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  Saturday, 7 April, 2001, 15:52 GMT 16:52 UK
Aintree's big-race drama
Richard Guest is covered in dirt
Richard Guest celebrates his remarkable victory
By BBC Sport Online's Frank Keogh at Aintree.

It was surely one of the most astonishing Grand Nationals ever - and questions will be asked by some whether the race should have gone ahead in appalling conditions.

History will show Red Marauder, a 33-1 chance, won the 2001 running of the world's greatest steeplechase.

But that does not tell the full story of a truly amazing race.

There was drama from the word go as the downpour made the heavy ground even more demanding.

Loose horses and crunching falls will have made many viewers grimace at what was happening.

But thankfully, all horses and riders escaped serious injury.

Just four horses finished the four-and-a-half mile marathon - but there were only two with a real chance of winning as the race reached its latter stages.

Runners in the Grand National
Many of the runners fell before the final circuit

The succession of early fallers was topped by a pile-up at the Canal Turn.

Loose horse Paddy's Return jack-knifed in front of the chasing pack and ended the hopes of eight runners who were brought down in the chaos.

It was 34 years ago to the day that a similar scene unfolded one obstacle earlier at the Foinavon fence.

With only one circuit gone, just eight of the original 40-strong field were left - and the numbers began to fall further.

It seemed at one stage that Carl Llewellyn was in with a great chance of a third National win.

But his mount Beau unseated him as he tried desperately to cling onto the Whitbread Gold Cup winner's reins.

It was to no avail and Llewellyn even tried to run after his mount but without success.

As the very real prospect emerged that every horse in the field could fall, just two were left - Smarty and Red Marauder.

Historical race

It was Red Marauder, trained by Richard Guest and owner Norman Mason, and ridden by Guest, who was to prevail - but not without a few scares.

Smarty, the first National runner for trainer Mark Pitman, son of double National-winning trainer Jenny, finished second.

And some way back, Blowing Wind and Papillon had been re-mounted to finish third and fourth respectively.

Champion jockey Tony McCoy was completing his first National in six attempts on Blowing Wind.

And Papillon was in the places for the second year running after winning last year's race.

It was the first time since 1980 that only four runners completed the course.


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See also:

05 Apr 01 | N Ireland
06 Apr 01 | Grand National
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