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2008 Grand National

2008 Grand National
Grand National
Location Aintree
Date 5 April 2008
Winning horse Comply or Die
Winning Jockey Timmy Murphy
Conditions Good

The 2008 Grand National Steeplechase, sponsored by John Smiths, was the 161st official annual running of a Handicap Steeple-chase horse race which took place at Aintree Racecourse near Liverpool on Saturday 5 April 2008[1] and attracted the maximum allowed field of forty competitors for prize money of £450,640.[2]


The 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 at 7/1. Top weight of 11 stone 12 lbs was carried by former winner Hedgehunter, ridden by Ruby Walsh. The full order of betting at the off was as follows.

Starting price Number Name Age Weight in stones and lbs Jockey Trainer Owner Colours Finishing position[3]
7/1 26 Cloudy Lane 8 10-11 Jason Maguire Donald McCain junior Trevor Hemmings Green/yellow quarters, whites sleeves and cap 6th
7/1 33 Comply Or Die 9 10-9 Timmy Murphy David Pipe David Johnson Blue with green sleeves, green and white checker cap 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 Taffe Doubtful five syndicate Blue/whites checks, blue sleeves and cap 4th
11/1 7 Simon 9 11-7 Dominic Elsworth J 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 gray 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 The Stewart Family White and black halves with red sleeves and cap Fence 25
50/1 9 Iron Man 7 11-5 Chrstian 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 Junior 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 Taffe 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 champion jockey Tony McCoy. Other former winning riders competing were Ruby Walsh, Hedgehunter in 2005 and Papillon in 2000, Barry Geraghty, 2003 on Monty's Pass, Tony Dobbin, 1997 on Lord Gyllene and Robbie Power, 2007 on Silver Birch.

Ardaghey was listed as 1st reserve (Number 41) but got into the race when Number 8 Opera Mundi was withdrawn the day before the race.

The Race

[4]The runners were sent away to a clean first start with No Full leading over the first fence, which all forty runners cleared safely but the run down to Becher's Brook for the first time claimed seven victims as Black Apalachi fell, having just taken the lead at the second fence where he was quickly joined by L'Ami, whose rider Mick Fitzgerlad had to go to hospital with neck an back injuries and Backbeat. Tumbling Dice and Iron Man both unseated their riders when taking off too soon at the third fence while Ardaghey and Fundamentalist got in too close to the fourth fence and both fell to leave 31 runners continuing to the famous Brook, led by Mr Pointment and Milan Deux Mille.

No Full was up in the leading dozen runners when he clipped the top of Bechers and fell and the casualties increased at the Canal Turn where Madison Du Berlais fell and hampered Philson Run, whose rider was unseated. The eleventh fence claimed two more fallers when Contraband and Kelami both failed to negotiate that obstacle, leaving 26 runners to complete the first circuit.

The Water jump 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, his rider feeling that the horse, which fell at the first fence in the same race the year before, was not enjoying the race. 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 open ditch (19th fence), Joacci fell at the next and McKelvey also unseated his rider. McKelvey then veered sharply off the course after jumping the next fence falling when trying to negotiate the running rails and suffering injuries which proved too severe for the horse to be saved. He was the seventy-ninth horse to die during or as a result of competing in the Grand National.

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, that number being instantly reduced when Butler's Cabin fell there.

Knowhere and Simon were beginning to lose touch when the unseated at Valentine's Brook where Turko also fell to leave the race between Chelsea Harbour, Mr Pointment, Snowy Morning, Bewley's Berry, Comply or Die, Idle Talk and Hedgehunter with Slim Pickings, Mon Mome and King John's Castle all still in touch. Co-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 five fences to jump.

D'Argent also looked like he was just starting to drop away when he fell four fences from home as Snowey Morning, Bewley's Berry, Comply or Die, Slim Pickings and King John's Castle kicked away from the remainder on the long run to the second last flight, which was jumped four abreast, King John's Castle just behind. The run to the last fence did for Bewley's Berry as Snowy Morning and Comply or Die jumped together with King John's Castle now moving into a challenging position.

Comply or Die took the final fence the better and was never headed on the long run in, winning going away by four lengths from Snowy Morning with King John's Castle a length and a half third, Slim Pickings was again fourth sixteen lengths behind. 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 flight.[5]


This was the first Grand National win for all of the connections 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 approximately twenty 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 second time, 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. None of the jockeys who failed to complete the course were bold enough to state that they would have won or even gone close had they not exited.

This was Tony Dobbin's final ride in the 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 in August 2008.


The 2008 Grand 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 horses home.

"Comply or Die jumped better than Snowy Morning but King John's Castle is the big danger, running on well. They race towards the elbow. Timmy Murphy looks over his right shoulder. He sees King John's Castle coming at him hard. They race towards the elbow. It's Comply or Die in front. Snowy Morning is coming again. King John's Castle the outside. Comply or Die punched out by Murphy, leads by three or four lengths and is going to go on and win the Grand National. It's Comply or Die, Timmy Murphy who wins the Grand National. In second is King John's Castle. Third is Snowy Morning. Fourth is Slim Pickings.

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 for the National. The famous head-on elevated shot of Becher's Brook, which became synonymous with the fence for almost 50 years was abandoned for this year and replaced with a low angle shot. This decision angered many television viewers and traditionalists. This was the forty-ninth annual broadcast of the race live by the BBC but was the first not to be broadcast as part of a Grandstand special.


  1. Grand National as it happened BBC Sport, 5 April 2008
  2. Daily Telegraph Issue 47,537 dated 5 April 2008
  3. Where they finished at Aintree BBC Sport, 5 April 2008
  4. Replay - The 2008 Grand National in full BBC Sport, 5 April 2008
  5. Grand National: Fence-by-fence analysis BBC Sport, 5 April 2008

  • Official BBC coverage of the 2008 Grand National


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