1990 Grand National
|1990 Grand National|
|Date||7 April 1990|
|Winning horse||Mr. Frisk|
|Jockey||Mr. Marcus Armytage|
|Replay of the final stages of the 1990 Grand National BBC Sport|
|1990 Grand National in full BBC Sport|
The 1990 Grand National (known as the Seagram Grand National for sponsorship reasons) was the 144th renewal of the world-famous Grand National horse race that took place at Aintree near Liverpool, England, on 7 April 1990.
Mr. Frisk won the race, in a record time of eight minutes and 47.8 seconds. He was ridden by amateur jockey Marcus Armytage. The new record time for completing the course beat that set by Red Rum in 1973 by 14 seconds.
Second was Durham Edition, and third Rinus. The 7/1 favourite Brown Windsor finished fourth. In fifth was Lastofthebrownies, ridden by Charlie Swan, and Richard Dunwoody rode Bigsun home in sixth place.
There were two equine fatalities during the race. Roll-A-Joint fell at the first Canal Turn, breaking his neck and dying almost instantly, and Hungary Hur incurred a leg fracture while running towards the 19th fence, was pulled up and euthanised.
Brown Windsor was made 7/1 favourite after a year which had seen him win the Whitbread Gold Cup and finish narrowly beaten in the Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup at Newbury. Under the guidance of John White he had every chance jumping the Canal Turn second time in fourth place but was unable to make any further impression on the leader along the Canal side and by the time they turned for the penultimate fence he was beaten, maintaining his fourth place to the finish. Brown Windsor did not race again until 1992 with a series of prep races before a second tilt at the National when he was againm among the leading contenders only to fall at Becher's first time. He never again attempted the National but did return three times for the Fox Hunters Chase, being beaten second in both 1994 and 1995 before being brought down in what proved his final race in 1996. Brown Windsor was retired to the hunting field and died at the age of twenty-four in 2006.
Durham Edition was backed down to 9/1 having won both the Charlie Hall Memorial Pattern Chase at Wetherby in November and the Rowland Meyrick Handicap Chase at the same course in December, having previously proven himself in the National, finishing second in 1988 and fifth in 1989. Once again partnered by Chris Grant, he tracked the first circuit in mid division, moving up to eighth jumping the Chair before creeping into closer contention on the second circuit. By the time the Canal Turn was reached he was fifth and crossing the Melling Road moved into second to issue a challenge to the eventual winner at the final fence. The horse gave his backers every chance on the run in but was unable to close down a length disadvantage and ended beaten second for the second time in three Nationals. Durham Edition returned for a fourth and final attempt at the National in 1991, finishing sixth.
Bigsun' came into popular support and shared favouritism until minutes before the race, going off at 15/2. He arrived at Aintree as the winner of the Ritz Club Chase at the Cheltenham Festival three weeks earlier and in addition had been given the minimum 10 stone to carry by jockey Richard Dunwoody, albeit the Ulsterman weighed out 2 lbs overweight. In the race itself Bigsun turned for the second circuit in the main pack but was always trailing the leaders without ever getting into a challenging position. His finishing position of sixth was as close as he was at any point of the race.
Rinus came to Aintree having won the Greenall Whitley Gold Cup at Haydock Park in February under Richard Dunwoody but with the Ulsterman opting to ride Bigsun, the mount went to Neale Doughty who had previously won the race and never failed to complete the course. Sent off at 13/1 they moved into the leading half dozen as the runners came to the Canal Turn for the first time and stayed in touch with the leader throughout. Rinus moved up into a distant second place at the fourth fence from home but was never able to close a ten length advantage built up by the winner and was passed going to the second last flight by the eventual second before staying on, one paced to finish third.
Call Collect had won the previous years Topham Chase over one circuit of the course. Questions over his stamina were answered when he won the Cheltenham Foxhunter Chase three weeks before coming to Aintree. Public confidence in his chances began to fade in the hours before the race as it was thought the ground conditions might not be in his favour. In partnership with his amateur rider, Mr Ray Martin, the pair went off at 14/1 but were well to the rear throughout the race before making ground through the tiring field to finish seventh, getting their only mention from the television commentator as they passed the post.
Ghofar and Brendan Powell came to Aintree having won the Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup at Newbury the previous year, having beaten Brown Windsor in the process. They set off at 14/1 but were another who never got into contention before finishing a remote fourteenth.
Next in the market came three 16/1 shots, which included Mr Frisk, the winner of the Ascot Punch Bowl Amateur Chase the previous November. The firm ground on the day made him a very popular each-way chance on the day in company with his amateur rider, Racing Post correspondent, Marcus Armytage. They were up among the leaders throughout the race, being left fifteen lengths clear when co-leader, Uncle Merlin unseated at Becher's Brook on the second circuit. Although challenged on the run in by Durham Edition, they remained in front to win in a record time of 8 minutes 48 seconds, which still stands despite the race distance being reduced in 2013.
In the aftermath of two equine fatalities at Becher's Brook in the previous years National it was decided to make changes to the fence. The ditch into which Captain Becher himself had fallen one hundred and fifty-one years earlier was filled in. The bend away from the fence was also softened.
|1st||Mr. Frisk||Mr. Marcus Armytage||11||10-06||16/1||Won by ¾ length|
|2nd||Durham Edition||Chris Grant||12||10-09||9/1||20 lengths|
|3rd||Rinus||Neale Doughty||9||10-04||13/1||12 lengths|
|4th||Brown Windsor||John White||8||10-10||7/1 F||½ length|
|5th||Lastofthebrownies||Charlie Swan||10||10-00||20/1||25 lengths|
|6th||Bigsun||Richard Dunwoody||9||10-02||15/2||1½ lengths|
|7th||Call Collect||Mr. Ray Martin||9||10-05||14/1||12 lengths|
|9th||Sir Jest||Brian Storey||12||10-00||66/1|
|10th||West Tip||Philip Hobbs||13||10-11||20/1|
|11th||Team Challenge||Ben De Haan||8||10-00||50/1|
|12th||Charter Hardware||Norman Williamson||8||10-00||66/1|
|13th||Gallic Prince||Mr. Jose Simo (ESP)||11||10-04||100/1|
|15th||Course Hunter||Graham Bradley||12||10-00||66/1|
|16th||Bonanza Boy||Peter Scudamore||9||11-09||16/1|
|17th||Solares||Mr. P McMahon||10||10-00||150/1|
|19th||Mick's Star||S J O'Neill||10||10-01||66/1|
|20th||Bob Tisdall||Kevin Mooney||11||10-05||66/1|
|1st||Gala's Image||J Short||10||10-00||66/1||Fell|
|3rd||Thinking Cap||P L Malone||9||10-00||100/1||Fell|
|6th (Becher's Brook)||Torside||Jimmy Frost||11||10-03||66/1||Pulled up|
|6th (Becher's Brook)||Lanavoe||P Leech||11||10-00||100/1||Fell|
|7th (Foinavon's)||Young Driver||J Duggan||13||10-04||150/1||Pulled up|
|8th (Canal Turn)||Roll-A-Joint||Simon McNeill||12||10-00||28/1||Fell (fatally)|
|13th||Star's Delight||Jonathan Lower||8||10-00||50/1||Pulled up|
|14th||Monanore||Tom Taaffe||13||10-05||100/1||Carried out|
|15th (The Chair)||Huntworth||Mr. A Walter||10||10-09||66/1||Fell|
|19th||Joint Sovereignty||Lorcan Wyer||10||10-01||50/1||Unseated rider|
|19th||Hungary Hur||Tommy Carmody||11||11-02||50/1||Pulled up (later euthanised)|
|21st||Against the Grain||Jamie Osborne||9||10-00||25/1||Pulled up|
|22nd (Becher's Brook)||Uncle Merlin (USA)||Hywel Davies||9||10-03||16/1||Unseated rider|
|23rd (Foinavon's)||Polyfemus||Richard Rowe||8||10-02||18/1||Pulled up|
|26th||Nautical Joke||Kenny Johnson||11||10-00||66/1||Unseated rider|
|26th||Pukka Major (USA)||Mark Richards||9||10-04||50/1||Unseated rider|
Media coverage and aftermath
The BBC broadcast the race live on television for the thirty-first consecutive year as part of its regular Saturday afternoon Grandstand programme, in a Grand National special. Des Lynam was the anchor presenter, interviewing the connections of the competitors and celebrity race goers before handing over to Richard Pitman and Bill Smith who gave a guide to the runners as they prepared for the race. The television commentary team was unchanged for the nineteenth consecutive year in John Hanmer, Julian Wilson and lead commentator, Peter O'Sullevan who was calling his forty-fifth Grand National.
Richard Pitman and Bill Smith took Television viewers through a detailed rerun of the race using camera angles not used during the running of the race itself, including a camera from a helicopter and cameras inside the first fence and the chair.
There was criticism of Julian Wilson's commentary for the second consecutive year when he referred to the body of the horse Roll-A-Joint, which had suffered a fatal fall on the first circuit, as an obstruction when the runners went to jump the Canal Turn, second time. The horse had been moved a few feet away from the landing side of the fence and covered with a sheet.
The race was also broadcast live on BBC Radio for the fifty-ninth time as part of its Saturday Sport programme and for the final time on Radio Two. The BBC moved the programme to the newly launched BBC Radio Five the following year.
All of the major National UK and Ireland daily newspapers carried extensive pre race coverage in their Saturday editions many included full colour race card style guides.
Among the fifteen riders making their debut in the race were Norman Williamson, Charlie Swan, Lorcan Wyer and Jamie Osborne, all of whom would later finish second in future Grand Nationals.
As a prominent racing journalist and author, Marcus Armytage has written extensively about the Grand National and his victory in it. In 2010 while writing for the Daily Telegraph he wrote "At Becher's second time everything changed. I was wondering if I'd ever be able to get past Uncle Merlin when he pecked. As I went past Hywel (Davies - jockey of Uncle Merlin) was half on, half off and I assumed he would rejoin me shortly. I was unaware gravity won the argument. (Davies had been unseated). Armytage also explained to Channel Four how he nearly completely under estimated the runner up. "I was well clear [at the second last fence] but then first heard the noise of other horses. If you look back at the footage, Chris [Grant], on Durham Edition and Neale Doughty, on Rinus have a chat and Neale was telling Chris 'You've got him'. I actually thought the horse behind was Team Challenge, which was one of the slowest finishers in the field so I wasn't worried. The blessing was that I didn't look back and see Chris." 
Davies himself told the press that he was convinced Uncle Merlin would have won but for the fall at Bechers. A further claim that they would be back next year to win went unfulfilled.
- Baerlein, Richard (9 April 1990). "Mr Frisk and Mr Armytage strike another blow for amateurs riders in record time". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 9 June 2010.
- http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Whitbread+winner+Brown+Windsor+dies+at+24.-a0154725155 Brown Windsor Obituary
- Baerlein, Richard (9 April 1990). "Mr Frisk and Mr Armytage strike another blow for amateurs riders in record time". The Guardian (London).