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The Most Dramatic Grand National Races of All Time

It’s the biggest horse race on the National Hunt calendar in the UK and one of the most important anywhere in the world. The nature of the Grand National means that drama is always guaranteed as horses and jockeys attempt to negotiate 30 fences around two laps of this Aintree Course.

The National always provides a story, but which races have been the most dramatic?

1977: Red Rum’s Hat Trick

“Sport action” (CC BY 2.0) by Qrodo Photos

It’s rare for a horse to become a sporting celebrity, but that’s exactly what happened to Red Rum in the 1970s. After winning the Grand National in 1973 and 1974, the chances of an unprecedented hat trick appeared to be fading as Ginger McCain’s mount lined up at Aintree in 1977.

Red Rum had finished second in 1975 and 1976, but, as the years were advancing, the two-time winner slipped down the Grand National betting markets. A final chance to make history was secured as Red Rum, piloted by jockey Tommy Stack, came home in style. Such was the love for Red Rum, the horse received a rare equine burial at the Aintree winning post when he passed away in 1995.

2009: Mon Mone Upsets the Field

A few horses have won this prestigious race as 100/1 shots, but, in the modern age of horse racing betting, such a long odds winner is almost unheard of. While the extreme jumps can make the Grand National something of a lottery, shocks such as this are exceptionally rare.

The most recent horse to win from 100/1 was Mon Mome in 2009 and he may well be the last at those odds.

1993: The Race that Never was

Horse racing” (CC BY 2.0) by Paolo Camera

Chaos reigned at the 1993 Grand National when the race was declared void for the first, and so far the only, time. A false start had already been declared before the runners reassembled for a second try.

Once again, starter Keith Brown waved his red flag and attempted to call the riders back after a few horses had gained an unfair advantage. Several failed to notice and continued on their way.

A few horses completed the race including the eventual ‘winner’. John White, riding Esha Ness, was elated as he passed the winning post, but joy turned to despair as the full story began to unfold. While he has a place in history, White will not officially go down in those Grand National records.

1956: Devon Loch’s Inexplicable Fall

One of the most highly rated horses going into the 1956 Grand National, Devon Loch, secured that classic sporting achievement of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Owned by the Queen Mother, Devon Loch had already won two races that season, and he started among the favourites.

After the outright favourite, Must, had fallen early on, Devon Loch rode clear and, at the final fence, he had a clear advantage of around five lengths. On the final straight, the horse inexplicably jumped in the air and landed on its stomach.

The unfancied E.S.B took advantage in what must be the strangest end to a Grand National.

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