Nashwan Nashwan was bred and owned by Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum, in whose famous blue and white colours he raced, trained by Major Dick Hern in West Isley, Berkshire and ridden, exclusively, by Willie Carson. The son of Blushing Groom is probably best remembered for his 5-length defeat of 500/1 outsider Terimon in the Derby in 1989, but also had the distinction of being the first horse since Nijinksy, in 1970, to complete the 2,000 Guineas – Derby double. He also remains the only horse ever to win the first two colts’ Classics, plus the Coral-Eclipse Stakes and the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes in the same season.

Foaled on March 1, 1986, Nashwan raced twice as a juvenile, winning a well-contested maiden stakes race, over 7 furlongs, at Newbury on his debut in August, 1988 and following up in the Listed Autumn Stakes, over a mile, at Ascot two months later. He reappeared in the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket, for which he started 3/1 favourite. Always prominent, he took the lead with two furlongs to run and, although strongly challenged by Exbourne, Danehill and Markofdistinction, quickened again close home to win by a length.

Following his well-chronicled win in the Derby, Nashwan took on the older horses for the first time in the Coral-Eclipse Stakes at Sandown, again winning easily by 5 lengths. Two weeks later, he started at prohibitive odds of 2/9 for the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot, but was ultimately all out to hold Cacoethes – whom he had comfortably beaten by 7 lengths in the Derby – by a neck.

Connections declined an attempt at the Triple Crown, favouring the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe over the St. Leger so, after a short break, Nashwan was sent to Longchamp for a preparatory race in the Prix Niel, a Group Two contest over the same course and distance as the Arc. Sent off at 1/5 for what appeared a formality, Nashwan held every chance inside the final quarter of a mile, but could only keep on at one pace to finish third, beaten 2 lengths, behind Golden Pheasant. He had run his last race and was retired at the end of the season having won all but one of his seven starts and over £793,000 in prize money.

Nashwan was humanely euthanised in July, 2002, after complications following a supposedly minor operation on a hind leg, at the age of 16. His death came just two months after that of his erstwhile trainer, who had earlier described him as “the best horse I’ve ever trained”.

Sceptre Spectre was a remarkable filly who, in 1902, won the 2,000 Guineas, the 1,000 Guineas, the Oaks and the St. Leger, making her the only horse ever to win four English ‘Classics’. She also ran in the Derby, finishing fourth and, in a sensational, but exhausting, three-year-old campaign, also won the St. James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot and the Nassau Stakes.

Bred, and originally owned, by Hugh Lupus Grosvenor, First Duke of Westminster, Sceptre was sold, for 10,000 guineas – making her the most expensive yearling in history – by dispersal sale following his death in December, 1899. Her new owner, Robert Standish Sievier, was an extraordinary character, who had already been declared bankrupt more than once. He initially sent Sceptre to Charles Morton in Wantage, Oxfordshire, but at the end of a successful two-year-old campaign, during which she won two of her three starts, Sievier began training in his own right.

Sievier was renowned as an inveterate gambler, who had won and lost a fortune, and he was out of luck again when Sceptre – whom, according to his not-totally-reliable autobiography, he had backed to win £30,000 – was beaten a head by St. Maclou, under just 6st 7lb, when favourite for the Lincolnshire Handicap on her three-year-old debut.

Compensation wasn’t far away, though; after a short break, Sceptre won the 2,000 Guineas and the 1,000 Guineas – without one front shoe in the latter – within the space of 48 hours, becoming the first horse ever to do so. She was, unsurprisingly, made favourite for the Derby but, despite recovering from a bruised foot sustained during a gallop at home, missed the break at Epsom. She was vigorously ridden to make up the lost ground, but the effort took its toll and she faded to finish fourth. Nevertheless, Sceptre bounced back again, winning the Oaks in a canter 48 hours later.

Her punishing schedule continued, with a trip to Longchamp for the Grand Prix de Paris, two runs at Royal Ascot and two more at Glorious Goodwood, before she attempted her fourth Classic, the St. Leger Stakes at Doncaster. She won, beating the Derby second, Rising Glass, as she had done in the St. James’s Palace Stakes, but even then Sievier had the audacity to run her again in the Park Hill Stakes two days later.

Mishaps and Mayhem at the Grand National With any global level sporting event it’s vital that everything is running like clockwork. You can’t very well have the floodlights going out in a World Cup final or the starting pistol not working in the Olympics 100m dash. The very same applies to the Grand National. Surely one of the most recognised and respected horse races in the world, the Grand National attracts massive domestic and worldwide audiences. With that in mind, it becomes a must to iron out any potential kinks in the proceedings. But of course everyone and everything is fallible and there are enough factors at play for things to occasionally go awry. So , I present to you, the mishaps and mayhem at the Grand National

2 horse race

Often we hear the description, ‘a two horse race’ but perhaps it’s never been more true than at the 1928 grand national. Of course, it’s hard to tell from year to year how many horses will actually complete the gruelling Grand National course and its tricky hurdles, but it’s safe to say that the obvious answer isn’t two! To top off the madness, the eventual winner, Tipperary Tim, was a 100-1 shot. In fact even the 2nd place horse, Billy Barton, had fallen too, but the jockey remounted. Some happy punters, and probably quite a few confused ones, that day!

Scared of your own shadow

There’s certain scenarios you don’t consider coming about as you’re selecting your Grand National betting tips. You might not be familiar with the details, but this incident involving Devon Loch in the 1956 Grand National, has been televised and viewed on YouTube countless times. In a ‘what could possibly go wrong?’ moment never to be forgotten, Devon Loch snatched defeat from the jaws of victory just 40 yards from the finish line. The horse jumped, seemingly for no reason, before performing what can best be described as a cross between the splits and a belly flop, right in front of owners, the Queen and the Queen Mother. All of this led to its closet rival ESB breezing to victory is unexpected fashion. Many theories have been posited as to what happened on that fateful day, ranging from being scared of his own shadow, to imagining that there was a jump there. Should have gone to Specsavers?

Faulty start

We’re into the modern age with this third and final bizarre incident from the 1993 Grand National. The starter may as well have said ‘On your marks, get set, don’t go’, as the start was botched not once but twice. On the second false start several of the jockeys didn’t get the message that they’d been called back, leading to mayhem as some returned to the start line whereas the majority made their way around the track. In all 30 of the 39 runners carried on racing and consequently the race was declared void. To many it’s known as the Grand National that never was. The winner was Esha Ness, but under such conditions sadly it’s not a victory that counts for much, if anything.

With this zany recap, let’s hope that we’ve got the madness out of our system and that the Grand National 2020 goes off like a dream. Enjoy the race!

Abernant Owned by Reginald Macdonald-Buchanan and trained by Noel Murless, later Sir Noel Murless, at Beckhampton, near Marlborough, Wiltshire, Abernant won fourteen of his seventeen races between 1948 and 1950. His regular partner, twenty-six-times champion jockey Sir Gordon Richards, described him as ‘the best sprinter he had ever ridden’.

Comparing horses from different generations is invariably a thankless task but, according to Timeform, Abernant is the fifth highest-rated horse, sprinter or otherwise, to race on the Flat in the post-war era, and the highest-rated sprinter in that period. Indeed, before Frankel, Abernant was the last horse to be rated the best of his generation by Timeform at two, three and four years.

Abernant was beaten, through greenness, on his two-year-old debut at Lingfield, but thereafter carried all before him over five and six furlongs to become the best British juvenile of 1948. His five victories that year included the National Breeders’ Produce Stakes – now the National Stakes – at Sandown, the Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot, the Champagne Stakes at Doncaster and the Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket.

Following a successful reappearance at Bath, over seven furlongs, Abernant was sent off odds-on favourite for the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket; after trying to make all, was caught close home and beaten a short head by his old rival Nimbus, whom he had beaten six lengths in the Champagne Stakes. Thereafter, he reverted to specialist sprint distances, winning the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot, King George Stakes at Goodwood and Nunthorpe Stakes at York, all over five furlongs, and the July Cup at Newmarket, over six furlongs.

In 1950, as a four-year-old, Abernant won the King George Stakes, Nunthorpe Stakes and July Cup again and in the King’s Stand Stakes was beaten only by the very useful three-year-old Tangled, to whom he was conceding 23lb. Abernant was retired at the end of the season with ‘nothing left for him to win’, according to Noel Murless.