Big Fella Thanks went off at 14/1 in the 2009 Grand National, but unfortunately only managed to come 6th, proving yet again that seven year old horses don’t tend to win the National – the last one was Bogskars in 1940.
By the time the 2010 Grand National rolled around he was a firm favourite with the punters who were sure that he could go better now that he was a year older and a bit more experienced. Ruby Walsh was supposed to have partnered him but got injured on the day and Barry Geraghty stepped in to bring him home in 4th place with many speculating, that but for Walsh’s injury he may even have won it.
So hopes were high for the 2011 Grand National but Ruby Walsh opted to race with The Midnight Club for Willie Mullins and Big Fella Thanks was moved from Paul Nicholls stable to that of Ferdy Murphy and was ridden, on the day, by the very experienced Graham Lee who could only manage to get him passed the post in seventh place.
It was assumed that he would run again, for the fourth successive year in 2012, at the optimal age of 10 years old, having already gotten around the course very successfully three years in a row but he wasn’t entered and has since moved to the yard of trainer Tom George who has entered him for the 2013 Grand National.
He finished 3rd place in the Becher Chase at Aintree in December 2012 followed by a win at Wincanton and a second place at Newbury on March 2nd 2013 all of which suggested he was on great form. But even with Denis O’Regan on board and at 11 years old, five years after his first attempt, he couldn’t get around the course, unseating the jockey at the 8th fence.
It’s unlikely that at 12 years of age he will be entered into the 2014 Grand National, but we’ll have to wait to find out for sure.