Hywel Davies had a horse-riding career of 16 years, and in that time, he had plenty of success, with some of that coming at the top level. Davies ended his career with a very respectable 761 winners in the UK, with a handful of big race wins as part of those.
They included the Grand National in 1985, the biggest win of his career, but he also won races such as the Queen Mother Champion Chase, Hennessy Gold Cup and Whitbread Gold Cup along the way. For eight years, Davies was retained jockey to the Tim Forster yard, and it was during this period that the pair connected to land the Grand National, winning with Last Suspect.
In 1994, at the age of 37, Hywel Davies retired from being a jockey but maintained his position in the racing industry, both on TV and working behind the scenes for a horse feed company.
Hywel Davies Grand National Wins
- 1985 - Last Suspect trained by Tim A Forster
|1992||Ghofar||11||-||David Raymond Cecil Elsworth|
|1991||Blue Dart||Fence 22 - Unseated Rider||-||Tim A Forster|
|1990||Uncle Merlin||Fence 22 - Unseated Rider||-||Tim A Forster|
|1989||Friendly Henry||Fence 11 - Fell||-||Jimmy Fox|
|1988||Northern Bay||Fence 19 - Pulled Up||-||T T Bill|
|1986||Last Suspect||Fence 18 - Pulled Up||-||Tim A Forster|
|1985||Last Suspect||1||£40,502||Tim A Forster|
|1983||Spartan Missile||Fence 22 - Unseated Rider||-||Nicky Henderson|
|1982||Tiepolino||Fence 22 - Refused||-||P D Cundell|
|1981||Royal Stuart (2)||Fence 20 - Unseated Rider||-||Stan Mellor|
Winning The 1985 Grand National On Last Suspect
The biggest day of Hywel Davies’ career came in April 1985, when he won the Grand National for his boss Tim Forster. At the time, it was Hywel Davies’ fourth Grand National attempt, and he had failed to complete the race on those three occasions.
This was in stark contrast to his retained trainer, Tim Forster had a great Grand National record, winning the race twice prior to their 1985 victory with Last Suspect, so he certainly knew what it took to win the race.
On the day, Last Suspect was a 50/1 outsider and had very small claims in a race that was full of big-name horses who were expected to go close. We had previous winners, those who had run well in the past, and up-and-coming runners, aiming to win at the first attempt. In many ways, thanks to this, the pressure was off the rest of the competitors, including Last Suspect.
A horse known for being moody, unreliable and disinterested in racing, Davies quickly found a really nice rhythm, the pair travelled well around the first circuit and jumped each obstacle with no issues. As we got to the business end of the race, a group emerged together at the front, and it was clear that the winner would come from these runners, Last Suspect was one of them, surrounded by big fancies.
The race changed complexion when West Tip fell at Becher’s Brook, he was travelling best of the field and looked like the winner. Suddenly, Corbiere was in the lead, though that didn’t last long, as it was the turn of Mr Snugfit to take things up, while Davies kept Last Suspect in contention behind the leaders.
The final fence saw Mr Snugfit hold onto the lead, with Corbiere and Last Suspect in behind, and it was seemingly race over until drama hit on the run-in. Mr Snugfit had a huge weight on his back, and that began to show, he was tired and slowing with every stride.
Corbiere and Last Suspect saw this and renewed their challengers, but it was Last Suspect who was the one to get their quickest and really make a move forward. Davies drove his mount forward hard, the pair got to Mr Snugfit and then went past to win the Grand National by one and a half lengths.
The conditions were tough, just 11 runners completed the course, and plenty held chances, but it was Last Suspect who stayed on strongest and showed great character and determination when he had a chance to win in the closing stages. He dug deep in those final 100 yards, putting an end to being called a horse that wasn’t interested in racing.
Davies would end his career with a total of 10 rides in the Grand National. He didn’t have the greatest luck in the race, with just two of those being completions, he failed to complete on eight times.
However, what he does have, which no one will ever be able to take away from him, is a win in the Grand National. Working for the mastermind Tim Forster, he partnered with the outsider Last Suspect, and the pair never gave up, which would ultimately be the reason why they ran out winners of the 1985 Grand National.