Are These the Two Most Important Grand National Victories of All Time?

Are These the Two Most Important Grand National Victories of All Time?

The Grand National is the one race that galvanizes the entire United Kingdom and beyond. It’s a day when the country stands still. Both punters and casuals alike are glued to their TV sets hoping to back the winner. This year, the race takes place on April 14th at Aintree, at the new time of 4 pm rather than 5:15 pm in order to improve the likelihood of good ground. The race used to start at 4:15 pm. However, that was changed back in 2015 to avoid clashing with the British football fixtures taking place up and down the country. Nine years on, the start time has been changed once again.

Back in 2023, Corach Rambler, under the skilled guidance of Derek Fox and the expert training of Lucinda Russell, clinched the title as an 8/1 frontrunner, becoming just the second favourite in 13 years to win the coveted race. As we edge closer to this year’s instalment, anticipation builds around current favourites, shaping the narrative of what promises to be another thrilling chapter in Aintree’s recent history.

The reigning champion is once again considered a contender, but he isn’t an outright favourite. Oddschecker, a website comparing the best Grand National free bets and offers, such as Betfred’s Bet £10 get £30, give that honour to Vanillier. It would surely be an impressive performance should the nine-year-old manage to secure the crown and the £500,000 prize that comes with it. But would it be as important as these two were?

AP McCoy and Don’t Push It: Breaking the Jinx

Before 2010, AP McCoy became a name synonymous with jump racing success. But he still had one glaring omission from his otherwise stellar resume: a Grand National win. Despite being champion jockey multiple times amassing over 4,000 wins throughout his storied career, critics and fans alike whispered that McCoy’s legacy would remain incomplete without a victory in the world’s most famous steeplechase. The pressure was immense and the narrative was set: could McCoy finally break his Grand National jinx on his 15th attempt?

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On April 10, 2010, aboard Don’t Push It, the Northern Irishman silenced his doubters once and for all. In what can only be described as a ride of determination and skill, he navigated the 40-runner field with precision, taking the lead two fences from home and holding off any challengers to claim his first Grand National victory.

This win was not just a personal milestone for McCoy; it was a moment of vindication. It emphatically answered the question of his greatness, proving that he could indeed conquer the one challenge that had eluded him. His victory is a testament to perseverance and talent, cementing his status as one of the greatest jockeys of all time.

Rachel Blackmore and Minella Times: Shattering the Glass Ceiling

Fast forward 11 years and the Grand National was set to witness another groundbreaking moment. Rachel Blackmore, a rising star in the world of horse racing, was about to challenge a different kind of narrative — that of gender in a sport historically dominated by men. Riding Minella Times, she entered the race not just as a competitor but as a symbol of potential historic change. At 11/1, the duo had as good a chance as anyone at triumphing, and triumph they did.

Their performance was nothing short of spectacular. Blackmore and Minella Times delivered a masterclass in racing, leading down the stretch and crossing the finish line six-and-a-half lengths ahead of the chasing pack in a victory that made her the first female jockey to win the Grand National. After the race, Blackmore famously said “I don’t feel male or female. I don’t even feel human, I feel unbelievable.”

This victory was more than just a personal achievement for Blackmore; it was a watershed moment for the sport. It shattered long standing gender barriers, inspiring countless aspiring female jockeys and demonstrating that talent knows no gender. The best a woman had done in the storied showdown was Katie Walsh’s third place onboard Seabass in 2012. And to make matters better for winning trainer Henry De Bromhead, he also trained the runner-up in the race Balko Des Flos and secured an almighty haul in prize money.


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