Brendan Powell

Brendan Powell is a name that people will associate with being both a jockey and a trainer over the years. In terms of national hunt racing and big race success, this came to him as a jockey. With over 600 winners to his name, Powell had a good career, but the Grand National gave him his biggest day of all.

This came in the 1988 Grand National when he rode Rhyme n Reason to victory in the race. That only told half of the story, though, a story full of determination, guts, excellent decision-making, and the ability to stay calm and cool under pressure when everything is going wrong for you.

Powell had just six Grand National rides and only managed to complete in two of those. However, his ride aboard Rhyme n Reason will undoubtedly go down as being one of the best winning rides over the years.

Brendan Powell Grand National Wins

  • 1988 - Rhyme n Reason trained by David Raymond Cecil Elsworth

Full Results

Year Horse Result Prize Money Trainer
2000 Young Kenny Fence 10 - Fell - Peter Beaumont
1999 Mudahim Fence 6 - Unseated Rider - Philip Hobbs
1995 Do Be Brief Fence 20 - Fell - Jenny Pitman
1990 Ghofar 14 - David Raymond Cecil Elsworth
1989 Stearsby Fence 11 - Refused - G A Ham
1988 Rhyme n Reason 1 £68,741 David Raymond Cecil Elsworth
1987 Glenrue Fence 3 - Fell - Terry Casey

Winning The 1988 Grand National On Rhyme n Reason

The story of Rhyme n Reason and what happened when he won the Grand National in 1988 is one that many will know. His victory, though, is equally down to his jockey as it is down to the horse, this was 10 minutes where Brendan Powell really shined through and proved himself to be a master horseman.

This was, without a doubt, Powell’s finest hour, the way in which he looked after the horse, after almost disaster, early in the race. It is worth remembering that Rhyme n Reason arrived in the Grand National with a great chance, but he did go there on the back of a fall in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. There is no doubt that what happened at Becher’s Brook on the first circuit would have worried the horse and made him question his jumping.

The first great move from Powell was to stay on his mount, going over Becher’s when he almost fell. The fact that Powell didn’t fall off was brilliant and allowed the pair the chance to stay in the race, but it was what he did afterwards that was even better.

Rhyme n Reason found himself at the back of the field, almost falling again, for the second time in two races, and the next few steps were all about looking after the horse and keeping him interested in the race while trying to get back into contention. Powell took his time, slowly moving his mount through the field and past those who were struggling, without asking him to do too much.

An entire circuit later, the pair found themselves back at Becher’s Brook, a jump that Powell knew he needed to get right. He did so, and after slowly moving through the field, he found himself jumping into second place. Despite what had happened on the first circuit, rhyme n Reason was back and in with a chance of winning the race.

Powell kept Rhyme n Reason in second place, he was going well, and he was then gifted the lead as Little Polveir would fall, five fences from home. From almost falling after six fences, this horse had got back into the race so much that he was in the lead with five fences to go. The job wasn’t done, however.

With two fences to go, Durham Edition came through to overtake Rhyme n Reason, taking the lead from him in what appeared to be a race-winning move. However, there was no giving up, Powell dug deep and asked his mount for more, and Rhyme n Reason delivered for him in great style. After they jumped the last, the pair gave it their all and eventually caught back up to Durham Edition before going past him to record a four-length victory.

The result and the way in which Rhyme n Reason won was made even more special with the unfortunate news surrounding an injury to the horse. He fractured his hock, more than likely at the near fall at Becher’s, and won the race, despite that injury. Unfortunately, it also forced him to retire from racing, so we never got to see this great champion try and win the race again.

More Than 2000 Collective Winners

Brendan Powell would go on to have a strong career as a jockey, despite never really reaching the top of the game. When retiring from the saddle, he would go with more than 600 winners, a good career, but there was a lot more to come from him.

Powell would turn to training later in life, where he would go out and more than double the number of winners as a jockey. During more than 20 years as a trainer, Powell trained more than 1500 winners before retiring from the sport in 2019 due to financial pressure and costs associated with running a yard.

A mainstay of the racing industry in two ways and a man who gave a horse one of the best rides we’ve seen to win a Grand National.