Greatest races in Grand National history

In what is the preeminent fixture on the National Hunt racing calendar, the Grand National has captured the imagination of the wider UK & Irish public for the better part of 180 years. Whether you’re a horse racing enthusiast or not, the gruelling four-mile and two-and-a-half-furlong premier handicap at Aintree in April is an iconic race that, year in year out, provides us with theatre, sublime performances, upsets and everything in between.

There are some renewals that are particularly memorable however – and with that in mind – read on as we take a look at some of the greatest races in Grand National history.


Due to the marathon-like nature of the Grand National, it is quite rare to see any of its editions result in a razor thin margin of victory. In fact, there’s been only one occasion in which a horse has reigned supreme in the sport’s feature event by a nose. That was in 2012, when Neptune Collonges defied the odds to take home the esteemed prize from Sunnyhillboy. 

After he and jockey Daryl Jacob found themselves in the centre of the field at the mid-way point, the pair made headway at the 17th and proceeded to challenge the leaders four out. The then 11-year-old pushed into third at the last and kicked on strong up the straight to steal it at the post.

Not only was it an incredible renewal due to its finish – it also would have proven to be a good day for punters who chose Neptune Collonges as their bet on grand national, with the Paul Nicholls-trained gelding entering as a 33/1 shot.


The grit and determination required to win a Grand National is what makes the race so unique. There is no greater embodiment of that than Amberleigh House’s run in 2010, with the Donald McCain-trained thoroughbred producing one of the greatest comebacks that racing fans and pundits have witnessed at Aintree.

Despite falling behind early on in the race, Amberleigh House made headway at the halfway mark of the fixture and established himself as an unlikely contender in fourth position with three fences to jump.

He was considerably behind the leading three horses, and had a mountain of work to do if he was any chance of taking home the spoils. What ensued was one of the most iconic runs up the straight in Grand National history, as Amberleigh House found an extra gear and made up the deficit to romp home and reign supreme by three lengths from Clan Royal and Lord Atterbury.


In what was the first of three wins for Red Rum in the Grand National, 1973’s instalment was not only one to remember because the eventual winner would go on to be a Hall of Famer – but also due to the race’s dramatic finish.

With the win seemingly in Australian chaser Crisp’s grasp with over half a mile to go, Red Rum would display the kind of resolve and heart that has ensured he remains as one of National Hunt racing’s all-time greats.

The Ginger McCain-trained thoroughbred was the only horse to even attempt challenging Crisp over the final stages – and to everyone’s surprise – Red Rum managed to mow down the leader with less than 20 yards remaining en route to an historic triumph. That’s not to mention that he completed the race in nine minutes and two seconds, which was a record at the time.