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The Grand National In Numbers (2024)

The entries are in, and there’s less than a week to go, so when better to look at the ‘World’s Greatest Steeplechase’? Steeped in history, the Grand National is arguably one of, if not the most famous horse race in the world. A unique test of horsemanship for the rider and significance for the horse it is one of the biggest days in the British sporting calendar.

Among other changes, the field size in 2024 has altered from 40 to 34, the first time this has changed since 1984. In the spirit of racing, though, here is the great race in numbers, up to, and including, 40:

1. Rachael Blackmore is the only female rider to win the Grand National, after partnering Minella Times to victory in 2021.

2. Only two horses have won the Grand National in a sub-9 minute time. Mr Frisk, the current record holder, won in 8m 47.8s in 1990, and Many Clouds won in 8m 56.8s in 2015.

3. Red Rum is the only horse to date to have won the Grand National three times, winning in 1973, 74, and 77, respectively.

Red Rum winning his third Grand National (1977)

4. Ginger McCain achieved his fourth win in the race with Amberleigh House in 2004. This means he shares the record for the most wins (4) with Fred Rimell and George Dockeray.

5. Five different horses have won the Grand National at odds of 100/1, the largest-priced winners ever. The horses in question are Tipperary Tim (1928), Gregalach (1929), Caughoo (1947), Foinavon (1967), and Mon Mome (2009).

6. The number of times a female trainer has won the Grand National is six. Jenny Pitman first won the race in 1983, and then again in 1995, whilst the next female trained winner didn’t come until 2009, when Mon Mome triumphed, trained by Venetia Williams. Sue Smith won the race in 2013 with Auroras Encore, and Lucinda Russell has won twice recently, in 2017 and 2023, respectively.

7. The minimum age of a horse allowed to run in the race is seven. This rule was enforced following the 2011 running.

8. Manifesto has had more attempts at the Grand National than any other horse. He competed eight times between 1895 and 1904, winning two, placing third three times, and only failing to complete once.

9. The most common age of the winner of the National is 9, winning 46 of the 174 runnings where a winning age was recorded.

10. The 1883 running of the race saw just 10 runners face the starter, the smallest field in the race’s history.

11. 11-1 is the price at which Minella Times won the 2021 Grand National when partnered by Rachael Blackmore.

12. There have only been 12 winners of the race to carry 12 stone or more. Red Rum is the most recent winner to carry 12st+ when winning in 1974. The heaviest weight carried to victory since then in 11st 9lbs.

13. 13 different mares have won the Grand National through the years. They are as follows: Charity (1841), Miss Mowbray (1852), Anatis (1860), Jealousy (1861), Emblem (1863), Emblematic (1864), Casse Tete (1872), Empress (1880), Zoedone (1883), Frigate (1889), Shannon Lass (1902), Sheila’s Cottage (1948) and Nickel Coin (1951).

14. Hedgehunter won the Grand National by 14 lengths in 2005, giving trainer Willie Mullins his first win in the race.

Hedgehunter winning the 2005 Grand National

15. Peter Simple, winner of the race in 1853, is the oldest horse to claim victory, aged 15.

16. The number of Irish-trained horses to win the race since 1900, most recently, Noble Yeats (2022), trained by Emmet Mullins.

17. The age at which jockey Bruce Hobbs won the Grand National. He tasted victory aboard Battleship in 1938 and is the youngest jockey to date to win the race.

18. Grand National statistics show that, on average, 45% of the horses that start the race finish. This equates to 18 of the 40 runners that face the starter.

19. 19 female jockeys have entered the race since Charlotte Brew became the first woman to compete in the race in 1977. Besides Rachael Blackmore’s win in 2021, the next best result for a female jockey is 3rd place, achieved by Katie Walsh aboard Seabass in 2012.

20. Number 20 on the racecard has proven to be the most unlucky in recent times. It has the worst completion record, completing just four times in the last 16 renewals.

21. Richard Johnson is, by far, the unluckiest jockey to compete in the race. From 21 attempts, he finished 2nd twice, but he never won, holding the record for the most rides in the race, and the most rides without a victory.

22. Irish-trained horses have had, by far, the most success of all international participants. There have been 22 Irish-trained winners since 1900, six of which have come since 1999.

23. The greatest number of finishers in a Grand National was 23 in 1984.

24. The average odds of a Grand National winner since 1998 are 24/1.

25. Number 25 on the racecard, alongside numbers 8 and 39, is one of the three remaining numbers yet to finish in the top six in the last 22 years. 

26. 1926 marked the first success for Australia when jockey William Watkinson won aboard Jack Horner.

27. The first radio commentary for the race was aired on the BBC in 1927. A horse named Sprig won the race.

28. 1928 saw the smallest number of finishers in a Grand National, with Tipperary Tim finishing first of two past the post at 100-1.

29. The 1929 Grand National saw 66 horses face the starter, the most runners the Grand National has ever seen.

A view of the 1929 Grand National

30. There are 30 fences to jump during the Grand National.

31. Philip Hobbs has had 31 runners in the race without a winner.

32. Tom Rimell won the race in 1932 with 50-1 shot Forbra. Tom’s son, Fred, trained four Grand National winners himself, and the Rimell legacy has continued, with Mark Rimell (Fred's great-grandson) still training today, and his four children all involved in racing too.

33. Number 33 on the racecard is another to avoid, having finished no better than 12th in the Grand National since Comply Or Die won in 2008.

34. The new maximum number of runners in the Grand National is 34. These changes take effect this year after the previous limit of 40 runners was introduced in 1984. The last time 34 runners faced the starter was in 1979.

35. A recent run has proved useful when contesting the Grand National, as 12 of the last 15 winners had posted an effort in the last 35 days.

36. 1836 marked the first 'unofficial' running of the race. It was won by a horse named The Duke, who won the race again the following year.

37. Number 37 on the racecard has proved to be the most reliable to follow this century, completing 13 of the 23 runnings, and also achieving a top-six finish five times since 2010. Unfortunately, the new rules mean there will no longer be a number 37 to follow in the race.

38. In 1838, when still called the ‘Grand Liverpool Steeplechase’, the race attracted just three runners. This was one of three unofficial precursors of the official Grand National.

39. 1839 saw the first ever ‘official’ Grand National take place. Coincidentally, it also provided the slowest time for a horse to win the race, at 14m 53s, which still stands.

40. In 2022, Noble Yeats became the first seven-year-old to win since Bogskar in 1940.

Noble Yeats winning the 2022 Grand National

That rounds up the ‘Grand National in numbers’, but here are some other facts you might find interesting:

  • The Grand National is broadcast in over 140 countries, with around 600 million people watching it every year.

  • Each year, it is believed that attendees consume, on average, 250,000 pints of beer, 38,000 shots, and 5,000 cocktails at the event, along with 75,000 cups of tea and coffee.

  • Approximately 150 tonnes of spruce branches from the Lake District National Park are used to top the fences.

  • Dick Saunders is the oldest jockey to win the race, aged 48.

  • Four horses have carried 12st 7lbs to victory, a record that will never be broken, as the top weight has since been lowered, most recently in 2009 to 11st 10lbs. The four horses were Cloister (1893), Manifesto (1899), Jerry M (1912), and Poethlyn (1919).

  • The 1928 running of the race marked the smallest number of finishers, with just two of a 42-strong field making it across the line, one of which was remounted.

  • The shortest winning distance came in 2012 when Neptune Collonges triumphed by a nose.

  • Paul Nicholls is one of the most successful trainers ever, but he has only won the Grand National once from 78 runners, and he’s only managed two other top 3 finishes.

  • 12 of the last 14 winners were having their first run in the race, and 15 of the last 20 had run a race at Aintree at least once before.

  • Poethlyn (11-4) is the shortest-priced winner of the race (1919).

  • Moiffa, winner of the 1904 running of the Grand National, is one of the strangest winners of the race. His ship was wrecked just a year earlier, on a trip to Liverpool from New Zealand, but he turned up on an outcrop south of Ireland, after being presumed lost, and won the race the following year.

So, who do we fancy to take the spoils in this year’s renewal? Be sure to let me know in the comments below!

If he runs, I’m going for Noble Yeats to hit the line in front as he did in 2022!

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