Which was the oldest horse to win the Grand National?

Since 2012, to qualify for the Grand National, a horse must be a minimum of seven years old. However, as any Grand National ‘anorak’ will tell you, the last six-year-old to win the world famous steeplechase was Aly Sloper, who did so in the last renewal before the race was officially suspended in 1916, 1917 and 1918 during World War I. In other words, from a punting perspective the latest change to the minimum age – which was, in fairness, made in the name of safety rather than anything else – made little or no difference to the complexion of the race.

At the other end of the scale, other qualification criteria aside, the Grand National does not have, and has never had, an upper age limit for horses eligible to participate. Consequently, even in recent years, winners at 11 or 12 years of age are by no means unheard of; in fact, since 2000, Red Marauder (2001), Ballabriggs (2011), Neptune Collonges (2012) and Auroras Encore (2013) were all 11-year-olds, while Amberleigh House (2004) was a 12-year-old.

We need to look further back in the history books to find the last ‘teenager’ to win the Grand National, 13-year-old Sergeant Murphy in 1923, and way, way back to the pioneering days of 1853, long before official returns for the race, to find the oldest winner ever. The horse in question was the 15-year-old Peter Simple, who had already won the 1849 Grand National as an 11-year-old, but failed to complete the course in 1850, 1851 and 1852, having refused at the first fence, pulled up and fallen heavily at the fence now known as ‘Foinavon’. Trained and ridden by Tom Olliver, the old boy narrowly avoided running out at Becher’s Brook on the first circuit, but regained the lead early on the second circuit and was never headed, eventually winning by 4 lengths.