Famous winners and losers

The winners . . .

Red Rum: It is impossible to talk of the Grand National for long without mentioning the legendary Red Rum. He attained a fame that even the ill-fated Shergar could never match, his place in the public heart earned by winning the Grand National on an unmatched three occasions: in 1973, 1974 and 1977.

Red Rum

Red Rum: Legendary National hero

  PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos) 

His 1973 Grand National, in which he made up a 15 length deficit at the final flight to defeat brilliant Australian steeplechaser Crisp, is popularly remembered as one of the finest Nationals ever run.

But it was his historic third Grand National, won at the age of 12, that established him as a sporting hero. Injured before he could tackle another Grand National, he retired into a pleasant life of celebrity appearances. He died in 1995 and is buried astride the winning post at Aintree.

Watch Red Rum's 1977 victory

 

Foinavon: One of the quirks of the National is that the winner is only very occasionally the best horse in the race. Rarely has that fact been better illustrated than in 1967, when the 100-1 outsider Foinavon won the Grand National after a loose horse running across the front of a jump brought down or halted just about every other horse in the race.

Foinavon and his jockey John Buckingham were able to find a  route through the chaos, emerging beyond the fence, the 17th, alone.

Several horses were remounted and gave chase, but Foinavon, carefully handled by Buckingham, was able to hold on for a remarkable victory. The fence at which his rivals fell - one of the smallest on the course - is now known as Foinavon Fence.

Watch Foinavon's victory

 

And the losers . . .

Devon Loch: Perhaps the most famous horse ever to lose the Grand National. Owned by the Queen Mother and ridden by future best-selling novelist Dick Francis, Devon Loch was several lengths clear and heading for victory in the 1956 Grand National when he unexplainably collapsed just yards from the winning post, gifting the race to his nearest pursuer, ESB.

Devon Loch horse owned by the Queen Mother takes a fall at the Grand National in 1956

Devon Loch: famously stumbled

  PICTURE: Mirrorpix  

Conspiracy theorists and pundits have debated what caused Devon Loch to stop ever since. Cramp and the roar from the crowd are among the more common explanations, but perhaps the most persuassive argument is that Devon Loch, confused by the shadow cast by a jump on the other side of the railing, attempted to jump an illusory fence.

But, whatever the case, none of those affected by sport's most famous stumble did too poorly. Devon Loch rapidly recovered and lived to the age of 17, Francis, of course, became one of Britain's most successful novelists. And the racing mad Queen Mother dismissed the entire affair, dryly noting, "Oh, that's racing."

Watch Devon Loch's fall

 

The Duke of Alburquerque: Nicknamed the "Iron Duke", Beltrán Osorio, the 19th Duke of Alburquerque, was an amateur jockey suffering from a self-professed fascination with the Grand National.

Suffering being the key word, because the Duke sustained numerous injuries in his six attempts at the National, which were themselves spread over a remarkable 24 years.

Captivated by the famous race since watching a video of the event as a small child, the Spanish aristocrat resolved to win the race. He almost died trying and was once left in a coma for two days, awaking to discover he had broken his wrist and thigh bone, as well as several ribs and vertabrae.

The Duke famously completed the race just once, on his fifth attempt in 1974, when the plaster-casted Duke, nursing a broken collarbone, finished eighth - and last.

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