Earth Summit Grand National Wins
- 1998 - ridden by Carl Llewellyn trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies
The Grand National winner in 1998, Earth Summit, was the typical example of a horse being in the right race at the right time. The rain came ahead of his National bid and made the ground perfect for him while also hindering many of the others in the race.
That saw money come for this mudlark, a horse who won the Welsh Grand National on testing ground just a few months before going to Aintree, fresh in the memory of punters.
Foaled in 1988, he won the Grand National as a 10-year-old, and when winning the contest, he not only won the biggest race in the UK national hunt calendar but completed a very rare treble for himself. His Aintree win went alongside a Welsh National win and a Scottish National win, landing the three major national races this side of the Irish Sea.
Long distances, tough conditions and very soft ground were the perfect recipe for Earth Summit, and thanks to those, he was able to rise to fame as a very special racehorse who won a number of big prizes along the way.
Winner Of The 1998 Grand National
The 1998 Grand National will be remembered for being the first since the bomb scare that caused problems in 1997, it was an event where many people were concerned, and for that reason, one that drew a smaller crowd than normal.
Those that were there had to endure tough conditions, with rain coming in the days leading up to the contest and also on the day. This turned the going on the day to heavy, something that was clearly going to trouble many of the runners lining up.
One horse that would not be troubled by this was Earth Summit. Just a few months before the race, he won the Welsh Grand National on heavy ground, showing his ability to stay strongly over big distances and also cope with the bad ground.
For that reason, he was well backed on the day, with punters latching on to what he had done in the past, and they made him favourite for the race, with an SP of 7/1.
The punters got conditions spot on, things were so bad that just six runners out of the 37 that went to post managed to complete the course. Earth Summit wasn’t really the best-handicapped horse, he was punished by the handicapper for winning the Welsh National, but he was the one able to cope with conditions better than everyone else.
As you would expect with a race that only had six finishers, there were big gaps between the runners as they came home, and Earth Summit was well clear of those behind him. He came up the home straight to win by 11 lengths, clear of Suny Bay, who was in second. These two were well clear of the other four that finished the race, it was a two-horse race for some time, but Suny Bay was never close enough to really challenge.
After winning the Scottish Grand National in 1994 as a novice chaser, and the Welsh Grand National a few months later at the end of 1997, a famous treble was completed in 1998 with this Aintree win.
A year later, Earth Summit returned to Aintree in a bid to defend his crown but could only finish 8th in the race. He did not have the same ground conditions and was much higher in the weights, both of which combined to give him little chance of retaining his crown.
Earth Summit’s Early Years
Earth Summit had a traditional start to his racing career, firstly running in national hunt flat races before making the transition to hurdles. He ran a total of eight times to start his career in both of those codes, managing just one win from those starts.
He was better when stepped up in trip, which would, of course, be a sign of things to come later in life for the Nigel Twiston-Davies trained runner.
His first season chasing went much better, there was clear improvement and an obvious path to where the future lied for this horse. He was kept busy, running 11 times during his novice season, but he did yield four wins from those races, an impressive effort.
He went to the Cheltenham Festival, running respectably in the Grade One RSA Chase, but his final run of the season was the best, and this is where he recorded his first big race win.
Earth Summit’s Big Race Wins
Earth Summit was sent to the Scottish Grand National as a novice, an unusual move, but he did have plenty of experience, with ten runs over fences before this, and had proven his jumping. At the end of a long season, he wasn’t fancied too strongly, sent off 16/1 but came home in great style to shock plenty of people.
He won a traditionally competitive and tight handicap by 14 lengths at Ayr, firmly putting himself into the staying chase picture as one to watch moving forward.
Further wins and other good runs in top races ensured he was weighted to run in almost any race, such was the quality now being shown by this horse. His next big win came in January 1995, winning the Peter Marsh Chase at Haydock, traditionally one of the best Grand National trials in the UK.
Injury problems and a dip in form meant that we had to wait until December 1997 for the next win of Earth Summit’s career, and it was another big one. With heavy ground, conditions were ideal for him, and he won the Welsh Grand National at Chepstow by one and three-quarter lengths, showing again he had the ability to stay strongly and go on bad ground.
The final big win recorded was the biggest of them all, his Grand National win, which came in April 1998. Again, conditions were perfect, ideal for this runner to really showcase his ability on bad ground, and Earth Summit came home to win unchallenged, in great fashion.
A final win in the Becher Chase would round of his career wins, again at Aintree over the Grand National fences, conditions that really suited this excellent stayer and jumper.