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2003 Grand National

2003 Grand National
Grand National
Location Aintree
Date 5 April 2003
Winning horse Monty's Pass Flag of Republic of Ireland Ireland
Winning Jockey Barry Geraghty
Conditions Good

The 2003 Grand National (known as the Martell Cognac Grand National Chase Showcase Handicap (Class A) Grade 3 for sponsorship reasons) was the 156th official renewal of a horse race that took place at the Aintree Racecourse on 5 April 2003. The race was run at 15:45 BST. The ten year old 16-1 shot Monty's Pass, ridden by Barry Geraghty and trained by Jimmy Mangan in Cork, Ireland, won the race by 12 lengths from the 2001 Welsh Grand National winner, Supreme Glory, (40-1) in a time of 9 minutes, 21.7 seconds.[1]. The winner was bred by G Slattery in Ireland and was owned by the five member, Dee Racing Syndicate based in Donaghadee in Northern Ireland. The horse ran in the Syndicate's colours of green jacket with red stars, white sleeves, white cap with red stars. The field was limited to a maximum of forty competitors for safety reasons with fourteen of those taking part completing the four mile four furlong course. There was one equine fatality during the race, bringing the total number of horses killed in the history of the event to seventy-six.


Leading contenders

Shotgun Willy became the favourite for the race after winning the Red Square Vodka Gold Cup at Haydock on March 1st and remained the most popular entrant with the public, going off as the 7-1 clear favourite, ridden by Ruby Walsh who had previously won the race in 2000. Shotgun Willy was always towards the rear of the field and began to lose touch with the leaders early on the second circuit, pulling up after making a mistake at the 21st fence.

Youllneverwalkalone won the Leopardstown Chase in January and then the William Hill Chase at Cheltenham in March and was sent off as the 8-1 joint second favourite in partnership with rider, Conor O'Dwyer. The horse was naturally popular with punters on the course due to links with Liverpool Football Club whose anthem is the song of the same name however the horse was at the back of the field when he suffered a leg injury when jumping the eleventh fence and was instantly pulled up. Youllneverwalkalone was found to have broken a leg and, although the horse recovered, was never raced again. [2]

Iris Bleu had fallen in the 2002 Grand National but had won the Thomas Pink Chase at Cheltenham in December and the Agfa Diamond Chase at Sandown in January to be backed to 8-1 on race day. Ridden by champion Tony McCoy, Iris Bleu made a series of mistakes on the first circuit and was pulled up lame before taking the water jump at the end of the first circuit.

Ad Hoc had been travelling well when being brought down in the 2002 Grand National and was partnered by 1999 winning rider, Paul Carberry the pair went off at 9-1 and almost fell at the first fence. Having recovered, they were making progress when Carberry was unseated at the nineteenth fence.

Chives had run prominently in several major races including finishing second in the 2002 Welsh Grand National and seventh in the Cheltenham Gold Cup and was sent off at 10-1 in company with 1998 winning rider, Richard Guest but also disappointed with mistakes before bursting a blood vessel at the eleventh fence where he was pulled up.

At 16-1, Monty's Pass was considered among the good each way chances for the race and had been backed heavily on race day from 40-1 the day before the race after being tipped as the winner by several leading tipsters. Among those who predicted his victory were John Francome in The Sun, Eddie Freemantle in The Observer, Marten Julian in the Sunday Telegraph and Thunderer in The Times while Pricewise in the Racing Post tipped the horse to win two months before the race.[3]. An Irish nun, Sister Rita Dawson had been offered a free each-way bet for charity by bookmaker, Ladbrookes after it was claimed that she had correctly predicted the winner of the previous four Nationals. She did not pick Monty's Pass but did still win some money for selecting Gunner Welburn who finished fourth.

Finishing order

Position Number Name Rider Age Weight Starting price Distance or fate
Winner 19 Monty's Pass Barry Geraghty 10 10-7 16/1 12 lengths
Second 32 Supreme Glory Leighton Aspell 10 10-2 40/1 2 lengths
Third 21 Amberleigh House Graham Lee 11 10-4 33/1 14 lengths
Fourth 30 Gunner Welburn Barry Fenton 11 10-2 16/1 11 lengths
Fifth 23 Montifault Joe Tizzard 8 10-4 33/1 1 length
Sixth 11 Bindaree Carl Llewellyn 9 10-11 25/1 18 lengths
Seventh 10 Carberry Cross Liam Cooper 9 10-12 25/1 6 lengths
Eighth 14 Blowing Wind Tom Scudamore 10 10-9 20/1 7 lengths
Ninth 33 Tremalt Jason Maguire 12 10-2 200/1 7 lengths
Tenth 1 Behrajan Richard Johnson 8 11-12 22/1 9 lengths
11th 35 Djeddah Thiery Doumen 12 10-1 66/1 8 lengths
12th 20 Majed Rodi Greene 7 10-5 200/1 A distance
13th 31 Royal Predica Jamie Moore 9 10-2 33/1 26 lengths
14th 16 Southern Star Dominic Elsworth 8 10-8 66/1 Last to finish
Non Finishers[4] [5]
Fence 26 25 Cregg House David Casey 8 10-3 50/1 Tailed off last when refused
Fence 26 17 Red Striker Larry McGrath 9 10-8 50/1 In 11th when unseated rider
Fence 26 28 Torduff Express Timmy Murphy 12 10-3 33/1 In 6th when blundered and unseated rider
Fence 25 (Valentine's Brook) 27 Mantle's prince Ollie McPhail 9 10-3 200/1 In 12th when hit the fence and unseated rider
Fence 25 (Valentine's Brook) 37 Red Ark Kenny Johnson 10 10-0 100/1 In last when got stuck on the Canal Turn, pulled up
Fence 24 (Canal Turn) 3 Gingembre Andrew Thornton 9 11-9 14/1 Tailed off when pulled up before the fence
Fence 22 (Becher's Brook) 40 Empereur River Mr P Paihes 10 10-2 250/1 Pulled up when tailed off
Fence 22 (Becher's Brook) 4 Shotgun Willy Ruby Walsh 9 11-9 7/1 Favourite Pulled up when tailed off
Fence 22 (Becher's Brook) 36 Burlu Gerry Supple 9 10-0 200/1 Towards the rear when fell
Fence 22 (Becher's Brook) 39 Killusty Tony Dobbin 9 10-4 12/1 In tenth place when overjumped and fell
Fence 19 (Westhead open ditch) 26 Good Shuil Noel Fehily 8 10-3 200/1 Tailed off when pulled up before the jump
Fence 19 (Westhead open ditch) 29 Goguenard Warren Marston 9 10-2 28/1 Got stuck on the fence and unseated rider, hit and fatally injured by another horse
Fence 19 (Westhead Open Ditch) 38 Robbo Alan Dempsey 9 10-1 100/1 Attempted to refuse when path was blocked by fallen horses, unseated rider
Fence 19 (Westhead open ditch) 8 Ad Hoc Paul Carberry 9 11-1 9/1 Hit the fence and unseated rider
Fence 19 {Westhead open ditch} 22 Maximize Jim Culloty 9 10-4 16/1 Weakening when fell
Fence 19 {Westhead open ditch} 15 You're Agoodun Robert Thornton 11 10-9 50/1 Hampered and unseated rider
Fence 16 {Water} 7 Iris Bleu Tony McCoy 7 11-3 8/1 Went lame after jumping the chair and pulled up
Fence 15 {The Chair} 16 Katarino Mick Fitzgerald 8 10-8 50/1 Hit the fence and unseated rider
Fence 15 {The Chair} 9 Ballinclay King Davy Russell 9 10-12 50/1 Broke a blood vessel and pulled up after jumping fence 14
Fence 13 12 Youllneverwalkalone Conor O'Dwyer 9 10-11 8/1 Instantly pulled up and dismounted after jumping fence 12 with a broken leg
Fence 12 {ditch} 5 Chives Richard Guest 8 11-5 10/1 Jumped fence 11 in last place and was pulled up immediately after having burst a blood vessel
Fence 8 {Canal Turn} 24 Polar Champ Daniel Howard 10 10-4 200/1 Stumbled on landing and unseated rider
Fence 6 (Becher's Brook) 5 Fadalko Seamus Durack 10 11-7 100/1 Hit the fence and unseated rider
Fence 3 (Westhead open ditch) 34 Wonder Weasel John McNamara 10 10-5 50/1 Fell
Fence 2 {Fan} 41 Bramblehill Duke Brian Crowley 11 10-2 200/1 Fell
Fence 1 13 The Bunny Boiler John Cullen 9 10-10 50/1 Stumbled and unseated rider
Withdrawn 2 Kingsmark 10 11-11 Replaced by Bramblehill Duke
Reserve 42 Murt's Man 9 10-0 Did not run
Reserve 43 Fatehalkhair 11 10-0 Did not run
Reserve 44 Berlin Blue 10 10-0 Did not run


Monty's Pass claimed a prize of £348,000 for his connections with lesser prize money of £132,000 for second, £66,000 for third, £30,000 for fourth, £15,000 for fifth and £9,000 for sixth. The public were able to claim winning of £20-1st, £10-2nd, £8.25=3rd, and £4=4th for a £1 each way stake. Some bookmakers also paid out £8.25 for 5th and £6.25 for 6th place and also offered stakes refunds to punters who backed the first fence faller, The Bunny Boiler. William Hill reported that they had to pay out £400,000 on two winning bets alone, claiming it was their worst hit in Grand National history.[6]

In post race interviews trainer, Jimmy Mangan said "It's a thing you dream about. To have a winner is unreal." Jockey, Barry Geraghty stated "He was like a cat. He jumped unbelieveable."[6]

Both the vets and the doctors were busy after the race. Goguenard had to be humanely destroyed when he was caught in a melee at the nineteenth fence. The horse got stuck on the fence and was hit from behind by Robbo. Youllneverwalkalone was taken to the Liverpool horse hospital when it was found he had broken a leg in running. The injury was repaired and the horse retired from racing. Iris Bleu pulled up lame while Ballinclay King and Chives both broke blood vessels. All three horses made a full recovery. Four riders also required hospital treatment after the race. Gerry Supple suffered a broken leg, Alan Dempsey a broken wrist, Alan Crowley a broken collarbone and Timmy Murphy suffered concussion and a broken nose.[6]

Media coverage

The Grand National was one of an exclusive list of sporting events rated by the British Government as being of such importance that it must be broadcast on terrestrial television in the United Kingdom. The BBC retained the rights to broadcast the race live on BBC One for the forty-fourth consecutive year. The race was broadcast as a Grand National special edition of the regular Saturday television show, Grandstand and involved three hours of build up to the race through features on the principal contestants and the history of the race. The race itself was broadcast live and was followed by a detailed rerun of the full race using slow motion footage and additional camera angles not used in the original broadcast.

The show was presented by Clare Balding and Sue Barker while the commentary team was John Hanmer, Tony O'Heir and Jim McGrath. This was also the last time that John Hanmer called a Grand National having covered the race from the Melling Road to the fourth fence and from the Canal Turn to the Anchor Bridge crossing for thirty years. The BBC have since covered the race with four race commentators instead of three for all subsequent Nationals. In total fifty-two cameras were used to cover the event including three cameras placed inside jockey's caps, known as jockey cams, and four cameras placed inside selected fences. Former Grand National riders, Richard Pitman and Peter Scudamore also talked the viewers through an indepth rerun of the race in slow motion. Jim McGrath called the closing stages of the race for the sixth time.

"As they come to the last fence in the National. Monty's Pass on the far side, Amberleigh House jumped out to the right, a gap then to Gunner Welburn followed by Supreme Glory and Montifault. They're on the run to the elbow. Monty's Pass by five or six lengths for Ireland. In second is Amerleigh House, a long gap then, Supreme Glory, who's running on well but Monty's Pass, Barry Geraghty, still looking over his shoulder. He's nicely clear! He's six, seven, eight lengths in front of Amberleigh House. Supreme Glory running on for second but it's a victory for Ireland and Barry Geraghty as Monty's Pass comes down to win the Martell Cognac Grand National. Monty's Pass the winner! by the best part of ten lengths, in second is Supreme Glory, in third, Amberleigh House, fourth Gunner Welburn."

In a new innovation the BBC introduced interactive services, which enable UK based viewers to access features such as a statistical predictor, archive BBC footage of previous Nationals and a split screen view of the race itself to enable viewers to watch the race from the air as well as the normal tracking cameras.[7]

Racing UK also broadcast the race live into bookmaker's offices throughout the United Kingdom though its camera angles were limited in comparison to the close up coverage provided to BBC viewers.

BBC Radio also broadcast commentary of the race live for the seventy-first time on its Sport on Five programme, presented by Mark Pougatch with Lee McKenzie calling the runners home. Also among the commentary team was Ian Bartlett whose final radio broadcast this was to prove as he replaced John Hanmer in the TV team for the 2004 Grand National


  1. "Full 2003 Grand National result". Racing Post. Racing Post. 5 April 2003. http://www.racingpost.com/horses/result_home.sd?race_id=326818&r_date=2003-04-05&popup=yes. Retrieved 5 April 2003. 
  2. Scientists reveal secrets of Grand National success The Guardian, 25 March 2004
  3. What the tipsters said BBC Sport, 1 April 2003
  4. BBC race television coverage
  5. Racing UK television coverage
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Monty's Pass wins Grand National BBC Sport, 5 April 2003
  7. National goes interactive BBC Sport, 2 April 2003


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