1979 Grand National: Results, Runners & Fallers

The 1979 Grand National saw a new country add their name to the list of winners, and this time it was the turn of Scotland. A country that had seen many Grand National hopefuls head to Aintree in the past but never tasted success.

The horse Rubstic changed that, trained by John Leadbetter, ridden by Maurice Barnes and owned by John Douglas. It was a close finish, and we saw three horses in contention heading into the final furlong. However, it was Rubstic that stayed on much the better, to come out on top.

A total of 34 runners went to post, and just seven of those were able to complete the course. A combination of slightly tough ground called good to soft on the day, and a big collision at The Chair, towards the end of the first circuit, where eight runners departed the race, made for a low number of finishers.


Result Horse Starting Price Age Handicap Prize Money Jockey Trainer
1 Rubstic 25/1 10 10-00 £30,204 Maurice Barnes John Leadbetter
2 Zongalero 20/1 9 10-5 £10,446 Bob Davies Nicky Henderson
3 Rough And Tumble 14/1 9 10-7 £5,123 John Francome Frederick Thomas Winter
4 The Pilgarlic 16/1 11 10-1 £2,461 Richard Evans Thomas Frederic Rimell
5 Wagner 50/1 9 10-00 - Ridley Lamb William Arthur Stephenson
6 Royal Frolic 25/1 10 11-10 - John Burke Thomas Frederic Rimell
7 Prime Justice 200/1 9 10-00 - Keith Taylor W D Francis

Non Finishers

Horse Fence Reason Starting Price Age Handicap Jockey Trainer
Double Negative 1 Unseated Rider 66/1 9 10-5 Eddie Woods Thomas Frederic Rimell
Wayward Scot 1 Fell 100/1 10 10-7 Roy Davies Donald ‘Ginger’ McCain
Sandwilan 1 Fell 100/1 11 10-00 Jenny Hembrow G A Ham
Vindicate 1 Fell 200/1 12 11-8 Aiden O’Connell D O’Connell
Purdo 6 Fell 25/1 8 10-12 Bob Champion Nick A Gaselee
Oskard 6 Unseated Rider 100/1 10 10-00 Martin Blackshaw H F Blackshaw
Sand Pit 8 Fell 22/1 9 10-7 Tommy Carmody E P Harty
Drumroan 10 Fell 20/1 11 10-4 Gerry Newman G Nolan
Cartwright 15 Brought Down 200/1 10 10-00 Adrian Phillips R F Fisher
Kintai 15 Brought Down 100/1 10 10-00 Bryan Smart S N Cole
No Gypsy 15 Refused 66/1 10 10-1 John Suthern David Nicholson
Rambling Artist 15 Brought Down 16/1 9 10-6 David Goulding T A Gillam
Alpenstock 15 Brought Down 100/1 12 10-00 Mr Denis Gray Stan Mellor
Kick On 15 Brought Down 50/1 12 10-00 Ron Hyett K Lewis
Godfrey Secundus 15 Brought Down 25/1 9 10-3 Colin Tinkler Thomas Frederic Rimell
The Champ 15 Fell 25/1 11 10-12 Bill Smith D Kent
Ben Nevis 16 Pulled Up 14/1 11 11-2 Mr Charlie Fenwick Tim A Forster
Brown Admiral 21 Unseated Rider 100/1 10 10-00 Sam Morshead Donald ‘Ginger’ McCain
Alverton 22 Fell 6/1 9 10-13 Jonjo O’Neill Miles Henry Peter Easterby
Mr Snowman 22 Fell 10/1 10 10-9 Graham Thorner Tim A Forster
Churchtown Boy 22 Fell 25/1 12 10-00 Taffy Salaman M Salaman
Lord Browndodd 24 Pulled Up 25/1 11 10-3 Andy Turnell Frederick Thomas Winter
Dromore 26 Pulled Up 50/1 11 10-10 Peter Duggan Peter McCreery
Coolishall 27 Fell 12/1 10 10-2 Anthony Webber P D Cundell
Artistic Prince 27 Fell 25/1 8 10-3 Philip Blacker Jenny Pitman
Red Earl 29 Pulled Up 50/1 10 10-00 James Evans S Nesbitt
Flitgrove 29 Pulled Up 50/1 8 10-1 Richard Linley David Nicholson

What Happened In The 1979 Grand National?

1979 Grand National race card front coverGoing into the race, the talk was all about Alverton. Ridden by Jonjo O’Neill, he was all the rage and went into the National on the back of winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Could he do the famous double? Punters certainly thought so, he was sent off as the 6/1 favourite to repeat a feat that hadn’t been done since Golden Miller won the double in 1934.

Unfortunately, he fell at Becher’s Brook on the second circuit, the 22nd fence, and sadly during his fall, he broke his neck and died on the course. It was a tough watch because he was travelling so strongly at the time and appeared to have a great chance of winning the race. Just as people saw how well he was doing, the fall happened, and he was out of the contest.

Further forward, runners kept slowly dropping out of the contest and would leave a total of seven after jumping the 29th fence. These separated themselves, and when we went into the final furlong, just three horses remained in contention.

Rough And Tumble was struggling as they headed into the final furlong and just didn’t manage to stay the full distance. That left Rubstic and Zongalero to battle it out in the closing stages, and it was Rubstic that stayed on the best to take home the prize. It was guts and staying power that won the day for him, bringing home the victory for Scotland.

Both trainer Leadbetter and jockey Barnes were having their first attempts at winning the Grand National, bagging a winner in a race on their first try, something that many other people had been trying to do for years. The horse would come back a further twice without success, and these three races in total would be the only Grand National attempts for jockey and trainer too.

Alverton Fails In Bid To Make History

While it was Rubstic that won the race, and he was a popular winner with fans, there is no doubt that many of the general public wanted to see Alverton win so that they could witness history. The Cheltenham Gold Cup and Aintree Grand National stand out as being the two biggest races on the national hunt calendar.

To win one of these is usually the highlight of a horse’s career, to win both is something that dreams are made of, and to win both in the same year, is completely unheard of. You have to go back to 1934, when Golden Millar won both, to find the last time this was done.

A nice winner of the Gold Cup, he was travelling exceptionally well when coming down on the second circuit at Becher’s Brook. There was every chance he could have gone on to win this race but sadly hit the deck.

To make things worse, not only did Alverton fall, but he also died as a result of the fall, breaking his neck. This meant we never got the chance to see him try and win the Grand National a year later, and he was never able to defend his Cheltenham Gold Cup crown.

Standing up at Becher’s Brook and winning the race would have put Alverton into the history books, showing just how fine the margins are in racing.

Moments Of Note

  • The 1979 win for Rubstic was the first time that Scotland had won the Grand National
  • Jockey Maurice Barnes and trainer John Leadbetter were both having their first runs in the race
  • Alverton was trying to complete a historic Cheltenham Gold Cup and Aintree Grand National double but fell at Becher’s Brook when travelling well, and he sadly died on the course after breaking his neck
  • The going was testing and combined with eight runners departing at The Chair, just seven were able to complete the course