With Honeysuckle’s outstanding victory in the Champion Hurdle at March’s Cheltenham Festival, the conversation around the best mares of all time was well and truly sparked. However, it may surprise many to learn that a mare has not won the Grand National, one of the most famous jump races in the world, since 1951.
In total, 13 mares have triumphed in the Aintree showpiece, but for the past 70 years the mares have been stuck on that unlucky number. With Grand National fever building ahead of the April 10th race and punters everywhere analysing the Grand National betting odds, let’s take a delve into the history books and look back at that illustrious list of mares that have triumphed in the race.
The first time a mare won the Grand National was just two years after the first official staging of the race had taken place. Charity, trained by William Vevers and ridden by Horatio Powell, emerged the victor, winning by a reported distance of one length.
Miss Mowbray (1852)
Over a decade later, another mare would claim victory in the Grand National, as Miss Mowbray triumphed despite a starting price somewhere in the region of 50/1. In the saddle was Alec Goodman, while trainer George Dockeray recorded what was his fourth Grand National victory.
The win for Anatis in 1860 began a spell of dominance for mares in the Grand National, with mares wining four out of five editions of the race between 1860 and 1864. Trained by H. E. May and ridden by Tommy Pickernell, it was a moment to savour for the 7/2 shot Anatis.
A year later, it was the unusually-named Jealousy who claimed bragging rights in the Aintree race, with Joseph Kendall in the saddle and Charles Balchin watching on as trainer. That made it two in a row for the mares, a feat that would soon be repeated.
The jockey-trainer duo of George Stevens and Edwin Weever enjoyed victory in the 1963 race, with Emblem running home as the eventual winner at the short price of 4/1. However, the success would not stop there for Stevens and Weever.
Yes, the same combination of rider and trainer were triumphant a year later, as Emblematic earned the win. The horse was the sister of the previous year’s winner Emblem, proving that success certainly ran in the family.
Casse Tete (1872)
After that purple patch for mares winning the Grand National, eight years passed before Casse Tete demonstrated her champion qualities in winning the 1872 edition of the race. Winning jockey John Page, trainer A. Cowley, and owner Teddy Brayley shared the spoils.
A further eight years on, and it was the turn of the aptly-named Empress to taste victory in the Grand National. The mare gave a stunning performance with Tommy Beasley in the saddle to deliver the win by a two-length margin.
The 1880s proved to be a decent decade in terms of mares’ performances in the Grand National, with three winners in total. The second of these was Zoedone, who won in 1883 with the Austrian prince Count Karel Kinsky in the saddle. You don’t see too many princes winning the Grand National today!
There was further success for Tommy Beasley in 1889 as he rode Frigate to victory at Aintree. It was a narrow one-length winning margin over Why Not, but that did not matter to her jubilant connections.
Shannon Lass (1902)
Since the beginning of the 20th Century, there have only been three winning mares in the Grand National. The first of these was Shannon Lass in 1902, ridden by David Read and trained by James Hackett.
Sheila’s Cottage (1948)
In just the third edition of the race following a six-year break due to World War II, Sheila’s Cottage emerged triumphant in the 1948 Grand National. At odds of 50/1, it was a cracking win for the Neville Crump-trained mare.
Nickel Coin (1951)
The most recent winning mare in the Grand National was Nickel Coin in 1951, and this year’s race will mark 70 years since that sensational triumph for jockey John Bullock and trainer Jack O’Donoghue. Will we ever see another mare win the Grand National? The Aintree tips suggest it’s unlikely, but in this historically unpredictable race, you just never know.