The 1986 Grand National was run on good to soft ground, with the race taking place on April 5. The winner on the day was West Tip, a hose who was seen by many as being an unlucky faller a year earlier, when going down at Becher’s Brook, holding every chance of winning.
It was payback for all involved, Richard Dunwoody was again the rider on the day, and there was a real sense of justice. Plenty of punters thought that too, he was heavily backed and sent off as the 15/2 favourite, with plenty hoping he could run well again, but this time stay on his feet.
Another horse from the previous year, Mr Snugfit, who was second in 1985, headed the market and was returned with an SP of 13/2. The money for him was down to that run last year, since then, he’d run a little below par and had been injured, so those backing him were hoping that Aintree would spring him back into life.
What Happened In The 1986 Grand National?
Many wanted to take part in the Grand National this year, with a total of 56 runners declared to run in the race, but with the safety limit being at 40, 16 of them missed out. The value of course and distance form is huge in the Grand National, and this is why we had two previous runners in the race lead the market this time around.
Mr Snugfit was second behind Last Suspect a year earlier and was back again for more. There was no real reason to back him based on the current season, so the reason he was sent off as the 13/2 favourite was his run 12 months previous. After being injured, he ran disappointingly in four races as a Grand National build-up, but that didn’t put punters off.
The second fancied runner was West Tip, joint-favourite in 1985 and sent off as second favourite here. He’d fallen in the race twelve months before and was in contention and looking like a potential winner when he came down. This was a redemption mission, and plenty of people thought he could do it.
Door Latch had beaten West Tip a few months before the Grand National when they had clashed, and owner Jim Joel had a couple of entries, this was seen as his best as he continued his search for a Grand National winner.
Unfortunately for Door Latch and Joel, he wouldn’t get any further than the first fence, where he fell and put a quick end to his chances. Plenty of others went the same way throughout, with 17 of the 23 runners completing the course.
There was plenty involved towards the end, with a group of eight runners together as they crossed the Melling Road, which would lead them to the second to last fence. West Tip and Mr Snugfit were both part of that group, so the two most fancied runners were there, with plenty of people shouting them on.
West Tip was really catching the eye, he was seemingly cruising through the field and, after the Melling Road, was up into second place. Ahead of him was the big 66/1 outsider Young Driver, ridden by Chris Grant.
At the final fence, West Tip moved forward alongside Young Driver before eventually getting past him. The run-in saw West Tip continue to look comfortable, but he wasn’t able to pull away from the second horse properly and went on to record a winning distance of two lengths. That may sound small, but watching it, the winning margin was very comfortable, and it was clear that there was only one winner as the horses came home.
Young Driver ran a great race, completely outrunning his odds, and was 20 lengths clear of Classified in third place, while favourite Mr Snugfit finished in fourth.
After his failure at Becher’s Brook in the 1985 Grand National, there was certainly a feeling of redemption here, with the winner gaining revenge on the course, becoming a Grand National winner.
Winner Begins Grand National Legacy
This was the second time that West Tip had run in the race. He fell when in with a great chance in 85, and that really warmed him to the public. Many people saw how unlucky he was and that he deserved more, so they were quick to support him as he looked to go better this time around.
He did and won the race, and this was definitely the start of a legacy that West Tip was writing in the race. An unlucky fall, followed by a redemption win, put him firmly in the public spotlight and gave him a huge fanbase that wanted to keep tabs on his career.
After this race, West Tip would return to the Grand National a further four times, completing on every occasion. He would finish fourth in 1987 and 1988, second in 1989 and 10th in 1990, to really cement his position as being one of the best and most loved Grand National horses of all time.
Jockey Dunwoody Given Permission To Ride West Tip
There was talk surrounding West Tip’s jockey Richard Dunwoody in the build-up to the race and whether he would be allowed to ride the horse or not. He partnered with him in 1985 and was unlucky when they fell at Becher’s Brook. However, another horse in the 1986 Grand National, Port Askaig, was a horse that Dunwoody was retained to ride.
In the build-up to the race, it was announced that Dunwoody was being released from his retained ride on Port Askaig, enabling him to jump on board West Tip and try to win the race, which they did. It would have been a rather cruel ending had Dunwoody sat back and watched someone else land the race on West Tip after being denied 12 months ago.
Fortunately, that wasn’t the case, the pair were able to celebrate in the winner’s enclosure in style, landing the win that was wanted.
Moments Of Note
After a fall when in contention, West Tip got his reward by winning the 1986 Grand National.
- Jockey Richard Dunwoody was initially unable to ride the horse in this year’s contest due to being the retained rider for another horse in the race, Port Askaig. However, he was released from that so he could partner with West Tip to victory.
- BBC presenter on the day, Des Lynam, actually had a horse in the race, Another Duke, a 200/1 shot and had that won, he would have been in the position of interviewing himself as the winning connection