Seagram won the 1991 Grand National, and if ever there was a race won by a horse named correctly, it was this one. The 1991 race was the final race to be sponsored by Seagram, a Canadian distillery who were aiming to increase their exposure in the UK with the deal. So, of course, to mark their sponsorship coming to an end, a horse with the same name won the race.
As you can imagine, those who knew the sponsor of the race, and saw the fact that a horse was running with the same name, were quick to jump on. If you like a coincidence happening, this is exactly the kind of way you bet in the Grand National, and at odds of 12/1, the horse was certainly a popular choice with punters.
What Happened In The 1991 Grand National?
Talk ahead of the race was all about Garrison Savannah. He was bidding to become the second horse ever, and the first in half a century, to win both the Cheltenham Gold Cup and Aintree Grand National in the same season after winning the Cheltenham showpiece a few weeks before. Despite that, Bonanza Boy was sent off favourite, though he was unable to get involved in the race.
Bonanza Boy had previously run in the Grand National in 1989 and 1990 but never really went into contention. He was a high-class horse, winning the Welsh Grand National in 1988 and 1989, and crucially, bounced back to form with an impressive win at Uttoxeter just three weeks before the 1991 Grand National, a big factor in him being favourite.
Garrison Savannah’s bid to make history fell just short, with his eventual second-placed finish. He won the Cheltenham Gold Cup and was immediately thought of as someone who would go to the Grand National for Jenny Pitman, a trainer who had previously won this race and was desperate to do so again. He looked the winner at the final fence and, after jumping it, but in dramatic fashion, began to tire and allowed Seagram the chance to get back up, which he took as he flew by Garrison Savannah, who looked to be treading water at the end.
Seagram, though was the one that everyone was talking about after the race. Odds of 12/1 showed he was fancied by many, and his name certainly helped with that, though there were negatives around the horse too. He was the smallest horse in the field, so jumping around Aintree over the National fences was not going to be easy for him. He also had an inexperienced rider on board, Nigel Hawke was one of 14 riders having their first run in the Aintree Grand National that year.
Kept in mid-division on the first circuit, after finding his rhythm, Seagram was slowly moved into contention by Nigel Hawke, and the pair were catching the eye as they were travelling well. As the race really began to hot up, five runners were clear, the winner would come from these, and they included Seagram.
However, on the approach to the final fence, Garrison Savannah had kicked clear and jumped it three lengths ahead of Seagram back in second. After the fence, the leader found a little more, and the gap was all of a sudden five lengths, leaving Seagram seemingly destined for second place.
In a dramatic finish, at the elbow, Garrison Savannah began to tire and did so dramatically, quickly looking like he was running on the spot. That gave Seagram the chance he needed, and the gap started to close. After a dramatic few yards, Seagram was the only winner, and not only did he catch up to Garrison Savannah, but he went clear and won the race by five lengths.
The race saw a wild final few yards, with Garrison Savannah looking the only winner after jumping the last, then tiring and falling back, losing the race by five lengths.
Great Win For Coincidence Backers
Anyone who bets on names at the Grand National, especially those who bet on coincidence or topical names, would certainly have been on Seagram in 1991.
The race was sponsored by Canadian distillery Seagram, and a horse with the same name was taking part in the race. It was a match made in heaven for people who bet on events like this, and plenty took advantage. The horse won at an SP of 12/1 to reward all those who were looking for reasons to use names when backing horses rather than looking at the form book.
Garrison Savannah Almost Makes History
We were around 50 yards away from witnessing history in 1991, with Garrison Savannah losing his lead in the closing stages. Arriving at the Grand National on the back of a win in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, the horse was looking to bag what would be a historic double.
Winning the two biggest races on the UK racing calendar is something that owners and trainers dream of. Garrison Savannah almost won them both in the same year, within the space of three weeks. He landed the Cheltenham Gold Cup and carried a big weight around Aintree, looking like the likely winner from before the final flight, all the way until the last 50 yards. However, the tank emptied at this point, and he was unable to get home.
Had he won, he would have been the second horse to complete this historic double and the first for half a century. We almost saw it, and it was right there for the taking until a dramatic finish saw the win taken away from Garrison Savannah
Moments Of Note
- In their final year of sponsorship, Seagram saw a unique winner, with a horse of the same name taking the Grand National
- Garrison Savannah, who finished second, came close to winning both the Cheltenham Gold Cup and Aintree Grand National in the same year, a unique double
- Jockey Nigel Hawke was one of 14 having their first ride in the race and won on his first attempt