The 1998 Martell Grand National was won by 10 year old, Earth Summit, in a time of 10 minutes and 51.5 seconds. The winner was ridden by jockey Carl Llewellyn and trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies, who would go on to train the 2002 National winner Bindaree.
Earth Summit had been nursed back to health by Twiston-Davies after a serious injury two years earlier. By the time he appeared at Aintree the horse had already won the Scottish National as a novice and the Welsh Grand National in 1997. He became the only horse in history to have ever won all three Grand Nationals.
Thirty seven competitors started but only six completed the course, three horses were fatally injured, causing much public criticism. The Jockey club held an inquiry, raising questions as to the suitability of runners and in subsequent years the qualification standards for the race were raised.
After heavy rain on race day Earth Summit was backed down from 10/1 to start as the 7/1 joint favourite on ‘soft’ ground. Him Of Praise, who preferred soft ground was ridden by Champion jockey Charlie Swan, he was joint favourite until shortly before the race but was sent off at 8/1.
Richard Dunwoody had already won the race twice and his ride Samlee was joint second favourite. Jockey Graham Bradley was paired with Suny Bay,a grey who had been runner up in the previous years race and started at 11/1.
The weather had a big impact on the race and the ‘soft’ ground which was ‘heavy’ in places proved to be the biggest obstacle to the runners. The field got off to a good start, by fence five, Decyborg was leading with Go Universal and Ciel de Brion in close attendance. Ciel de Brion and St Mellion loved soft ground and were making good progress with Earth Summit and Suny Bay pushing forward.
As they approached the last it became a contest between these two horses, Earth Summit took the lead and Suny Bay ran out of steam. Earth Summit crossed the line 11 lengths ahead of Suny Bay with Samlee 3d and St Mellion Fairway in 4th position.
In 1997 there had been a bomb scare at Aintree and this, coupled with the bad weather, meant the 1998 race was seen by the smallest Grand National crowd since 1985. Jockey Richard Johnson had a camera set inside his cap to capture unique pictures of the race but this was a failure as Johnson fell from his horse at the first fence! Earth Summit, a horse who only fell once during his eight year career, retired in 2000.
Sadly in 2005, Earth Summit had to be put down after being diagnosed with cancer, he was seventeen years old.
Pos | Name | Jockey | Age | Weight | S/P
1st | Earth Summit | Carl Llewellyn | 10 | 10-05 | 7/1f
2nd | Suny Bay | Graham Bradley | 9 | 12-00 | 11/1
3rd | Samlee | Richard Dunwoody | 9 | 10-01 | 8/1
4th | St Mellion Fairwa | Andrew Thornton | 9 | 10-01 | 20/1
5th | Gimme Five | Kenny Whelan | 11 | 10-00 | 25/1
6th | Killeshin | Sean Curran | 12 | 10-0 | 25/1