Five dramatic Grand Nationals

Pirate IRWIN
Racegoers mingle around the statue of Red Rum, winner of perhaps one of the greatest of all Grand Nationals in 1973

The world's most famous steeplechase The Grand National regularly throws up drama, fairytales and hard luck stories and this Saturday's race should be no exception.

AFP Sports looks at five dramatic Grand Nationals down the years:

1956 - Devon Loch

It is not often a beaten horse is remembered more than the victor but such was the case with Devon Loch, owned by the late Queen Mother. Clear after the last, Devon Loch belly-flopped to the ground and although it rose to its feet all the momentum had gone with ESB going on to win. The Queen Mother took the blow remarkably well declaring 'Oh, that's racing'. Jockey Dick Francis -- who went on to become a best selling thriller writer -- believed the cacophony of noise had unnerved the horse.

1967 - Foinavon

A 100/1 shot whose owner Cyril Watkins stayed away....to his eternal regret. Watkins had turned down three jockeys for the ride -- they wanted what was then the princely sum of £200 which said a lot about their confidence in escaping without a serious injury -- and instead he paid the late John Buckingham just over £5 for the 'honour'. In the end it paid to be slow as coming to the 23rd fence, the smallest on the course, a riderless horse opted to run across it rather than jump. That provoked mayhem with many dumping their jockeys but Buckingham managed to find a spot to squeeze over the fence and from then on he cruised to a 15-length victory. That fence is now named after him.

1973 - Crisp and Red Rum

Perhaps the greatest of all Nationals with the Australian champion Crisp setting a scorching pace and giving a breathtaking display of jumping when the fences were truly intimidating. Ridden by Richard Pitman, Crisp had a 15 length lead over Red Rum at the last but while the heart was willing the legs had gone and Brian Fletcher ate up the ground. Red Rum -- who was 23 pounds lighter in the handicap -- prevailed in the last few strides, with both horses ripping the 40-year-old race record to shreds by 20 seconds. Pitman blamed himself for using the whip at the wrong moment on the tortuous run in but nevertheless he recalls it with pride. "I knew that it had been the ride of my life," he told The Independent in 2003.

1993 - The one that never was

Race starter Captain Keith Brown's final National turned into a fiasco and made him a laughing stock. Animal rights protestors invaded the course and forced two false starts...the only problem was 30 of the jockeys didn't realise the second time round and set off on their journey. Some -- including riding great Peter Scudamore in his last chance at winning the National -- realised after the first circuit the race was void but 14 carried on with Esha Ness trained by Jenny Pitman winning in a thrilling finish to the background of jeers from the crowd. Brown was exonerated afterwards but admitted 20 years later: "I was in charge. So in that regard it was my fault."

1997 - 'The Monday National'

The Irish Republican Army (IRA) claimed they had planted a bomb at the Aintree racecourse and the race, set for Saturday, was rescheduled to the Monday. Local residents opened their homes to those who had given up their hotel rooms and this spirit led to tabloid headlines paraphrasing Winston Churchill's 'We shall fight on the beaches' wartime rallying call with 'We'll fight them on the Becher's' (one of the race's signature fences). New Zealand-bred Lord Gyllene eased to victory by 25 lengths.