JC / Railbird

Grand National

Rider’s Eye View

The late John Oaksey’s bittersweet account of the 1963 Grand National:

It was, I think, setting out on the second circuit that the thought of victory first entered my head. Carrickbeg had long since made the fences look and feel like hurdles and, after jumping the water well behind, he moved up outside his field turning away from the stands with a surge of power that warmed my heart.

At Becher’s second time round he made one of the few mistakes I remember, and for an awful moment his big brave head seemed to rest on the quarters of another horse stumbling in front of us. But then, somehow, we were clear, and at the Canal Turn, as Ayala blundered badly, Carrickbeg nipped inside him like a polo pony.

Now there were only a handful ahead, and as the fences flicked by we pulled them back, one by one, until four from home, when for the first and only time in this hectic, wonderful race, fate took a hand against us.

He was denied the win. “I know who you are,” a man said to him on the street years later, “you’re the b—– who got tired before his ‘oss“.

Tip from Beyond the Grave

Filed under How About That?

Danny Shea, 66, knew he would not live to see the [Grand National] as he was terminally ill with cancer, but made sure his wife and family bet on 100-1 Mon Mome, winning £20,310 at the bookies.

The offshore rigger, who died of kidney cancer five months ago, had a gut feeling that the horse would win after he was impressed by it’s performance in last year’s event.

Said Shea’s amazed widow of her late husband’s longshot score, “He was generally pretty useless at picking winners.”

The race (beware, many falls, Mon Mome may have won partly by attrition):

The flap after? Over tactlessness and teeth.