Past Masters of the Grand National

Ruby Walsh

The Grand National is one of the most difficult races in all of the world horseracing, if not the most difficult. Naturally, it is the names of the horses that endure longest in the memories of spectators.

Often times this is because of a one-time winner with an eye-catching name like Comply Or Die. But then also it is because the horse is a bona fide star, with Red Rum being the most notable in that respect.

However, don’t forget about the jockeys within the racing, as it is they that guide the horses around the two laps of the treacherous track. This is a list of the top Grand National jockeys, amongst other statistics.

Red Rum is the only horse to have won three times, a record that the great Tiger Roll looked set to match in 2020 before the race was cancelled. Only the very best come out on top at the Grand National. As a result, it makes for interesting reading to check out information on the past jockeys of the Grand National.

Legendary Jockeys of The Grand National

Tom Olliver

Tom Olliver is a very interesting past jockey in the National. Born in 1812, Tom raced in the very first Grand National and went on to ride in 19 races. He amazingly won three and was runner up in three more.

His outstanding record of running in 19 races stood for an amazing length of time. Now it is Richard Johnson that holds the record having ridden in the race 21 times.

What also makes Tom Olliver very interesting is that he spent a considerable amount of time partying and in the company of women. His notoriety was compounded by a spell served within a debtors’ prison.

George Stevens

While it is relatively easy to find considerable amounts of internet information on Tom Olliver, George Steven is relatively unheralded, which is greatly surprising considering his resume in the Grand National.

George Stevens still holds the jockey record by winning five Nationals and won two of them back to back. The very last race he won came in 1870 when he rode The Colonel to success at Aintree in 1870.

Tragically, George Stevens passed away the following year in a freak accident and at the young age of just 37. Who knows how many more races he could have won.

Bruce Hobbs

National jockeys are most commonly born within the British Isles, yet Bruce Hobbs hailed all the way from Long Island, New York. He is noted in the history books because he was the youngest winner in National folklore, racing to victory at just 17 years of age in 1938.

At the end of that year, he had achieved an unthinkable, thirty-five wins. Sadly his career came to a crushing end when he broke his spine in a fall later in the year following his National win.

Fortunately for Bruce Hobbs, he recovered to the extent that he could sit in a saddle again.

Brian Fletcher

Brian Fletcher achieved major recognition when he won his first National in 1968, riding Red Alligator. However, he would go later go on to ride the legendary Red Rum, in turn, building his legend further still.

Brian Fletcher is the jockey that rode Red Rum to back-to-back victories in 1973 and 1974. However, there was no love lost between Fletcher and the trainer of Red Rum. In fact, they disliked each other deeply, so even though he had ridden back to back victories.

Ginger McCain famously sacked him in 1975 and he never rode Red Rum again.

Ruby Walsh

Moving on to the modern era, Ruby Walsh is the most successful jockey of recent times. The Irish-born rider won his first Grand National in 2000, and in his first outing, too. Five years later he switched from Papillon to ride Hedgehunter to victory in 2005.

There’s no doubt that Ruby Walsh is right up there with the very best jockeys in history. His outstanding career has seen him win twice, come second once, third once and fourth twice. That makes him a true Legend of Aintree.




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