2008 Grand National
|Date||5 April 2008|
|Winning horse||Comply or Die|
The 2008 Grand National (known as the John Smith's Grand National for sponsorship reasons) was the 161st official annual running of the world-famous Grand National steeplechase which took place at Aintree Racecourse near Liverpool, England, on 5 April 2008 and attracted the maximum permitted field of 40 runners, competing for total prize money of £450,640.
Joint-favourite Comply or Die and Irish jockey Timmy Murphy won the race (it was Murphy's eleventh attempt at the National), four lengths ahead of King John's Castle in second place and Snowy Morning in third.
Competitors and betting
Cloudy Lane, ridden by Jason Maguire, was the long-time ante-post favourite but was joined just before the off by Comply or Die, ridden by Timmy Murphy; the pair sent off as 7–1 joint-favourites. The top weight of 11 stone and 12 lbs was carried by former winner Hedgehunter, ridden by Ruby Walsh. The full order of betting at the off was as follows:
|SP||Number||Horse||Age||Handicap (st-lb)||Jockey||Trainer||Owner||Colours||Finishing position|
|7/1||26||Cloudy Lane||8||10–11||Jason Maguire||Donald McCain, Jr.||Trevor Hemmings||Green/yellow quarters, white sleeves and cap||6th|
|7/1||33||Comply or Die||9||10–9||Timmy Murphy||David Pipe||David Johnson||Blue with green sleeves, white cap with green spots||1st|
|10/1||11||Butler's Cabin||8||11–3||Tony McCoy||Jonjo O'Neill||J. P. McManus||Green and orange hoops, white cap||Fence 22|
|10/1||1||Hedgehunter||12||11–12||Ruby Walsh||Willie Mullins||Trevor Hemmings||Green/yellow quarters with white sleeves and green cap||13th|
|10/1||12||Slim Pickings||9||11–3||Barry Geraghty||Tom Taaffe||syndicate||Blue/whites checks, blue sleeves and cap||4th|
|11/1||7||Simon||9||11–7||Dominic Elsworth||John Spearing||Mercy Rimell||Purple with sky blue spots, sky blue and purple spotted cap||Fence 25|
|12/1||17||Bewley's Berry||10||11–0||Denis O'Regan||J. Howard Johnson||Andrea & Graham Wylie||Chocolate and brown halves, brown sleeves with chocolate hoops, chocolate cap||5th|
|14/1||13||Chelsea Harbour||8||11–12||Davy Russell||Thomas Mullins||Mrs. P. Duffin||Orange with black star, diablo sleeves, black and white hooped cap||9th|
|16/1||16||Snowy Morning||8||11–1||David Casey||Willie Mullins||Quayside syndicate||Yellow with black braces, quartered cap||3rd|
|20/1||27||King John's Castle||9||10–11||Paul Carberry||Arthur Moore||J. P. McManus||Green and orange hoops and quartered cap||2nd|
|20/1||14||Vodka Bleu||9||11–2||Paul Moloney||David Pipe||David Johnson||Blue with green sleeves, blue cap||Fence 19|
|25/1||22||D'Argent||11||10–12||Robert Thornton||Alan King||Nigel Bunter||Purple with navy star and cap||Fence 27|
|25/1||39||Philson Run||12||10–8||Daryl Jacob||Nick Williams||Gale Force One||Yellow with orange braces and grey lower sleeves, yellow cap with orange stars||Fence 8|
|25/1||19||McKelvey||9||11–0||Tom O'Brien||Peter Bowen||N. Elliott||Green with red V and quartered cap||Fence 20|
|25/1||4||Mr. Pointment||9||11–11||Sam Thomas||Paul Nicholls||Stockton Heath Racing||Red with blue double braces and lower sleeves, red cap||Fence 30|
|25/1||21||Point Barrow||10||10–13||Tony Dobbin||P. Hughes||Mrs. P. Clune Hughes, Mrs. M. O'Dwyer & J. Foley||Violet with purple trim and quartered cap||Fence 17|
|28/1||28||Mon Mome||8||10–11||Aidan Coleman||Venetia Williams||Vida Bingham||Green with blue armbands, green cap||10th|
|33/1||40||Dun Doire||9||10–7||Richard McGrath||Tony Martin||Dunderry Racing Syndicate||Green and navy hoops, navy sleeves, navy and white quartered cap||Fence 29|
|33/1||15||L'ami||9||11–1||Mick Fitzgerald||François Doumen||J. P. McManus||Green and orange hoops, red cap||Fence 2|
|33/1||5||Turko||6||11–10||Richard Johnson||Paul Nicholls||Stewart family||White and black halves with red sleeves and cap||Fence 25|
|50/1||9||Iron Man||7||11–5||Christian Williams||Peter Bowen||R. Owen & P. Fullager||White with red V, green and red striped sleeves, red cap||Fence 3|
|66/1||24||Bailey Breeze||9||10–11||Paddy Flood||Mouse Morris||R. A. Scott||Green with red star, stars on sleeves and cap||8th|
|66/1||38||Black Apalachi||9||10–8||Andrew McNamara||Dessie Hughes||Gerard Burke||Green with blue hoops on sleeves and star on cap||Fence 2|
|66/1||10||Fundamentalist||10||11–4||Paddy Brennan||Nigel Twiston-Davies||C. Cornes||Black with orange stripes, starson sleeves and orange cap||Fence 4|
|66/1||34||Idle Talk||9||10–9||Brian Harding||Donald McCain Jr.||Trevor Hemmings||Green and yellow quarters, white sleeves, red cap||14th|
|66/1||20||Joacci||8||10–13||Johnny Farrelly||David Pipe||David Johnson||Blue, green sleeves, white cap with green spots||Fence 20|
|66/1||35||Kelami||10||10–9||Barry Keniry||François Doumen||Halewood International Ltd.||Black with red and white striped sleeves and hooped cap||Fence 11|
|66/1||3||Knowhere||10||11–11||Joe Tizzard||Nigel Twiston-Davies||H. R. Mould||Green with white stars and star on cap||Fence 25|
|66/1||6||Madison Du Berlais||7||11–9||Tom Scudamore||David Pipe||Roger Stanley & Yvonne Reynolds II||Blue with white diamond belt and sleeves with red armbands and cap||Fence 8|
|66/1||30||Naunton Brook||9||10–10||Andrew Tinkler||Nigel Twiston-Davies||David Langdon||Navy and green stripes, red cap with navy star||Fence 19|
|80/1||29||Cornish Sett||9||10–10||Nick Scholfield||Paul Nicholls||Peter Hart||Green with white hoop, checkered sleeves and quartered cap||12th|
|100/1||8 (41)||Ardaghey||9||10–7||David England||Nigel Twiston-Davies||D. J. & S. A. Goodman||Green with white star, diablo sleeves and white star on cap||Fence 4|
|100/1||32||Backbeat||11||10–9||Wilson Renwick||J Howard Johnson||Andrea & Graham Wylie||Chocolate and brown halves, brown sleeves with chocolate hoops, red cap||Fence 2|
|100/1||25||Bob Hall||7||10–11||Noel Fehily||Jonjo O'Neill||J. P. McManus||Green and orange hoops, blue cap||Fence 19|
|100/1||18||Contraband||10||11–0||Keith Mercer||Paul Murphy||F. G. Wilson||Red, with white star, red and black striped sleeves, white cap with black star||Fence 11|
|100/1||2||Hi Cloy||11||11–12||Tom Doyle||Michael Hourigan||Susan McCloy||White with red belt and striped sleeves, white cap||11th|
|100/1||31||Tumbling Dice||9||10–10||Tom Ryan||Tom Taaffe||John Donegan||Black with red hollow square and checkered cap||Fence 3|
|125/1||36||Milan Deux Mille||6||10–9||Tom Malone||David Pipe||F. G. & J. E. Wilson||Orange with white cap, black striped sleeves, white cap with black star||15th|
|125/1||37||Nadover||7||10–9||Robbie Power||Charlie Mann||G. H. Storey||Sky blue with yellow belt||7th|
|125/1||23||No Full||7||10–12||Shay Barry||Eion Doyle||Mrs. P. Doyle||Green with white sash and diamond piping on sleeves, striped cap||Fence 6|
Three riders were having their thirteenth ride in the race: Mick Fitzgerald, who won the race in 1996 on Rough Quest, Paul Carberry, who won the race in 1999 on Bobbyjo, and Tony McCoy. Other former winning riders competing were Ruby Walsh (Hedgehunter in 2005 and Papillon in 2000), Barry Geraghty (Monty's Pass in 2003), Tony Dobbin (Lord Gyllene in 1997) and Robbie Power (Silver Birch in 2007).
Ardaghey was listed as first reserve and was called into the race when Opera Mundi was withdrawn the day before.
The runners were sent away to a clean first start with No Full leading over the first fence, which all 40 runners cleared safely. The fences leading up to the sixth, Becher's Brook, claimed seven runners as Black Apalachi fell having taken the lead at the second; L'Ami, whose rider Mick Fitzgerlad had to go to hospital with neck and back injuries, and Backbeat also fell. Tumbling Dice and Iron Man both unseated their riders when taking off too soon at the third, while Ardaghey and Fundamentalist got in too close to the fourth fence and both fell, leaving 31 runners continuing to Becher's, led by Mr. Pointment and Milan Deux Mille.
No Full was up in the leading dozen runners when he clipped the top of Becher's and fell, and the casualties increased at the Canal Turn where Madison Du Berlais fell and hampered Philson Run, whose rider was unseated. The 11th fence claimed two more fallers when Contraband and Kelami both failed to negotiate that obstacle, leaving 26 to complete the first circuit.
The water jump (16th fence) marked the end of the first circuit and was taken with Chelsea Harbour having moved up to lead from Mr. Pointment, D'Argent, Simon and Comply Or Die next in a tightly-packed field, which was reduced by one when Point Barrow was pulled up. Five other runners all left the contest before reaching Becher's Brook for the second time; Voldka Bleu, Naunton Brook and Bob Hall were all pulled up before the 19th; Joacci fell at the next and McKelvey also unseated his rider. McKelvey then veered sharply off the course after falling when trying to negotiate the running rails and suffering fatal injuries, becoming the sixth horse to die in the Grand National since the turn of the century.
At Becher's Brook for the second time the first dozen remained tightly grouped consisting of Chelsea Harbour, Mr. Pointment, Comply or Die, the grey D'Argent, Butler's Cabin, Snowy Morning, Idle Talk, Bewley's Berry, Knowhere, Simon, Mon Mome and Hedgehunter; Butler's Cabin fell there.
Knowhere and Simon were beginning to lose touch when unseated at Valentine's fence, where Turko also fell. Joint-favourite Cloudy Lane had never been in the front rank and now looked too far off the pace to mount a challenge, as did Nadover, Bailey Breeze and Hi Cloy, with Cornish Sett and Milan Deux Mille tailed off with five fences to jump.
D'Argent also looked like he was just starting to drop away when he fell four fences from home. Comply or Die took the final fence the best and was never headed on the long run-in, winning by four lengths from King John's Castle and Snowy Morning; Slim Pickings was again fourth. Eleven others finished in the following order: Bewley's Berry, Cloudy Lane, Nadover, Baily Breeze, Chelsea Harbour, Mon Mome, Hi Cloy, Cornish Sett, Hedgehunter, Idle Talk and Milan Deux Mille. Dun Doire was pulled up before jumping the second-last fence and long-time leader Mr. Pointment pulled up before the last.
It was the first Grand National win for all of the connections with Comply or Die, with jockey Timmy Murphy telling reporters that the race was the highlight of his career, confessing that the trainer had said the horse was a certainty to win. Owner David Johnson was also delighted to win after having had around 20 horses compete unsuccessfully in previous Nationals.
All of the other jockeys to complete the course returned stating their happiness with their mounts and such was the competitive nature of the race that all had felt they still had a chance at Becher's on the second circuit, the only exception being Tom Malone, whose Milan Deux Mille was already tailed off at that stage and finished a long way behind the rest.
2008 was Tony Dobbin's final ride in the Grand National, having announced his retirement before the race.
As a result of spinal injuries suffered in the race, Mick Fitzgerald also announced his retirement from race riding later that year.
The National was televised live in the United Kingdom in a four-hour-long broadcast on BBC One, presented by Clare Balding with Rishi Persad and guest presenter Richard Dunwoody. The commentary team of four commentators was Ian Bartlett, Tony O'Hehir, Darren Owen and lead commentator Jim McGrath who called the winner home for the eleventh consecutive year.
The action was broadcast via fifty-two cameras, including cameras situated inside fences, although the use of jockey cams, cameras placed inside riders helmets was not used this year. The famous head-on elevated shot of Becher's Brook, which became synonymous with the fence for almost 50 years was replaced with a low angle shot. This was the 49th annual broadcast of the race live by the BBC but was the first not to be broadcast as part of a Grandstand special.
For the second consecutive year, Tony McCoy, Mick Fitzgerald and Paul Carberry weighed out as the most experienced riders in the race, each taking their thirteenth attempt at a Grand National. Both Fitzgerald (1996) and Carberry (1999) had previously won the race but McCoy joined Jeff King, Peter Scudamore and David Nicholson in having faced the starter thirteen times in the National without ever being winner or runner-up, although in Scudamore's case this included the void race of 1993. It proved to be the final race that Fitzgerald rode in as he suffered serious neck, back and knee ligament injuries from his fall from L'Ami at the second fence. It forced him to retire from race riding.
Eight riders made their debut in the race with Paddy Flood, Aidan Coleman and Nick Scholfield all completing the course while Wilson Renwick fell at the second fence.
- Official BBC coverage of the 2008 Grand National