Grand National 2022: everything you need to know
Horse racing holds a special place in the hearts of royalty: the queen has been interested in animals since she was very young and greatly enjoys breeding and racing her horses. Today will be no different, with the 174th Grand National kicking off at 5:15pm Her Majesty is one of the most successful horse racing owners in royal history, racking up £584,000 in prize money last year, the best yet now.
She has amassed an estimated £7 million over the years, with Prince Philip previously using the proceeds to spruce up the Walled Kitchen Gardens on the Sandringham Estate.
The queen is by no means the first member of the royal family to derive pleasure and riches from horses.
But it hasn’t all been fun and games: before her, the Queen Mother suffered one of the cruelest defeats in horse racing history when, in 1956, she fell victim to the dreaded commentators’ curse.
It is estimated that he had more than 500 winners in his life and came close to winning the Grand National, something no royal has ever achieved.
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The Queen Mother arrives for the 1956 Grand National.
Devon Loch, left, jumps Becher’s Brook in the 1956 Grand National.
His horse, Devon Loch, successfully cleared 30 hurdles and seemed sure to win.
Moving well ahead of his nearest rival, the commentator said: “Devon Loch can’t lose.”
But just as Devon Loch passed the jubilant Queen Mother seated in the royal box at Aintree, the unthinkable happened.
For no apparent reason, the horse jumped and fell face down just 40 meters from the finish line.
A devastated Dick Francis raises the whip after the Grand National disaster.
The jockey stayed on the horse, alone, but His Majesty’s career and dream were over.
The closest challenger from Devon Loch, ESB, had been five lengths behind but won the historic race by around ten lengths.
Devon Loch, ridden by Dick Francis, stood up but was unable to finish the race.
What happened to the horse remains one of the biggest mysteries in racing, though several possible explanations have been proposed over the years.
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Devon Loch was just 40 yards from victory.
Some have questioned whether he may have seen the shadow of another fence in the field and mistook it for an obstacle, causing confusion and causing him to half-jump into the air.
Others have suggested that the horse might have been cramped or might have been spooked by the crowd present.
The Queen Mother was remarkably gracious in defeat, saying, “Oh, that’s running.”
She and the current queen are the two most successful royal race owners in history, with more than 1,000 winners between them.
The Queen Mother never came close to winning the historic race again.
However, it was later reported that the Queen Mother was very embarrassed by the incident.
When Central Television produced a documentary about his racing involvement in 1987, he is said to have requested that they not mention the disastrous race.
She never came close to winning the Grand National again and seemed to be plagued with bad luck after that.
However, between 1964 and 1965 he enjoyed a prolific streak when his horses won some 27 races.
She left a remarkable legacy within the racing community, with legendary trainer Nicky Henderson saying after her death that she was like the “patron saint” of the sport.
His latest winner, First Love, was trained by Henderson in a March 2002 race at Sandown.
While the current Queen does not have any horses running in the Grand National this year, she is expected to attend Royal Ascot later in the year.
Her Majesty loves the iconic event and has never failed to open proceedings, arriving along the track in a horse-drawn carriage.
Officially or privately, the monarch greatly enjoys watching her horses run.
Coverage of the main event at Aintree begins at 2:00pm and runs until 6:00pm, with the race starting at 5:15pm