Grand National – Runners and Finishers
The smallest number of Grand National finishers was two in 1928, when Tipperary Tim, the first 100-1 winner of the race beat the remounted Billy Barton by a distance, there were an amazing 42 runners in that National.
The race was run in atrocious conditions and when Easter Hero got stuck on top of the Canal Turn fence, the subsequent melee put most of the field out of contention.
Just three horses had finished in 1913 and the same number also finished in 1951 – that came about due to 11 of the 36 contestants falling at the first fence, subsequent accidents meant that only six started out on the second circuit and there were three finishers.
The most famous pile-up came in the 1967 National when the rider-less Popham Down stopped most of the field in their tracks at the 23rd fence and outsider and trailer Foinavon circumvented the entire mess and had gained an unassailable lead by the time the rest of the field got going again – 17 eventually finishing. The fence that caused all the trouble is now named after the 1967 winner. These days, the latest Grand National odds reflect the fact that the course isn't as tough as it used to be.
Since 1980 there have only been five heavy ground Nationals and it is generally those which have seen the numbers of finishers in single figures. In 1980 only four got home, with Ben Nevis winning a gruelling race. The same number finished in 2001, when after a Foinavon like incident at Bechers the field was dramatically reduced – Paddy's Return played the Popham Down role this time to take out at least 10 runners and the conditions put paid to nearly all the rest. Red Marauder and Smarty were the only two horses to negotiate the 30 fences at the first attempt, but both Blowing Wind and Papillion were remounted after coming to grief at the 19th.
In the other post 1980 heavy ground Nationals the number of finishers has been 14-6-6 and those looking for tips for Grand National should remember this.
The highest number of finishers saw 23 complete in 1984 when Hallo Dandy led the field home, with 40 having set out. There were 22 finishers from 47 starters in 1963 and 22 from 40 in both 1987 and 1992, the going being good and good-to-soft on those occasions.
The last four Nationals have all seen double figure numbers completing from the maximum field allowed these days -40- and given the same sort of going you would expect a similar number this year.
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