Considered to be one of the most thrilling steeplechase events in the world, the Grand National at Aintree has captured the hearts and minds of avid and casual National Hunt racing fans alike since its inception more than 180 years ago.
The four-mile and two-and-a-half-furlong affair is a marathon contest that has seen favourites, considerable outsiders and everything in between reign supreme over the years. The gruelling nature of the contest ensure it remains a pick em’ type contest every year – with just five favourites having won the UK & Ireland’s preeminent horse racing fixture in the past 25 years.
With that in mind, read on as we take a look at those five horses who managed to justify their favourite’s tag to finish first past the post in the ‘race the world stops to watch’.
Looking to become just the eighth horse in history to win multiple Grand Nationals, the Gordon Elliott-trained Tiger Roll entered 2019’s renewal as the 4/1 favourite in the betting lines. After finding himself in the middle of the pack in the early proceedings, the then nine-year-old got in touch with the leaders approaching the 16th.
A stumble at the 25th threatened to ruin his chances of an historic double – however – he soon recovered to take the lead two out and ultimately held on to secure the victory by just shy of three lengths from Magic of Light.
Don’t Push It
Entering 2010’s Grand National with relatively solid form that included a second and third-place finish at Cheltenham and Warwick respectively – Jonjo O’Neill’s Don’t Push It was a joint-favourite at 10/1 with the Paul Nicholls-trained Big Fella Thanks.
That was in large part thanks to his course form, with the Irish-bred horse having ran at Aintree on multiple occasions prior to 2010’s renewal, of which included a John Smith Handicap Chase victory in 2009.
His experience in Merseyside paid off, as he pushed along and made headway at the 12th, before taking the lead at the last to secure O’Neill with his maiden Grand National triumph.
Comply Or Die
With a narrow loss to Cloudy Lane at Haydock followed by a dominant eight-length victory at Newcastle, the David Pipe-trained Comply Or Die entered the 2008 Grand National in strong form. As a result, the then nine-year-old was the joint-favourite at 7/1 alongside the aforementioned Cloudy Lane.
He would justify those odds and then some, overcoming a shaky final two fences to reign supreme by four lengths from King Johns Castle.
Coming off the back of a victory in a Grade 3 contest at Fairyhouse, Hedgehunter entered the sport’s preeminent fixture in 2005 as the 7/1 favourite. He would ultimately go on to win with ease, defeating runner-up Royal Auclair by a comfortable 14 lengths.
Hedgehunter’s victory 18 years ago remains historic to this day, as it marks all-time great trainer Willie Mullins’ only Grand National winner to date.
Similarly to Hedgehunter’s performance, the Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained Earth Summit won the 1998 Grand National in emphatic fashion. The 7/1 favourite found himself chasing the leaders for most of the race, before launching his assault at the 19th and ultimately securing the lead five out.
He was hard-ridden and stayed on well approaching the last and ran on to win by a dominant 11 lengths.
For those who bet on grand national and believe the favourite will reign supreme in 2023, at the time of writing, Ultima Handicap Chase victor Corach Rambler is the shortest price at 6/1.