7 of the Longest Priced Grand National Winners since 1950
It’s the race that attracts the most money from a betting perspective and even if you only have one punt every year, chances are that it will be on the Grand National. However, some serious gamblers are hesitant about getting involved because they feel the event can be something of a lottery with treacherous fences leading to a very open field.
The view is that anyone can win the Grand National but history shows that the race rarely goes to a high priced runner. Aurora’s Encore came home at a mighty 66/1 in 2013 but as these horses prove, that’s quite an unusual occurrence.
Like most sports, horse racing was on something of a hiatus during World War II and when the Grand National returned in 1946, the field really did represent a lottery. Caughoo came in at 100/1 in 1947 but three years later things had settled down as stables returned to some level of normality and winners became more predictable.
Here then is the full list of highest priced National winners since 1950.
1. Aurora’s Encore won at 66/1 in 2013
2013 John Smith’s Grand National Chase – Auroras Encore
The 2013 Grand National was notable for a number of events. Firstly, from a large field, only two horses fell while another six unseated their riders. It’s quite rare for a favourite to finish the course and not come in the places but the 11/2 starter Seabass would head past the post in 13th position.
All 40 runners made it safely into the Canal Turn – the first time this has ever happened – and at the Chair, the highly fancied Colbert Station, ridden by Champion Jockey Tony McCoy, was among the first to fall.
The 2013 Grand National continued to break the records when all remaining horses made it safely over Bechers Brook. Ruby Walsh’s mount fell at Valentines but his sister Katie stayed in the field on Seabass while Ryan Mania and Aurora’s Encore had quietly made their way up to third.
Four horses dropped out of the race at the final fence leaving Mania’s Mount with a clear run home. With no more obstacles in their way, Aurora’s Encore’s sprinting prowess came to the fore and eventually, the horse finished as the winner by a considerable margin of nine lengths.
Many stories of lucky punters followed but for most bookmakers, it was a profitable day with the favourites failing to come in. However, Sporting Index did manager to lose £50,000 on the event after customers took advantage of a generous spread.
2. Foinavon won at 100/1 in 1967
The 2013 Grand National broke so many records but the 1967 race will always be remembered as being the most historic. Rank outsider Foinavon came home at an incredible 100/1 but that doesn’t come close to telling the full story of a remarkable event. (Full video of this race)
Nobody expected this horse to win, least of all its owner who travelled to Worcester to see stable mates ride instead and his lack of faith seemed justified as Foinavon began to lag behind the rest of the field by some considerable distance. However, his slow pace was to prove invaluable after the events that followed.
The most familiar piece of footage on Grand National history begins at the 23rd fence when the loose horse Popham Down suddenly veered to its right. Loose runners can occasionally cause problems at the National but Popham Down’s actions led to complete chaos as the majority of the field either fell or were unseated. Even those jockeys lucky enough to stay in the saddle were effectively out of the race as their mounts began to run in the opposite direction.
Amidst all of this mayhem, Foinavon was moving along serenely in last place and at a pace slow enough to avoid the melee that lay ahead. John Buckingham’s mount became the only horse to clear the fence on its first attempt and suddenly he had a lead of over 30 lengths.
Even then, Foinavon was almost caught as riders began to remount and had the National course been longer, history would have been very different. As it was, the event had its first 100/1 winner since 1947 and the 23rd has subsequently been renamed as the Foinavon Fence.
Some very fortunate punters were ecstatic and Buckingham had also enjoyed a great deal of luck when he revealed that he wasn’t even first choice to ride the 1967 winner.
“Three jockeys had turned him down. They asked me and I mean I’d have ridden Dick’s donkey to be in the Grand National,” Buckingham said after the race.
3. Ayala won at 66/1 in 1963
Just four years before Foinavon’s incredible feat, the Grand National had experienced another high priced winner when Ayala came in at the head of a 47 strong field in 1963. Ridden by 19 year old jockey Pat Buckley, the horse came in by just three quarters of a length in front of 20/1 shot Carrickbeg while the top three was completed by another outsider – Hawa’s Song.
Compared with the extraordinary events of 1967, the 1963 Grand National was fairly unremarkable but it was interesting to note that while only 22 of the 47 strong field made it around the course, there were no casualties and all returned to their stables safely.
Ayala was obviously an unfancied runner but some shrewd gamblers would have noticed its strong pedigree. Although the horse had a young and inexperienced jockey, it was trained by Keith Piggott, father of the legendary Lester and son of Ernie who had ridden two National winners in 1912 and 1919. As part of that kind of Dynasty, Ayala would have attracted some attention, even at that 66/1 price.
4. Anglo won at 50/1 in 1966
Clearly some of the results from the 1960’s would have backed up the theory that betting on the Grand National was akin to a lottery and sandwiched between Ayala and Foinavon was Anglo’s victory in 1966.
This was no fluke however and the win wasn’t even a close call with the horse storming home by 20 lengths from 11/4 favourite Freddie who finished in second place for the second year in succession.
Out of a 47 strong field, 35 horses failed to finish including the notorious Popham Down while the win was a notable achievement for jockey Tim Norman who had been injured in a car accident just two days before the race.
5. Last Suspect won at 50/1 in 1985
The 1970’s were the era of Red Rum and some lower priced winners of the race. The Grand National started to become just a little bit more predictable but that was all set to change as the 1980’s were ushered in. The decade began with a 40/1 winner in Ben Nevis but five years later in 1985, an even longer punt came home.
The 1985 event was a memorable one with the Jockey Club choosing to honour all surviving winning riders of this great race. It also saw a smaller field of 40 with safety starting to become a real issue and it began with joint favourites – Greasepaint and West Tip who were both available at 13/2 prior to the off.
Both horses had good records coming into this race: Greasepaint had finished as runner up twice while West Tip had survived a horrific collision with a lorry to win four straight events in the lead up to the national. The latter would have to wait another year for Grand National success however as Last Suspect came through the field.
After the off, 1984 winner Hallo Dandy fell at the first but as the race settled down, Greasepaint was handily placed in second with Last Suspect offering no obvious threat in third. Mr Snugfit took the lead at the final turn but as greater weight tied him down, Last Suspect found the energy to edge out his rival by three lengths.
6. Mon Mome won at 100/1 in 2009
The Favourites won the Grand National in 2008 and 2010 but in between, we saw the first 100/1 winner of the race since Foinavon more than 40 years previously. In doing so, the horse also became the first French bred winner for over 100 years.
Grand National 2009
2008’s Champion Comply or Die had drifted out to 14/1 but was still highly fancied by the betting fraternity as it went on to deliver a win for each way backers by coming in second. Butler’s Cabin was the ante post favourite after winning the Irish Grand National in 2007 but in a strong field, nobody paid any attention to Mon Mome despite the fact that she had a decent record and had been the favourite going into the previous Welsh Grand National.
However, the Liam Treadwell ride started strongly and kept pace with the field right the way through The Chair, Beechers Brook and Valentines. As the favourites either fell or drifted back, it was neck and neck between the 100/1 shot and Comply or Die as they jumped the last. The greater sprinter would prevail – many expected the 2008 winner to accelerate but Mon Mome outstripped its last remaining challenge to come home by an impressive 12 lengths.
It was a shock result in every sense and many horse racing bookies reported that they’d barely seen a penny wagered on the winner. Even Mon Mome’s trainer couldn’t believe what she’d seen.
“How can you ever expect that?” said Venetia Williams. “It’s unbelievable. For the first half of the race, I was watching the wrong horses down the back.”
7. Neptune Collonges won at 33/1 in 2012
There have been a number of 33/1 winners of the Grand National but the fact that we’ve had two high priced victors in the last two years just underlines how open this race can be. The win was even more remarkable due to safety changes which meant that all runners had to have achieved at least a place in a recognised Steeplechase of three miles or more.
That new rule should have hampered the chances of the outsiders but Neptune Collonges became the latest in a long line of horses to defy the odds. 2012 Gold Cup winner Synchronised was the favourite but sadly fell and had to be put down thereby making this a far more open event.
After that, the race settled down and at one point, 100/1 shot In Compliance was in with a shout but along with five other runners competing on the long run home, the horse faded leaving Neptune Collonges to squeeze past the post by a nose from SunnyHill Boy.
Early betting for the 2014 Grand National shows Tea For Three as the favourite with most bookmakers at around the 10/1 mark. However, as these horses have shown, the winner can come from almost anywhere and while it may be unfair to call this race a lottery, some shrewd staking could land you a huge profit further down the field.