The late Tim Forster OBE – almost invariably known as “Captain Tim Forster” in racing circles – was a renowned pessimist. When asked for advice on how to ride Ben Nevis in the 1980 Grand National, he famously told American amateur rider Charlie Fenwick Jnr. “Keep remounting”. Despite his misgivings, Ben Nevis was left clear by the fall of Delmoss at Becher’s Brook on the second circuit and made the best of his way home to win by 20 lengths at odds of 40/1.
Forster had already trained one National winner, Well To Do in 1972, and in so doing become the first owner-trainer to win the iconic steeplechase since World War II. His third, and final, win in the National came courtesy of 50/1 outsider Last Suspect, owned by Anne, Duchess of Westminster and ridden by Hywel Davies, who put up 3lb overweight. Hardly the most resolute steeplechaser in training, Last Suspect only lined up at all because of the persistence of his jockey but, despite fiercely swishing his tail – a tell-tale sign of irritation – came with a withering run to overhaul the leader, Mr. Snugfit, in the shadow of the post and win by 1½ lengths.
Thus, Tim Forster became one of a select band of seven trainers to have won the Grand National three times. Honoured as the “last of the old-school trainers”, Forster died in 1999, at the age of 65, from cancer of the bone marrow, but was nominated for the Grand National Hall of Fame at Aintree Racecourse in 2013.