Grand National Disasters

We all like a good bet at the Grand National, even if we have no interest in horse racing! Now in its 171st year, many of us will be traipsing down to our local bookies on Saturday morning to put money on a horse because we either like the name of it or we have an inkling it is going to make us lots of money…

Our archive has a lot of Grand National footage but there are certainly some films which fifty/sixty years on are still exciting and excruciating to watch. Take the 1956 Grand National where the late Dick Francis gallops towards the finish line on HM Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother’s horse, Devon Loch. Dick  is just yards away from the finish line and is undoubtedly about to win the race when suddenly Devon inexplicably jumps up and falls to his stomach. It was as if he thought there was a fence in front of him! ESB who was behind, swoops past Devon Loch who is still scrambling to his feet and wins the Grand National. The Queen Mother famously said, “Oh that’s racing” and Dick Francis retired from racing the following year and became a crime writer!

The 1967 Grand National was the scene of one the most notorious pile ups in Grand National history . Foinavon had odds of 100/1 to win the race. Even his owner Cyril Watkins  did not both to attend Aintree because the chances of a win were wholly improbable. As expected, Foinavon did not play a competitive part in the race until at the 23rd fence, a loose horse cut across the riders causing all the horses to either fall, unseat their riders or refuse to jump. Foinavon and his rider, John Buckingham, are so far behind that they manage to bypass the shambles, jump the fence and take a lead of 200 yards. Although most riders were able to remount, no one managed to quite catch up with horse and rider. Sadly no owner or trainer were in the winners enclosure to congratulate them!

Author: British Pathé

British Pathé holds the world's finest newsreel collection. We also represent the Reuters historical collection. All 220K films are viewable on our website.

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