John Leadbetter isn’t one of the bigger names associated with the Grand National. He had just three runners in the race during his career, where he trained from Scotland. Those were all Rubstic in three consecutive years, and the yard struck gold with the very first one, landing a Grand National win in 1979.
For such a small yard, it was a significant boost to Leadbetter, and the local village where he trained certainly went along for the ride with him, with a big celebration on the village green when they returned home from Aintree a day after the win.
There was wider celebrations around Scotland, too, because Rubstic became the first Scottish horse to win the Grand National when he did so in 1979, finally putting the Scottish flag onto the race after plenty had tried previously.
John Leadbetter Grand National Wins
- 1979 - Rubstic ridden by Maurice Barnes
|1980||Rubstic||Fence 15 - Fell||-||Maurice Barnes|
Grand National Winner With Rubstic
When Rubstic went to Aintree for the Grand National, hopes were there that he would run a nice race, but when it came to actually winning, there wasn’t too much confidence. Sent off at 25/1, he was unfancied, though so were many horses, with the main focus of the betting market being on Alverton, who was bidding to win the Grand National after winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup just a few weeks before.
All members of the Rubstic team were having their first run in the race, the horse, trainer, jockey Maurice Barnes and owner John Douglas, but that didn’t stop them from coming out on top.
There was plenty of danger for horses going around Aintree this day. Thirty-four runners began, and the race and just seven finished, in part due to conditions that were described as good to soft but also because loose horses played their part, causing trouble for some riders.
In particular, this came at The Chair, on the first circuit, where a total of eight runners were sent out of the race because of trouble. Barnes managed to keep Rubstic clear of that and still had a chance of winning the race. The further they went, the bigger that chance grew.
Going into the closing stages, three horses remained, but of those, Rubstic was the one that looked to be staying on the strongest. John Leadbetter had trained him to the minute for this race, and he dug deep to give all he could, which was eventually enough to stay ahead and take the race.
The winning distance was recorded at two lengths, with Barnes driving his mount all the way, keeping him going and taking the applause on course from those who were celebrating his win.
Leadbetter would bring the horse back for two more runs in the race, the horse fell in 1980 when trying to defend his crown, and despite being 12 years old, he ran a respectable 7th place in 1981, his final Grand National run before he was retired, and Leadbetter would continue to look after him.
Famous Horses Trained By John Leadbetter
Here are some of the bigger names trained by John Leadbetter during his career.