Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Which Horse Recorded the Fastest Grand National Win?

Embed from Getty Images

Here at sprinters to go, we are all about speed.

For the most part, this blog is dedicated to thoroughbred sprint horses - specifically the Nunthorpe Stakes, which is run over the flying five furlongs at York's Knavesmire. The fastest horse to win this Group 1 race was Borderlescott, trained by Robin Bastiman. He won in a time of 56:09s. 

As the saying goes: ''speed is relative''. Linford Christie, UK Olympic sprint champion in 1992, was fast but compared to Borderlescott - even over 100 metres - he was pretty damn ''slow''. 

Let's consider the Grand National. Not a race for sprint horses. It's a four-mile three-and-a-half furlong slog. The great sprinter Dayjur struggles with jumping shadows so heaven knows what he would have thought about a ten-foot fence in his path with Captain Becher pocking his head over the top smiling like a Cheshire cat. 

But even in the slowest, toughest, hardest races, there is one horse who, although slow, is fast as a snake down a hole, when it comes to the Grand National Steeplechase.

If you are horse racing quizzer you will know the answer to this question in the time it takes to say: ''National Sweepstake''.

The appropriately named Mr Frisk achieved a record-breaking time in the national back in 1990. Trained by Kim Bailey, ridden by Marcus Armytage, he finished in 8m 47.8s. That record has stood the test of time even though in 2013 the distance of the race was shortened by over 300 metres. Many punters returned home with cash-laden pockets after the 16/1 shot. However, it was a fight to the line as Durham Addition lost by just three-quarters of a length, some twenty lengths clear of the third, Rinus. 

Mr Frisk, a son of Bivouac out of the mare Jenny Frisk was a popular horse after achieving this honoured mantle trumping the likes of Red Rum. 

This fast chestnut gelding pulled up when competing for the next year on good to soft going. That was a telling point. In 1990, the ground was firm, which even in the good old days where health and safety sat somewhere at the back of the grandstand, it wasn't the norm. Many pundits have reflected upon his record as a matter of circumstance as it was talent. 

In these modern days, it would seem unlikely a horse will ever threaten the time of Mr Frisk. The going conditions and routine watering of courses to make them safe means firm ground on the national course simply couldn't happen in this modern era. 

Mr Frisk, the winner of nine of his twenty-five National Hunt races, is odds-on to remain the fast of them all.