Horse Racing

Grand National Top 5′s: Top 5 National Weight Carrying Performances

Many armchair punters might not realise that the Grand National is actually a Handicap race meaning the best rated horses are allotted more weight to carry than the lower rated horses – the idea being (in theory anyway) that all horses have an equal chance to win.

1: Red Rum (1975)

Red Rum’s attempt at a third consecutive win was thwarted in 1975 by L’Escargot.

The great horse finished runner-up on this occasion as he did in 1976 before taking his third National in 1977.

But from a form perspective this was an incredible performance, possibly his best ever. With 12-stone he was top-weighted and, with just one exception, carried a full 10lb more than any other horse in the line-up.

He was giving 11lb to the eventual winner, L’Escargot who had already been placed in two Grand Nationals and had won the Cheltenham Gold Cup twice.

He was also giving 25lb to third placed Spanish Steps who had previously won at the Cheltenham Festival, had taken the Hennessy Gold Cup and was placed in both the King George and placed in Cheltenham Gold Cup.

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2: Crisp (1973)

Like Red Rum, Crisp makes this list despite not winning the race. But conceding 23lb to Red Rum in the 1973 Grand National and running him ragged for all but the final 100 yards of the marathon he has to rank highly in anyone’s Grand National favourite moments.

Allotted 12st because of high handicap mark incurred by winning the two-mile Champion Chase in 1971 very few people expected Crisp to see out the Grand National journey, particularly as he faded badly in the 1972 Gold Cup.

But the horse who started his career in his Australian homeland – where he was called the Black Kangaroo – stayed well enough to give mountains of weight to a horse that would become recognised as the greatest Grand National horse ever yet only be beaten three-parts of a length in course record time.

3: Jerry M (1912)

A welterweight 12st 7lb has been carried to National victory by four horses: Poethlyn (1919), Jerry M (1912), Manifesto (1899) and Cloister (1893).

Their achievements will never be matched or bettered as the top-weight allotted to any horse was lowered to 12st in 1956.

In carrying 12st 7lb Jerry M shouldered 10lb more than any other hose in the field and notably he was ridden by Ernie Piggott grandfather of 11-time British flat champion jockey Lester Piggott.

4: Corbiere (1984)

Since Poethlyn’s 1919 National win only four horses triumphed with 12st or more – Red Rum (12st in 1974), Reynoldstown (12st 2lb in 1936), Golden Miller (12st 2lb in 1934) and Sprig (12st 4lb in 1927).

Amongst those that gave the 12st burden a great go was 1983 Grand National winner Corbiere. His attempt to win the race in consecutive years was thwarted by Hallo Dandy (who was in receipt of 26lb) and Greasepaint.

Corbiere made three more attempts at the National finishing third again in 1985, falling in 1986 and finishing 12th in 1987.

5: Many Clouds (2015)

By 2002 the automatic top-weight was reduced to 11st 12lb and was brought down again to 11st 10lb in 2009. So when Many Clouds took the race carrying 11st 9lb in 2015 he was wearing the No.2 saddle cloth with only 2014 Gold Cup winner Lord Windermere ahead of him in the handicap.

He gave at least 16lb to the horses which filled the frame behind him. A classy horse who had won that season’s Hennessy Gold Cup and finished sixth in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, he won nine of his 18 chase starts and may have taken a second Grand National if it were not for him collapsing and dying after the post in his final start at Cheltenham – which he won.