Richard Pitman

Richard Pitman, 75, has been involved with the Grand National, in one form or another for over five decades. He is, of course, the erstwhile husband of Jenny Pitman, who became the first woman to train a Grand National winner in 1983. However, Richard had his first ride in the Grand National aboard the 13-year-old Dorimont in 1967. Dorimont had won the National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival three years earlier, but was a 100/1 outsider on the day. Replacing the injured William Shand Kydd, the 24-year-old Pitman, by his own admission, “forgot” about the open ditch guarding the third fence and his mount took a crashing fall, long before the mêlée at the twenty-third fence presented Foinavon with the race.

 

In 1973, Pitman was involved in one of the most famous, and heartbreaking, finishes in Grand National history when Crisp, ridden by Pitman, was caught in the dying strides by Red Rum, ridden by Brian Fletcher, having been 20 lengths ahead jumping Becher’s Brook on the second circuit. “The Black Kangaroo”, as Crisp was affectionately known, was attempting to concede 23lb to Red Rum and, while he may not have won the National, his bold, attacking style won the hearts of the racing public.

 

Pitman made his first television appearance for the BBC at the Grand National in 1976 and remained part of the team thereafter. He was involved in the coverage of the so-called “National that never was” – in which Esha Ness, trained by Jenny Pitman, was first past the post – in 1993 and the bomb scare, which led to the evacuation of Aintree and the only Monday National, in 1997. In 2018, Pitman featured on a panel of experts on an ITV Grand National Special, which included “The Grand National Race of Champions”; in the virtual race, Crisp finished fourth, behind L’Escargot, Red Rum and Hedgehunter.

Grand National 2024 – final declarations, runners and riders

  1. Noble Yeats Harry Cobden
  2. Nassalam Caoilin Quinn
  3. Coko Beach TBC
  4. Capodanno Keith Donoghue
  5. I Am Maximus Paul Townend
  6. Minella Indo Rachael Blackmore
  7. Corach Rambler Derek Fox
  8. Janidil Jody McGarvey
  9. Stattler Patrick Mullins
  10. Mahler Mission Ben Harvey
  11. Delta Work TBC
  12. Foxy Jacks TBC
  13. Galvin TBC
  14. Farouk D’Alene TBC
  15. Eldorado Allen Brendan Powell
  16. Ain’t That A Shame David Maxwell
  17. Vanillier Sean Flanagan
  18. Mr Incredible Brian Hayes
  19. Run Wild Fred TBC
  20. Latenightpass Gina Andrews
  21. Minella Crooner TBC
  22. Adamantly Chosen Sean O’Keeffe
  23. Mac Tottie James Bowen
  24. Chemical Energy TBC
  25. Limerick Lace Mark Walsh
  26. Meetingofthewaters Danny Mullins
  27. The Goffer TBC
  28. Roi Mage James Reveley
  29. Glengouly Michael O’Sullivan
  30. Galia Des Liteaux Harry Skelton
  31. Panda Boy TBC
  32. Eklat De Dire Darragh O’Keeffe
  33. Chambard Lucy Turner
  34. Kitty’s Light Jack Tudor

Ruby Walsh

Ruby Walsh  Rupert “Ruby” Walsh, the eldest son of Kildare trainer Ted Walsh, is recognised as one of the finest National Hunt jockeys of his generation. He has ridden over 2,500 winners and is one of a few jockeys who’ve won the Champion Hurdle, the Queen Mother Champion Chase, the Stayers’ Hurdle and the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

In addition, despite the injuries that are an occupational hazard of working with horses in any discipline, never mind jumping fences on a half-ton racehorse travelling at 40 miles an hour, Walsh Jnr. has an enviable record in the Grand National. In 13 attempts, so far, he has failed to complete the National Course just three times and, apart from Leighton Aspell, is the only current jockey to have won the National twice.

In fact, he won the National on his first attempt, as a 20-year-old, aboard Papillon, trained by his father, Ted, in 2000. The following year, the same horse refused at the nineteenth fence after being hampered by a loose horse but, in the days before remounting was banned, Walsh climbed back aboard and hacked home to finish a distant fourth. In 2002, he completed the course again, when a not-quite-so-distant fourth on Kingsmark, trained by Martin Todhunter. He didn’t have to wait long for his second National winner, though, because his was back in the winners’ enclosure again in 2005, having ridden Hedgehunter, trained by Willie Mullins, to a 14-length win over Royal Auclair.

Walsh has yet to win the National again, but finished second on Hedgehunter in 2006 and third on My Will, trained by Paul Nicholls, in 2009. His most recent ride in the great race, Pleasant Company, in 2017, could only stay on at one pace from the second last to finish ninth, beaten 28¾ lengths, behind the winner, One For Arthur. However, in 2018, with Walsh sidelined with a broken leg, suffered on the second day of the Cheltenham Festival, the same horse finished second, beaten just a head, for jockey David Mullins and trainer Willie Mullins.