Historical flashback: The Grand National Through the Decades

  • It feels like yesterday that Tony McCoy won his maiden Grand National title, riding Don’t Push It to victory in 2010.
  • Mr Frisk, ridden by Marcus Armytage and trained by Kim Bailey, won the Grand National in a record time of eight minutes and 47.8 seconds.
  • Gay Trip romped home by 20 lengths to win the Grand National in 1970.

The coronavirus crisis has hit horse racing hard, like every sport. All meetings in Britain and Ireland are off, with the biggest postponement that of the 2020 Grand National. The race is one of the most defining moments of the horse racing season, as the top trainers and jockeys go head-to-head in the hope of winning one of the sport’s most famous races, while punters all over the country analyse the all the horse betting odds. This year brings the beginning of a new decade of this famous race, and although it won’t take place in April as is the norm, you can be sure that jockeys and trainers will still have their eye on the big race when it is rescheduled.

But what about the years gone by? With the year being 2020, we’ve looked back at a few previous Grand Nationals to take place at the beginning of a new decade.

2010 – Winner: Don’t Push It

The turn of the millennium saw Papillon, trained by Ted Walsh and ridden by Ruby Walsh, win the Grand National.

It feels like yesterday that Tony McCoy won his maiden Grand National title, riding Don’t Push It to victory in 2010. Time flies, and McCoy is now enjoying his well-earned retirement, having hung up his jodhpurs in 2015. The 2010 Grand National marked a joyous moment for McCoy and horse racing fans everywhere. It was one of the few major races missing from McCoy’s list of wins, and crossing the finish line in first place at Aintree was a defining moment for the 20-time Champion Jockey.

2000 – Winner: Papillon

The turn of the millennium saw Papillon, trained by Ted Walsh and ridden by Ruby Walsh, win the Grand National. It was the first of two Grand National wins for Ruby in his career, and represented a magical moment for the father-son trainer and jockey pairing. Papillon was 10/1 going into the race, and Ruby produced a fine performance in the saddle to ensure the new decade and new millennium got off to the best possible start for the Walsh family.

1990 – Winner: Mr Frisk

History was also made in 1980, as amateur American jockey Charlie Fenwick rode Ben Nevis to victory.

The 1990 race has gone down in history, as Mr Frisk, ridden by Marcus Armytage and trained by Kim Bailey, won the Grand National in a record time of eight minutes and 47.8 seconds, becoming the first horse to run the race in under nine minutes. That record time still stands to this day, which is remarkable when you think that 30 years’ worth of Grand Nationals have taken place since then.

1980 – Winner: Ben Nevis

History was also made in 1980, as amateur American jockey Charlie Fenwick rode Ben Nevis to victory. Fenwick became only the second American amateur to win the race since the Second World War, and at odds of 40/1 it’s fair to say he was not an expected victor. It was the highest-priced horse to win the Grand National since Foinavon in 1967, but was perhaps the fitting conclusion to a strange sort of race that only featured 30 horses.

1970 – Winner: Gay Trip

Gay Trip romped home by 20 lengths to win the Grand National in 1970, in a race that saw only seven horses finish. The winner was ridden by Pat Taaffe, the second time Taaffe had won the Aintree showpiece after riding Quare Times to victory in 1955. Gay Trip came close to winning the National again in 1972, ridden by Terry Biddlecombe, but just lost out to eventual winner Well to Do.

It remains to be seen what happens at the beginning of this current new decade, and history shows us that anything can happen in this famous race.

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Sport Writer

Avid traveller and writer. Love sport, good music hang out with friends and write.

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