We’re living in surreal times right now so it’s kind of fitting that we find ourselves looking for The GOAT in a Horse Race!
So with the help of CGI and a ZX Spectrum we try to answer the question
“Who is the Greatest of All Time?”
ITV are going to simulate, to stimulate, our sporting senses from 5pm on Saturday the 4th April; to give us a race that the evil Coronavirus has cruelly taken away, like Devon Lochs balance back in ‘56 and a race which for the first time ever transcends over a century of history making superstars.
181 years ago, Lottery (40/1) strolled home in the first ever running of what was then known as the Grand Liverpool Steeplechase, with a leisurely time of 14 minutes you’d have to be very brave or optimistic to back the official inaugural winner in tomorrow’s Race of Champions. However, the course was, of course, very different to what we know today including sections running out into open countryside
29 years later saw the race’s first ever grey winner, “The Lamb” notching its first title of two. A Lamb to the Slaughter, at 16/1 - we don’t think so.
If you’re looking for a strong place bet, you might not go far wrong with Manifesto (10/1), winner back in 1897 and 1899. Manifesto ran the National 8 times, won it twice and came third 3 times. If only our political parties had a Manifesto as consistent with this 19th Century Legend.
Talking of which, the great Party Politics Romped to victory in 1992 at 14/1. He’s down at 7/1 for the big race, but he does know the way round!
1904 saw the first Irish winner, Moifaa who was reputedly shipwrecked on a voyage to New Zealand, at 33/1 we don’t think you’ll uncover any hidden treasure with this stranded Irelander.
If you’re looking for Pedigree outside of the horse, look no further than Lester’s Granddad Ernie Piggott who rode Jerry M to victory in 1912, Ernie might have been the fastest Milkman in the West but at 33/1 we don’t believe we’ll see Jerry M creaming the field.
1920 saw only 4 finishers in a race ran in heavy rain, we’re not too sure the Virtual world will throw enough rain at the field to help Troytown steal the plaudits at 33/1
Golden Miller became the only horse to ever win the Cheltenham Gold Cup and Grand National back in 1934, couple that with an impressive time of 9mins 20 seconds whilst carrying 12 stone and you can see why Miller could be Golden at 10/1
The following 2 years saw Reynoldstown clinch back to back Nationals, for that reason alone it would explain the shorter odds of 10/1. Owned, Trained and Rode by the Furlong family, it was certainly ridden in the stars back in 1935.
1938 saw the only horse to win Nationals either side of the Atlantic, the aptly named pre-war Battleship certainly has a battle on its hands to repeat the feat of 1938 but 16/1 may tempt some into action.
20/1 seems an unattractive price to us for the 2nd Grey to ever win the big one, Nicolaus Silver. Probably better off putting your Sterling somewhere else, but you never know.
Jay Trump like his namesake made waves over in its native USA before nipping over here to reign superior in 1965, 20/1 might entice a few speculators in the place market.
Known as the luckiest horse to ever win the National, Foinavon was in 22nd place at the 23rd Fence when a mass pile-up flattened everyone before him, leaving him 15 lengths clear of the chasing pack. He held on to win at 100/1, at 25/1 this time around he would need a virtual disaster to repeat his veering heroics 53 years on. Maybe his own fence might help him out?
1969 and 1970 saw Highland Wedding (20/1) and Gay Trip (25/1) win the top prizes respectively. Highland Wedding doesn’t throw up anything too remarkable but Gay Trip was one of very few horses to win carrying top weight.
The 1973-77 era needs no introduction as the one and only legend of Horse Racing, Red Rum picked up 3 victories and 2 runner-ups. 3/1 says it all but maybe the ZX Spectrum might have its own problematic virus when defining the winner at 5:15 on Saturday, to ruin the hope and dreams of the masses. Win or Lose, Red Rum will probably remain the Greatest to many.
If there’s ever been a case of right place wrong time, L’Escargot epitomises this. 3rd, 2nd then finally beating Red Rum in ‘75, if this beauty had been around in a different era we might also be raving about the Super Snail of History. 12/1 is incredibly generous for such incredible quality.
Living within the shadow of the shadow is Rag Trade, who also beat the best there’s possibly ever been but not the first one to do so! With luck like that you’d want longer odds than 14/1 - but still in with a shout just like in 1976.
Aldaniti and Bob Champion wrote their own history in 1981 and touched the hearts of the nation. Even though it’s not really real if the computer has a heart, if it did, then 25/1 suddenly becomes great value. If Aldaniti romps home on Saturday there could see some tears flowing from anyone who’s familiar with their legendary story.
Probably the least attractively named horse in the race, Grittar is one with genuine quality even with the oldest ever winning jockey on board! Smashing the then record in 9mins 12 seconds this horse has speed on it’s side. Slightly short at 8/1 but with the experienced pilot and vitesse in it’s legs it might be worth a shout.
The following year saw the first winner for a female trainer, Jenny Pitman’s Corbiere a very popular winner, at 25/1 though, we don’t think sentiment should let you get carried away.
With 1 win, 2 4th’s and a 2nd in 4 years between 1986 and 89, West Tip is probably the best value for a place in the race at 25/1. Did have a fall in 1985 so you’d need to hope the ZX Spectrum ignores that glitch when backing this legend of Aintree.
Rhyme ‘n’ Reason, came, conquered and left in style in 1988, it’s only appearance at the National. The time wasn’t particularly fast either and this gives Rhyme and Reason to the 33/1 odds.
The race has been dubbed by many as Red Rum vs Tiger Roll. But he enigma and real threat to what’s been likened to bringing Usain Bolt out of retirement to race in a historical 100m sprint versus the legend Carl Johnson, is Mr Frisk. So frisky you wouldn’t let your wife ride him. Fastest winner of all time, of course many factors influence the race on any given day but you don’t get a better barometer than finishing time. At 5/1, if anyone can trouble the favourite two it’s this Speedster.
The phrase “your name’s on the trophy” couldn’t be more literal than when Seagram won the Seagram Grand National in 1991, however this year isn’t sponsored by Seagram, or anyone in fact, so 20/1 represents realistic value here.
Another speedster who nearly cracked the 9min barrier was Rough Quest, who knows how the computer will compute this but if time has anything to do with it, 11/2 might be good value.
Red Marauder defied it’s pretentious but popular name in a very slow time over 11 minutes, any horse winning in Liverpool with Red in its name goes down well with at least 50% of the City, if Saturday’s winner is more Marauder than Rum we’d all be very surprised at 33/1
Monty’s Pass win for the owner of a Bingo Hall was the highlight of 2003, a great jumper but nothing more to suggest the apple cart will be flipped on its head come Saturday. 16/1 is about right Monty me old Mucker!
They used to say you need to jump well to win the National - well before they lowered the fences anyway. 2004 saw jumping supremo Amberleigh House romp home, not the fastest but could could do a back flip in a field of treacle. Should the computer give ultra heavy ground, Amberleigh House might surprise a few at 14/1
2005 saw a real class act in Hedgehunter win after falling at the final fence the year before. To prove that going close 2 years running was no fluke Hedgehunter finished 2nd the year after too, as well as coming 2nd in the Gold Cup. Were it not for that last fence mishap we may have been talking about the horse that nearly emulated Red Run in 2006. 13/1 is very generous odds in the place market here.
Steelers Wheel’s must have been ringing in the ears of Silver Birch’s owners as it fell off the Chair leaving the clowns to the left and jokers to the right laughing at its expense in 2006. However they weren’t laughing in 2007 when Silver Birch crossed the finishing line in 1st place in a respectable 9mins 13s. 17/2 is probably about right this time around.
Comply or Die cost William Hill £7million in 2008, so large was the hit they burdened him with another stone in 2009 and he still came 2nd, an absolute warrior of a horse and will be there or thereabouts at the death and he may well comply with this backers demands at 17/2
Mon Mome was the longest winner since lucky old Foinavon at 100/1 but although the time wasn’t electric the win wasn’t a fluke, 20/1 reflects the situation I’m afraid My Child
Champion Jockey A P McCoy had ridden his fair share of losers before he finally got it right on Don’t Push It, if the Spectrum gives credence to Jockey’s then 13/2 could be a steal here, it also finished in a rapid 9mins 4s, you could argue the price could be shorter but I wouldn’t push it if I were you.
Ballabriggs was whipped so hard in 2011 he needed oxygen after the race, his jockey banned for 5 days and given a new career in bondage. The time was fast… 9mins 1s, fast enough to get the bookies worried into the short price of 6/1 this time around. Does trauma exist in the virtual world, guess we’ll find out.
We see the 3rd Grey to win Grand National also included with Neptune Collonges, a sceptic may think the organisers had an affinity for grey horses but the fact is they have won the greatest race on earth and this equine is named after a God, well partially anyway. 8/1 on offer for any oceanic lovers.
Something us Brits are familiar with; Many Clouds became only the 2nd horse to break that prestigious 9 minute barrier with a time of 8mins 56s as recently as 2015, rightly forcing the odds down to a measly 6/1. Sadly today Many Clouds is amongst the clouds passing away in 2017. The astute amongst you may consider 6/1 as a reasonable bet for this historic racing snake.
Rule the World did exactly that in 2016, with today’s standards so high any recent winner could probably go close in this race so 20/1 isn’t to be sniffed at and if Donald Trump can rule the world… well….
If the theme for recent winners appears to be speed then One For Arthur didn’t let anyone down, only 3 seconds from that 9min barrier he stormed home in 2017. 7/1 isn’t the bargain of the century but Arthur is making a comeback in boys names so who knows if 2020 is his year.
Last but certainly not least, today’s hero, the furore behind him were we running this race for real would be off the charts. The one and only Tiger Roll, we wouldn’t encourage looking up what this means in the Urban Dictionary but needless to say it probably doesn’t reflect the ability of this true legend in the making. We have him at 4/1 so let’s relax, open a beer in the comfort of our homes because there’s nowhere else to go and see if the Eye of the Tiger can create History in the most surreal of ways.