The 2006 Grand National was certainly not for the faint-hearted. Despite being run on good ground, the race was run at a strong pace, turning it into a true stamina test, and combined with the tough jumping test on offer, just nine runners were able to complete and finish the race from 40 starters.
Coming home in front was the Irish trained Numbersixvalverde, who took the race for jockey Niall Madden and trainer Martin Brassil. The winner came away to take the race by six lengths, holding off the favourite, and 2005 winner, Hedgehunter.
Although both joint-favourites were beaten, Hedgehunter and Clan Royal, they came second and third respectively, and the first three home were three of the top five in the betting, so certainly a race that punters got the better of bookmakers in. Had either the second or third got up to win, those losses for the bookmakers would have been even bigger.
|Result||Horse||Starting Price||Age||Handicap||Prize Money||Jockey||Trainer|
|1||Numbersixvalverde||11/1||10||10-8||£399,140||Niall Madden Jnr||Martin Brassil|
|2||Hedgehunter||5/1||10||11-12||£149,730||Ruby Walsh||Willie Mullins|
|3||Clan Royal||5/1||11||10-10||£74,970||Tony McCoy||Jonjo O’Neill|
|4||Nil Desperandum||33/1||9||10-7||£37,380||Tom Treacy||Frances Crowley|
|5||Risk Accessor||66/1||11||10-6||£18,760||Noel Fehily||Jonjo O’Neill|
|6||Puntal||66/1||10||10-12||£9,380||Barry Geraghty||Martin Pipe|
|7||Joe's Edge||20/1||9||10-10||-||Davy Russell||Ferdy Murphy|
|8||Inca Trail||40/1||10||10-9||-||Brian Harding||Donald ‘Ginger’ McCain|
|9||Forest Gunner||33/1||12||10-10||-||Ms Nina Carberry||Richard Ford|
What Happened In The 2006 Grand National?
Good ground was on offer for the 2006 renewal of this race, but that didn’t make the test any easier. Ran at a very strong pace throughout, jumping and stamina were really put to the test, and many horses struggled to keep up, eventually either falling or being pulled up by their rider.
The toughest on the day was Numbersixvalverde, a horse that had already shown his appetite for a test like this by winning the Irish Grand National in 2005. He wasn’t favourite though, in many other races he would have been, showing the strength behind the previous winner Hedgehunter and Clan Royal, for the team of AP McCoy and Jonjo O’Neill. Those two finished second and third respectively, returning the 5/1 joint-favourites.
The field thinned out with three fences to go, and the first three home were in contention at this point and beginning to move away from the field. Hedgehunter held a slight lead, much to the pleasure of those backing him to win again, but both Clan Royal and Numbersixvalverde were close and looking ready to strike.
Over the final fence, Numbersixvalverde jumped to the lead and raced to the elbow. At this point, he kicked clear, showing remarkable staying power after such a race, and eventually won the race by six lengths.
The front three were miles clear of anything else that finished, Nil Desperandum eventually took fourth place, and just five more crossed the line to give a total of nine finishers.
Magical Ride From Niall Madden
Niall Madden gave Numbersixvalverde a great ride in the race to win, and the concentration and determination he had to get the win was clearly evident in his post-race interview with the media. Madden kicked clear and won by six lengths but confessed to not actually knowing if he had won or not when crossing the line because he was busy with his head down and driving forward.
It was only after seeing the replay, he realised just how big the winning margin was, as he had no idea where the other horses were in comparison to his own mount.
Bookmakers Lose But Escape Huge Defeat
The 2006 Grand National was bad for bookmakers but could have been a whole lot worse. The horses finishing second and third were incredibly popular with punters. They were sent off 5/1 joint-favourites, one was a previous winner, the other was ridden by AP McCoy, in the famous McManus silks, all of which catches the eye of casual punters.
Both Ruby Walsh on Hedgehunter and AP McCoy on Clan Royal said that with two fences to go, they felt they were going to win the race and were both being cheered on by thousands at the track, and millions more from home.
Had either managed to get home and win the contest, this bad day for the bookmakers would have been a terrible one.
A Debut National Win For Madden
When Niall Madden steered Numbersixvalverde to victory, he was doing so in his first-ever ride in the Grand National, despite being an experienced jockey overall.
In completing this feat, Madden became the 21st jockey to successfully ride the winner of the race at their first attempt. He was one of seven riders to be riding in the race for the first time in 2006.
Moments Of Note
- The 2006 race was a big betting heat, with plenty of confidence around many horses, including the winner, and the two joint-favourites, which came second and third
- That led to big payouts from the bookmakers, but they were saved from the worst of it, by neither of the favourites winning the race, only placing
- Niall Madden became the 21st jockey to win the Grand National with his first ride in the race
- 2005 winner Hedgehunter was second, while 2004 winner Amberleigh House was pulled up