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Grand National memories 1981: Aldaniti wins against all odds

| 02.03.2018

Apart from Red Rum, if you were to ask members of the public at random to name a Grand National winner, Aldaniti would likely be an answer.

Throughout his career, he had his fair share of injury problems. In 1979, Aldaniti suffered a potential life-threatening injury at Sandown but was saved by his owner Nick Embiricos.

Earlier that year, his regular jockey Bob Champion was diagnosed with testicular cancer and given just a 40 percent chance of survival. Against all odds, both survived to take their place in horse racing folklore by winning the 1981 Grand National.

Aldaniti was sent off second-favourite behind fancied 8/1 shot and former champion hunter chaser Spartan Missile, ridden by a 51-year-old amateur jockey John Thorne, who already had success over these fences when winning back-to-back Foxhunters in 1978 and 1979.

Champion settled Aldaniti towards the rear of the field, but his race very nearly ended at the first fence, as he over-jumped but luckily found a leg.

1981 grand national aldaniti

The same happened at the second fence, but after that he was foot perfect. Aldaniti took it up at the 11th and, remaining in the front rank for the rest of the first circuit, his bold jumping a huge asset over the daunting fences. He made clearing The Chair, the biggest fence on the course, look effortless.

Going out onto the second circuit, Aldaniti went on in front, and was never to be headed after the 17th fence. Although, going to the Elbow after the final fence, the fairytale looked in doubt, as Spartan Missile was staying on strongly, but Aldaniti had enough left to repel the favourite. Relive his thrilling win below:

Aldaniti returned the following year, but over-jumped at the first fence; this time losing Champion to the Aintree turf. He went on to live a long and happy retirement until his death at the age of 27 in 1997.



Adam Webb