Foinavon

Grand National Liverpool 8 April 1967
Coral

The 1967 Grand National will forever be known as the Foinavon National however it was really the bookies National because they won hands down.

Liverpool race course is a left handed National Hunt course home since 1839 of the famous Aintree Grand National Steeplechase.

The Grand National is 4 1/2 miles test of horse and man with some of the toughest fences of any course anywhere creating a spectacle that is watched by race fans all over the globe.

Some outstanding horses have won this race from the indomitable Red Rum who won this tough race 3 times to Golden Miller one of the most famous racers of all time. But today we are talking about one of the most unlikeliest winners of all time Foinavon.

Foinavon had been trained in Ireland and was owned by Anne Duchess of Westminster who also happened to own Arkle. However Foinavon was no Arkle he was so laid back that having fallen over one fence he stayed down and nonchalantly chewed grass. Not long after this he was sold. Moving to England he fared no better finishing last in the Cheltenham Gold Cup with odds of 500-1 a fair reflection of his chances.

So to enter him for the Grand National seemed a strange decision to make but this is how history is made. Another outsider in this race was Popham Down who was a 66-1 outsider having managed to jump the first fence Popham Down was unlucky enough to land on another faller and down he went. He was soon back on his feet and without his rider was off in pursuit of the pack, which was more than could be said of Foinavon who was languishing towards the back of the field following the favourite Honey End who's jockey Josh Gifford was pacing his mount and not getting carried away by the frantic early pace.

The race leaders at this stage were Castle Falls, Princeful together with Kapeno, Rondetto and Rutherfords all these horses had just swept over Bechers and were heading for the 23rd and smallest fence on the course, before taking on the tricky Canal Turn. At this point Popham Down proceeded to write his and Foinavon's name's into racing folklore. Having been jumping well without a jockey Popham Down began to tire galloping along towards the 23rd on the inside he decided he's had enough and veered dramatically to his right, slamming into Rutherfords unseating it's rider Johnny Leech, Limeking went down looking for all the world as though he'd been shot, his jockey Pat Buckley gamely tried to get the horse to it's feet while all around them other horses hit the ground and soon horse after horse had piled into the melee, loose horses were running up and down the fence preventing others from jumping and the whole race ground to a halt.

Red Alligator

Josh Gifford, Honey End, Red Alligator,

John Buckingham on Foinavon saw his moment he steered Foinavon to the right the outside of the course and found a small gap in the fence and they were through, being the first horse over the 23rd Foinavon soon found himself with a considerable lead, Josh Gifford managed to turn Honey End around and jumped him at the fence again, while Red Alligator's jockey Brian Fletcher managed to remount and they both gave chase by this time Foinavon was 30 lengths clear Josh Gifford set off in hot pursuit but Foinavon some how managed to stay in the lead and seal his name forever in the annals of racing history.

To this day this race is still known as the Foinavon national but I know lots of bookies who were on the course that day and they still refer to it as the bookies day they were the only ones cheering Foinavon home