There are few sporting events that capture the attention of the British public quite like the Grand National. Every year, friends gather round to watch the big race and tip who they think will win the ultimate test that horse racing has to offer.
For jockeys, winning the Grand National is a dream they all share, and some have even been talented enough to win the race on more than one occasion. With the 2020 race just around the corner, and Aintree Grand National betting beginning to hot up, we’ve put together a list of five jockeys who have won horse racing’s biggest prize multiple times.
Brian Fletcher was best known for riding the famous Red Rum to victory in two successive Grand Nationals – the 1973 and 1974 races. But Fletcher’s first success in the Aintree showpiece came five years earlier, when he rode Red Alligator to a first-place finish in 1968. The Englishman could have sealed a fourth triumph, and a third in a row on Red Rum, in 1975, but finished second to L’Escargot, ridden by Tommy Carberry.
Fletcher sadly passed away in 2017 at the age of 69, but his legacy as one of the Grand National’s most successful jockeys will endure forever.
Belfast native Richard Dunwoody’s first victory in the Grand National came in 1986 on West Tip, and eight years later the jockey sealed his second Aintree success, riding the 16/1 shot Miinnehoma to a first-place finish in 1994. Dunwoody enjoyed a fine career which also included memorable wins at the Cheltenham Festival in the Gold Cup and the Champion Hurdle.
Dunwoody retired in 1999, and got his dancing shoes on in 2007 when he took part in the hit BBC show Strictly Come Dancing. It’s fair to say Dunwoody should have stuck to racing, as he was eliminated in the second week of the show!
Ruby Walsh is a name synonymous with success in horse racing, and he first won the Grand National at the first first attempt in 2000 on Papillon, and repeated the trick five years later on Hedgehunter. The Irish jockey is one of the sport’s all-time greats, and is perhaps best known for his success riding Kauto Star to four victories in the King George VI Chase, and two wins in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
But Walsh has always held a special fondness for the Grand National, and may yet hold aspirations of winning a third before his career comes to an end.
English jockey Leighton Aspell recently announced his retirement from the sport, and his crowning moment came when he won two successive Grand Nationals, on Pineau De Re in 2014 and Many Clouds in 2015. The 2014 success was a moment to savour for Aspell as he overcame more fancied jockeys like Richard Johnson and Tony McCoy to win the Aintree showpiece.
Aspell’s achievement of winning the Grand National two years successively on two different horses is a rare one and that’s why he must go down in the pantheon of great jockeys.
After the success of Tiger Roll in the last two Grand Nationals, jockey Davy Russell has joined this elite band of riders who have tasted glory at Aintree on more than one occasion. The Gordon Elliott-trained horse has been a sensation over the past two years, and is all set for a crack at making it three in a row in this year’s race.
Russell has demonstrated all the qualities needed to be a top jockey, and fully deserves his place among the list of Grand National greats.
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