No horse race cuts through to the wider public quite like the Grand National. The marathon handicap is one of the biggest events of the British sporting calendar and will once again attract thousands of fans to Aintree Racecourse and attract millions of television viewers.
It is, however, just one race of the three day Grand National Festival which includes several Grade level and handicap races for racing fans to get their teeth stuck into.
Opening Day Races (Thursday)
|1:45||Racehorse Lotto Manifesto Novices’ Chase||Grade 1||2m4f|
|2:20||Jewson Anniversary 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle||Grade 1||2m1f|
|2:55||Alder Hey Aintree Bowl Chase||Grade 1||3m1f|
|3:30||William Hill Aintree Hurdle||Grade 1||2m4f|
|4:05||Randox Foxhunters’ Open Hunters’ Chase||Class 2||2m5f|
|4:40||Close Brothers Red Rum Handicap Chase||Premier Handicap||2m|
|5:15||Goffs Mares’ Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race||Grade 2||2m1f|
Ladies Day Races (Friday)
|1:45||Air Charter Service Mildmay Novices’ Chase||Grade 1||3m1f|
|2:20||William Hill Handicap Hurdle||Premier Handicap||2m4f|
|2:55||Poundland Top Novices’ Hurdle||Grade 1||2m½f|
|3:30||March Chase (Melling Chase)||Grade 1||2m4f|
|4:05||Randox Topham Handicap Chase||Premier Handicap||2m5f|
|4:40||Cavani Sefton Novices’ Hurdle||Grade 1||3m½f|
|5:15||Abersoch Land And Sea Handicap Hurdle||Class 2||2m½f|
Grand National Day Races (Saturday)
|1:45||EFT Systems Maghull Novices’ Chase||Grade 1||2m|
|2:25||Village Hotels Handicap Hurdle||Premier Handicap||3m½f|
|3:00||Turners Mersey Novices’ Hurdle||Grade 1||2m4f|
|3:35||JRL Group Liverpool Hurdle||Grade 1||3m½f|
|4:15||William Hill Handicap Chase||Premier Handicap||3m1f|
|5:15||Randox Grand National Handicap Chase||Premier Handicap||4m2½f|
|6:20||Weatherbys Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race||Grade 2||2m1f|
About the Meeting
There are few horse races as well known across the world as the Grand National. It’s an institution of horse racing and British sport that still attracts tens of millions of viewers each and every year.
The Grand National is always incredibly oversubscribed but there are a huge number of top quality National Hunt horses who just aren’t bred to be competitive over anything like four miles. Thankfully, there are plenty of other options during the three day Grand National Festival, which culminates with the big race itself.
There is nothing else quite like the Grand National in all of horse racing. The Cheltenham Festival and Royal Ascot all have mass appeal but the amount of interest in the Grand National and the number of bets placed on the race each year is on another level.
Upon first glance, it may seem strange that the Grand National is the most popular betting race of the year despite being one of the trickiest races to predict. That, however, is the key element of its appeal. Those who make their picks through syndicates at work or because they like the name of a particular horse have almost as much chance of backing the winner of the Grand National as the most seasoned racing punter. We’ve seen short priced favourites, 100/1 shots and everything in between win the Grand National which helps to open it up far beyond the racing fraternity.
There are several reasons why the Grand National is so tough to predict. For a start, it’s run over a distance of 4 miles 514 yards. Then there are the 40 runners in the field, each of whom must successfully navigate 30 incredibly demanding fences. The qualifying criteria for the most lucrative handicap in racing (the prize fund now tops £1 million) include a minimum age of seven and a minimum official rating of 120.
Grand National Stats and Facts
Here are some stats and facts about the Grand National, and there is no end to the trivia for a race that was first run in 1839.
- Even 100/1 Shots Can Win – To date there have been five horses who have won the Grand National with a starting price of 100/1: Tipperary Tim in 1928, Gregalach in 1929, Caughoo in 1947, Foinavon in 1967 and Mon Mome in 2009.
- Age Is No Barrier – It was a long time ago, but way back in 1853 a 15 year old horse called Peter Simple won the Grand National. It was the second time the gelding had won the race, first victory having come in 1849.
- Grand National Lottery – Many people suggest that betting on the Grand National is akin to playing a lottery such is its unpredictable nature, so it is perhaps appropriate that the horse who won the very first Grand National in 1839 was called Lottery.
- Little vs Large – The lightest runner to win the Grand National was Freetrader in 1856 whose handicap was just nine stone, six pounds. Bobbyjo was the last horse to win carrying 10 stone or less (10 stone exactly for his 1999 victory). At the other end of the spectrum, four horses have won this stamina-sapping race while carrying a hefty load of 12 stone, seven pounds: Cloister (1893), Manifesto (1899), Jerry M (1912) and Poethlyn (1919). Incidentally, Poethlyn was also the shortest priced winner of the National with a starting price of just 11/4.
- Getting Frisky – The aptly named Mr Frisk posted the fastest winning time for the Grand National when he romped home in eight minutes and 47 seconds. This compares to the comparably sluggish winning time of the inaugural victor, Lottery, in 1839 who took just under 15 minutes to complete the race.
- Legendary Red Rum – Red Rum is the only horse to win the Grand National three times, in 1973, 1974 and 1977. He also finished in second place in 1975 and 1976 making him the undisputed king of the Grand National. His statue greets racegoers to Aintree and he is even buried at the winning post at the course. He is often cited as one of the main reasons the Grand National leapt to such public acclaim in the 1970s at a time at which its popularity was beginning to dwindle.
Grand National Festival – Best Of The Rest
The Grand National may be the star of the show but racing fans all have their favourite contests during the three days of the Grand National Festival at Aintree. There are more than 10 Grade 1s and several competitive handicaps to enjoy but the pick of the action away from the big race itself comes from the following races.
Whereas the Grand National is the last of the big races during the Grand National Festival, the Aintree Bowl takes place early on Friday’s Grand Opening Day. Run over 3 miles 1 furlong, this steeplechase is open to horses aged five and older.
The Aintree Bowl has long been viewed as a chance for horses who either failed to win or even really compete in the Cheltenham Gold Cup to win a big, well regarded race. It’s only grown in stature in recent years thanks to a promotion to Grade 1 level in 2010. The popularity of the Aintree Bowl has also been helped no end by wins from the likes of Cue Card, Silviniaco Conti and Desert Orchid, each of whom were loved by racing fans.
Silviniaco Conti’s win in 2015 made Paul Nicholls the first trainer to win the Aintree Bowl three times. It also made Silviniaco Conti the fourth horse to win the race twice; no horse had won it three times ahead of the 2019 renewal.
The form of horses who won the biggest races at the Cheltenham Festival is always a major storyline coming into the Grand National Festival. That’s especially true with the Aintree Hurdle. This Grade 1 contest is run over 2 miles 4 furlongs, some 3½ furlongs longer than the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham. For that reason, the Aintree Hurdle is seen as a great test of Champion Hurdle winners and since the first running of the race in 1976 we’ve seen high class horses such as Buveur d’Air, Annie Power and Istabraq complete the double in the same season.
The extra distance of the Aintree Hurdle also attracts horses who would find the pace a little too sharp in the Champion Hurdle. There are three more hurdles to be navigated at Aintree (11 in total) so the best jumpers have more chance to utilise their advantage. It’s also a valuable race with the total prize fund reaching £400,000 in 2017.
The Melling Chase is another of the races at the Grand National Festival where form from Cheltenham is poured over. The leading contenders from both the Queen Mother Champion Chase and the Ryanair Chase regularly do battle in the Melling Chase which is a Grade 1 contest run over 2 miles 4 furlongs.
Named after the village of Melling which is very near to Aintree, the Melling Chase is a very well regarded prize and carried with it a total prize fund of £250,000 in 2018. It’s the highest profile race of Ladies Day, the second day of the meeting, and is often a very competitive betting market.
Five horses have won the Melling Chase twice since its inaugural running in 1991. Being a shorter distance chase it tends to be won either by horses who excel at this sort of trip (think Sprinter Sacre or Voy Por Ustedes) or who are working their way up to longer races like Don Cossack who won the Cheltenham Gold Cup one year after his Melling Chase success.
The Topham Chase is a Grade 3 contest run over 2 miles 5½ furlongs. The list of winners includes some quality horses but does lack a certain something compared to the other big races during the Grand National Festival. Despite that, it’s among the most popular races of the meeting.
The reason for that popularity is that the Topham Chase is one of just three races run over the same fences as the Grand National (including the Grand National itself). The trip is considerably shorter than the Grand National but the challenge provided by the fences makes this compelling viewing.
As you might expect, the best jumpers have a distinct advantage in the Topham Chase. For that reason experience has proven to be very important which is why older winners are common despite it being open to horses aged five and older. It’s also a fairly valuable race with around £70,000 being awarded to winning connections.
Other Races of Note
Any good National Hunt festival needs a solid cast of supporting races. That’s exactly what you get with the Grand National Festival thanks to a combination of well-regarded Grade level races and some unpredictable handicaps.
Anniversary 4-Y-O Novices’ Hurdle
You’ll get no prizes for guessing that the Anniversary 4-Y-O Novices’ Hurdle is open to novice hurdlers aged four. It’s the second race of the Grand National Festival and tends to provide great entertainment. The Grade 1 has also provided some very good winners including Apple’s Jade, Zarkandar and Al Eile.
Fox Hunters’ Chase
Along with the Grand National and the Topham Chase, the Fox Hunters’ Chase is one of just three races run over the Grand National fences. It was initially run over the same distance of the Grand National but has since been cut to 2 miles 5 furlongs. The Fox Hunters’ Chase is open to horses aged six and older and to amateur jockeys only.
Top Novices’ Hurdle
The Top Novices’ Hurdle is among the premier races for novice hurdlers of the year. Often attracting the leading horses from the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham but you have to go back to Browne’s Gazette in 1984 for the last winner of both races. This Grade 1 takes place over a distance of 2 miles 110 yards so tends to be run at quite a pace, often producing some exciting finishes.
Mildmay Novices’ Chase
The Mildmay Novices’ Chase is a Grade 1 contest that takes place on the course at Aintree of the same name. It’s run over 3 miles 1 furlong and is open to novice chasers aged five and older. There are 19 fences to be navigated in what is a fairly stiff test of jumping. That test is a major reason why many winners of the Mildmay go on to have even greater success.
Maghull Novices’ Chase
The Maghull Novices’ Chase is run over the minimum chasing distance of 2 miles. It takes place on the final day of the Grand National Festival and has been won by some excellent horses since first being run in 1954 such as Douvan and Sprinter Sacre. Paul Nicholls’ horses should be followed in the Maghull as he is comfortably the leading trainer with Diego Du Charmil securing his eighth win in 2018.
The Liverpool Hurdle may be a dramatically different race to the Grand National but as the race that immediately precedes the big one it plays the role of warm up to the crowds at Aintree. This Grade 1 is open to horses aged four and older but tends to be won by horses aged six and nine. The 3 miles ½ furlong trip is long for a hurdle so the Liverpool Hurdle is something of a race for specialists.
The history of the Grand National is almost unrivalled in horse racing. It was first held all the way back in 1839 and in that time the big race itself has created some of the sport’s most legendary figures.
Red Rum’s three Grand National wins made him one of the most beloved horses in all of racing whilst his trainer, Ginger McCain, will always be fondly remembered; Foinavon’s win in 1967 when he took advantage of the carnage in front of him and Devon Loch’s capitulation have gone down in legend; and Jenny Pitman will always be remembered as the first female trainer of a Grand National winner. They are each just a small part of the legend of this race which continues to grow every year.
Over the years the importance of the Grand National Festival has increased dramatically. It is still the Grand National itself that grabs the attention of the public at large but racing fans mark the Aintree Festival in their calendar as the calibre of horses and races seems to improve every year.
A Complete History of the Grand National Festival
In the world of horse racing there are certain events which truly transcend the sport, attracting the attention of even those sections of the general public who wouldn’t generally consider themselves to be racing fans. Such events feature on the front and back of the newspapers and they are few and far between.
The Cheltenham Festival does this to some degree, as does the Epsom Derby. Dwarfing them all though is the racing and betting titan that is the Aintree Grand National. Quite simply the most famous horse race in the world, bar none.
It’s not all about the big one at Aintree in April though, with the headline act benefitting from a full three days of supporting action, including no fewer than 11 Grade 1 events. Here we run through the chronology of this great race and the festival which has grown around it.
1836 – The First National?
Depending upon whose interpretation of the history books you consult, the year 1836 either does, or doesn’t, mark the very first edition of the Grand National. What is certain is that there was a marathon steeplechase which took place in the Merseyside area in this year. The dispute centres upon whether the race was held at Aintree or nearby Maghull.
The winner of this 1836 event was a runner by the name of The Duke, who then promptly confirmed his liking for the venue – whether that was Aintree or Maghull! – when following up in 1837.
1839 – It’s A Lottery: The First Recognised National
The general consensus amongst most historians is that the first Grand National proper was actually run at Aintree in 1839. Given the big field and large luck element historically associated with the National, the first winner could hardly have been more aptly named, going, as he did, by the name of Lottery!
The course as a whole differed markedly from the layout we know and love today, featuring a large ploughed field, natural brooks and a stone wall to be jumped. Try getting a stone wall past health and safety these days! There was however one obstacle in evidence which still exists – Becher’s Brook. It is in fact from that inaugural running of the race that this most famous of fences gained its name.
Coming down at the fence in that 1839 event, a horse by the name of Conrad deposited his jockey – one Captain Martin Becher – straight into the brook. Fearful of being trampled by the remainder of the field, the Captain hid in the brook until the danger had passed and etched his name into racing folklore.
1843 – Handicapping The Field
The next key step in the development of what was to become the biggest horse race in the world came in 1843. This was the year in which the conditions of the race moved from being a weight for age affair to a traditional handicap, with the weights being determined by the perceived ability of the runners.
The man behind this major shift was a certain Mr Edward William Topham. A prominent handicapper at the time, Mr Topham’s name now lives on through the Topham Chase which is held on the second day of this meeting.
1916-18 – The War Nationals
The First World War did interfere with the Grand National, but it didn’t manage to halt it completely. Aintree racecourse itself was out of action at the time, but the course at Gatwick – on the site that is now Gatwick airport – was remodelled to resemble the Merseyside venue and staged the race between 1916 and 1918.
1927 – All Ears For The National
It would be another 33 years until pictures of the Aintree spectacular were beamed into homes around the country, but 1927 marked the year when those not at the track were brought a little closer to the action via the first radio broadcast of the race.
1928 – They All Fall Down
“You’ll only win if all the others all fall down!”. They were the words of encouragement issued to jockey William Dutton on the day before the 1928 National. A sign of the level of confidence behind his mount Tipperary Tim. Sure enough the other 41 runners did indeed all fall down, as Tipperary Tim came home alone at odds of 100/1.
1941-45 – National Defence
The second World War marks the only significant break in the history of the Grand National. No race was held between the years of 1941 and 1945 due to the track being used in the country’s defensive effort.
1949 – First Edition Of The Topham Chase
Held over the Grand National fences but over the significantly shorter trip of 2m5f, this Grade 3 handicap contest is one of the big highlights of Day 2 at this meeting.
Interestingly, no Topham winner (as of 2019) has ever returned to Aintree to land the big one itself. The jump in distance is clearly a significant reason for that and in fact very few Topham horses even attempt the National.
1954 – Maghull Makes Its Debut
Of the 11 Grade 1s on offer at this meeting – only Cheltenham boasts more – the first to enter the fray was this two-mile event for the Novice Chasers. The race has been won by a number of real top-notch horses over the years – none better than 2012 champ Sprinter Sacre, the third highest rated chaser of all time according to Timeform.
1956 – Devon Disaster
Throughout her life The Queen Mother was perhaps the Royal who most loved her racing, particularly the National Hunt game. In 1956 her Royal Highness looked all set to land the biggest prize of them all, as Dick Francis drove her horse Devon Loch five lengths clear on the run to the line. Nothing could stop Devon Loch now. Could it?
It turns out that the horse had his own ideas as to exactly how he would enter racing folklore. Rather than simply win the race, the bay gelding instead opted to execute what can only be described as a belly flop 40 yards from the line. With Francis unable to recover the momentum, E.S.B. swept past for the win. Check out the footage, it really is quite remarkable.
1960 – A Global Audience
1960 marked the year when the Grand National made its TV debut. Now broadcast to an estimated 500-600 million viewers in over 140 different countries, the race is one of the most watched sporting events on the planet.
1960 – First Anniversary
The next Grade 1 to join the Aintree party also came in 1960, with the first ever edition of the 4-Y-O Anniversary Hurdle. Introduced as an event for the most promising hurdlers in the game, the race has certainly lived up to that billing, with previous winners, Katchit, Hors La Loi III and Binocular all going on to land the Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
1967 – Foinavon
The 121st edition of the National in 1967 saw one of the most famous incidents in the race’s history. The 23rd fence may be the smallest on the course, but that didn’t prevent it from becoming the scene of utter chaos when the rider-less Popham Down veered right across the field in front of the fence, practically bringing every runner to a standstill. All bar a runner by the name of Foinavon that is…
A 100/1 outsider for the race, Foinavon was, perhaps predictably, a little way behind the field as the carnage developed. It all worked to his benefit though, as without breaking stride he managed to spot a gap and become the only runner to jump the fence at the first time of asking. By the time the other jockeys had regathered their mounts, Foinavon was away and gone, eventually coming home a 15-length winner. 17 years later in 1984 the fence was officially renamed in his honour.
1974 – Inaugural Liverpool Hurdle
The 1970s marked the decade when this meeting really began to grow, with the introduction of no fewer than four Grade 1 events. First up was this staying contest over 3m½f. One of the standout contests of the week, the race regularly attracts the main contenders from the Stayers’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. Big Buck’s dominated both contests for a prolonged period and won four Liverpool Hurdles in a row between 2009 and 2012.
1976 – Aintree Hurdle Makes Its Bow
In terms of class of winner at this meeting, this 2m4f event may well come top of the pile – at least when it comes to the hurdling division. Legends such as Night Nurse, Morley Street, Dawn Run and Istabraq all feature on the roll of honour, with Buveur d’Air and Annie Power winning in more recent years.
1976 – Top Addition To The Meeting
Run over the same distance, and attracting the same type of runner as the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, the Top Novice’s Hurdle is effectively Aintree’s version of the Cheltenham Festival opener. Upgraded to a Grade 1 in 2016, that year’s race was promptly landed by future dual Champion Hurdler, Buveur d’Air.
1977 – Red Rum Makes It Three
There are many Grand Nationals which live long in the memory, and bear repeated viewing, but there are surely none to have been relived quite so frequently as the 1977 edition.
Already having secured his place in both the nation’s heart and racing folklore with back to back successes in the 1973 and 1974 renewals of the Grand National, Red Rum then finished a gallant second in both 1975 and 1976. Returning at the grand old age of 12 in 1977, one of the most popular horses of all time turned back the clock to storm up the hill and become the first – and so far only – horse to win the big race three times. That may, of course, change in 2020, of which more later.
1977 – First Mersey Novices’ Hurdle
Those Novice Hurdlers who require a sterner test of stamina than that offered by the Top Novices’ Hurdle were also first catered for in the year of Red Rum’s historic success. Held over a 2m4f trip, the race counts the King George winner Wayward Lad, and Gold Cup king Best Mate amongst its previous winners.
1977 – Ladies First
1977 was a busy year for the Grand National meeting as it also marked the first time a female jockey took part in the feature race. The National was generally perceived to be such a physical test and so dangerous that in less enlightened times it was certainly thought to be no place for a woman!
Charlotte Brew was the person making history and Barony Fort was the horse. Sadly things didn’t go to plan and the duo didn’t finish the race. Brew returned in 1982 on board Martinstown but was unseated, yielding the same result.
1981 – Just Champion For Bob And Aldaniti
Possibly the most heart-warming story in the entire history of this great race came in 1981, in one of the greatest sporting tales of triumph over adversity. Always a promising chaser, Aldaniti’s career looked to be over in 1976 due to chronic leg issues, whilst jockey Bob Champion faced an altogether more serious battle when diagnosed with cancer in 1979.
That Champion and Aldaniti even lined up together at the start of the 1981 renewal was something of a miracle. The fact that they then went on to win the world’s greatest steeplechase was the stuff of Hollywood, and did in fact make it to the big screen with the release of the movie Champions in 1984.
1981 – Mildmay Enters The Fray
The Mildmay Novices Chase for the fledgling staying chasers has been graced by a number of future stars since its 1981 debut, including dual King George winner Silviniaco Conti and Gold Cup champ Native River.
1982 – Cheers!
This year Geraldine Rees and her mount Cheers made history, Rees becoming the first woman to finish the Grand National.
1983 – Jenny The First Lady Of Aintree
It took just under 150 years, but 1983 marked the year when a female trainer finally sent out the Grand National winner. Corbiere was the horse, and Jenny Pitman the trainer – and just to prove there was no fluke about it, Pitman repeated the feat in 1995 with Royal Athlete.
1984 – First Edition of The Aintree Bowl
The Grand National may be by some way the most famous chase contest at this meeting, but it isn’t the classiest. That honour belongs to this Grade 1 event held over 3m1f
Won by the legendary Desert Orchid in 1988, other greats such as Florida Pearl, Wayward Lad, Silviniaco Conti and Cue Card have entered the winner’s enclosure over the years. The race finally attained a deserved Grade 1 status in 2010 and offers well over £100,000 to winning connections.
1988 – Sefton Joins The Show
1988 saw a further expansion to the top-class Novice Hurdle programme at the meeting with the introduction of the Grade 1 Sefton Novices Hurdle. Held over 3m½f the event aims to provide a target for those inexperienced hurdlers who boast stamina as their forte.
1991 – Melling Chase Makes Debut
Named after the town of Melling – which also lends its name to the famous road which crosses the racecourse – this 2m4f Grade 1 Chase regularly attracts a high-class field featuring runners from both the Queen Mother Champion Chase and Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.
Blazing Walker blazed to glory in the inaugural running but since then we have seen a higher class of winner, with Moscow Flyer, Voy Por Ustedes, Master Minded and Sprinter Sacre all claiming this one.
1993 – Esha Ness And The Race That Never Was
The most embarrassing moment in the history of the Grand National came in 1993 when – with the world watching – the officials failed to correctly enforce a false start, resulting in 30 of the 39 runners taking the first fence and carrying on regardless.
Reality dawned on the majority of the field eventually, but seven horses did go on to complete the full course – Esha Ness coming home in front in what would have been the second fastest time in Grand National history. Esha Ness’s name does not appear in the record books though, as the race was declared void.
1997 – Monday National
From the most farcical National in history to one of the most genuinely scary editions. Just under an hour before the official start time, two separate bomb threats were issued by the IRA stating there was an explosive device at the course. With the threat believed to be genuine there was little option but to evacuate 60,000 spectators from the track and postpone the race.
In an act of defiance the show still went on, albeit two days later on the Monday, with 20,000 turning up to watch Lord Gyllene romp to victory.
2009 – A New Manifesto
The most recent Grade 1 to be added to the festival is the 2m4f Manifesto Novices Chase. Named in honour of a two-time Grand National winner, the race was initially a Grade 2 affair before being upgraded to the top level in 2012.
2010 – 15th Time Lucky for AP
AP McCoy had won just about every big race going but for a long, long time, the Grand National evaded the man from County Antrim. Finally, in 2010, at the 15th attempt, the great jockey managed to taste Grand National success, riding Don’t Push It for JP McManus.
2012 – Walsh Makes the Podium but Wait for a Woman to Win Goes on
At the time of writing (ahead of the 2020 renewal) a woman is yet to ride a horse to Grand National victory. Katie Walsh, daughter of Ted and sister of Ruby, came closest in 2012 at her first attempt. She has ridden in the National five times now but has not bettered her try on board Seabass.
2012 – Big Buck’s Makes It Four
As far as achievements outside of the big race at this meeting go, the exploits of the Paul Nicholls star Big Buck’s are tough to beat. Widely recognised as the greatest staying hurdler in history, Big Buck’s won a record 18 consecutive races, including, as said, four editions of the Liverpool Hurdle between 2009 and 2012.
2014 – The £1million Race
As one of the most prestigious and well-known contests in the sport, the Grand National has never really scrimped when it comes to monetary reward. Having steadily increased over the years, 2014 marked the watershed moment when the total prize money on offer surpassed the £1million mark.
2019 – Tiger Triumphs Again
Tiger Roll had won the 2018 Grand National in fine style, Davy Russel giving the 10/1 shot a magnificent ride. That year they had won the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase and when Tiger Roll made the 2019 edition of the Cheltenham roller coaster look like a procession, many fancied him strongly for a National repeat as well.
Sent off at odds of just 4/1, everyone knew Tiger Roll was a class act but few thought such short odds could be justified. Russel and this brilliant little horse proved otherwise, making it look all too easy once again. Tiger Roll became the first winning favourite since 2008 and the first horse since Red Rum back in 1974 to retain his crown. Will this son of Authorized be back for thirds in 2020? We certainly hope so!