 1 (Captain Chris – 2011)
RSA Insurance Novices’ Chase x 1 (One Knight – 2003)
Centenary Novices’ Handicap Chase x 1 (Copper Bleu – 2010)
Coral Cup x 1 (Monkerhostin – 2004)
Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase x 2 (Balthazar King – 2012 & 2014)
Fred Winter Juvenile Novices’ Handicap Hurdle x 1 (Flying Tiger – 2017)
Pertemps Final x 1 (Fingal Bay – 2014)
Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate Handicap Chase x 2 (Dark Stranger – 2000 & Young Spartacus – 2003)
County Handicap Hurdle x 1 (Rooster Booster – 2002)

Now let’s look at some notable races in Britain:

Tingle Creek Chase x 1 (Flagship Uberalles – 2000)
Long Walk Hurdle x 4 (Anzum – 1999, Mighty Man – 2006 & Reve di Sivola – 2012 & 2013
Henry VIII Novices’ Chase x 1 (Fair Along – 2006)
Kauto Star Novices’ Chase x 1 (La Bague Au Roi – 2018)
Finale Juvenile Hurdle x 3 (Franchoek – 2007, Le Rocher – 2013 & Defi Du Seuil – 2016)
Challow Novices’ Hurdle x 2 (Fingal Bay – 2012 & Thyme Hill – 2020)
Ascot Chase x 1 (Captain Chris – 2014)
Manifesto Novices’ Chase x 2 (Wishfull Thinking – 2011 & Menorah – 2012)
Anniversary 4-Y-O Novices’ Hurdle x 2 (Lord Brex – 2000 & Detroit City – 2006)
Betway Bowl x 1 (Escartefigue – 1998)
Top Novices’ Hurdle x 5 (Midnight Legend – 1997, Phardante Flyer – 2000, In Contrast – 2002, Mighty Man – 2005 & Lalor – 2018)
Mildmay Novices’ Chase x 3 (Spendid – 1999, What’s Up Boys – 2001 & Native River – 2016)
Sefton Novices’ Hurdle x 2 (Forest Ivory – 1997 & Saint Are – 2011)
Liverpool Hurdle x 2 (Mighty Man – 2006 & 2007)
Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase x 1 (Sporting John – 2021)

And now a quick look at Irish notable winners:

Irish Gold Cup x 2 (Florida Pearl – 2001 & 2004)
Punchestown Gold Cup x 1 (Planet of Sound – 2010)
Champion Stayers Hurdle x 1 (Anzum – 1999)
Punchestown Champion Chase x 1 (Flagship Uberalles – 2003)
Ladbrokes Champion Chase x 1 (Looks Like Trouble – 2000)
Dr P. J. Moriarty Novice Chase x 1 (La Bague Au Roi – 2019)
Herald Champion Novice Hurdle x 1 (Midnight Legend – 1997)
Ryanair Novice Chase x 1 (Captain Chris – 2011)
Alanna Homes Champion Novice Hurdle x 2 (What’s Up Boys – 2000 & Spirit of Adjisa – 2011)
Champion Four Year Old Hurdle x 1 (Zafarabad – 1998)

Also think it’s so important to note here that Richard Johnson rode in the Grand National 21 times without winning which holds the record for the most rides without a win, the closest he got was 2nd in 2002 on What’s Up Boys and 2014 on Balthazar King. So let’s sim up his 21 rides:

1/21 = Unseated
6/21 = Fell
5/21 = Pulled Up
2/21 = Placed
4/21 = Finished
2/21 = Brought Down
1/21 = Refused


Things to note… Richard Johnson became the eighth National Hunt jockey to ride 1000 winners in April 2003. In December 2009, at Newbury, Richard became the second jockey to hit 2000 winners, only joining AP McCoy. In January 2016, Richard had his 3000th winner and after being runner up 16 times to AP McCoy, he finally became Champion Jockey.

I also want to note, even though everybody knows by now, that Richard Johnson was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2019 New Year Honours for services to Horse Racing. And on April 3rd 2021, Richard Johnson announced his immediate retirement at Newton Abbot.


So there we have it, I know this post was a little bit all over the place, but I hope it all makes sense as it does to me! I hope you all enjoyed.

I will hopefully see you all in my next post on Wednesday at 6pm!

Rachael Blackmore – The Best Female Jockey We Have Ever Seen?

Good Evening!

Welcome to a new post here on zoelouisesmithx.com. After the incredible few days racing at Aintree last week, I thought it was only fitting this evening that I looked into the first female jockey to ever win the Grand National and that is of course Rachael Blackmore. I was lucky enough to interview Rachael at the beginning of the year which you can read in full right here: https://zoelouisesmithx.com/2021/01/23/an-interview-with-rachael-blackmore/. We spoke about all things racing including interestingly how her partnership with Grand National winning trainer Henry De Bromhead materialised. However, today’s post is all about Rachael’s career this far. She has started breaking records within the sport and proving that females can compete in an even field with the men and personally, I think that is so important for young girls who may want to get into the sport. So without further ado, shall we just jump straight in? Before we start, this post was written on April 10th and 11th 2021 therefore does NOT include Rachael’s rides at Fairyhouse on the 13th of April 2021.


Rachael Blackmore was born on the 11th of July 1989 in Killenaule, County Tipperary in Ireland, making her currently 31 years old. Rachael’s first ride came on the 28th of January 2010 where she competed in the DBS/EBF Mares’ Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race (Commonly known as a bumper) at Ffos Las on board Pilsudski Rose for trainer A J Kennedy where unfortunately they only managed an 11th place at 66/1. It was actually a whole 13 months before Rachael managed to find her first winner, which came on the 10th of February 2011 when she rode Stowaway Pearl to victory at Thurles at 10/1 for trainer John Hanlon in the Tipperary Lady Riders Handicap Hurdle as an amateur jockey.

Just over 4 years later in March 2015, Rachael turned professional and on September 3rd of the same year, she rode her first winner as a professional when she won on the 11/2 shot Most Honourable in the Woodrooff Handicap Hurdle at Clonmel, again for John Hanlon.

Just 2 years later on March 12 2017, Rachael won her first ‘big’ race when she won the Download The Ladbrokes Exchange App Leinster National Handicap Chase (Grade A) at Naas on Abolitionist, a 12/1 shot for Ellmarie Holden. That same year, Rachael became the first woman to win the Conditional Riders’ Title for the 2016/2017 season.

A fact that may surprise some is that Rachael actually also rode on the flat, with her first winner coming on May 16th 2017 at Killarney in the July Racing Festival 17th-20th 2017 Race for Denise O’Shea on Supreme Vinnie at 14/1.

One month later, on June 21st 2017 Rachael rode her 60th racecourse winner at Wexford in the Oulart Maiden Hurdle, where she rode out her claim. She ended up winning on the 4/1 shot Sweet Home Chicago for trainer Colin Bowe by a massive 16 lengths.

We swiftly move into 2018 and on July 22nd at Tipperary, Rachael rode her first ever treble when she partnered up with Henry De Bromhead to win on Theatre Dreams (10/1) by 8 and 1/2 lengths, Monbeg Chit Chat (9/4F) by 2 and 3/4 lengths and Classic Theatre (5/4F) by a head.

Rachael followed that up on February 16th 2019 with another treble when she won on Star Max (5/2) for Joseph O’Brien by 1/2 length, followed up with her first Grade 2 win of her career when winning on Monalee (EvensF) in the Red Mills Chase for Henry De Bromhead by 2 lengths with her third win of the day coming on Smoking Gun (4/1F) for Joseph O’Brien again. Just the next day on February 17th, Rachael would go on to win her second Grade 2 when winning by just 1/2 length to the 5/4 favourite Champagne Classic in the Ladbrokes Acca Boosty Ten Up Novice Chase on Chris’s Dream (5/2), again for Henry De Bromhead.

Moving ahead just one month, we head into the Cheltenham Festival 2019. This was the year that Rachael rode her first Festival winner when she rode 5/1 favourite A Plus Tard to victory in the Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase by a massive 16 lengths for Henry De Bromhead. It was also this festival that brought Rachael her first ever Grade 1 when she rode the massive 50/1 outsider Minella Indo to victory by 2 lengths to the 4/1 favourite Commander Of Fleet in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle. This victory made Rachael the first female to ride a Grade 1 winner over hurdles at the Cheltenham Festival.

Just one month after her very successful Cheltenham Festival, on April 21st, Rachael had her first Grade 1 success in Ireland when she rode 6/4 favourite Honeysuckle to victory by 5 and 1/2 lengths at Fairyhouse in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Mares Novice Hurdle Championship Final.

Proving to be a woman of many talents, on June 17th 2020, Rachael guided Oriental Eagle to victory at Limerick in the Martin Malony Stakes for Emmet Mullins. This being Rachael’s first Listed winner on the flat.

Heading into 2021, Rachael took the Cheltenham Festival by storm, ending up being the first female to be leading jockey with six winners. The six winners including Honeysuckle in the Grade 1 Champion Hurdle, Bob Olinger in the Grade 1 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle, Sir Gerhard in the Grade 1 Weatherbys Champion Bumper, Allaho in the Grade 1 Ryanair Chase, Telmesomethinggirl in the Grade 2 Parnell Properties Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle and Quilixios in the Grade 1 JCB Triumph Hurdle. As well as a second place in the Grade 1 WellChild Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase on board A Plus Tard (100/30).

Then onto the day that pushed me into finally producing this post, the Grand National. Rachael had the leg up on the 11/1 shot Minella Times for her regular trainer Henry De Bromhead carrying 10-3. Rachael went clear at the last and stayed on to win by 6 and 1/2 lengths to 100/1 shot Balko Des Flos in second. This victory made her the first female to ever win the Grand National and what a victory it was.

I think the Grand National 2021 will be one that is spoken about for weeks, months, even years because of what Rachael has achieved. Many years ago, we had women cutting their hair to try and get a ride in the Grand National because they looked like a male. But over the years things have changed dramatically with the likes of Nina Carberry, Katie Walsh, Lizzie Kelly, Bryony Frost and now Rachael Blackmore carving the way for females to become jump jockeys at the highest level and I love to see that!


Next, let’s sum all of those up and go through some of Rachael’s major wins in her career, starting with the UK and the Cheltenham Festival:

  • Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle x 1 ( Minella Indo – 2019)
  • Centenary Novices’ Handicap Chase x 1 (A Plus Tard – 2019)
  • David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle x 1 (Honeysuckle – 2020)
  • Baring Bingham Novices’ Hurdle x 1 (Bob Olinger – 2021)
  • Champion Bumper x 1 (Sir Gerhard – 2021)
  • Champion Hurdle x 1 (Honeysuckle – 2021)
  • Dawn Run Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle x 1 (Telmesomethinggirl – 2021)
  • Ryanair Chase x 1 (Allaho – 2021)
  • Triumph Hurdle x 1 (Quilixios – 2021)

Also in the UK:

  • Grand National x 1 (Minella Times – 2021)

Next, let’s look at some major wins in Ireland:

  • Racing Post Novice Chase x 1 (Notebook – 2019)
  • Paddy’s Reward Club Chase x 1 (A Plus Tard – 2019)
  • Mares Novice Hurdle Championship Final x 1 (Honeysuckle – 2019)
  • Irish Daily Mirror Novice Hurdle x 1 (Minella Indo – 2019)
  • Arkle Novice Chase x 1 (Notebook – 2020)
  • Hatton’s Grace Hurdle x 2 (Honeysuckle – 2019 & 2020)
  • Irish Champion Hurdle x 2 (Honeysuckle – 2020 & 2021)
  • Slaney Novice Hurdle x 1 (Bob Olinger – 2021)

What I want to look at now is some interesting facts and figures that I have managed to find. Please bare in mind that this post was wrote on the 10th of April 2021 so a few figures may be a few days behind if Rachael has anyway winners in between the day of writing and the day of posting which is the 14th of April. With that in mind, let’s get right into these.

First things first, the trainers that Rachael has ridden for. Now the first one may not come as a surprise, but they trainer Rachael has ridden the most for is Henry De Bromhead. She has ridden 921 times for him, being victorious in 173 including 15 Grade 1’s and 11 Grade 2’s as well as placing in 218 races. This means that Rachael has won 18.78% and placed in 23.67%. So overall Rachael has won or placed in 42.45% of the rides she has had for Henry. I also found that roughly, she has won $8,350,189 AUD, which at the time of writing this (10th April), converts to £4,643,673.71 for Henry alone.

The next trainer is John Hanlon, Rachael has ridden 390 times for him with 28 victories and 62 places. Meaning Rachael has won 7.18% and placed in 15.9% meaning the overall percentage of wins and places is 23.08%. Winning $518,168 AUD which is the equivalent to £288,161.52 in prize money for John.

Third is Miss D O’Shea who Rachael has ridden for 100 times, winning 14 and placing in 20. Meaning she has won 14%, placed in 20% with an overall win/place percentage of 34%. She has won a total of $299,385 AUD which converts to £166,492.79 in prize money.

We then have Ellmarie Holden who Rachael has ridden for 62 times, winning 13 times and placing 23 times. With a win percentage of 20.97%, a place percentage of 37.1% with an overall win/place percentage of 58.07%. In terms of prize money, Rachael has won $418,210 AUD for Ellmarie, which converts to £232,573.27.

The fifth trainer in the list is Willie Mullins. Rachael has ridden 71 times for Willie, including 12 victories and 15 places, which works out to 16.9% wins, 21.13% places with an over all win/place percentage of 38.02%. She has also won $874,981 AUD for Willie, which equals £486,590.93.

Other notable trainers Rachael has ridden for is Joseph O’Brien who she has ridden for 67 time, winning 11 (16.42%), placing in 17 (25.37%) meaning an overall win/place percentage of 41.79%. Mouse Morris who Rachael has rode for 54 times, winning 6 (11.11%), placing in 12 (22.22%) meaning an overall win/place percentage of 33.33%. Also Gordon Elliott, who she has rode for 46 times with 6 victories (13.04%) and 12 places (21.74%) so an overall win/place percentage of 34.78%. And finally a mention to Noel Meade, who Rachael has rode for 13 times, winning 4 (30.77%) and placing twice (15.38%) with an overall win/place percentage of 46.15%.

Now I’m going to focus on where those wins came. This list is in order of where the most victories have came and so on. When I interviewed Rachael back in January, she told me her favourite track was Leopardstown, however the figures show that Leopardstown is not even in the top 3 of the Irish tracks that Rachael has achieved great things at. In fact Leopardstown is 13th in the list with Rachael riding 157 times, winning 13 times (8.28%) placing in 30 (19.11%) meaning overall the win/place percentage is 27.39%.

So let’s look at the courses where Rachael has done the best so far in her career. (These are all based on most wins.) First up, let’s look at the Irish courses and the first one which is Punchestown, where Rachael has ridden 235 times, winning 37 times (15.75%) and placing 49 times (20.85%) meaning an overall win/place percentage of 36.6%. Secondly is Fairyhouse where Rachael has rode 233 times, winning 25 (10.73%) and placing 46 times (19.74%) meaning an overall win/place percentage of 30.47%. The third course on the list is Clonmel where Rachael has rode 131 times, winning 23 times (17.56%) and placing 30 times (22.9%) meaning an overall win/place percentage of 40.46%.

Moving on to the UK courses now. First up is Cheltenham, Rachael has had 66 rides, winning 10 (15.15%) and placing in 7 (10.61%) meaning an overall percentage of 25.76%. Secondly, which surprised me actually is Huntingdon where Rachael has had 4 rides, winning 3 (75%) and placing in 1 (25%) meaning she has a win/place percentage of 100% here. Thirdly, another surprise to me is Cartmel, here Rachael has rode 11 times, winning twice (18.18%) and placing 3 times (27.27%) meaning an overall win/place percentage of 45.45%. Finally I wanted to look at the fourth course, where Rachael famously broke the record of being the first female to win the Grand National and that is of course Aintree. Rachael has only had 13 rides here, winning twice (15.38%) and placing twice (15.38) meaning an overall win/place percentage of 30.76%.

The next thing I wanted to look at is the horses Rachael has had the most success on. The first horse I want to mention is Honeysuckle who Rachael has ridden 11 times and won 11 times meaning a 100% win record. Another with a 100% win record is Abbey Magic who Rachael has ridden 4 times and won 4 times on. Next is a mention to Bob Olinger, they have partnered together 4 times, winning 3 times (75%) and placing once (25%) meaning a win/place percentage of 100%. Another 100% win/place record is A Plus Tard who Rachael has ridden 10 times, winning 3 times (30%) and placing 7 times (70%). Another couple of noticeable mentions goes to Supreme Vinnie who Rachael has ridden 27 times, winning 7 times (25.93%) and placing 7 times (25.93%) meaning an overall win/place percentage of 51.86%. A quick mention also to Minella Indo, they have partnered together 10 times, winning 5 times (50%) and placing 3 times (30%) giving an overall win/place percentage of 80% an finally a mention to Notebook who Rachael has ridden 15 times, winning 6 (40%) and placing in 5 (33.33%) meaning an overall win/place percentage of 73.33%).


Overall, from the research I have done, you can see Rachael is a ridiculously talented jockey and at 31 years old, we potentially have many more years left of her riding at the highest level and she could go on to achieve more and more each year. I have met Rachael multiple times and was lucky enough to interview her earlier this year and each and every time she has been incredible, she is welcoming, she speaks to everyone and some of the stories I have seen on social media this week have shown how classy she is. Not only is she super talented, she’s also an incredible ambassador for the sport in every single way. I, for one, am so grateful I am alive at the same time as Rachael Blackmore and able to witness the greatness she has brought to this sport.

One of the 100’s of reasons I absolutely love racing is because women can compete with men on an even playing field at the highest level and be just as good. Racing is a male dominated sport, we all know that, but seeing so many women come through at the highest level is incredible to see and Rachael is one of those paving the way. I love watching Rachael and I hope we have many more years to come of being able to watch her.

I really hope you have all enjoyed reading this post, as much as I loved researching more into Rachael. I shall see you all in my next post!

The History of the Grand National

Good Morning!

Happy Grand National Day! Welcome to another post here on zoelouisesmithx.com. With the Grand National just hours away, today’s post is all about the history of the Grand National. Here, I go through the history of the race as well as some key facts and figures I have found. At the very end of this post you can also find some winning trends, maybe this will help you choose a winner today!

Before we get into it, as some of you may or may not know, I am an official partner blogger with Careers in Racing and this week I got to sit down and speak with Clerk of the Course at Aintree Sulekha Varma on their behalf. We discussed how she is the first female Clerk of the Course to take charge of the Grand National, how different this years Festival has been, protocols in place, what happens to the fences after the Grand National plus much more. You can read the interview right here:

Part One: https://www.careersinracing.com/sulekha-varma-talks-aintree-with-zoe-smith/

Part Two: https://www.careersinracing.com/i-think-its-a-buzz-and-theres-a-real-shot-of-adrenaline-throughout-the-whole-experience/

So with that being said, I hope you all enjoy this one and hopefully you all learn something new about the big race! So without further ado, let’s just get right into it!


The Grand National is a National Hunt Race which is ran left handed over 4 miles and 2 1/2 furlongs (4 miles and 514 yards) over 30 fences (16 separate fences jumped multiple times) at Aintree Racecourse in Liverpool, England. It is for 7 year olds and over which are rated 120 or more by the BHA (British Horseracing Authority) and have been previously placed in a recognised chase of 3 miles or more.

It was first ran in 1839 on the 26th of February and is the most valuable jump race in Europe. It is widely believed that the first running took place in 1836, however the 1836, 1837 and 1838 races were all disregarded as it is believed that they took place at Maghull and not at Aintree. The 1839 Grand National – which is believed to have been the ‘real’ first Grand National – was won by Lottery who was rode by Jem Mason. Interestingly, it was not until 1843 that the Grand National was made into a handicap, by Edward Topham who was a respected handicapper at the time and held a great influence over the National, for the first 4 years it had been a ‘weight for age’ race.

During the First World War, from 1916 to 1918, Aintree Racecourse was taken over by the war office so an alternative race took place at Gatwick Racecourse – which is now land that is occupied by Gatwick Airport. In 1916 the race was called the Racecourse Association Steeplechase, in 1917 and 1918 the race was called the War National Steeplechase. However, these three races are not classed as ‘Grand Nationals’ and the results of these three races often get left out of the winners list.

During the Second World War, from 1941 to 1945, no Grand National was run as Aintree Racecourse was used by the armed forces for defence use. So the Grand National did not return until 1946 where it was ran on a Friday. However it was only in 1947 that it was moved to a Saturday as the Home Secretary James Chuter Ede thought it would be better for a wider audience of working people, from then on, it has been ran on a Saturday each year.


Moving on to some key winners of the Grand National. The first ever winner, as mentioned above, was in 1839 and it was a horse called Lottery for jockey Jem Mason, trainer George Dockeray and owner John Elmore. He was the 5/1 favourite and carried 12 stone where he won in a time of 14 minutes and 53 seconds.

The first horse to win multiple Grand National’s came in 1850 and 1851 when Abd-El-Kader won in 2 consecutive Grand Nationals. In 1850, he won carrying 9 stone 12 pounds for jockey Chris Green, trainer and owner Joseph Osborne in a time of 9 minutes 57.5 seconds. He then won again, in 1851, this time for jockey Tom Abbott carrying 10 stone and 4 pounds.

We then move forward to 1868 where The Lamb won the race at 9/1 for jockey George Ede, trainer Ben Land and owner Lord Poulett carrying 10 stone 7 pounds, he then retained his title in 1871 where he won for jockey Tommy Pickernell and trainer Chris Green for the same owner Lord Poulett, this time at 7/2 carrying 11 stone 5 pounds. In the 2 years during his two wins, they were both won by a horse called The Colonel, in 1869 he won carrying 10 stone 7 pounds at 100/7, then he won again in 1870 carrying 11 stone 12 pounds this time as the 7/2 favourite. Both times for jockey George Stevens and trainer R. Roberts.

In 1908, the race was won by Rubio who I wrote a post about earlier this year, you can read this right here: https://zoelouisesmithx.com/2021/03/03/rubio-the-retired-grand-national-winner/

In 1928, the record for the fewest finishers in a Grand National was set, you can read all about that right here: https://zoelouisesmithx.com/2021/01/27/1928-the-record-breaking-grand-national/

I am now going to jump forward a little bit to the 1950’s. Here, trainer Vincent O’Brien won 3 consecutive Grand National’s with 3 different horses. In 1953, he won with Early Mist who was carrying 11 stone 2 pounds, being rode by Bryan Marshall at 20/1 for owner Joe Griffin. In 1954, he won with Royal Tan who carried 11 stone 7 pounds again rode by Bryan Marshall at 8/1, again for owner Joe Griffin. In 1955, he won with Quare Times who carried 11 stone with Pat Taaffe riding at 100/9 for owner Cecily Welman.

The next noticeable winner is Foinavon who won at 100/1 in 1967, this is such a noticeable win as you may recognise the name as a fence in the Grand National is named after this horse. In 1967, the rest of the field fell, refused, were hampered or brought down at the 23rd fence, which led 100/1 shot Foinavon to winning the race. So in 1984, that exact fence was named after Foinavon.

We then move into the 1970’s, which were totally dominated by the incredible Red Rum. My midweek post just gone was all about Red Rum and his career so if you haven’t already, then do go and check that out! Red Rum won the race in 1973, 1974 and again in 1977 all for trainer Donald ‘Ginger’ McCain and owner Noel Le Mare. In 1973, he was rode by Brian Fletcher as the 9/1 joint favourite, in 1974, he was again rode by Brian Fletcher at 11/1 and in 1977 he was rode by Tommy Stack at 9/1.

1981, we had Bob Champion win on Aldaniti, which I wrote about a few weeks ago, you can read that right here: https://zoelouisesmithx.com/2021/03/06/1981-grand-national-bob-champion-the-greatest-comeback/

In 1993, the race was declared void, you can read that whole story right here: https://zoelouisesmithx.com/2021/02/06/1993-the-grand-national-that-never-was/

And in 1997 there was a delay in proceedings and the race didn’t take place until the following Monday. The full story plus insights from someone who was in attendance is right here: https://zoelouisesmithx.com/2021/02/20/1997-the-postponed-grand-national/

We then move into the new millennium where we have winners such as 16/1 shot Monty’s Pass for Barry Geraghty, Jimmy Mangan and Dee Racing Syndicate in 2003, 7/1 favourite Hedgehunter for Ruby Walsh, Willie Mullins and Trevor Hemmings in 2005 and 100/1 shot Mon Mome for Liam Treadwell, Venetia Williams and Vida Bingham in 2009.

In 2010, we have Don’t Push It who gave 20 time Champion Jockey AP McCoy his first and only Grand National as the 10/1 joint favourite for trainer Jonjo O’Neill and owner JP McManus.

We then have some big prices come into play, with Neptune Collonges winning at 33/1 for Daryl Jacob, Paul Nicholls and John Hales in 2012 followed by 66/1 winner Auroras Encore in 2013 for Ryan Mania and Sue Smith. In 2014 we have Pineau De Re at 25/1 for Leighton Aspell and Richard Newland followed by another 25/1 shot, Many Clouds again for Leighton Aspell, this time for Oliver Sherwood in the Trevor Hemmings colours. In 2016 we are followed up by Rule The World at 33/1 for David Mullins and Mouse Morris in the famous Gigginstown House Stud.

Now onto the last three runs of the Grand National. In 2017, 14/1 shot One For Arthur won for jockey Derek Fox, trainer Lucinda Russell and owners Deborah Thomson and Belinda McClung. The next two years were both won by Tiger Roll for jockey Davy Russell, trainer Gordon Elliott and owners Gigginstown House Stud. In 2018 carrying 10 stone 13 pounds at 10/1 and in 1029 carrying 11 stone 5 pounds as the 4/1 favourite.

The 2020 renewal of the Grand National was cancelled due to the Covid 19 pandemic.


Next up, let’s move onto the fences. There are 16 fences on the Grand National course, all 16 are jumped on the first lap and then on the final lap the runners bear to the right onto the run in so they avoid The Chair and the Water jump. Here is a summary of the fences and their heights:

Fence 1 & 17: 4 feet 6 inches (1.37 metres)

Fence 2 & 18: 4 feet 7 inches (1.40 metres)

Fence 3 & 19: Open Ditch – 4 feet 10 inches (1.47 metres) with a 6 feet (1.83 metres) ditch

Fence 4 & 20: 4 feet 10 inches (1.47 metres)

Fence 5 & 21: 5 feet (1.52 metres)

Fence 6 & 22: Becher’s Brook – 5 feet (1.52 metres) with landing side 6 inches (15cm) to 10 inches (25cm) lower than the takeoff side

Fence 7 & 23: Foinavon – 4 feet 6 inches (1.37 metres)

Fence 8 & 24: Canal Turn – 5 feet (1.52 metres)

Fence 9 & 25: Valentine’s Brook – 5 feet (1.52 metres) with a 5 feet 6 inches (1.68 metres) brook

Fence 10 & 26: 5 feet (1.52 metres)

Fence 11 & 27: Open ditch – 5 feet (1.52 metres) with a 6 feet (1.83 metres) ditch on the take off side

Fence 12 & 28: Ditch – 5 feet (1.52 metres) with a 5 feet 6 inch (1.68 metres) ditch on the landing side

Fence 13 & 29: 4 feet 7 inches (1.4 metres)

Fence 14 & 30: 4 feet 6 inches (1.37 metres)

Fence 15: The Chair – 5 feet 2 inches (1.57 metres) preceded by a 6 feet (1.83 metres) wide ditch

Fence 16: Water Jump – 2 feet 6 inches (0.76 metres)


Let’s jump into some records for the Grand National!

Leading Horse:

Red Rum – 1973, 1974 and 1977

Leading Jockey:

George Stevens – 1856 on Freetrader, 1863 on Emblem, 1864 on Emblematic and 1869 an 1870 on The Colonel

Leading Trainers:

George Dockeray – 1839 with Lottery, 1840 with Jerry, 1842 with Gaylad and 1852 with Miss Mowbray

Fred Rimell – 1956 with E.S.B, 1961 with Nicolaus Silver, 1970 with Gay Trip and 1976 with Rag Trade.

Donald ‘Ginger’ McCain – 1973, 1974 and 1977 with Red Rum and 2004 with Amberleigh House

Leading Owners:

James Octavius Machell – 1873 with Disturbance, 1874 with Reugny and 1876 with Regal

Noel Le Mare – 1973, 1974 and 1977 with Red Rum

Trevor Hemmings – 2005 with Hedgehunter, 2011 with Ballabriggs and 2015 with Many Clouds

Gigginstown House Stud – 2016 with Rule The World and 2018 and 2019 with Tiger Roll


The fastest run Grand National was in 1990 when Mr. Frisk won in a time of 8 minutes 47.8 seconds. The slowest was the first running of the Grand National in 1839 when Lottery won in a time of 14 minutes and 53 seconds.

The oldest winner was in 1853 when 15 year old Peter Simple won. The youngest horses to win have all been 5 years old and they are Alcibiade in 1865, Regal in 1876, Austerlitz in 1877, Empress in 1880 and Lutteur III in 1909.

The oldest jockey was 48 year old Dick Saunders who won in 1982, the youngest being Bruce Hobbs who won in 1938 when he was just 17 years old.

The biggest priced winners were all 100/1 when they won and we have a few, these are Tipperary Tim in 1928, Gregalach in 1929, Caughoo in 1947, Foinavon in 1967 and Mon Mome in 2009. With the shorted priced winner being 11/4 Poethlyn in 1919.

The biggest Grand National was in 1929 when 66 horses ran, the smallest being in 1883 when only 10 horses ran.

The most horses to finish a Grand National was in 1984 when 23 horses finished, the fewest being in 1928 when only 2 horses finished, you can read all about that right here: https://zoelouisesmithx.com/2021/01/27/1928-the-record-breaking-grand-national/

The jockey who has had the most rides in the Grand National is Richard Johnson who was had rode 21 times and is still yet to win the race. After his retirement being announced this past weekend, Tom Scudamore who rides the favourite Cloth Cap this afternoon is the jockey who has rode the most times without a victory with 18 rides in the race.

The first female jockey to enter the race was Charlotte Brew in 1977 who rode 200/1 shot Barony Fort.

The first female jockey to complete the race was Geraldine Rees on Cheers in 1982.

The best result for a female jockey was in 2012 when Katie Walsh finished 3rd on the 8/1 joint favourite Seabass.

The female jockey with the most rides in the Grand National is Nina Carberry who rode in her 5th in 2010.

There has been 4 female trainers who have won the race. Jenny Pitman in 1995 with Royal Athlete, Venetia Williams in 2009 with Mon Mome, Sue Smith in 2013 with Auroras Encore and Lucinda Russell in 2017 with One For Arthur.


Onto some other interesting facts to note… In the 70 races of the post war era (not including the 1993 void race) the favourite or joint favourite have only won the race 10 times, these were:

1950: Freebooter at 10/1

1960: Merryman II at 13/2

1973: Red Rum at 9/1 JF

1982: Grittar at 7/1

1996: Rough Quest at 7/1

1998: Earth Summit at 7/1

2005: Hedgehunter at 7/1

2008: Comply or Die at 7/1 JF

2010: Don’t Push It at 10/1 JF

2019: Tiger Roll at 4/1


Only 13 mares have ever won the Grand National and all of these were prior to 1951:

Charity in 1841

Miss Mowbray in 1852

Anatis in 1860

Jealousy in 1861

Emblem in 1863

Emblematic in 1864

Casse Tete in 1872

Empress in 1880

Zoedone in 1883

Frigate in 1889

Shannon Lass in 1902

Sheila’s Cottage in 1948

Nickel Coin in 1951


Only 3 greys have ever won the Grand National and these are:

The Lamb in 1868 and 1871

Nicolaus Silver in 1961

Neptune Collonges in 2012


Now onto international winners. There have been 2 French trained horses who were Huntsman in 1862 an Cortolvin in 1867.

There has only ever been one Welsh trained horse who was Kirkland in 1905 and 2 Scottish trained winners who are Rubstic in 1979 and One For Arthur in 2017.

There has been 16 Irish winners since 1900, which includes 9 since 1999, these are… Ambush II in 1900, Troytown in 1920, Workman in 1939, Caughoo in 1947, Early Mist 1953, Royal Tan in 1954, Quare Times in 1955, L’Escargot in 1975, Bobbyjo in 1999, Papillon in 2000, Monty’s Pass in 2003, Hedgehunter in 2005, Numbersixvalverde in 2006, Silver Birch in 2007, Rule The World in 2016 and Tiger Roll in 2018 and 2019.


Now onto some interesting winning trends. I have sat and collated this information myself via the Racing Post website and created the different trends, so I apologise if I have got anything slightly incorrect, but I have tried to verify this information as best as I possibly could but as you can imagine sitting with a pen and paper trying to work this out isn’t the easiest of tasks! These are all based on the last 20 runs since 2000.

4/20 have been 8 years old
6/20 have been 9 years old
5/20 have been 10 years old
4/20 have been 11 years old
1/20 has been 12 years old

2/20 have carried 10-6 or less
17/20 have carried between 10-6 and 11-6
1/20 has carried 11-6 or more

10/20 had their previous run between 20 and 30 days before
5/20 had their previous run between 31 and 40 days before
3/20 had their previous run between 41 and 50 days before
2/20 had their previous run over 51 days before (2017 winner One For Arthur having his previous run 84 days before making him the one with the longest break between his final run before the Grand National)

16/20 had previously ran at Aintree
8/20 had previously ran in the Grand National
20/20 had ran 3+ times in the season leading up to their Grand National win

5/20 won last time out before the Grand National
7/20 finished 2nd, 3rd or 4th last time out before the Grand National
6/20 finished outside of the top 4 last time out before the Grand National
1/20 fell last time out before the Grand National
1/20 pulled up last time out before the Grand National

4/20 were favourite or joint favourite

One thing I also wanted to mention is that the owner of current favourite Cloth Cap, Trevor Hemmings won the Grand National in 2005, 2011 and 2015. The years ending with 5 and 1, so could 2021 be his year again?


So there we have it, I have tried my best to include as much detail as I possibly could into this post with plenty of facts ad figures and some winning trends which may or may not help you choose a Grand National winner today. Who are you backing? Let me know over on my Twitter: zoelouisesmithx.

Thank you so much for reading, I hope you all enjoyed this one and I hope you all pick a few winners today, including the Grand National winner. I hope to see you all Wednesday evening at 6pm for my next post!

Rubio: The Retired Grand National Winner

Good Evening!

Welcome to a new post here at zoelouisesmithx.com. Today’s post is a new post in my Horse Racing History series. I hope you enjoy!

The 1908 Grand National was a strange one because the horse who won it had actually already been retired. How? Why? So many questions. So let’s get right into it!

Rubio was an American bred racehorse. He was bred by James Ben Ali Haggin in the Rancho del Paso stud in California in 1898 by Star Ruby out of La Touera. As a yearling Rubio was sent to the United Kingdom when he was purchased for 15 guineas by a Northamptonshire farmer and horse dealer Septimus Clark in 1899. He then sold him to Major Frank Douglas-Pennant for 95 guineas. As a four year old Rubio was sent hunting. However, being a good judge of horses, Major Frank Douglas-Pennant soon noticed that he had a lot more to him than most of the horses around him so he made the decision to look to sell him as a potential racehorse with a reserve of 60 guineas. However, he failed to reach his reserve so therefore Major Frank Douglas-Pennant decided to send Rubio as a 5 year old to be trained as a racehorse with the successful trainer Brian Bletsoe.

Rubio started as a relatively successful horse. In his first season he won three races from three starts, however very soon after he broke down badly and his vet advised him to be removed from training. Based on this advice Rubio was sent to the landlord of the Prospect Arms Hotel in Towcester to ferry guests between the station and the hotel. Rubio seemed to enjoy his new role and in 1906, just three years later, it was decided that Rubio would go back into training as a racehorse once again.

This time, Rubio entered into training as a racehorse with Fred Withington. He got back to race fitness and ran once in his first season, this time at Kempton where he finished third. In 1907, Rubio only ran 3 times, including one win at Towcester where he carried 12 stone.

We then move into the most fascinating year, 1908. Rubio was doing well, so it was decided he would be entered into the Grand National. However, he wasn’t fancied at all, he wasn’t even the most fancied in his own stable. Another horse also trained by Fred Withington called Mattie McGregor was the most fancied horse of the stable. Therefore first class jockey Ernest Piggott was given the ride on Mattie McGregor and the stable jockey William Bissill was given the ride on Rubio. It is said that Bissill was very unhappy about being given the second string horse to ride, however Piggott was riding in France for a regular owner he rode for and they would not release him to ride Mattie McGregor. It was then decided stable jockey Bissill would ride Mattie McGregor and a jockey who had previously won on Rubio as a 5 year old Henry Bletsoe would ride him. However, sources also say that Rubio was then trained by William Costello, so therefore it was not the same stable which caused so much drama between the jockeys in the first place.

There were 24 runners in the race and it was the 1905 winner Kirkland who headed the betting. However at a massive 66/1, Rubio ended up beating Mattie McGregor and winning the race. This was the first time a horse who had retired to do another job was actually brought back and managed to win a Grand National.

Sadly, Rubio returned in 1909 however fell at the water jump. He returned to the stables and the vets found he had broken down again so the decision was made to retire him completely from racing with immediate effect.

So there we have it, a retired horse winning one of the biggest races in the world. An incredible story to research and I had to share! My history series is a very interesting one, but they always seem to be shorter posts, however I hope you enjoyed it and I shall see you in my next post!

1997: The Postponed Grand National

Good Morning!

Welcome to a new post here at zoelouisesmithx.com. Today’s post is a brand new post in my Horse Racing History series and it is all about the 1997 Grand National, which was actually postponed. I would like to send a massive thank you to Mike Parcej who actually attended Aintree on the day and sent me over a first hand account of what he saw that day and I am super grateful. Throughout this post I will be quoting a lot of what Mike told me, as I believe this is the best way to really get a feel for how it was on the day! (All quotes from Mike will be in bold text.)

On Saturday 5th April 1997, it was the scheduled 150th running of the Grand National taking place at it’s usual home of Aintree Racecourse in Liverpool. However, it didn’t take place on this day, instead taking place two days later on Monday 7th April, but why? Let’s get right into it!

The day started as normal. Intimidating police presence, everyone pushing all over the place, trying to find a quiet spot to have a coffee, a few presentations and thankfully plenty of room around the vast embankment of the huge paddock. The one place where you could actually see the horses! There was absolutely no indication of what was to come, it was just another Grand National Day.”

The day went pretty normally, the first few races took place without a hitch. However, at 2:49pm a bomb threat was made via a telephone call to Aintree University Hospital. Three minutes later at 2:52pm a second call was made, this time to the police control room in Bootle. Both callers used a recognised codeword used by the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA). They warned that there was at least one device planted within Aintree Racecourse.

With no announcement at this point, the paddock screen suddenly went blank and the message ‘would all racegoers please leave immediately’ came up. I was on my feet and out of the front entrance like a bullet from a gun. My mate Andy was hanging around awaiting further news but I was having none of it. In my mind a bomb was going to explode and I was out of there at once.”

The police evacuated 60,000 people, stranding 20,000 racegoers, media personnel and all horse connections and their vehicles locked inside the confines of the course. At first spectators were evacuated from the stands and sent onto the course itself, however the police consulted with course clerk Charles Barnett and then advised via a live broadcast that everyone should leave the course immediately.

Out front, I have never seen such scenes in my life – sirens, police cars all over the place, the big black Royal car with Princess Royal being driven away at top speed. There is a bus stop outside the track and between the madness a bus for Liverpool City Centre came through like a rescue helicopter coming out of the fog. I turned around and was horrified to see Andy in a burger stall queue for a coffee! I shouted ‘Andy I’m getting on this bus’ he said ‘wait a bit I’m getting a coffee – I shouted ‘you do what you want, I’m getting on this bus’ so he grumpily joined me.”

Most of the competing horses either travelled home or were moved to Haydock Park Racecourse, while a dozen remained at Aintree in their stables. At 4:14pm the police carried out two controlled explosions at the course. Aintree responded by opening their homes to racegoers who were stranded in the city overnight, with tens of thousands temporarily homeless for the night, being offered places to stay at homes surrounding the course.

It was one of those ‘I was there’ days but for all the wrong reasons.”

The race was then set to be run two days later on Monday 7th April at 5pm, less than 10,000 people were expected to return to Aintree, however over 20,000 turned up to watch the race 49 hours later than originally planned.

When the race was finally run, a 9 year old 14/1 shot called Lord Gyllene won by 25 lengths with Tony Dobbin riding carrying 10 stone exactly.

I was disappointed that they didn’t run the Amateur Riders Chase and the Bumper that were due to be run after the National as well. After Lord Gyllene had won, they all stood up and said ‘the terrorists didn’t beat us after all’ but for those who had runners and horses in those two latter races, the terrorists did win.”

Interesting to note as a side reference, during ITV’s coverage of the 2017 Grand National, it was revealed that another bomb threat was made on Monday 7th April 1997, however Merseyside Police were confident that this was just a hoax and the race took place without any disruption.

If you want to see footage from the day I found a YouTube video you can watch right here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xok12BpmChQIf you go to 2:19:00 this is where the commentators start to become aware of evacuations taking place. I must say it is a very interesting watch for someone like myself who has never seen this footage before!

As always, my Horse Racing History posts are not always the longest, but sometimes the most interesting posts I write! I enjoyed researching this one, especially speaking with Mike and getting a feel for the day from someone who was there. It’s a very interesting day to research and look into, but also a very sad one, however luckily nobody was hurt in the proceedings and eventually the Grand National did get to go ahead.

Again, I want to thank Mike for giving us a brilliant insight, and I hope you all enjoyed this one. It’s a heavy, tense one to take in, but after my previous Grand National post, this one was highly requested! I will hopefully see you all on Wednesday evening for my next post!

1928: The Record Breaking Grand National

Hiya!

Welcome to a new post in my Horse Racing History series! Today’s is another interesting story which I felt I needed to share!

The 1928 Grand National was the 87th renewal that took place at Aintree Racecourse on the 30th of March and to this day, it still holds a record, can you guess what record that is? Let’s get straight into it!

On March 30th 1928 it was very misty in Liverpool and the going for the Grand National was heavy, being unofficially described as ‘very heavy’. With 42 horses declared to run, it started off a very normal race. That was until the field approached the Canal Turn of the first circuit.

At the Canal Turn, Easter Hero took a fall which then ended up causing a pile up of fallers including the starting price favourite Master Billie who went off at 5/1. Out of the 42 starting horses, only seven emerged from that pile up with their jockeys still seated.

The race continued with the seven remaining contenders, however when coming to the penultimate fence, there were only three horses left standing, Great Span who was 33/1 and currently leading ahead of Billy Barton who was also a 33/1 shot and closely followed by Tipperary Tim who had a starting price of 100/1.

Great Span’s saddle then slipped, which left Billy Barton in the lead who also ended up falling. Which left 100/1 shot Tipperary Tim as the last remaining horse. With baited breath, he did manage to jump the final fence safely and complete the course. The only horse to finish the race. Interestingly though, Billy Barton’s jockey Tommy Cullinan managed to remount and eventually complete the race. So the finishing order was Tipperary Tim at 100/1 winning for amateur jockey Mr William Dutton, trainer Joseph Dodd and owner Harold Kenyon. With Billy Barton eventually finishing the race in second place at 33/1 for jockey Tommy Cullinan. Due to the excessive distance between the two horses, the winning distance was officially declared as ‘a distance’.

With only two horses completing the course, to this day the 1928 Grand National set the record and holds the record for the fewest finishers in a Grand National.

Ironically, before the race Tipperary Tim’s amateur jockey Mr William Dutton’s friend had told him “Billy boy, you’ll only win if all the others fall” – Little did they know that this would be the eventual outcome only a few minutes later.

So there we have it, a record breaking Grand National that still stands to this day and in my opinion will probably never be broken. With jockeys continuously improving, horses continuously improving and the safety of both jockeys and horses improving within the sport, I don’t feel like we will ever have another occasion where there is a mass pile-up or so many horses not completing the course – touch wood.

I feel as though most of my history series are short posts, but I love sharing them as I find them interesting even when there isn’t a lot to write other than the facts. Thank you for reading and I shall see you all in my next post!