The 1981 Grand National was won by the gelding Aldaniti, in a time of 9 minutes, 47.2 seconds, the going on race day was ‘Good‘. Aldaniti was owned by S.N. Embiricos who won a prize of £50,324, he was trained by Josh Gifford and paired with his regular jockey Bob Champion.
11 year old Aldaniti had been plagued by injury but recovered and Bob Champion had fought cancer successfully to win the world’s most famous steeplechase.
Bought as a four year old by his trainer Josh Gifford for 4100 guineas, Aldaniti started his racing career by winning an Ascot novices hurdle with Bob Champion in the saddle. In 1976 he finished a race lame and was not raced for over a year, in 1977 after recovering he had three wins and also finished third in the Hennessey Cognac Gold Cup, by now Bob Champion who had already ridden eight times in the Grand National was predicting that one day he would win the race.
In the summer of 1979 Bob was diagnosed with cancer and began chemotherapy which would last until January 1980, Aldaniti injured again, would not be able to race for at least a year but his owner promised Bob he would ride him in the National when they were both recovered. By December of 1980 Bob was back with a vengeance, he was voted the National Hunt Jockey of the Month in February 1981 and the same month won the Whitbread Trial Handicap Chase on a 14/1 outsider and fully recovered Aldaniti. Bob’s dream of winning the Grand National was back on track.
Spartan Missile was the 8/1 favourite in the race, with Aldaniti at 10/1 and Rubstic the 1979 winner at 11/1. A little to eager at the start, Aldaniti nosed the turf at the first and cleared the second fence untidily but by the 11th, sooner than Bob had anticipated, he was in the lead. He held off challengers during the second circuit, jumping superbly and denying Spartan Missile who made a late challenge on the long run in, to win by four lengths. The champion duo received a hero’s welcome from the race goers and wrote a special place for themselves in Grand National history.
Aldaniti made a second Grand National attempt in 1982 but along with many others fell at the first, he was then retired from racing. He made many appearances with Bob, helping to raise millions for the Bob Champion Cancer Trust, he died peacefully in 1997 aged 27. The duo’s triumph over adversity was told in the 1984 film ‘CHAMPIONS‘ starring John Hurt as Bob and Aldaniti as himself.
Position | Name | Jockey | Age | Weight | SP
1st | Aldaniti | Bob Champion | 11 | 10-13 | 10/1
2nd | Spartan Missile | Mr. J Thorne | 9 | 8/1 Fav
3rd | Royal Mail | P Blacker | 10 | 11-7 | 16/1
4th | Three To One | Mr. TG Dun | 10 | 10-3 | 33/1