1996 Grand National

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1996 Grand National
Grand National
Location Aintree
Date 30 March 1996
Winning horse England Rough Quest
Jockey Republic of Ireland Mick Fitzgerald
Trainer Terry Casey
Owner Andrew Wates
1995
1997
External video
All the 1990s Grand Nationals in full Racing UK, BBC Sport, YouTube

The 1996 Grand National (known as the Martell Grand National for sponsorship reasons) was the 149th official renewal of the world-famous Grand National steeplechase that took place at Aintree on 30 March 1996.

The race was won in a time of nine minutes and 0.8 seconds and by a distance of one-and-a-quarter lengths by Rough Quest, the 7/1 favourite, ridden by Mick Fitzgerald. The winner was trained by Terry Casey at his base in Dorking, Surrey, and ran in the colours of Andrew Wates, the chairman of Kempton Park Racecourse. Casey collected £142,534 of a total prize fund shared through the first four finishers of over £230,000. A maximum of 40 competitors was permitted but only 27 ran. There was one equine fatality during the race.[1]

Leading contenders[edit]

Rough Quest was sent off as 7/1 favourite having won the Racing Post Chase at Kempton in February and then followed up by finishing second in the Cheltenham Gold Cup sixteen days before the National. Jockey Mick Fitzgerald took his second ride in the race. The favourite moved into contention at the start of the second circuit, taking the last flight in second place before overhauling the leader to win by one-and-a-quarter lengths.[2]

Son Of War was regarded as the housewives' choice, being the only grey in the race and was considered the best hope of a first Irish-trained victory for over two decades, having won the Irish Grand National in 1994. Connor O'Dwyer was taking his sixth ride in the race and had moved into tenth position when he was unseated at the Canal Turn on the second circuit.[3]

Young Hustler, trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies, was having his third attempt in the National, having fallen early on in 1994 and being brought down before completing a circuit in 1995. However he regained public confidence when winning the Becher Chase over one circuit of the course in November. Chris Maude was given his second ride in the race and took the 8/1 shot to the front right from the start, remaining there until being headed turning for the second-last and eventually finishing fifth.[4] [5]

Superior Finish had also failed to complete a circuit of his previous attempt at the National in 1995 when considered an each-way chance but was backed down to 9/1 when the most experienced and successful rider in the race, Richard Dunwoody, booked him as his 11th National ride after winning the Cazelet/Mildmay Memorial Chase in February. The horse looked to be struggling taking the Canal Turn for the second time but finished strongly, passing beaten horses to snatch third place on the line.[6] [7]

Life Of A Lord was a seventh National ride for Charlie Swan and was backed down to 10/1 after winning the Kerry Grand National the previous September. The only ever training entry of illustrious flat trainer Aidan O'Brien, he had every chance when jumping the Canal Turn in fifth place but came under pressure after the third-last and faded to finish seventh.[8] [9]

Party Politics was a favourite among the masses of once-a-year punters, having won the race in 1992 and been second in 1995, and provided Carl Llewellyn with his sixth ride, having also been in the saddle for all three of his mount's previous attempts, including the void race of 1993. The former winner was a shock faller at the third fence and was promptly retired.[10]

Other well-fancied runners included 1995 Agfa Diamond Chase winner Deep Bramble[11] who was pulled up after going lame on the way to the second-last fence and was later retired; twice Thystes Chase winner Wylde Hide who was still in touch in 11th place when unseating his rider at the Canal Turn second time around;[12] Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup runner-up at Cheltenham Encore En Peu, who moved up to dispute the lead at Valentine's on the second circuit before going clear after the second-last, only to be headed after the elbow;[13] and the 1994 Badger Ales Chase winner Lusty Light, despite having fallen at the first fence in 1995, who this time got around without ever getting into contention to finish a distant 16th.[14]

Finishing order[edit]

Position Name Jockey Age Weight (st, lb) Starting price Distance
1st Rough Quest Mick Fitzgerald 10 10-07 7/1 F Won by 1¼ lengths
2nd Encore Un Peu (FRA) David Bridgwater 9 10-00 14/1 16 lengths
3rd Superior Finish Richard Dunwoody 10 10-03 9/1 Short head
4th Sir Peter Lely[15] Mr. Chris Bonner 9 10-00 33/1 ¾ length
5th Young Hustler Chris Maude 9 11-07 8/1 4 lengths
6th Three Brownies[16] Paul Carberry 9 10-00 100/1 14 lengths
7th Life Of A Lord Charlie Swan 10 11-06 10/1 13 lengths
8th Antonin[17] (FRA) John Burke 8 10-00 28/1 2½ lengths
9th Over The Deel Mr. Tim McCarthy 10 10-00 33/1 15 lengths
10th Vicompt De Valmont[18] Philip Hide 11 10-01 22/1 4 lengths
11th Captain Dibble Tom Jenks 11 10-00 40/1 2 lengths
12th Riverside Boy[19] David Walsh 13 10-00 66/1 14 lengths
13th Over The Stream Andrew Thornton 10 10-00 50/1 14 lengths
14th Greenhill Raffles Martin Foster 10 10-00 100/1 3 lengths
15th Into The Red Richard Guest 12 10-00 33/1 A distance
16th Lusty Light Warren Marston 10 10-11 14/1 A distance
17th Sure Metal[20] Donald McCain, Jr. 13 10-01 200/1 Last to complete

Non-finishers[edit]

Fence Name Jockey Age Weight (st, lb) Starting price Fate
1st Bavard Dieu[21] (IRE) Jason Titley 8 10-01 50/1 Unseated rider
Bishops Hall Mr. Marcus Armytage 10 10-01 22/1 Unseated rider
3rd Party Politics Carl Llewellyn 12 10-11 10/1 Fell
5th Chatam (USA) Jonothan Lower 12 10-03 40/1 Refused
13th Rust Never Sleeps Trevor Horgan 12 10-00 20/1 Pulled up
19th Brackenfield Guy Lewis 10 10-00 100/1 Unseated rider
22nd (Becher's Brook) Far Senior Tim Eley 10 10-00 150/1 Tailed off, pulled up
24th (Canal Turn) Son Of War Conor O'Dwyer 9 11-00 8/1 Unseated rider
Wylde Hide Francis Woods 9 10-00 12/1 Unseated rider
28th Deep Bramble Tony McCoy 8 10-01 50/1 Pulled up

Rust Never Sleeps and Deep Bramble were found to have broken down badly and while the latter recovered and was retired from racing, the former was euthanised. Former winner Party Politics was also retired after the race. Jason Titley was the only rider injured during the race and was taken to hospital after his fall at the first fence.

Coverage[edit]

Encore En Peu leads with Rough Quest over in second, Young Hustler third. Racing towards the elbow... Encore En Peu from Rough Quest. Rough Quest coming to tackle him towards the nearside. Rough Quest, the Gold Cup second is now striding away! And Rough Quest is going to win the 1996 National! Rough Quest comes up to the line to win it.

Commentator Peter O'Sullevan describes the climax of the race

The BBC retained the rights to broadcast the race live on television for the 37th consecutive year and was shown as part of a Grandstand (BBC) Grand National special, presented live from the course by Des Lynam.

The build-up to the race included analysis of the runners from Richard Pitman, Peter Scudamore and Bill Smith and interviews with connections in the saddling boxes and parade ring from Sue Barker, while Julian Wilson also provided special reports and a postscript of events afterwards.

The race itself was covered for the third consecutive year by commentary team John Hamner, Jim McGrath, and lead commentator Peter O'Sullevan, who called the winner home for the 49th year.

Pitman, Scudamore and Smith also covered a slow motion replay of the race.

Stewards' enquiry[edit]

The 1996 race was only the second National in history where a stewards' enquiry was called against the winner. The possibility that Rough Quest had crossed and impeded Encore En Peu on the run-in was investigated.

While television pictures clearly showed David Bridgwater having to reel in the reins of his mount to avoid a collision, it was also evident that Rough Quest was finishing the stronger, having overtaken Encore En Peu on the run-in. The stewards upheld the result despite suggestions that the result would have been overturned in a less significant race. Julian Wilson commented on Grandstand: "The wonderful thing is that a change in the rules has allowed the winner to keep the race but to be honest ten or twelve years ago I think he would have been thrown out and the second would have got it." Second-placed Bridgwater said: "I thought three out that I was gonna win. Mick [Fitzgerald] has come across me and I've had to snatch up a little bit and had it been at Hereford I probably would have got it but being as it's Aintree and there's so many million people watching, they've gotta be a bit careful about it. It was the right result on the day. If I'd have got it in the stewards' room it wouldn't have felt like I'd won a Grand National."

There was also a stewards enquiry into third place but the result was also allowed to stand.

Once the enquiry was complete, Mick Fitzgerald made the infamous comment in a post-race interview: "I've not enjoyed 12 minutes for as long in a long time. I think sex is an anti-climax after that!"

References[edit]