In the long and eventful history of the Grand National , it is still the most astonishing day ever.
As thousands of fans watched the 42 horses line up for the big race in 1928, no-one was cheering for Tipperary Tim – a rank outsider who most wondered why he was there at all.
The 10-year-old horse was being ridden by amateur jokey William Dutton, an assistant solicitor in Chester, with odds at a 100/1 – along way off the 5/1 favourite Master Billie.
Their chances of even getting to the finish line seemed so remote that just before the started bell sounded one of William’s friends were heard shouting to him: “Billy boy, you’ll only win if all the others fall!”
But his words turned out to be prophetic and the 87th Grand National went down in history for the extraordinary sequence of events that happened next.
In fact every horse DID fall – all except for Tipperary Tim.
The 42 horses set off in misty conditions with the going very heavy after a month of rain.
As they neared the Canal Turn on the first circuit one of the horses, Easter Hero fell, causing a major pile-up with the majority of the horses being caught up in the melee.
Tipperary Tim, jockeyed by William Dutton, was able to navigate around the madness, emerging as one of just seven seated horses.
By the penultimate fence, only three horses remained in the race, with Great Span looking most likely to win ahead of Billy Barton and Tipperary Tim until his saddle slipped.
Billy Barton was now in the lead – but also fell with the finish line in sight.
Rather bewildered, Tipperary Tim galloped past to claim the Grand National’s most unlikely and thrilling victory, and writing his name into the history books.
Billy Barton’s jockey Tommy Cullinan managed to remount and complete the race, making him one of only two riders who finished the course.
The steeplechase set the record for he fewest number of finishers in a Grand National.
Tipperary Tim’s winning owner Lord Harold Kenyon received 5,000 sovereigns and the cup – worth 2,000 sovereigns – around £420,000 in today’s money.
One 10-year-old boy, Peter O’Sullevan, put his first ever bet on Tipperary Tim, and when he won a lifelong love of racing was born.
O’Sullevan would go on to become the ‘voice of racing’.
The surprise victory made the horse an overnight celebrity in the country, and soon adorned the covers of cigarette boxes.
The horse’s trainer, Joseph Dodd, received a congratulatory telegraph from Winston Churchill, then Chancellor of the Exchequer.
Tipperary Tim lived the rest of his life in rented stables at Marbury Lodge, Cheshire, the estate belonging to Lord Kenyon, where he was also buried when he died.
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