Greys and the Grand National
After being cancelled last year thanks to the rapid spread of the coronavirus, the Grand National is making its long-awaited return this month. Millions of punters around the globe will be hunting vigorously to find the best Grand National odds. However, those who know more about the prestigious old race, will be well aware that they need to steer well clear of grey horses when studying the form guides.
It’s fair to say that grey horses and the historic Aintree Racecourse don’t go hand in hand with one another. In fact, in the race’s rich history, which officially dates the whole way back to 1839, just a mere three grey horses have won the race.
It’s hard to fathom how, in over 180 years of the race, just three grey horse have gone on to win. We don’t have the resources to go back through every edition of the National and count how many greys have entered. However, we can guarantee that it’s a lot, and with a return of just three winners, it’s mind-boggling.
Every year, there are some ridiculous theories doing the rounds as to why grey horses don’t win the Grand National. But we’ll leave that down to you to decipher whether they are true or not. This year, Bristol De Mai, trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies, is the most likely grey winner at 20/1. The 10-year-old has raced at Aintree before, but this will be his first crack at the Grand National. So, as Bristol De Mai looks to break the curse, let’s take a look at three grey horses who have won the National in the past.
The Lamb (1868 and 1871)
It took 30 editions of the Grand Nation before a grey finally won the race. However, like London buses, two pretty much came at once. The Lamb was a 9/1 shot when he first won the race in 1868. George Ede rode the six-year-old to glory for trainer Ben Land. And, after successive victories for The Colonel in 1869 and 1870, The Lamb was back to his old tricks at Aintree in 1871. Now trained by Chris Green and ridden by Tommy Pickernell, the nine-year-old won at 11/2.
Nicolaus Silver (1961)
Amazingly, another grey horse didn’t win the Grand Nation for a further 90 years. That drought was ended in 1961 by the aptly named Nicolaus Silver. Trained by Fred Rimell and ridden by Bobby Beasley, the nine-year-old won the race as a 28/1 outsider. It was a second National victory for trainer Rimell and after further successes with Gay Trip (1970) and Rag Trade (1796), the Englishman had gained the nickname ‘Mr Grand National’ by the time he retired.
Neptune Collonges (2012)
There was a half-century wait before another grey won the National, and it was Neptune Collonges who etched his name into the history books in 2012. It was a dramatic finish as Neptune Collonges and Sunnyhillboy were neck-and-neck on the line. However, a photo finish proved that the grey, who was a 33/1 shot, just got his nose over the line first for trainer Paul Nicholls and jockey Daryl Jacob. Still to this day, it is the closest National finish in history.