SETTING THE SCENE: The key facts and figures from the last 20 year of the world’s most famous horse race
On Saturday the eyes of the nation and around the world will be on Aintree as 40 horses and riders line up in one of the great spectacles of the sporting calendar, the Grand National.
It takes a special horse to win the National with runners not only having to jump 30 huge fences but also requiring the stamina to see out the marathon four-and-a-quarter-mile trip.
No horse has a better record in the race in the last 20 years than Tiger Roll.
The small but tenacious horse proved all his doubters wrong by becoming only the 10th horse to win more than one National in 2019, adding to his success a year earlier.
In doing so he gave Gordon Elliott a third win in the race, with his two successes added to that of the trainer’s first National winner, Silver Birch in 2007, making him the most successful trainer in the last 20 years.
For both Tiger Roll’s victories Davy Russell was in the saddle. He had to use all his experience to get his mount home in 2018, as Tiger Roll tied up on the run in and held on by only a head in a driving finish.
It was far easier 12 months later as he cruised into the lead after the last fence and “The Tiger” roared up the run-in to win by nearly three-lengths.
That win saw Russell tie Leighton Aspell as the most successful Grand National jockey in recent times.
Aspell also won back-to-back renewals of the race, first with Pineau De Re in 2014, followed by Many Clouds, who won in the colours of multiple Grand National-winning owner Trevor Hemmings.
Many Clouds was a horse that always gave everything, earning him many fans, and it was a special performance as he carried a big weight of 11st 9lb to victory.
He also recorded the fastest time in recent years of 8 minutes and 56 seconds, one only bettered by Mr Frisk’s record time in 1990.
In recent years the National has changed slightly and highly-rated horses carrying big weights have become more a theme rather than an exception.
Younger horses also have a better record, with all of the last six winners being either eight or nine years old.
Amberleigh House is the oldest winner in the last 20 years at 12 years old. He gave legendary Grand National trainer Ginger McCain, most famous for being the man who trained Red Rum to a record three National successes, a final victory in the race in 2004.
The National is a race where almost all the field can be given some sort of chance and there have been several horses that have sprung big surprises, with Mon Mome’s 100/1 victory in 2009 the biggest priced winner in recent years.
So, whoever you draw in your National sweepstake or choose to place a bet on, don’t despair – stranger things have happened!