Who is Richard Hannon Snr.?

When he announced his retirement from the training ranks in November, 2013, Richard Hannon Snr. had just enjoyed his most successful season ever, numerically and financially, with 235 winners and over £4.5 million in prize money. In fact, his impressive seasonal tally not only made him Champion Trainer for the third time in four years, and the fourth time in all, but took his career total to 4,145 winners, thereby setting a record for the number of British winners for any trainer, Flat or Jumps.

Born on May 30, 1945, Hannon became a a trainer in his own right in 1970, when he took over the licence from his father, Harry, at a small, rented yard in East Everleigh on the edge of Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire. In an effort to expand his string, Hannon advertised for yearlings that had gone unsold at public auction. One of the horses he acquired in this way was Mon Fils, bred and owned by Brenda Davis, who won the 2,000 Guineas in 1973 at odds of 50/1. Hannon reportedly managed to secure 200/1 about the Sheshoon colt and used the proceeds of his winning bet – £35,000, or over £425,000 by modern standards – to fund the purchase of the East Everleigh yard.

Aside from Mon Fils, Hannon would win the 2,000 Guineas twice more, with Don’t Forget Me in 1987 and Tirol in 1990, and the 1,000 Guineas once, with Sky Lantern in 2013. He also saddled 32 winners at Royal Ascot, notably including Shalford and Bold Edge in the Cork and Orrery Stakes, now the Diamond Jubilee Stakes, in 1992 and 1999, respectively.

Was Outsider Caughoo’s Grand National win legitimate?

Nowadays, the Grand National at Aintree attracts an estimated television audience of 500 million, worldwide, so the idea of anyone ‘cheating’ in plain view of dozens of television cameras is, frankly, ludicrous. However, in the days before regular television coverage of the National, which began in 1960, that was the accusation levelled against the 1947 winner Caughoo or, more particularly, his jockey Edward ‘Eddie’ Dempsey.

The 1947 Grand National has the distinction of being the first to be run on a Saturday, but heavy rain, followed by thick fog, rendered Aintree almost unraceable and limited visibility from the grandstands to the final two obstacles. Nevertheless, the second largest field in Grand National history, 57, set off and, ten minutes later, Caughoo, an unconsidered 100/1 outsider, emerged from the gloom twenty lengths ahead of his nearest pursuer.

Daniel McCann, jockey of the second horse home, Lough Conn, later accused Dempsey of having concealed Caughoo in the fog, near the twelfth fence, after which the runners cross the Melling Road, near the Anchor Bridge, and only rejoining the race as the remainder of the field re-entered the ‘racecourse proper’ on the second circuit. Dempsey flatly denied any such notion and successfully defended legal action by McCann, by his victory was dogged by suspicion for decades afterwards.

Long after his retirement from the saddle in 1950, Dempsey ‘confessed’ to a tabloid newspaper that he had, in fact, hidden Caughoo behind a haystack and rejoined the field on the second circuit, as McCann had alleged. However, in the absence of any haystacks at Aintree that day, it is easy to dismiss his later account as whimsical. Furthermore, in 1999, the ‘Irish Mirror’ claimed to have photographs in its possession that clearly showed Becher’s Brook – which is the sixth and twenty-second fence on the National Course – on two separate occasions, thereby disproving any allegations of skulduggery.

Which was the longest-priced winner of the Grand National?

The Grand National is often dubbed ‘the ultimate test for horse and rider’ and although the celebrated steeplechase has not – or, at least, not yet – thrown up the longest-priced winner in the history of British horse racing it has produced its fair share of ‘shock’ victories. All told, in 172 renewals, five winners of the Aintree marathon have been returned at treble-figure odds, all at 100/1, and collectively they share the distinction of being the longest-priced winner.

Granted that the five 100/1 chances represent less than 3% of Grand National winners, it would be reasonable to assume that they are few and far between. However, while the first 100/1 winner, Tipperary Tim did not pop up until 1928 – that is, the eighty-seventh renewal of the Grand National – he was followed in the very next year by the second, Gregalach. Another 19 years later, in 1947, in the first Grand National run on a Saturday, Eddie Dempsey steered Caughoo to a 20-length success and 20 years later still, in 1967, Foinavon became arguably the most famous, and fortuitous, Grand National winner of them all after avoiding a melee at the fence that now bears his name. Over four decades later, in 2009, Mon Mome completed the quintet of 100/1 winners, but there appeared no fluke about his 12-length victory over 2008 winner Comply Or Die.

Do outsiders often win the Grand National?

The Grand National in variably attracts whole host of once-a-year punters dreaming of striking it rich by backing an outsider at hugely rewarding odds. However, such wishful thinkers would do well to remember that, in 172 runnings of the celebrated steeplechase, just five horses have won at treble figure odds. The last two 100/1 winners were Mon Mome (2009) and Foinavon (1967), while further back in Grand National history Caughoo (1947), Gregalach (1929) and Tipperary Tim (1928) also scored equally unlikely victories. It is also worth noting that Tipperary Tim and Foinavon took advantage of mid-race pile-ups and Gregalach and Caughoo were part of the two largest Grand National fields in history, 66 and 57, respectively.

Four horses have won the Grand National at odds of 66/1, the last being Auroras Encore (2013), while the last of the four 50/1 winners was Last Suspect (1985). Seven horses have prevailed at odds of 40/1, the last being Royal Athlete (1995) but, interestingly, all four 33/1 winners, the last of which was Rule The World (2016), have been victorious since the turn of the twenty-first century. So, percentage-wise, in 172 runnings of the Grand National, just 24 winners, or roughly 14%, have been returned at odds of 33/1 or longer. If we also consider 25/1 winners, of which Many Clouds (2015) was the last of fourteen, the number of winners increases to 38, or roughly 22%.

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