The 159th official running of the Grand national (sponsored by John Smiths this year) took place on 8th April 2006 and consisted of a maximum permitted field of forty runners fighting it out for a share of the £689,360 prize fund, this sum including £399,140 for the winner. 11/1 punt Numbersixvalverde was first past the post at a starting price of 11/1, ahead of 2005 winner Hedgehunter. Niall Madden was the winning jockey.
Prior to the race, Clan Royal had long been the ante-post favourite to win the famous steeplechase, this being in no small part due to his finishing second two years earlier and leading for lengthy periods in 2005. Nevertheless Hedgehunter was the subject of some significant bets leading up to the race and with jockey Ruby Walsh in the saddle, the pair went off as joint favourites at odds of 5/1 apiece.
Once again, live coverage of the Grand National was provided by BBC One with the race itself being covered as part of a Grandstand special. Before the start of the race, 19 leading race correspondents were told to pick their top four for the Grand National, however only one managed to correctly predict the winning horse.
The BBC coverage was presented by Clare Balding and Sue Barker with summary from Norman Williamson, Peter Scudamore and Richard Pitman. Race commentary was provided by Jim McGrath, Darren Owen, Tony O’Hehir and Ian Bartlett.
Seven jockeys made their debuts in the 2006 Grand National, amongst these being Niall Madden who thus became the 21st jockey to triumph at the first attempt in the Grand National.
Of the forty runners which started the race, only nine completed the course, this being the lowest number of finishers since 2001 when only four managed to complete the circuit.
3: Clan Royal
4: Nil Desperandum
5: Risk Accessor
7: Joe’s Edge
8: Inca Trail
9: Forest Gunner