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Sire Vulgan
Dam Ecilace
Grandsire Sirlan
Damsire Interlace [1]
Gender Gelding
Foaled 1958
Country Ireland
Color Black
Breeder Timothy Ryan
Owner 1) Anne, Duchess of Westminster
2) Cyril Watkins
Foinavon is a thoroughbred racehorse out of Ecilace by Vulgan. He was born on 1958 in Ireland, and was bred by Timothy Ryan.
Horse (Equus ferus caballus)
Last updated on 19 January 2008

Foinavon (1958–1971) was a relatively undistinguished racehorse, until he became famous for winning the 1967 Grand National after the rest of the field fell, refused or were brought down at the 23rd fence. He was at one time owned by Anne, Duchess of Westminster, whose colours were also carried by the legendary Arkle. Both were named after Scottish mountains.


Grand National win

Foinavon, ridden by John Buckingham, was a rank outsider at odds of 100/1 to win the race, and his owner Cyril Watkins was so unenthusiastic about his chances that he was not even at the course. For the first circuit and a half Foinavon played no real part in the proceedings, but he would go on to win the race after avoiding a melee at the 23rd fence, when a loose horse (Popham Down) veered across the field suddenly, causing all the following horses to fall, refuse or unseat their riders. Foinavon was running far enough behind that Buckingham had time to weave a way through the chaos and jump on the wide outside long before any of the others could remount or attempt the fence again. With just a mile left to run, Foinavon had a lead of a hundred lengths and John Buckingham, ensuring he cleared all the remaining fences, was able to ride him easily around the remainder of the course. Seventeen remounted horses gave chase,[2] and favourite Honey End was able to close to within 20 lengths by the final fence, but Foinavon was fresh enough to maintain this lead over the run-in. Red Alligator, who went on to win in 1968, was a distant third behind.[3] The incident is almost always replayed by the BBC on Grand National day. It has also gained fame owing to the distinctive commentary of Michael O'Hehir.[4]


Foinavon also ran in the following year's Grand National but was brought down at the Water Jump.

Foinavon fence

Fence 7 or 23 (depending on the circuit), one of the smallest jumps on the course at 4 ft 6in, is situated between the more daunting Becher's Brook and Canal Turn,[5] and is now named the Foinavon Fence in memory of this incident.

Similar incidents

A similar incident occurred in 2001 when Red Marauder won from Smarty after they were left clear following a pile up at the Canal Turn on the first circuit, and after the other remaining horses fell or were brought down by the 20th fence.[6]

It was also reminiscent of the 1928 Grand National, when Tipperary Tim was the only horse to finish the race without being remounted, also at odds of 100-1.[7]


  1. Foinavon Horse Pedigree
  2. The Field Folds for Foinavon The Guardian
  3. Grand National History 1960-69
  4. Michael O' Hehir's Foinavon Commentary RTE.ie
  5. History Grand National
  6. 2001 Aintree Grand National - Red Marauder YouTube
  7. 1928 Grand National YouTube

External links


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