The 1997 Grand National will always be remembered as the one and only “Monday National”, after coded IRA bomb threats caused Aintree Racecourse to be evacuated and the race to be postponed by 48 hours on the previous Saturday. However, Steve Brookshaw – now retired from the training ranks but, at the time, in just his second season as a National Hunt trainer – will always remember the winner of that historic Grand National, Lord Gyllene. In fact, when interviewed 20 years later, Brookshaw said, “It was my 15 minutes of fame; the biggest day of my life.”
Owned by the late Sir Stanley Clarke, Lord Gyllene was a New Zealand-bred gelding who had previously completed a hat-trick at Uttoxeter, including the Singer & Friedland National Trial, and finished second, when favourite, in the Midlands Grand National, also at Uttoxeter. In the Grand National, Lord Gyllene was ridden by Tony Dobbin and, having taken the lead at the second fence, led the field a merry dance for two circuits of the vast course.
The eight-year-old jumped superbly throughout, although only narrowly avoided calamity at the water jump, when nearly carried out by a loose horse. He led by 6 lengths or so approaching the second last fence and in the last half mile pulled further and further clear, eventually winning by 25 lengths. His winning margin was the biggest since Red Rum romped home for his historic third National win in 1977. The gallant topweight, Suny Bay, who’d pursued him vainly for most of the way, finished second with 100/1 outside Camelot Knight third, a further 2 lengths away.
Lord Gyllene ran just twice more for Brookshaw, without distinction, and after two years off the course with injury was eventually retired, as a 13-year-old, in 2001. At the time, new trainer Martin Pipe – for whom Lord Gyllene never ran – said, “Lord Gyllene is not up to full training. His owner Sir Stanley Clarke and I agreed that retirement was the best thing and he will be given a lovely home.”