The Most Successful Horses in The History of The Irish Grand National

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The Irish Grand National is one of the most prestigious and anticipated events in the horse racing calendar, attracting a wide array of talented horses and skilled jockeys from around the world.

Since its maiden race over 200 years ago, so many horses have left an indelible mark on the race, cementing their place in the history books as the most successful competitors to ever grace the track at Fairyhouse. This year will see a returning crowd back in full attendance for the second successive year after two spent behind closed doors due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Over the years some legendary horses have mixed together the winning cocktail of speed, stamina, and raw talent, stringing together some fine performances. To win on Irish soil is to write your name in the history books, with the unpredictability of a big race in County Meath just as significant as a win in Merseyside or Gloucestershire to those local trainers and jockeys.

But what sets the Irish Grand National apart from other high-profile races like the Grand National at Aintree? The answer lies in the unique characteristics of the course at Fairyhouse.

With its undulating terrain, challenging fences, and unpredictable weather conditions, the Irish Grand National is a true test of a horse's ability and a jockey's skill. In contrast, the Grand National at Aintree is a flat, fast-paced course with its own set of demanding obstacles.

Those assessing the early odds for the Irish Grand national must understand the differences between these two races and the nuances of the Fairyhouse course can be key to making a winning bet. With the likes of Gaillard Du Mesnil, Ain’t That A Shame and Carefully Selected all among the favourites, it will be interesting to see who will make their name in history.

There are several big names from years gone by that have become synonymous with the Irish Grand National and evoke memories of thrilling finishes, daring jumps, and unforgettable moments of triumph. With that in mind, let’s go through a few legendary horses that have enjoyed great success in the Irish Grand National.

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Desert Orchid

Desert Orchid

One of the most famous horses for his 1990 Irish Grand National victory, Desert Orchid was one of a kind. The comeback from the David Elsworth-trained horse, nicknamed ‘Dessie’ as he pipped Barney Burnett a year on from falling over in the 1989 Victor Chandler Handicap Chase and coming back against the likes of Panto Prince and Vodkatini, also winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup that year at Prestbury Park.

Although considered a two-miler in years gone by, Dessie enjoyed a wonderful twilight in distance racing and lived until 27 as one of the best horses to grace Irish soil.

Brown Lad

Brown Lad is one of the most successful horses in the history of the Irish Grand National, having won the race three times in the 1970s. Trained by Jim Dreaper and ridden by jockey Tommy Carberry, Brown Lad's success in the race is a testament to his incredible stamina and endurance, as well as his ability to navigate the challenging course at Fairyhouse.



Perhaps saving the best until last, Arkle is widely regarded as one of the greatest racehorses of all time. Despite being considered extremely heavy for his size, weighing in at 12 stone, his victory in the 1964 Irish Grand National would spearhead victories at Cheltenham, Leopardstown and Newbury before his career was cut short by injury.

His skeleton now hangs proudly in the Irish National Stud facility in County Kildare.

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