The 2013 Grand National

This weekend, the 2013 Grand National race will be held at Aintree. The sometimes controversial competition (equine deaths are common, and you can read CNN’s interesting article here) has a long history, and British Pathé has footage dating back to 1919.

One of the most famous races is that of 1967, which included perhaps the most notorious pile up 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, and no owner or trainer was in the winner’s enclosure to congratulate them!

Explore a chronological list of British Pathé’s Grand National collection here.

The 1919 Grand National.
The 1919 Grand National.

www.britishpathe.com

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This Week’s Anniversaries and News

The Rolling Stones have announced that they will be returning to Hyde Park in the summer for the first time in 44 years. The last time they performed there it was 1969, and Pathé’s coverage of the concert can be viewed here.

In other news…

The Korean War

Tensions between North Korea and its Southern neighbour continue. British Pathé footage of the Korean War may be of relevance.

UK now made up of 7 classes

New research has revealed that the “working”, “middle”, and “upper class” model of British society is no longer adequate and that in fact there are 7 classes in Britain today. The British Pathé archive highlights class differences during the Twentieth Century. Some of the most interesting films can be viewed here.

Key anniversaries…

Martin Luther King  (4 April)

Today: It is 45 years since the great civil rights activist Martin Luther King was assassinated in Memphis in 1968. The British Pathé newsreel covering his death is here.

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Grand National  (6 April)

The 2013 Grand National will be held this weekend. British Pathé has coverage of many Grand Nationals from as early as 1919, including Foinavon’s famous victory in 1967. Explore the collection via this link.

Jim Clark Killed  (7 April)

 45 years: Jim Clark died on the Hockenheim Circuit in Germany in 1968. The newsreel announcing his death is  here.

www.britishpathe.com

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!