The Grand National & Aintree 1970-79

1970 - Gay Trip`s year


Leading Fancies

Having seen the number of runners reach the dizzying heights of forty seven during the previous decade it was somewhat surprising to see just twenty eight line up for the first National of the decade. However, if the field lacked quantity it was more than made up by quality with three horses DOZO, FRENCH EXCUSE and TWO SPRINGS vying for favouritsm. DOZO was the only one of the three with experience over the big Aintree fences having triumphed in the previous years Topham Trophy and was representing last years winning combination of trainer Toby Balding and jockey Eddie Harty. He had been trained all season with the race in mind. FRENCH EXCUSE had won the Welsh National in a dour slog and had thee other wins to his credit this season including victory over Two Springs in the Haydock Park Grand National Trial. All three victories had come on ground much softer than he would experience in the National. TWO SPRINGS was sent off favourite although he had managed only one win all season at Windsor and had been beaten by several of his market rivals. The class horse of the race was French Excuses` stable companion GAY TRIP. A noted two and half mile specialist he had won the Mackeson Gold Cup at Cheltenham in November and had only narrowly missed a big race double when finishing second in the Massey Ferguson Gold Cup at the same course a month later. He had raced in the highest company thereafter finishing fourth in the King George VI Chase and sixth in the Gold Cup on his latest start. With regular jockey Terry Biddlecombe sidelined through injury he was partnered by forty year old Pat Taaffe, the oldest professional rider in the race who had won the race fifteen years earlier on Quare Times in 1955. Of the remainder, the 1968 here RED ALLIGATOR was in fine heart having won three times at Haydock, Kelso and Newcastle and the Irish mare PERSIAN HELEN was having her nineteenth race of the season. 

GRAND NATIONAL HANDICAP CHASE (77 entries), 4 1/2  miles £14,804 10s to the winner, £4,486 to the second, £2,193 to the third & £1,046 10s to the fourth 

 2 124000 GAY TRIP  8, 11-5 T F Rimell P.Taaffe 
 3 341001 BOWGEENO  10, 10-13 R.Turnell J.Haine 
 4  212140 RED ALLIGATOR  11, 10-12 D.Smith B.Fletcher 
 5 301031SPECIFY  8, 10-7D E Weeden J.Cook 
 6 231024 TWO SPRINGS  8, 10-7 G R Owen R.Edwards 
 7PP-2420 BATTLEDORE  9, 10-5 W A Stephenson T.Murphy 
 8201-100 RONDETTO  14, 10-5 R.Turnell J.King 
 9/0-00P4 FORT ORD  10, 10-5 R.Wilson A.Turnell 
10  110202 PERMIT  7, 10-3 N.Crump P.Buckley 
11  431311 FRENCH EXCUSE  8, 10-2 T F Rimell K B White 
13  1F020F THE OTTER  9, 10-1 R H Dening T M Jones
15  4U0030 ALL GLORY  9, 10-0 J A C Edwards A L T Moore 
16  1223F0 ASSAD  10, 10-1* G.Harwood J.Gifford 
17  3P1U0P THE BEECHES  10, 10-0 R C Armytage S.Mellor 
19  244F02 DOZO  9, 10-4* G B Balding E.Harty 
20 144402THE FOSSA  13, 10-0F T WalwynG W Robinson 
21 PB0-2PP GAME PURSTON  12, 11-5* G B Balding Mr M C Lloyd 
22  102200 GINGER NUT  8, 10-0 W D FrancisJ.Bourke 
23  004220 MISS HUNTER  9, 10-0 D.Auld - IRE F.Shortt 
24 3-040P3 NO JUSTICE  9, 10-0 A S Neaves J.Guest 
25  2FP302 ON THE MOVE  8, 10-1* D J A Dartnall G.Dartnall 
26 /1P-F41 PERRY HILL  11, 10-0 H R Price P.Kellaway 
27  P00003 PERSIAN HELEN  7, 10-0 M A O`Toole - IRE D T Hughes 
28  P00232 PRIDE OF KENTUCKY  8, 10-0 E R Courage J.Buckingham 
29  0U1403 QUEEN`S GUIDE  9, 10-0 W Wade Mr G Wade 
30  21F2UF RACOON  8, 10-3* F T Walwyn D.Mould 
31  42144F VILLAY  12, 10-0 L G Scott Mr D Scott 
32 00-1230 VULTURE  8, 10-0 T W Dreaper - IRE S.Barker 

S.P : 13-2 Two Springs, 100-8 Dozo &French Excuse, 13-1 Pride of Kentucky & Red Alligator, 100-7 Specify, 15-1 GAY TRIP & Vulture, 20-1 The Otter, 22-1 Bowgeeno, Rondetto & The Beeches, 25-1 Battledore, 28-1 Assad, Ginger Nut & Perry Hill, 33-1 Miss Hunter & Racoon, 35-1 Permit 7 Persian Helen, 40-1 Queens Guide, 50-1 All Glory, Fort Ord, No Justice & The Fossa, 100-1 Game Purston, On the Move & Villay

Aintree debutants (18) * indicates that this was their sole National attempt

Assad*, All Glory*, Battledore, Bowgeeno, French Excuse*, Gay Trip, Ginger Nut*. No Justice*, On the Move*, Permit, Perry Hill*, Persian Helen*,Racoon*, Queens Guide*, Specify, The Otter, Two Springs, Vulture 

Winners at Aintree

Dozo Topham Trophy (1969) 
Red Alligator Grand National (1968) 
The Fossa Grand Sefton (1965) 


1st GAY TRIP Pat Taaffe 
2ndVULTURE Sean Barker 
3rdMISS HUNTER Frank Shortt 
4th DOZO Eddie Harty 
5th GINGER NUT Jimmy Bourke 
6th PRIDE OF KENTUCKY Johnny Buckingham 
7th ASSAD Josh Gifford 

Time : 9 minutes 38 seconds

Distances :  20-1/2-2 1/2-1-8

Owned by Mr A J Chambers

Trained by Fred Rimell at Kinnersley , Worcestershire 

The winner

Gay Trip famously joined the likes of Poethlyn, Russian Hero and Early Mist by falling at the first fence the year following his National victory. He continued to be campaigned in the highest class and won a second Mackeson Gold Cup in 1971. He returned to Aintree in 1972 and ran a superb race to finish second to Well to Do although there were many at Aintree that day including trainer Fred Rimell who believed that had regular rider Terry Biddlecombe not steered such a wide course in the closing stages he would have won. Later that summer he raced twice at Auteuil in Paris although he pulled up in the Grand Steeplechase de Paris. He made one final return to Aintree in the one-off October meeting in 1972 where he was soundly beaten by the Queen Mothers Inch Arran in the BP Chase. He never raced again. I rate Gay Trip as one of the best National winners of the post war era and his trainer paid him the greatest compliment when he said he was the best of his four National winners.   

1971 - Specify`s year


Leading Fancies

The first three home from 1970 returned to the fray. GAY TRIP reunited with Terry Biddlecombe now in the saddle having missed victory twelve months earlier. He was without a win in five starts but had again been campaigned in the highest class finishing fifth in the Hennessy Gold Cup. VULTURE had managed one win in Ireland and MISS HUNTER was running consistently well without managing to get her nose in front. Another class horse in the field was the Jim Joel owned THE LAIRD, runner up in the 1968 Gold Cup. This year he had struck up a sequence of three wins in the run-up to Aintree including the Whitbread Trial at Ascot and the Cathcart Chase at the Festival. Other prolific winners that season included the Irish trained BLACK SECRET who had won six out of eight races including the valuable Troytown Chase at Navan and BEAU BOB, who had won three of his last four starts two of them at Lingfield. CHARTER FLIGHT had won an incident packed Topham Trophy in 1970 but had been lightly campaigned this term with just two races, a novice hurdle and a two horse contest at Kempton (where he had been beaten !) Other fancied runners were the Kerry National winner MONEY BOAT from Ireland, National Hunt Handcap Chase winner LORD JIM and last seasons favourite TWO SPRINGS who, after his early exit in 1970 had finished second in a Scottish National and then won the Midlands equivalent. This term he had beaten The Laird in the Great Yorkshire Chase. It was a good line up.

GRAND NATIONAL HANDICAP CHASE (95 entries) 4 1/2 miles,  £15,500 to the winner, £4,700 to the second, £ 2,300 to the third & £1,100 to the fourth

 1F-F0204GAY TRIP  9, 12-0T F RimellT W Biddlecombe 
 2  320111 THE LAIRD  10, 11-2 R.Turnell J.King 
 3 0112-02 CHARTER FLIGHT  9, 11-8 R.Turnell W.Rees 
 4 311112 BLACK SECRET  7, 11-5 T W Dreaper - IRE Mr J Dreaper 
 5 233104 TWO SPRINGS  9, 11-4 G R Owen R.Edwards 
 60120-01 KING VULGAN  10, 11-0 J P Costello - IRE J.Crowley 
 7B-202F0 SPECIFY  9, 10-13 J E Sutcliffe J.Cook 
 8P-12P1B BRIAN`S BEST  11, 10-11 G R Owen R R Evans 
 9  31313F CNOC DUBH  8, 10-11 D L Moore - IRE T.Carberry 
10 P-32P21 LORD JIM  10, 10-9 F T Walwyn S.Mellor 
11  B30020 THE INVENTOR  10, 10-7 E.Cousins B.Fletcher 
12  102413 MONEY BOAT  7, 10-7 F.Flood - IRE R.Coonan 
13 11-FP1F SOLDO  10, 10-7 P.Cazalet D.Mould 
14  101F2P BATTLEDORE  10, 10-6 W A Stephenson J.Enright 
15  224224 REGIMENTAL  8, 10-6 K.Cundell Mr J Lawrence 
16  310132 TWIGAIRY  8, 10-6 R C Armytage E P Harty 
17  023341 BOWGEENO  11, 10-5 T.Forster G.Thorner 
18  2F1211 BEAU BOB  8, 10-3 P.Cazalet R.Dennard 
19  130P12 SANDY SPRITE  7, 10-3 J A C Edwards R.Barry 
20  121213 SMOOTH DEALER  9, 10-3 D L Moore - IRE A L T Moore 
21 0-21P12 THE OTTER  10, 10-1 R H Dening T M Jones 
22  112P23 ASTBURY  8, 10-0 J P Bissill J.Bourke 
23 0-00432 COPPERLESS  10, 10-1* A S Neaves M.Gibson 
24 0-FU321 COUNTRY WEDDING  9, 10-0 G B Balding R.Champion 
25  220002 COMMON ENTRANCE  10, 10-0 A J Maxwell - IRE Mr M Morris 
26    /0334 CRAIGBROOK  12, 10-1* J K M Oliver P.Ennis 
27  334PP0 FINAL MOVE  11, 10-0 I D Jordan T.Stack 
28  2101P2 FLOSUEBARB  11, 10-1* J K Hooton J.Guest 
29  122243 GAY BUCCANEER  10, 10-0 J.Cox - IRE P.Black 
30 2P-43P0 HIGHWORTH  12, 10-5* R H Woodhouse Mr R H Woodhouse 
31 04-2304 INDAMELIA  8, 10-5* M J Thorne Mr P Hobbs 
33  322330 KELLSBORO WOOD  11, 10-0 D.Ancil A.Turnell 
34  043142 LIMEBURNER  10, 10-0 R.Turnell J.Buckingham 
35  232334 MISS HUNTER  10, 10-0 D.Auld - IRE Mr J Fowler 
36  0230F3 PRIDE OF KENTUCKY  9, 10-0 E R Courage A.Mawson 
37 0-32030 VICHYSOISE  9, 10-3* C.Bewicke P.Blacker 
38 02-331P VULTURE  9, 10-0 T W Dreaper - IRE S.Barker 
39  2243P4 ZARA`S GROVE  8, 10-0 E E Collingwood G.Holmes 

S P : 8-1 Gay Trip, 9-1 Lord Jim, 12-1 The Laird & The Otter, 13-1 Two Springs, 16-1 King Vulgan, Money Boat & Vulture, 20-1 Black Secret, Cnoc Dubh & The Inventor, 25-1 Charter Flight & Twigairy, 28-1 SPECIFY, 33-1 Astbury, Brians Best, Flosuebarb, Miss Hunter, Sandy Sprite & Smooth Dealer, 40-1 Beau Bob, 45-1 Battledore, 50-1 Country Wedding & Pride of Kentucky, 66-1 Bowgeeno, Final Move, Gay Buccaneer, Regimental, Soldo & Zaras Grove, 80-1 Craigbrook, 100-1 Common Entrance, Copperless, Highworth, Indamelia, Kellsboro Wood & Limeburner

Aintree debutants (19)

Astbury, Black Secret, Cnoc Dubh*, Common Entrance*, Craigbrook*, Country Wedding, Copperless*, Final Move*, Gay Bucaneer, Highworth*, Indamelia*, King Vulgan*, Lord Jim*, Regimental, Sandy Sprite*, Soldo*, Smooth Dealer*, The Laird*, Twigairy 

Winners at Aintree

Charter Flight Topham Trophy (1970) 
Gay Trip Grand National (1970) 


1st SPECIFY Johnny Cook 
2nd BLACK SECRET Mr Jim Dreaper 
3rd ASTBURY Jimmy Bourke 
4thBOWGEENO Graham Thorner 
5th SANDY SPRITE Ron Barry 
6th TWO SPRINGS Roy Edwards 
7th VICHYSOISE Philip Blacker 
8th KING VULGAN J.Crowley 
9thREGIMENTAL Mr John Lawrence 
11th FINAL MOVE Tommy Stack 
12th LIMEBURNER (rem)Johnny Buckingham 
13th COMMON ENTRANCE (rem) Mr Michael "Mouse" Morris 

Time : 9 minutes, 34 1/5 secs

Distances : nk-2 1/2-1 1/2-nk-7

Owned by Fred Pontin

Trained by John Sutclliffe at Epsom in Surrey 

The winner

Specify never won another race although he ran well in 1972 and looked to be travelling like the winner on the run down to Bechers on the second circuit.  He faded in the mud to eventually finish sixth. He ran in the one-off  William Hill Grand National Trial at the Autumn meeting of 1972 where he never was travelling well and fell at the fence after Valentines. He never raced again.