5 Biggest Odds Grand national Winners and 5 Other Winners at Huge Betting Odds
The Grand National is up there with the most dramatic fixtures in sport. On many occasions unfancied horses, rookie jockeys and hopeful owners have beaten the odds and the chasing pack to secure memorable victories. However, on five occasions a horse has cantered to success at odds of 100/1, fulfilling the wildest fantasies of rider, owner and delirious punters alike. Here they are in all their glory, along with five other sporting winners at crazy odds
Tipperary Tim, 1928
As Tipperary Tim’s jockey, Bill Dutton, readied himself for the 1928 Grand National, he was given some sage advice; “You will only win if all the others fall down, Billy boy”. And it turns out Dutton’s advisor was absolutely correct. From the field of 42 that started a National suffering under very tough conditions, Tipperary Tim was the only horse to finish the race cleanly. Billy Barton was the only other finisher, after jockey TB Cullinan fell at the final hurdle and then remounted the horse to finish second. If only the mystery tipster who called such an unlikely turn of events had put some money on it…
Incredibly, 100/1 shots won at the National in successive years, but seven year-old Gregalach had to do it the hard way rather than by a Tipperary Tim-esque stroke of luck. 66 horses made up a record field, and although incredibly every single one made the first jump, for many it was downhill from there. Not so for the unfancied Gregalach, who waited until the penultimate fence to make his move. Surging through into first place, Gregalach provided a surprise victory for jockey Robert Everett and owner Margaret Gemmell.
Jockey Morney Wing once said of Caughoo that the best thing to do with the horse was to shoot it, but the two-time Ulster Grand National winner proved him wrong by defying 100/1 odds to win at Aintree in 1947. However, Caughoo’s victory provided an unusual furore. Daniel McCann, who was atop the well-beaten Lough Conn, accused jockey Eddie Dempsey of using the thick fog that enveloped the course to hide Caughoo, skipping up to thirty fences before resuming ahead of the pack during the second circuit. This was proved to be patently untrue, and merely a case of sour grapes, but it made for one of the more bizarre stewards’ enquiries in Grand National history.
The Grand National’s most famous underdog performances and one of sport’s unlikeliest victories, 1967 saw the advent of Foinavon’s incredible last-gasp victory. At the 23rd fence, the smallest fence on the course, Foinavon was lagging well behind in 30th place, with a miracle required to seal victory. And a miracle he got. Incredibly 29 horses fell at that fence, and Foinavon was far enough behind to swerve around the carnage and canter to victory. John Buckingham picked up his only National win as jockey despite being a late choice, while trainer John Kempton tasted success despite not even being in attendance. That famous fence has been named Foinavon in honour of one of Aintree’s most unlikely champions.
Mon Mome, 2009
Only one 100/1 shot has managed to win the Grand National since Foinavon’s momentous victory in 1967; Mon Mome. With a rookie jockey in Liam Treadwell and Venetia Williams being only the second Grand National-winning female trainer, Mon Mome’s win certainly did not lack excitement. Bookies estimated that £250 million was bet on the Grand National, but most would have gone with Tony McCoy and Butler’s Cabin – who finished seventh – than with Mon Mome, who was hardly backed. In one of the tightest races in recent memory, blighted by two false starts, any one of 12 horses was still in with a serious chance of claiming the 162nd National with two fences left to jump. However it was Mon Mome who raced clear to win by 12 lengths. Treadwell’s mother had advised him before the race to get a haircut in case he was interviewed on TV after winning the National, but he declined, stating he would be happy just to get round. As usual, mothers know best.
Five Other Winners at Crazy Odds
The National has produced five winners at 100/1 odds, but there have been plenty of other examples in sport of victors taking the spoils in spite of the huge odds against them.
Greece winning Euro 2004
Euro 2004 would not have gone down as one of the more memorable tournaments in football’s history had it not been for the winners, Greece. It was an unheralded victory in every sense of the word; Greece were in Pot 3 for the qualifying draw and lost their opening games 2-0 against Spain and Ukraine. That was when the turnaround began, with Greece registering six wins on the bounce without conceding another goal to pip Spain to top of the group by a point. The Greeks had made it to Portugal, but were still in Pot 4 for the group stage draw, with only lowly Latvia having a smaller co-efficient. Drawn against hosts Portugal, Russia, and the Spain side they had conquered in the qualifying group, not many gave Otto Rehhagel’s Greece a chance of even finishing third.
Yet, thanks to a victory over Portugal in the tournament’s opening game and a draw against Spain, Greece finished above the Spanish on goals scored to make it through the group. In the quarter final Greece overcame much-fancied France thanks to a sole Angelos Charisteas goal, before a single Traianos Dellas strike sunk the Czech Republic after extra time in the semi. The Greeks met Portugal yet again in the final, and as usual the odds were stacked against them. Yet in the 58th minute Charisteas struck once more, and Greece had won Euro 2004 without conceding a goal in the knockout rounds. A pre-tournament bet for the Greeks came at hefty 150/1 odds, and those who thought they had been handed a terrible sweepstake pick across Europe rejoiced. Oh how the Greeks could use that sort of luck right now with their banking woes!
Goran Ivanisevic winning Wimbledon
Goran Ivanisevic’s career seemed to be on the wane by the time he turned up at SW19 in 2001. The Croat lost in the Wimbledon final in 1992, 1994 and 1998, with Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras (twice) denying him at the final hurdle. In 2001 Ivanisevic was forced to accept a wildcard entry as he had dropped to 125th in the world, but he fought through to the final, beating Marat Safin and Tim Henman in the process, before overcoming Pat Rafter in five sets. Ivanisevic took the match 6-3 3-6 6-3 2-6 9-7, becoming the first ever wildcard winner of Wimbledon and rising to 16th in the world. One punter put £240 on Ivanisevic to win before the tournament, and picked up a very handsome £27,000 as Ivanisevic landed his each way bet at odds of 150/1.
Darren Clarke winning the Open
Played 19, lost 19. Darren Clarke didn’t have the best record at the Open Championship, but it was 20th time lucky for the Northern Irishman at the 2011 Open at Royal St. George’s. Clarke finished three shots clear of Americans Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickleson to register the first Open victory by a Brit since a similarly odds-defying win by Paul Lawrie in 1999. Not only that, but he became the oldest winner of a Major, at 42-years-old, since Ben Crenshaw in 1995, and did it all despite odds as far out as 125/1 on him to win. Odds ain’t nothing but a number!
James Douglas beats Mike Tyson
Mike Tyson was king of all he surveyed in 1990. Undefeated heavyweight champion of the world, Tyson was truly invincible. Or so he thought. His lax attitude for training meant that he was not properly prepared for a title bout against James “Buster” Douglas. Despite this, bookmakers refused to offer odds, knowing that punters could pick up easy money on a Tyson win. However, the Mirage casino in Las Vegas offered odds of 42/1 on Douglas shocking the champ. Not even they foresaw what was to happen. The fight appeared to be over when Tyson knocked Douglas off his feet with a ferocious upper-cut, but Douglas got to his feet, apparently spared by a time-keeping error. Two rounds later Douglas landed a knockout punch, and incredibly he had beaten Tyson to become the heavyweight champion. “Buster” lasted just three rounds in his title defence against Evander Holyfield, but did pick up a cool $24 million, or $8 million per round. Not a bad payout for Douglas then, or for those brave or foolhardy to put money on the shock of all shocks occurring on that February morning in 1990.