Josh Gifford

The late Josh Gifford was the mastermind behind one of the most loved Grand National wins of all time, though he is often the member of the team least spoken about. When Aldaniti won the Grand National in 1981, he did so after suffering a bad injury, almost life-threatening. The winning jockey that day was Bob Champion, an incredible man who had been diagnosed with testicular cancer and fought back to not only beat cancer but also win the Grand National.

Gifford’s part in that success should not be underestimated, though. He’d already gained a reputation as being a very good trainer but also one who could nurse horses back to health from injury, which is exactly what he did with Aldaniti.

Born on August 3, 1941, Gifford was a popular jockey before retiring at the early age of 28 and turning to training. He went straight into national hunt training and was a well-respected and liked trainer.

Sadly, after suffering a heart attack, Josh Gifford passed away at the age of 70 on February 9, 2012.

Josh Gifford Grand National Wins

  • 1981 - Aldaniti ridden by Bob Champion

Full Results

Year Horse Result Prize Money Jockey
2001 Brave Highlander Fence 19 - Refused - Philip Hide
2000 Brave Highlander 4 £25,000 Philip Hide
1999 Brave Highlander 6 £5,300 Philip Hide
1998 Brave Highlander Fence 24 - Unseated Rider - Philip Hide
1997 Spuffington Fence 22 - Unseated Rider - Philip Hide
1995 Topsham Bay 10 - Philip Hide
1995 Jumbeau Fence 1 - Brought Down - Simon McNeill
1992 Golden Minstrel 15 - Eamon Murphy
1991 Golden Minstrel 7 - Tom Grantham
1991 Envopak Token Fence 5 - Pulled Up - Mark Perrett
1991 Foyle Fisherman 10 - Eamon Murphy
1991 Ballyhane 11 - Declan Murphy
1988 You're Welcome Fence 5 - Pulled Up - Peter Hobbs
1988 Bright Dream Fence 22 - Brought down - Richard Rowe
1987 You're Welcome 5 £3,960 Peter Hobbs
1987 Bright Dream 18 - Richard Rowe
1986 Door Latch Fence 1 - Fell - Richard Rowe
1985 Roman Bistro Fence 18 - Refused - Paul Nicholls
1985 Shady Deal Fence 5 - Pulled Up - Richard Rowe
1982 Aldaniti Fence 1 - Fell - Bob Champion
1981 Aldaniti 1 £38,529 Bob Champion
1980 Mannyboy Fence 1 - Unseated Rider - Richard Rowe
1975 Manicou Bay 6 - Bob Champion
1973 Fortune Bay II Fence 19 - Fell - George Sloan
1972 Fair Vulgan Fence 22 - Fell - Macer Gifford

Grand National Winner With Aldaniti

The 1981 Grand National will be remembered by many, and when looking back through the history of the race, it is always one that gets mentioned. The story of Aldaniti, the horse, is one that is special in its own right, and the story of Bob Champion is even more remarkable when you consider what he went through.

But Josh Gifford certainly played his part in the whole situation, a part that shouldn’t be forgotten about, even though he is the least spoken about of the three involved.

Aldaniti had shown his credentials as a top-class staying chaser before a severe leg injury occurred. There was talk at one point that this would be life-threatening, if not certainly career-threatening, but thanks to the care of the Gifford team, the horse was able to be brought back to full fitness, losing none of his ability. By the time he came back, he was 11 and past his prime, but there was a clear plan to send him to the Grand National, one that was eventually orchestrated in great style.

It was on his prep run for the National that Aldaniti really shot into contention for the race, and the effort put into the horse by Gifford was realised by all. He won the Whitbread Trial Chase in great style at Ascot in February, and from here, it was all about Aintree.

Prior to his absence of more than a year due to the injury, Aldaniti had shown his staying power, he was third in the Cheltenham Gold Cup and second in the Scottish Grand National. There was no doubting his ability to get the slightly longer trip at Aintree, and on race day, jockey Bob Champion used that to his advantage.

An early race move eventually turned out to be a crucial one, as, during the first circuit, Champion took Aldaniti to the front and from this moment, they were never passed. He was jumping well, stayed strongly, and did it all in the biggest race on the national hunt calendar. Any horse doing this is special, but to see one doing it after nearly losing their life with a bad leg injury, was all the more special.

Patience is something that is required in some sports, and horse racing is certainly one of those. The patience that was shown by Josh Gifford to bring Aldaniti back to training and then back to his best was a great training performance and one that will forever be remembered.

A year later, he managed to get the horse back to the race in a bid to defend his crown. Now 12 at the time and with more weight on his back, he was unable to get past the first fence, falling with Bob Champion once again in the saddle.

Early Career As A Jockey

Prior to starting his career as a national hunt trainer, Josh Gifford would have success in the saddle as a jockey. He retired from riding relatively early, stopping at just 28 years old, but the reason he stopped was because a perfect opportunity to begin his training career came up.

During his time riding, Gifford started on the flat and won the November handicap early on in his career. However, his weight was an issue for the flat, so at the point where he was struggling to maintain that, he moved codes to national hunt racing.

The Welsh National, Mildmay of Flete Chase and Mackeson Gold Cup were big race wins that Gifford had under his belt quite early on in his national hunt riding career. The public respected him as a jockey, they knew he was talented and worked hard in the saddle.

Captain Ryan Price was the national hunt trainer to take Gifford under his tutorship, and they had great success together. Known to be a strong trainer of horses, but also of people., Gifford thrived and won the jockeys championship four times while he was riding for Price.

Over a 14-year spell in the saddle, Gifford rode an impressive 641 winners before Price moved to flat training, and Gifford retired to train national hunt horses at the age of 28.

Famous Horses Trained By Josh Gifford

Here are some of the bigger names trained by Josh Gifford during his career.


Brave Highlander