Fred Rimmell

Fred Rimmell  Thomas Frederic “Fred” Rimmell was National Hunt Champion Trainer on four occasions, in 1960/61, 1968/69, 1969/1970 and 1974/75, but earned his place in the Grand National Hall of Fame by virtue of saddling four different horses to win the famous steeplechase. His winners were ESB in 1956, Nicolaus Silver in 1961, Gay Trip in 1970 and Rag Trade in 1976.

On the first occasion, ESB was, as jockey Dave Dick later admitted, “a terribly lucky winner”, after the leader, Devon Loch, inexplicably collapsed on the run-in at Aintree, just 50 yards from the winning post. Fortunate though he may have been, ESB still recorded the fourth fastest winning time in the history of the Grand National.

Five years later, Nicolaus Silver, ridden by Bobby Beasley, won what was, at the time, the richest ever National, worth £20,000 to the winner. On good to firm going, the eight-year-old was left in the lead when Fresh Winds unseated his rider at the first open ditch on the second circuit and was one of seven horses who pulled clear approaching the home turn. He and Merryman II, the previous year’s winner, were stride for stride between the last two fences, but Nicolaus Silver led over the final fence and drew clear on the run-in to win by 5 lengths. In so doing, he became the first grey to win the Grand National since the Lamb in 1871.

In 1970, Gay Trip, ridden by Pat Taafe, was noted “running away” by commentator Julian Wilson as the much-reduced field approached Becher’s Brook on the second circuit and, from the home turn, had only Dozo, ridden by Eddie Harty, for company. It soon became clear that Gay Trip was going, by far, the better and he duly strode away for a facile, 20-length win.

In 1976, Rimmell won his fourth, and final, Grand National with Rag Trade, ridden by Jimmy Burke. Red Rum, making his second attempt at an unprecedented third Grand National win, led crossing the Melling Road for the final time, but was tackled on the run-in by Rag Trade who, in receipt of 12lb, stayed on to win by 4 lengths.

Manifesto

Manifesto  Manifesto may no longer be a household name, but his exploits around the turn of the twentieth century earned him a place in the inaugural Grand National Hall of Fame at Aintree Racecourse. In a ten-year period, Manifesto ran in the world famous steeplechase a record eight times, winning twice, in 1897 and 1899, and finishing in the first four on four other occasions. In fact, his 1899 victory, which came under 12st 7lb, equalled the weight carrying record in the Grand National.

Manifesto made his debut in the Grand National, as a seven-year-old, in 1895, when finishing fourth to Wild Man Of Borneo. He returned the following year, but parted company with his owner, Harry Dyas, who’d replaced previous jockey Terry Kavanagh, after colliding with a rival at the first fence. Undeterred, Dyas, who was a notorious gambler, sent Manifesto to Curragh trainer Willie McAuliff. The following season Manifesto was back at Aintree where, reunited with Terry Kavanagh, he was sent of 6/1 favourite and duly obliged, winning by 20 lengths.

In 1898, Manifesto was sold to John Bulteel for £4,000 and transferred to Willie Moore. However, he missed the National after escaping from his box and injuring himself. He was back at Aintree in 1899, though, shouldering 12st 7lb to a five-length victory over Ford Of Fyne.

Manifesto never won the Grand National again, but put up some fine weight carrying performances in defeat. In fact, he finished third three times, under 12st 13lb in 1900, under 12st 8lb in 1902 and under 12st 3lb in 1903. It was only on his eighth, and final attempt, as a sixteen-year-old, in 1904 that he finished outside the first four after completing the course. On that occasion, he finished an honourable eighth behind Moifaa.

Dick Francis

Dick Francis  The late Richard Stanley “Dick” Francis, who died in February, 2010, at the age of 89, was a man of many talents. He was champion jockey in the 1953/54 National Hunt season, racing correspondent for the Sunday Express for 16 years and an international bestselling writer, winning the Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Novel on three occasions.

However, for all his achievements, Francis has passed into Grand National folklore as the jockey of Devon Loch, whose dramatic collapse at Aintree, with the race at his mercy, in 1956 remains as much a mystery as it always was. Not that Francis was suspected of any wrongdoing or apportioned any blame for the incident; in fact, he burst into tears as the magnitude of his loss sank in.

Devon Loch, owned by Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother and trained by Peter Cazalet, had mastered his nearest pursuer, ESB, on the famously long run-in at Aintree, but as he approached the wings of the water jump – which is jumped just once during the National – on his inside, he pricked his ears. What happened next has been a matter for conjecture for decades but, for whatever reason, Devon Loch half fly-jumped into the air before slithering to the turf in an unceremonious belly-flop.

Francis believed that Devon Loch was simply overwhelmed by the noise of the crowd cheering him to the finish, but various other theories have been put forward over the years. Cramp and exhaustion, attempting to jump an imaginary fence, slipping on a muddy patch and even breaking wind violently as the result of an overtightened girth have all been suggested.

Carl Llewellyn

Carl Llewellyn  Nowadays, Carl Llewellyn is better known as assistant trainer to Nigel Twiston-Davies, to whom he was also stable jockey for 19 years. However, as a jockey Llewellyn rode 995 winners and won the Grand National twice, on Party Politics in 1992 and Earth Summit in 1988.

Trained in Lambourn by Nick Gaselee, Party Politics was a huge horse, standing 18.1 hands high, and had been ridden for most of his career by Andrew Adams. However, Adams had broken his wrist in a fall at Doncaster, so Party Politics was a chance ride for Llewellyn, who was just starting to make a name for himself after riding his second winner at the Cheltenham Festival the previous month. In the race itself, Party Politics was always prominent and, having take the lead from Romany King at the fourth last fence, ran on well under pressure on the run-in to beat that rallying rival by 2½ lengths. The eight-year-old proved a topical winner, too, his victory coming just two week before the General Election that year.

Earth Summit, trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies, was another chance ride for Llewellyn after regular partner Tom Jenks – who’d ridden him to victory in the Welsh National the previous December – broke his leg. Blessed with an abundance of stamina, the ten-year-old was in his element on the soft going. Having survived a mistake at the nineteenth fence, Llewellyn took up the running on Earth Summit at the fifth last and, along with Suny Bay, pulled clear of the remaining runners. It wasn’t until the final fence that Earth Summit took command but, as the 23lb weight concession took its toll on Suny Bay, he was ridden out to win by 11 lengths.

Reflecting on his two National victories, Llewellyn later said, “The first time I won it, I didn’t take it all in and it was a bit of a blur and I couldn’t really believe it had happened. I enjoyed the second win as I felt as confident as you can be with the ground and the horse.”

Lord Gyllene

Lord Gyllene  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.”