The 1988 Grand National was won in really dramatic style by Rhyme n Reason, an incredible run, led by a great ride from Brendan Powell, who not only navigated the horse nicely around Aintree but also survived a huge scare at Becher’s Brook.
Plenty of punters fancied his chances, he was sent off at 10/1 and went into the race in excellent form, despite a fall in the Cheltenham Gold Cup just three weeks before. This race was full of drama, falls, near falls, horses fading then coming back again, this was a Grand National that had it all.
Sacred Path was backed down to favouritism on the day and was sent off at 17/2. He was off the track for 14 months before making an impressive winning return at Warwick in March, the month before the Grand National, and that grabbed the attention of many.
|Result||Horse||Starting Price||Age||Handicap||Prize Money||Jockey||Trainer|
|1||Rhyme n Reason||10/1||9||11-00||£68,741||Brendan Powell||David Raymond Cecil Elsworth|
|2||Durham Edition||20/1||10||10-9||£20,874||Chris Grant||William Arthur Stephenson|
|3||Monanore||33/1||11||10-4||£10,237||Tom Taaffe||W Harney|
|4||West Tip||11/1||11||11-7||£4,919||Richard Dunwoody||Michael Oliver|
|5||Attitude Adjuster||33/1||8||10-00||-||Niall Madden||Michael “Mouse” Morris|
|6||Friendly Henry||100/1||8||10-4||-||Neale Doughty||Michael “Mouse” Morris|
|7||The Tsarevich||18/1||12||10-10||-||John White||Nicky Henderson|
|8||Course Hunter||20/1||10||10-1||-||Paul Croucher||D J G Murray Smith|
|9||Lean Ar Aghaidh||10/1||11||11-00||-||Guy Landau||Stan Mellor|
What Happened In The 1988 Grand National?
Going on the day was described as good to soft, though this was a race that saw many casualties along the way. Just nine of the 40 competitors that started the race were able to complete it, with seven of those going out at the 27th fence as the race entered the closing stages, and many horses began to feel it.
One horse who didn’t get that far in the race was the favourite Sacred Path. Seen as a horse that was very well handicapped, despite not having much experience and having the inexperienced Clive Cox on board, who was taking his first ride in the race, he was sent off as the 17/2 favourite. The reason for that was a big win at Warwick, just a month before the National. That came after a 14-month absence, many felt he’d arrived at the perfect time, although, as we know, this is a very unforgiving race.
Sacred Path was one of three horses to independently fall at the first fence, ending his chances and the weight of money on his back in just the first few seconds of the race. He wouldn’t return to the Grand National again after that.
Rhyme n Reason was another to gain a lot of attention before the contest and had plenty of public support behind him. He had a couple of poor seasons but really bounced back on his road to the National. He won three staying handicaps, which included the Racing Post Chase in January, and was on course for a big spring.
The first stop was the Cheltenham Gold Cup, a race where he actually fell. However, plenty excused the fall, it came with four fences to go, and he was still in contention at the time, so the form was very good if he could get over the fall. Going off at 10/1, plenty had forgiven him for that and were more excited by the three wins before, as well as his Gold Cup performance before the fall.
However, as we went into the race, he was almost out at a very early stage. At Becher’s Brook on the first circuit, the sixth fence of the race, Rhyme n Reason, almost hit the floor, but somehow, Brendan Powell managed to stay on board. This slowed the horse down, and from a good position in the field, Rhyme n Reason was now in last place.
The great ride from Powell began here and continued as he settled his horse, found a rhythm and slowly began to work him through the field. After a complete circuit, when they reached Becher’s for the second time, Powell began to really put his mount into a winning position. Second, after Becher’s with five fences to go, Little Polveir fell, leaving Rhyme n Reason in the lead.
Then came the final piece of drama, two fences from home and Durham Edition went past Rhyme n Reason and took the lead. There looked to be only one winner here, the fall and struggles of Rhyme n Reason were taking their toll on the horse.
However, credit to him because he didn’t know he was beaten. After the final fence, as the big run to the winning post started, Rhyme n Reason fought back. In a huge showing of character and determination, he caught the leader. He then went past him, recording a winning distance of four lengths, with Durham Edition having to settle for second, and he was 15 lengths clear of the third, Monanore, while West Tip finished fourth.
This really was a race full of drama, with plenty happening around the course at various intervals. Standing above that, though, is the calmness and tactical decision-making of Brendan Powell, who got his horse home in front, despite enormous challenges. Also, the heart and bravery of Rhyme n Reason were on display in real-time but would be enhanced further after the race when an injury was discovered, which would actually force retirement on him.
Winner Rhyme n Reason Injured In Race And Retires Afterwards
Anyone watching the race would have given huge credit to Rhyme n Reason live, as he almost fell but then powered back, lost the lead but then won it back again, and eventually crossed the line in first place. It was a fairy tale comeback, but one that was made even more special after the event, when an injury was discovered.
When checking the horse out after the race, it was later discovered that Rhyme n Reason had suffered a fractured hock during the race, more than likely when almost coming down at Becher’s Brook on the first circuit.
So, not only did he come back in fantastic style and show huge determination to get up and in the lead on the run-in, but he did it all with a severe injury, which just adds another level of character to his performance.
The injury was unfortunately so bad that it forced the horse to retire from racing after the Grand National, unable to run in the race again and try to defend his crown.
Rhyme n Reason featured in just one Grand National, and not only did he win the race, but he made a huge impression on it and will be remembered for the unbelievable determination he showed, as well as the quality to win the race.
Remarkable Recovery From Brendan Powell Gets Rewarded
While rightfully so, there was a lot of focus on the horse with this win, let’s not forget the unbelievable showing from Brendan Powell, who negotiated almost falling off his horse, then was able to steady him, come back through the field and ultimately win the race.
Staying on the horse, and getting him home, would have been a good enough effort without the win, with Powell holding on and slowly managing to pull himself back up on the horse’s back. He found himself last but didn’t panic. This was a key time for the horse, who had almost hit the floor and needed time to get back into a rhythm.
Powell did precisely that, not rushing him or being worried about being at the back of the field. Instead, he slowly brought him through and took a full circuit to get him into real contention again. Even at this point, it was expected that the horse would eventually fade after using up so much energy to get back to the front of the field, but that never happened.
Both horse and rider never gave up, they had a real determination about themselves that day and kept going, even when they were headed with two fences to go, after getting back into the lead. This was Powell’s second Grand National ride, he fell in his first attempt after just three fences, but it is fair to say that he was riding Aintree with the head of someone who had multiple wins in the race.
Moments Of Note
- In a dramatic race, Rhyme n Reason eventually came out as the winner, after nearly falling, but kept going and showing great determination.
- Unfortunately, we were never able to see him show us that again. During his incident at Becher’s Brook, he fractured his hock, an injury that would force him to retire from racing after winning the Grand National.
- Jockey Brendan Powell got the credit he deserves afterwards, this was just his second Grand National attempt and the first time he had completed the race.