The Grand National often finds itself at the centre of attention all day in the national media, but in 2005, things were a little different. The big race had to take second place behind the Royal Wedding, between Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles, which led to a later off time, the race was pushed back 25 minutes to avoid a clash.
Plenty of talk ahead of the race surrounded one woman, and that was jockey Carrie Ford, who rode Forest Gunner. She was seen as the first female rider to have a genuine shot at winning the race and was sent off as the second favourite in a bid to do that. Eventually, they only managed fifth, with Hedgehunter and Ruby Walsh taking the prize for trainer Willie Mullins.
In a wide-open betting contest, the winner Hedgehunter was sent off as the 7/1 favourite, and after being clear at the final fence, Ruby Walsh drove him home to eventually win by a margin of 14 lengths.
What Happened In The 2005 Grand National?
The ground was good to soft, after rain in the week building up to the big race, so a little slower than we are used to seeing in April, but still good enough for the runners. 40 went to post, and of those runners, more than half, 21 in total, were able to complete the course.
The winner never really looked in doubt over the final couple of fences, and when he jumped over the last and clear of his rivals, Hedgehunter was going to be the only horse winning the race. Royal Auclair finished second for Paul Nicholls at 40/1, while Simply Gifted was third at 66/1.
When it comes to race talking points, there is no bigger than Clan Royal. Ridden by AP McCoy and the fancy of many people, being sent off at 9/1, he was going well on the second circuit when he was carried out by loose horses and unable to continue.
Of course, there was still a lot of work to do, and the winner won incredibly well, but those backing McCoy and Clan Royal certainly left feeling they had been denied of a chance to place at least, and potentially win the race.
With 21 finishers, and relatively small gaps between the runners as they finished behind the winner, that all points towards the race being a slowly run race, where many were allowed to stay in contention, rather than a fast pace that thinned out the field as they couldn’t cope.
Unlucky Loser Clan Royal
Anyone who backed Clan Royal in 2005 will have their own feelings about what would have happened, but most punters on his side will tell you he would have certainly won the race. That’s impossible to confirm, but he would certainly have pushed Hedgehunter all the way, he was weighted to win the contest, and strong runs after this off much higher handicap marks go some way to proving that fact.
It wasn’t to be though for the McManus runner, who will go down as one of the unluckiest Grand National runners in recent times, finishing second in 2004, and then being carried out in 2005.
Impressive Winner Hedgehunter
While many will remember Clan Royal, don’t take anything away from Hedgehunter, who was excellent in winning by 14 lengths. He fell in the 2004 race but didn’t let that stop him from coming back stronger, and ready to win, which is exactly what he did this time around.
Confidence was behind the Mullins runner, and he was sent off as the 7/1 favourite becoming the first favourite to win the race since Earth Summit in 1998.
Moments Of Note
- After falling in 2004, Hedgehunter got what he deserved with a wide margin of success this time around
- Anyone who backed Clan Royal will tell you 2005 was supposed to be his year, and he will go down as being one of the unluckiest Grand National horses of all time
- A win in 2000 aboard Papillon was the first time Ruby Walsh had won the race, Hedgehunter became his second, this time for Willie Mullins rather than his dad Ted Walsh
- Female jockey Carrie Ford carried the weight of many punters but was only able to finish fifth on Forest Gunner