1991 Grand National

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1991 Grand National
Grand National
Location Aintree Racecourse
Date 6 April 1991
Winning horse New Zealand Seagram
SP 12/1
Jockey Nigel Hawke
Trainer David H Barons
Owner Sir Eric Parker
Conditions Good to soft[1]
External video
All the 1990s Grand Nationals in full Racing UK, BBC Sport, YouTube
Replay of the 1991 Grand National in full[2] Youtube

The 1991 Grand National (known as the Seagram Grand National for sponsorship reasons) was the 145th renewal of the Grand National horse race that took place at Aintree Racecourse near Liverpool, England, on 6 April 1991.

It was the last Grand National to be sponsored by Seagram, a Canadian distillery corporation that had begun sponsoring the world-famous steeplechase in 1984. Aptly, the race was won by a horse named Seagram, in a time of nine minutes and 29.9 seconds.[1][3]

Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Garrison Savannah looked likely to go on and win when he jumped the 30th and final fence, four lengths clear of his nearest challenger, 11-year-old Seagram. But Seagram made up the ground on the long run-in to secure victory.[3] There was one equine fatality in the race when Ballyhane collapsed and died after finishing.[4]

Leading contenders[edit]

Bonanza Boy was sent off as favourite despite having finished well beaten in his two previous attempts at the race. Under Peter Scudamore the horse had previously won the Welsh Grand National at Chepstow in 1988 and '89 but had pulled up in the most recent renewal when partnered by Hywel Davies. When reunited with Scudamore, Bonanza Boy bounced back by winning the Ansell's National Handicap Chase at Uttoxeter three weeks before the National. Scudamore took the ride at Aintree and was, jointly with Chris Grant, the most experienced rider in the race, both taking their eleventh National mounts. The favourite was never in contention, being well to the rear on the first circuit and always just out of reach of the leaders on the second. He picked his way through tired horses to earn fifth place. Bonanza Boy returned for a fourth attempt at the National in 1992 but his best days were behind him and he failed to complete the course for the first time. He also lined up for a fifth and final time in the void race of 1993 and retired from racing in 1994 spending his days opening fetes and local events before dying in 2011 at the age of 30.[5]

Garrison Savannah came to Aintree bidding to be only the second horse ever, and the first for over half a century to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup and Grand National in the same year. In partnership of Mark Pitman, son of trainer Jenny Pitman, the pair were well placed throughout and turned for home disputing the lead. At the penultimate fence the Cheltenham champion kicked on and built a lead of three lengths going to the final flight, which looked decisive when his lead increased after the fence but just as he approached the elbow the horse's stride shortened dramatically and he began virtually running on the spot to be caught in the final strides by the eventual winner. In defeat Garrison Savannah has often been cited in articles and television recollections of gallant National losers and in another ironic twist, his defeat is often likened to that of Crisp in 1973 when caught on the run in similar circumstances when being ridden by Pitman's father Richard. Pitman senior also had to recall his sons fate as a BBC reporter taking viewers through a rerun of the race. Garrison Savannah returned for three further attempts at the National, including the void race of 1993 but failed to repeat his performance of his first attempt. He however remains one of just two horses since the war to have won and finished second in chasings two major events in the same season. After a happy retirement, he died in 2005 at the age of twenty-two.

Rinus shared co second favourite spot with Garrison Savannah at 7/1, largely on the back of an impressive performance when finishing third in the previous year's race. In company of Neale Doughty, himself a winning rider in 1984 he was going very well, moving up to dispute the lead when he crashed through the twentieth fence and fell, being met with a huge gasp from the crowd in the stands. it proved to be the only time in ten attempts that Doughty had failed to complete the course.[6]

Bigsun was another who had performed well in the National the previous year to finish sixth and with former winning rider Richard Dunwoody in the saddle, was well backed to improve on that at 9/1. They were in touch with the leaders and looking like they may be about to mount a serious challenge when a very bad mistake at Becher's Brook second time saw the horse come right down on his belly. Dunwoody somehow managed to stay on board but they had been brought to a complete standstill and any hope of victory was gone. They jumped another fence before Dunwoody pulled up with Bigsun having possibly pulled a muscle in the Becher's mistake.

Seagram was naturally popular among coincidence backers who noted the horse carried the name of the sponsors though his price of 12/1 had more to do with his recent victory in the Ritz Club Chase at Cheltenham. His detractors pointed to the horse being the smallest in the field as well as being partnered with the relatively inexperienced Nigel Hawke, one of fourteen riders making the National debut. Seagram was kept in mid division during the first circuit before moving into contention early on the second. Seagram was one of five disputing the lead after jumping the Canal turn but looked to have been beaten into second at the final flight before finding a second wind to streak past the tired Garrison Savannah in the final strides to win by five lengths. His rider Nigel Hawke admitted to being overawed by the attention victory brought and later claimed that he had settled for second place when jumping the final fence. Like many National winners, Seagram failed to achieve anything of note after his victory. He returned to tackle the Aintree fences twice more, once in the National and once in the Becher chase, failing to complete the course on either occasion. The horse, once described as easily bored, was eventually retired to the hunting field[7] until his death in 1997, aged 17.[8]

Finishing order[edit]

Position Name Jockey Age Weight SP Distance
1st Seagram (NZL) Nigel Hawke 11 10-06 12/1 Won by 5 lengths
2nd Garrison Savannah Mark Pitman 8 11-01 7/1 8 lengths
3rd Auntie Dot Mark Dwyer 10 10-04 50/1 25 lengths
4th Over the Road Robbie Supple 10 10-07 50/1 Short head
5th Bonanza Boy Peter Scudamore 10 11-07 13/2 F 1½ lengths
6th Durham Edition Chris Grant 13 10-13 25/1 4 lengths
7th Golden Minstrel Tom Grantham 12 10-02 50/1 6 lengths
8th Old Applejack Tim Reed 11 10-01 66/1 2 lengths
9th Leagaune Mark Richards 9 10-00 200/1 4 lengths
10th Foyle Fisherman Eamon Murphy 12 10-00 40/1 12 lengths
11th Ballyhane Declan Murphy 10 10-03 22/1 1½ lengths
12th Harley I Ger Lyons 11 10-00 150/1 30 lengths
13th Mick's Star Charlie Swan 11 10-00 100/1 5 lengths
14th Ten of Spades John White 11 11-01 15/1
15th Forest Ranger Dai Tegg 9 10-00 100/1
16th Yahoo Norman Williamson 10 11-01 33/1
17th Golden Freeze Michael Bowlby 9 11-00 40/1 Last to complete



Fence Name Jockey Age Weight SP Fate
1st Docklands Express Anthony Tory 9 10-03 20/1 Fell
2nd Run and Skip Derek Byrne 13 10-00 66/1 Fell
5th Envopak Token Mark Perrett 10 10-00 28/1 Pulled up
7th (Foinavon) Southernair I Mr. Jose Simo 11 10-01 100/1 Unseated rider
11th (open ditch) Joint Sovereignty Liam O'Hara 11 10-00 100/1 Fell
15th (The Chair) Crammer John Durkan 11 10-02 28/1 Fell
17th Abba Lad Dean Gallagher 9 10-00 250/1 Pulled up
18th Fraze (CZE) Vaclav Chaloupka 8 11-10 100/1 Pulled up
19th (open ditch) Master Bob Jamie Osborne 11 10-05 20/1 Pulled up
19th (open ditch) Team Challenge Ben De Haan 9 10-00 50/1 Refused
20th Rinus Neale Doughty 10 10-07 7/1 Fell
20th The Langholm Dyer Graham McCourt 12 10-06 100/1 Unseated rider
21st Mister Christian (NZL) Simon Earle 10 10-00 100/1 Pulled up
21st Bumbles Folly (NZL) Jimmy Frost 10 10-05 150/1 Pulled up
21st Solidasarock Graham Bradley 9 10-04 50/1 Pulled up
22nd (Becher's Brook) Mr. Frisk Mr. Marcus Armytage 12 11-06 25/1 Pulled up
22nd (Becher's Brook) Hotplate Peter Niven 9 10-02 80/1 Pulled up
22nd (Becher's Brook) Blue Dart Hywel Davies 11 10-02 80/1 Unseated rider
23rd (Foinavon) New Halen Seamus O'Neill 10 10-00 50/1 Unseated rider
24th (Canal Turn) Oklaoma (FRA) Roland Kleparski 11 10-07 66/1 Pulled up
24th (Canal Turn) Bigsun Richard Dunwoody 10 10-04 9/1 Pulled up
25th (Valentine's) Huntworth Mr. Alan Walter 11 10-08 50/1 Pulled up
26th General Chandos Mr. John Bradburne 10 10-03 150/1 Pulled up


Coverage and aftermath[edit]

And it's Garrison Savannah being chased all the time by Seagram, Garrison Savannah by four lengths as they come to the elbow, from Seagram who hasn't given up! Garrison Savannah, with Seagram putting in a tremendous run! Seagram is beginning to get up on the nearside, Seagram has taken it up and he's going to win the National! Seagram, a first ride for Nigel Hawke, has won the National!

Commentator Peter O'Sullevan describes the climax of the race

The BBC provided coverage of the race for the sixtieth time on Radio and for the thirty-second consecutive year on Television, with this year's race broadcast as part of a Grand National Grandstand special. The Television commentary team was unchanged for the twentieth consecutive year in John Hanmer, Julian Wilson and lead commentator, Peter O'Sullevan who was calling his forty-sixth Grand National.[9] The race was broadcast live across the United Kingdom at 3.20pm.

Speaking in 1999, Hawke said of his victory: "It just all happened so quickly with Seagram that I couldn't really appreciate it. You never catch up with yourself. I wouldn't mind trying it again. I just happened to be on the right horse on the right day, which doesn't happen very often when you're a jockey. I found that out later." [9]


  1. ^ a b c d "Results From The 3.20 Race At Aintree | 6 April 1991 | Racing Post". racingpost.com. Retrieved 2014-08-27. 
  2. ^ "Seagram - 1991 Grand National - YouTube". youtube.com. Retrieved 2014-08-27. 
  3. ^ a b "Seagram 1991 Grand National". grand-national.me.uk. Retrieved 2014-08-27. 
  4. ^ [1][dead link]
  5. ^ "Top chaser Bonanza Boy dies aged 30 - Horse Racing News - Racing Post". Racingpost.com. Retrieved 18 November 2014. 
  6. ^ "Grand National Fence Guide - Your Full Guide to the Grand National Fences". Grand National Guide. Retrieved 18 November 2014. 
  7. ^ "Seagram 1991 Grand National". grand-national.me.uk. Retrieved 2014-08-27. 
  8. ^ http://www.sportsbookguardian.com/horse-racing/grand-national/winners/1991-seagram
  9. ^ a b "Grand National Anorak |". freewebs.com. Retrieved 2014-08-27. 

External links[edit]