The Grand National and Aintree 1960-1969


1968 - Red Alligators year 

Leading Fancies 

Somehow Aintree survived. The County and City Councils now struggled with the thorny question of what to do with Aintree and Mrs Topham just about kept the racecourse going. With minimum investment, the racecourse looked tired and jaded, deserted and unloved for three hundred and sixty two days of the year (sixty four if you included the first two days of the Spring meeting). There was however another bumper entry for this, the fourth "Last Grand National" and there was another large turn out of forty five including seven runners from Ireland. Heading the market were three horses who could all claim to have been desperately unlucky twelve months earlier, DIFFERENT CLASS, RUTHERFORDS and RED ALLIGATOR as all three had been prominent when the carnage at the twenty third fence began. Owned by Hollywood heart throb Gregory Peck, DIFFERENT CLASS had started the season with two disappointing efforts but had then won a competitive amateur riders race at Sandown followed by a bloodless win in the two runner Coventry Chase where he beat National rival SOME SLIPPER. RUTHERFORDS was without a win all season but had run credibly in the Great Yorkshire Chase, leading when brought down at the twenty third in 1967 he had been able to continue finishing down the field whilst RED ALLIGATOR had run on to finish third. Convinced he would have won that day, young Brian Fletcher, at twenty three one of the youngest riders in the race was hoping for better luck this year. Other fancied riders included a glut of Aintree newcomers all with winning form in their recent races, MOIDORES TOKEN was unbeaten in three starts this season, FRENCH KILT had won his last three starts as had leading Irish fancy (in what was a pretty weak challenge from the emerald isle this year), Thyestes Chase winner GREAT LARK. The lightly raced MASTER OF ART and REGAL JOHN, who had won the Whitbread Trial at Ascot, considered to be the best form in the race also came in for much support. There was considerable media interest in the antics of the "Galloping Grandfather" , Tim Durant, now in his sixty eighth year and having his third consecutive ride in the race. This year his partner was the Irish trained HIGHLANDIE, who had been off the course for seven months before his prep race when he had finished a useful second to another Irish entrant VALOUIS in a small race at Navan in the beginning of March. And what of FOINAVON ? In four races this term, he had only managed to beat one horse. Running in different colours and sporting bright orange blinkers it was perhaps only his status as a previous National winner that prevented him from starting amongst the 100-1 outsiders. 66-1 seemed a little optimistic. Lightning couldn`t strike twice...could it ?

 THE GRAND NATIONAL STEEPLECHASE (102 entries) £16, 048 to the winner, 2nd : £4,938, 3rd : £2,469, 4th : £1,234

 1  -11334 WHAT A MYTH  11, 12-0 H R Price P.Kellaway 
 2 -0p1411DIFFERENT CLASS  8, 11-5 P.Cazalet D.Mould 
 3        -0f0 HIGHLAND WEDDING  11, 11-0 G.Balding O.McNally 
 4 121303 RONDETTO  12, 10-12 R.Turnell J.King 
 5 100114 BASSNET  9, 10-12A.Kilpatrick D.Nicholson 
 6-210022 SAN ANGELO  8, 10-10 E.Courage W.Rees 
 7 10p221 FORT ORD  8, 10-9 R.Wilson T.Norman 
 8-220212 VULTRIX  10, 10-8 F.Cundell T W Biddlecombe 
 9043-342 PHEMIUS  10, 10-8 N.Crump G.Scott 
10  330004 QUITTE OU DOUBLE L  8, 10-8 J O`Donoghue Mr J Ciechanowski 
11 1000-01 REGAL JOHN  10, 10-8 H R Price J.Gifford 
12  4f-0143 FORECASTLE  10, 10-8* N.Crump Mr W McLernon 
13 u11-111 MOIDORES TOKEN  11, 10-8* J.Oliver B.Brogan 
14   0-2321 RUTHERFORDS  8, 10-6 N.Crump P.Buckley 
15 00-0111 GREAT LARK  9, 10-6 W T O`Grady - IRE T.Carberry 
16  03u402 MASTER MASCUS  9, 10-6* D.Thom Mr J Lawrence 
17  4p0103 THE FOSSA  11, 10-4 T F Rimell R.Edwards 
18 022-001 REYNARDS HEIR  8, 10-4 T L Crawford - IRE T.Kinane 
19 1420-31 MASTER OF ART  8, 10-2 H R Price Mr B Hanbury 
20 01-404p FOINAVON  10, 10-5* J H Kempton P.Harvey 
21  b102f2 GO-PONTINENTAL  8, 10-0 J E Sutcliffe M C Gifford 
22  2f-1340 RED ALLIGATOR  9, 10-0 D.Smith B.Fletcher 
23   f101p4 RONALDS BOY  11, 10-0 C B Harty - IRE J Harty 
25  213020ROSS FOUR  7, 10-0A.KilpatrickP.Jones
26 003140 CHAMPION PRINCE  9, 10-12* G.Harwood Mr A Wates 
27  1f-1444 FORT KNIGHT  9, 10-0 P.Ransom R.Reid 
28   ff1-00f MIXED FRENCH  9, 10-0 R.Hobson G.Holmes 
29  23u331 CHU-TEH  9, 10-0 K.Cundell Mr N Gaselee 
30  21004u KIRTLE-LAD  9, 10-0 W A Stephenson J.Enright 
31  4f4111 FRENCH KILT  8, 10-0 F.Cundell S.Mellor 
33 201240MANIFEST  10, 10-0 F T Winter R.PItman 
34     23-01 POLARIS MISSILE  9, 10-0 M J Thorne Mr N Thorne 
35 21-0042 HIGHLANDIE  10, 10-12* T.Bamber - IRE Mr T Durant 
36 0-04420 GAME PURSTON  10, 10-0 J.Yeomans D.Cartwright 
37  200203 PRINCEFUL  10, 10-4* T F Rimell J.Leech 
38    0-rp02 QUINTIN BAY  12, 10-0 A.Brabazon - IRE G W Robinson 
39  103322 BEECHAM  9, 10-0 D.Barons B R Davies 
40  p3002f SOME SLIPPER  11, 10-0 B.Trafford R.Atkins 
41 0300-p0 CHAMORETTA  8, 10-1* E.Courage D.Elsworth 
42  f33041 VALOUIS  9, 10-1* J J Prendergast - IRE Mr E Prendergast 
43 2210-32 VALBUS  10, 10-0 T.Shepherd R.Langley 
44    3ff1f-0 DUN WIDDY  12, 10-2* R A Lockhart-Smith Mr A Moore 
45 p-11p00 WILLING SLAVE  8, 10-2* M.James M B James 
46 00200-0 PORTATION  10, 10-0 D.Ellison G.Cramp 
47 300-040 STEEL BRIDGE  10, 10-0 D.Auld - IRE E P Harty 
Aintree Debutants

Beecham*, Chamoretta*, Champion Prince*, Chu-Teh*, Fort Knight*, French Kilt*, Great Lark*, Manifest*, Master Mascus*, Master of Art*, MIxed French*, Quitte ou Double L*, Regal John*, Reynard`s Heir*, Ross Sea*, San Angelo*, Valbus*, Willing Slave* 

Winners at Aintree

 FOINAVON 1968 Grand National
 THE FOSSA 1965 Grand Sefton Chase 
 VALOUIS 1965 Molyneux Chase


1st RED ALLIGATOR Brian Fletcher 
2nd MOIDORE`S TOKEN Barry Brogan 
3rd DIFFERENT CLASS David Mould 
4th RUTHERFORDS Pat Buckley  
5th THE FOSSA Roy Edwards 
6th VALBUS Robin Langley 
9th PRINCEFUL J.Leech 
10th STEEL BRIDGE Eddie Harty 
11th MANIFEST Richard Pitman 
12th SAN ANGELO Bill Rees 
13th SOME SLIPPER Ron Atkins 
14th FRENCH KILT Stan Mellor 
15th HIGHLANDIE Mr Tim Durant (remounted) 
16th DUN WIDDY Mr A P Moore 
17th QUINTIN BAY Willie Robinson 

Time : 9 minutes, 28 4/5 seconds. Distances : 20 lengths and a neck

Owned by John Manners. Trained by Denys Smith at Bishop Auckland, County Durham 

 The Winner

Red Alligator finished unplaced in the Scottish National on his next start. Lightly campaigned the following year he narrowly failed to win the Haydock Park Grand National Trial before starting favourite for the National. He never got into the race and was behind when he unseated at the nineteenth. He did win three times during 1969-70 but again at Aintree failed to shine and he was struggling in last place when he unseated at the eleventh fence. He did not race again but his name lives on in Bishop Auckland as a pub was named after him and it is still there.

1969 - Highland Weddings year


Leading Fancies 

As the wrangling over Aintrees future continued the public, perhaps were growing tired of the off course arguments and there was a considerably smaller field this year of thirty, a sign perhaps that patience was  wearing a little thin as we approached the fifth "Last Grand National". Favourite was last years winner RED ALLIGATOR, a position he held clearly on the basis of his very impressive win twelve months ago as he had shown little in three starts this season, HIGHLAND WEDDING on the other hand was on a four timer. He jumped (he had finished the National in 1966 and 1968) and we knew he stayed as he had just won his third Eider Chase at Newcaste. Regular rider Owen McNally was sidelined so popular Irishman Eddie Harty took the ride. He was enjoying a good meeting having steered HIGHLAND WEDDINGS stable companion Dozo to victory in the Topham Trophy. Champion jockey Terry Biddlecombe was on board FEARLESS FRED, the winner of the WD & HO Wills Trial Chase at Haydock (the forerunner to the Red Square Vodka Chase). BASSNET was also popular in the market despite having failed to get past the first circuit in two previous attempts at the National. He had won the valuable Coventry Chase at Kempton on his last start before Aintree. Whilst British Movietone and Pathe had been broadcasting in colour since 1962, 1969 marked the first year that the BBC beemed colour pictures on television adding a new dimension to the great race.

The field 


 2 112103 ARCTURUS  8, 11-4 N.Crump P.Buckley 
 3 113f12 FEARLESS FRED  7, 11-3 T F Rimell T W Biddlecombe 
 4010-032 RED ALLIGATOR  10, 10-13 D.Smith B.Fletcher 
 5 30p441 BASSNET  10, 11-12 H R Price J.Gifford 
 6 00-330p KELLSBRO  WOOD  9, 10-10 D.Ancil A.Turnell 
 70-44023 KILBURN  11, 10-9 Ireland T.Carberry 
 84111-40 LIMETRA  11, 10-9 H.Lane P.Broderick 
  9 11332f HOVE  8, 10-0 F.Carr D.Nicholson 
 102-12030 TEROSSIAN  9, 11-3 H R Price Mr P Sloan 
 11   p14f02 MOIDORES TOKEN  12, 10-9 K.Oliver B.Brogan 
 12 010020 RONDETTO  13, 10-6 R.Turnell J.King 
 13 143300 TUDOR FORT  9, 10-4 G.Fairburn J.Haldane 
 14 403111 HIGHLAND WEDDING  12, 10-4 G R Balding E.Harty 
 15 13210p PECCARD  8, 10-4 H R Price Mr G Sloan 
 16  331211 THE BEECHES  9, 10-1 R.Turnell W.Rees 
 17 033303 THE INVENTOR  8, 10-0 E.Cousins T.Hyde 
 18 122241 FORT SUN  8, 10-4 Ireland J.Crowley 
 19       /up3 CASTLE FALLS  12, 10-4 W.Hall S.Hayhurst 
 20 413322 THE FOSSA  12, 10-9   F T Walwyn Capt A Parker-Bowles 
 2110-212f VILLAY  11,10-13 L.Scott Mr D Scott 
 23 211303 MISS HUNTER  8, 10-0 Ireland P.McLoughlin 
 25        1-1f TAM KISS  10, 10-13 H.Thomson-Jones Mr J Hindley 
 26 01041f ROSINVER BAY   9, 10-5 Ireland P.Taaffe 
 27 034-032 JUAN  13, 10-9 P.Willis Mr P Willis 
 28 00p022 LIMEBURNER  8, 10-0 R.Turnell J.Buckingham 
 29411-041 FURORE II  8, 10-0 A.Kilpatrick M C Gifford 
 30 0330p1 FLOSUEBARB  9, 10-0 J.HootonJ.Guest 
 31 01f013 GAME PURSTON  11, 10-0 M.McCourt S.Mellor 
 32 001fp0 BALLINABOINTRA  10, 10-1 R.Armytage P.Kellaway 
 33 032101 STEEL BRIDGE  11, 10-0 Lockhart-Smith R.Pitman 
S P : 13-2 Red Alligator, 15-2 Fearless Fred, 100-9 HIGHLAND WEDDING, 100-8 Bassnet, 100-6 Arcturus, Hove, Moidores Token, The Beeches, 20-1 Furore II, 22-1 Kilburn, 25-1 Rondetto, 28-1 Fort Sun, 33-1 Game Purston, The Fossa, The Inventor, 50-1 LImetra, Miss Hunter, Peccard, Rosinver Bay, Steel Bridge, Tam Kiss, Terrosian, Tudor Fort, 66-1 Castle Falls, Kellsboro Wood, Limeburner, 100-1 Ballinabointra, Flosuebarb, Juan, Villay. 

 Non Runner : 22. FERRY BOAT (P.McLaughlin)

 Aintree Debutants 

Arcturus*, Fearless Fred*, Flosuebarb, Fort Sun*, Furore II*, Hove*, Limeburner, Miss Hunter, Peccard*, Rosinver Bay*, Terossian*, The Inventor, Tudor Fort*, Villay

Winners at Aintree 

JUAN1968 Foxhunters 
RED ALLIGATOR1968 Grand National 
THE FOSSA 1965 Grand Sefton Chase  


2nd STEEL BRIDGE Richard Pitman 
3rd RONDETTO Jeff King 
4th THE BEECHESBill Rees
5th BASSNET Josh Gifford 
6thARCTURUSPat Buckley
7th FORT SUN J.Crowleyl 
8th KELLSBORO WOOD Andy Turnell 
9th FURORE II Macer Gifford 
11th THE FOSSA Capt Andrew Parker-Bowles 
12th LIMEBURNER Johnny Buckingham 
13thCASTLE FALLS Stan Hayhurst 
14thLIMETRA Paddy Broderick   

Time : 9 minutes, 30 4/5 seconds. Distances : 12 lengths and 1 length

Owned by Thomas McCoy Junior. Trained by Toby Balding at Weyhill, Hampshire 

 The winner

HIGHLAND WEDDING next ran in the inaugural running of the Midlands National at Uttoxeter which at the time was run in May. Throwing his chances away with a mistake at the twenty first fence he was eventually pulled up. Falling on his next start at Ascot in December he was retired to his owners in Canada.