Even with the modifications it still takes something to complete the course (it was the fences now it is the jockeys being told to pull up when beaten - nine were pulled up in the closing stages in 2017). So for 2017 here is a tribute to those brave brave horses that quietly completed to cross the line, sometimes a very long way behind - sometimes even when the winner was in the winners enclosure. Some last placed runners in particular caught my eye.
1960 - SKATEALONG (8th) - RR Harrison (66-1)
1961 - IRISH COFFEE (14th) - J.Magee (50-1)
1962 - CLEAR PROFIT (17th) - T J Ryan (66-1)
1963 - DANDY TIM (22nd) - Laurie Major (50-1)
1964 - SEA KNIGHT (15th) - Mr P.Nicholson (66-1) - A fairly useful hunter chaser Sea Knight ran in four Liverpool Foxhunters Chases between 1963 & 1967 winning in both 1963 and 1965. However in the sixties there was a far greater gap in class between the amateur runners and seasoned handicappers than there is today which is perfectly exampled by this performance in the National in 1964. Last across the Melling Road.....he stayed there. Already adrift by the fourth fence he plodded on at his own pace completely oblivious to the horse race going on in front of him. By the Anchor Bridge he was over a fence behind, by second Bechers two fences and as the leaders battled it out past the Anchor Bridge second time Sea Knight was clambering over the fence after Valentines. Sea Knight was not unique though, watch those wonderful black and white Nationals of the sixties (in particular the head-on view at Bechers and the third last) and most years you can spot one or more runners miles behind the others. In those days it was all about completing the course. Not sure you would get away with it today though.
1965 - MOYRATH (14th) - B.Richmond (100-1)
1966 - LOVING RECORD (12th) - B.Hannon (50-1)
1967 - GAME PURSTON (18th) - Ken White (66-1)
1968 - QUINTIN BAY (17th) - Willie Robinson
1969 - LIMETRA (14th) - Paddy Broderick (50-1)
1970 - ASSAD (7th) - Josh Gifford (28-1)
1971 - COMMON ENTRANCE (13th) - Mr M Morris (100-1) - Today he is best known as one of Irelands leading trainers who sent out War Of Attrition to lift the Gold Cup in 2006 and of course Rule the World in the 2016 National. But for some of us with longer memories "Mouse" Morris was a pretty good Irish rider in the seventies both as an amateur and professional winning an Irish National and Queen Mother Chase. Now for us anoraks he deserves special mention here for Common Entrance, the missing horse of seventies Nationals. All form books will say that after a fall at the Chair he was remounted to finish last of the thirteen finishers. But scour all the footage and you cannot see him. The BBC show him in last place approaching the Chair but his fall is not captured. Movietone do feature him jumping the water in splendid isolation but that is it. Did he really finish ? Having looked again at the head on at second Bechers and the third last I think you can just about see a "speck" in the distance - crossing the Melling Road and by the Canal. If this is Common Entrance then he was further behind than any other horse at these stages of the race and he can take the honour for being the furthest behind of any National finisher in the modern era.
1972 - ROUGH SILK (9th) - David Nicholson (25-1)
1973 - MILL DOOR (17th) - Peter Cullis (100-1) - The story of Mill Door and his journeyman rider Peter Cullis is told in Chris Pitts excellent book "Go Down to the Beaten" which is reviewed elsewhere in this site. Mill Door was probably the least talented horse to run in a National of the seventies, an average point to pointer who had never won under rules. He would not have got within a million miles of the National today but in those days you qualified if you finished in the first four in a race over the National fences and he had finished a very remote last of four finishers in the previous years Foxhunters. To be fair he ran credibly on the first circuit, was seventh at first Bechers but was steadily dropping back and only had five behind him at half way. His rider, who was in the twighlight of his career and had been looking to ride in a National for many years, let him hunt his way round at his own pace. By second Canal he was three fences behind runaway leader Crisp and four out he was one of several baulked by loose horses. He was put to the fence a second time, popped over it and finished. Mill Door changed hands soon afterwards but ran in the following years National and was similarly behind when perhaps remembering events of the previous year he fell four out.
1974 - PRINCESS CAMILLA (17th) - Martin Blackshaw (28-1)
1975 - RAG TRADE (10th) - John Francome (18-1) - What a difference a year makes - whilst horses have won a National first time and then hated it second time round (Anglo, Last Suspect, Miinnehoma, Bindaree) it is rare for it to be the other way round. In 1975 Rag Trade gave the impression that he absolutely hated the place, sulking in rear throughout and making sloppy mistakes to finish a very distant last of ten behind L'Escargot & Red Rum - who would have though he would turn the tables so emphatically on Rummy a year later.
1976 - INDIAN DIVA (16th) - Mr Nicky Henderson (100-1)
1977 - SAUCEY BELLE (11th*) - R F Davies (200-1)
1978 - NEVER ROCK (15th) - Kevin Mooney (50-1)
1979 - PRIME JUSTICE (7th) - A K Taylor (200-1) - The forgotten horse of 1979, an unconsidered outsider he was in the rear throughout although apart from a mistake at the fifth he jumped soundly enough. In a race of substantial grief not one of the BBC commentators noticed him. With just seventeen standing at the water, Peter O' Sullevan named all the survivors except him, after second Bechers when there were just twelve left in the contest Julian Wilson missed him and with just a handful left three out John Hanmer didn't mention him either. He finally got a mention by Sir Peter....after he had completed the course a distant seventh. Whilst only nine he didn't run under rules again.
1980 - ROYAL STUART (4th) - Philip Blacker (20-1)
1981 - CHEERS (11th) - Peter Scudamore (20-1)
1982 - CHEERS (8th) - Mrs Geraldine Rees (66-1) - GRAND NATIONAL ANORAK FACT - Cheers is one of only two horses to have twice finished last in the National. The other ? Former National hero Gamecock who ran in six consecutive Nationals between 1886 & 1891 winning in 1887 and finishing third in 1886. He only once failed to complete the course so it seems a little churlish to mention his two last places in 1889 & 1891. As for Cheers... two runs and two last places. In 1981 he had genuine each-way prospects but, partnered by champion jockey Peter Scudamore he never really got into the race and leaving his hind legs in the water didn't help his chances. He was struggling from second Bechers and finished a long way behind Aldaniti. However, whilst his performance that year would not have got a mention in the press twelve months later he became the most famous last placed horse in National history. Even the BBC cut away from triumphant Grittar and Dick Saunders to show Cheers complete the course. The horse could barely raise a canter. However the state of the horse was not the story it was that his rider Geraldine Rees (only the fourth of her sex to compete in a National) had become the first female rider to complete the course. It may have been better if the BBC had not shown them as so exhausted was Cheers that it looked as if he was close to collapse. I am sure that any professional rider would have pulled him up as he had been in rear for most of the race. Oh well.....it was the eighties and Mrs Rees was very blonde and very pretty.
1983 - DELMOSS (10th) - Bill Smith (50-1)
1984 - CANFORD GINGER (23rd) - Colin Brown (100-1) - The story of Canford Ginger is told in Anne Hollands 1988 book "The Grand National". He holds a special place in Grand National history as he remains the only horse to have finished twenty third in a National. Having lost his place by second Bechers he was quietly nursed home by Colin Brown and finished a long way behind the others. His achievement is unlikely to be broken as has been discussed elsewhere on this site. Had he run in 2018 I am sure he would have been pulled up a long way from home.
1985 - CAPTAIN PARKHILL (11th) - Chris Grant (100-1) - something of an Aintree specialist he ran a total of six times over the Aintree fences but this was his only National - suffered an earth-shattering mistake at the Chair which is celebrated elsewhere in this site.
1986 - GAYLE WARNING (17th) - Mr Sandy Dudgeon (50-1)
1987 - INSURE (22nd) - Mr Charlie Brooks (45-1)
1988 - LEAN AR AGHAIDH (9th) - Guy Landau (10-1)
1989 - MR BAKER (14th) - Michael Moran (100-1)
1990 - BOB TISDALL (20th) - Kevin Mooney (66-1)
1991 - GOLDEN FRREZE (17th) - Michael Bowlby (40-1)
1992 - SIRRAH JAY (22nd) - Michael Bowlby (100-1) - What a difference a year makes - the following year he won the Topham
1994 - ROC DE PRINCE (6th) - Jonathan Lower (100-1) - Put in probably the worst display of jumping ever seen in a National as he clouted fence after fence on the second circuit - how he survived is a mystery and I can only assume that his rider has glued himself to the saddle.
1995 - FOR WILLIAM (15th*) - Conor O'Dwyer (100-1)
1996 - SURE METAL (17th) - Donald McCain Jnr (200-1)
1997 - EVANGELICA (17th) - Robbie Supple (33-1)
1998 - KILLESHIN (6th*) - Sean Curran (25-1)
1999 - COOME HILL (17th) - Steve Wynne (25-1)
2000 - CELTIC GIANT (17th) - Bruce Gibson (100-1)
2001 - PAPILLON (4th*) - Ruby Walsh (14-1)
2002 - MELY MOSS (11th*) - Norman Williamson (25-1) - This talented but very fragile horse rarely managed more than one race a season so it was a remarkable training performance by Charlie Egerton to get him fit to run four consecutive times over the National fences. Runner up in both 1999 Foxhunters and 2000 National he was brought down in the melee at the Canal Turn in 2001. In 2002 he was getting a little long in the tooth and whilst he was travelling well on the first circuit he was struggling and in rear when he landed too steeply at the second last and came down. Why is he of relevance here ? Jockey Norman Williamson was quick to his feet, remounted and the pair finished the course in last place and in doing so became the last runner to be remounted in the Grand National. Remounting was, by then a rare occurrence and was banned altogether by the BHA in 2009 so it won't be happening again.
2003 - SOUTHERN STAR (14th) - Dominic Ellsworth (66-1)
2004 - DAVIDS LAD (11th) - Timmy Murphy (12-1)
2005 - SHAMAWAN (21st) - Shay Barry (200-1)
2006 - FOREST GUNNER (9th) - Miss Nina Carberry (33-1)
2007 - GALLANT APPROACH (12th) - Jimmy McCarthy (33-1)
2008 - MILAN DEUX MILLE (15th) - Tom Malone (125-1) - I have gone on at some length about the changing attitudes of riders in recent years and nowadays rather than hacking over the final fences to achieve the glory of finishing the course most no-hopers are now pulled up in the closing stages (even after jumping the last). Nowhere is this more dramatically exampled as in 2017 when a staggering number of runners were still going three out before nine were pulled up. In 2015 rider Jack Doyle was even fined for "injudicious riding" when he allowed Wayward Prince to continue almost a fence behind the remainder before he took a tired fall three out. Milan Deux Mille features here as he is the last horse to complete the course miles behind the others. He was owned by Kent based property tycoon Fergus Wilson (who gained notoriety in the noughties for running complete no-hopers in championship races). Milan Deux Mille was probably the best horse he owned at the time and had every right to take his place in a National despite only being six years old. The previous year after a string of victories he had run blinder in the Topham finishing fifth having been prominent throughout. In the National itself he led in the early stages and was still in front at the water. However on the second circuit he was struggling and by Bechers had lost his place completely and was a long way last. He should have been pulled up but his rider Tom Malone kept plugging away. As the field crossed the Anchor Bridge he was two fences behind the others and eventually finished albeit completely tailed off. It is said he finished a "distance" behind the fourteenth placed horse but that does not do this appalling performance justice. Interestingly he finished even further behind in the following years Topham. I do not know if the stewards investigated both performances afterwards but all I can say here is that you would not get away with it today.
2009 - CORNISH SETT (17th) - Nick Scholfield (33-1)
2010 - PRIESTS LEAP (14th) - Philip Enright (100-1)
2011 - PIRAYA (19th) - Johnny Farrelly (100-1)
2012 - MIDNIGHT HAZE (15th) - Sean Quinlan (80-1)
2013 - ANY CURRENCY (17th) - Ian Popham (100-1)
2014 - HAWKES POINT (18th) - Ryan Mahon (50-1)
2015 - DOLATULO (19th) - Dougie Costello (66-1)
2016 - MANY CLOUDS (16th) - Leighton Aspell (8-1 fav)
2017 - WONDERFUL CHARM (19th) - Ms Katie Walsh (28-1)
2018 - BAS DES ILES (12th) - Ms Katie Walsh (16-1)