This month the nation will once again be rushing down to the bookies to place bets on one of our favourite events in the horseracing calendar – the John Smith Grand National.
But in all the excitement of race day, it’s easy to forget the true stars of the show – the horses themselves. From the first winner of the first ever Grand National back in 1839, Lottery (funnily enough, a favourite!), to last year’s victor – the more exotically named Neptune Collonges – it’s the horses who battle it out year after year to win fame and glory for their owners.
Below we pay tribute to some of the greatest racehorses of all time:
Red Rum is probably the greatest, most famous racehorse the world has ever seen. Even those who have only the most occasional flutter on the Grand National know his name and with good reason. Red Rum won the 1973, 1974 and 1977 Grand Nationals and was runner up in 1975 and 1976. A true race horsing legend.
Across the pond, the fighting spirit of the American racehorse Man O’War was legendary, leading him to win over 99% of his races.
Proof that everyone loves an underdog, Seabiscuit, a straggly and awkward creature, won the hearts of a nation back in 1939, when he was featured in an article by publishing chief Walter Winchell. Despite his ungainly appearance, Seabiscuit managed a reputable career in horseracing, with several wins under his belt.
One of the greatest quirks of the Grand National is that the best horses only very occasionally win, but never has the racing world been more surprised than when outsider Foinavon leapt his way to victory in 1967. With odds of 100-1, Foinavon finally got his big break when a stray horse brought down just about every other horse in the race!
You don’t have to be a winner to be great, and perhaps the most famous loser of all time was this horse, owned by the Queen Mother and ridden by novelist Dick Francis. A firm favourite to win the Grand National that year, Devon Loch was several lengths clear and heading for victory in 1956 when he collapsed. Conspiracy theories abound about one of racing’s biggest mysteries.
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