Published on April 13th, 2018 | by Sarah Jubb
Line Up For The 2018 Grand National
What do the names Red Rum, Ginger McCain, Tony McCoy, Becher’s Brook and the Canal Turn all have in common? They’re all famous in some way because of the nation’s favourite race, the Grand National, which will be taking place once again on Saturday 14 April.
The race, commonly referred to as the National by many, is the world’s biggest jumps race and offers the most valuable purse in Europe with £1 million up for grabs. Staged at Aintree racecourse in Liverpool, it sees up to 40 Thoroughbred racehorses racing over 30 fences (made up of 16 individual, with 14 jumped twice).
Recent years have seen the race undergoing numerous changes including making the fences smaller to help reduce the risk of injury but it still offers plenty of high stakes drama. Throughout its 179-year history, the Grand National has produced some spectacles of athleticism that are still remembered by many to this day.
A Grand National Racing Legend
When discussing the Grand National, it would be impossible to not mention the legend of Aintree that is Red Rum. His original victory came in 1973 when he came back from 30 lengths behind to win against Australian chaser Crisp in a record time. He won once again a year later in 1974 before achieving a historic treble in 1977.
His achievements did not stop at winning three National’s however as he came second in 1975 and 1976 as well, proving to be the undisputed champion of Aintree. His fame means he is still revered as one of the best racehorses in Britain and featured on a special stamp in the Racehorse Legends Presentation Pack issued by Royal Mail in 2017.
Infamous Names Of The National
While one of the ways to be remembered in the Grand National is to win it in a spectacular fashion, such as when Neptune Collonges won by a nose in the shortest distance ever in 2012, other ways to be remembered is for something memorable happening. Given the fame and toughness of the Grand National, it’s not surprising that there have been many memorable incidents during the race.
There are two names that have become associated with the race in their own ways. In 1956 a horse owned by the Queen Mother and ridden by famous crime novelist and jockey Dick Francis looked to be a clear winner of the National. When only lengths away from the finishing post, the horse suddenly jumped over a phantom fence and landed flat on his stomach, losing the race. The name Devon Loch is now associated with a last-minute failure in sports.
Another famous name that is associated more directly with the race is Foinavon. In 1967 the 100/1 longshot Foinavon lined up for the race, looking unlikely to win with such long odds. A bizarre pile up at the 23rd fence however caused all the horses in the race to be unable to jump until Foinavon arrived, found a route and jumped.
Though many managed to give chase afterwards, they were unable to catch the longshot who comfortably won. The 23rd fence is now known as Foinavon fence in his honour.
Celebrating The Sport Of Kings
Horse racing has a long and gloried history in the United Kingdom with the Thoroughbred being developed in England and racing in various forms being recorded for centuries. It is also the second biggest spectator sport in the UK and throughout the decades there have been many racehorses that have captured hearts across the nation.
To celebrate these household names, in 2017 the Royal Mail released a series of eight special stamps. Each stamp depicted artwork of a famous racehorse, from the national hunt legends Desert Orchid and Arkle to the kings of the flat Frankel and Brigadier Gerard.
For any racing lovers, why not look at the range of Racehorse Legends collectible items we have available here on the Post Office Shop? We also have a range of collectible memorabilia dedicated to Sport for any sport aficionados.