Little Polveir was a game-changer for Jimmy Frost

‘It felt like my world just took off’

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In 1989, Jimmy Frost achieved a feat of which few can only dare dream when winning the Grand National at the first attempt with big-race veteran Little Polveir.

Embarking on his maiden voyage in the Aintree spectacular, Frost had in the then 12-year-old – who only weeks before had joined Toby Balding from John Edwards – a horse that had been leading the race 12 months earlier until parting ways with Tom Morgan at the 26th fence.

Despite Little Polveir failing to complete in two of his previous three outings in the National, Frost – who is the father of rider-of-the-moment Bryony Frost – knew in the back of his mind his mount could make it fourth time lucky, granted a clear round.

He said: “I was a bit worried about the fact he had fallen the year before. I ran through the tapes the night before and I saw Tom went for a long one and the horse put down. Tom jumped the fence before he did.

“I thought if he could run as well as he did before falling the year before he could be in the top four.

“It was the first time I had ever ridden him in a race. I had given him a school in the week and that was it, but he knew his way around the place.”

In a race that has pitfalls lurking at every corner, Frost, having assumed a prominent position early on, enjoyed a largely trouble-free round aboard the 28-1 shot, before the climax to the event.

He said: “It was one of those races where everything just seemed to fall into place. Over the Canal Turn I nearly went out the side door and I had to rock myself back into the centre position, but that was about the only scare.

“I just gave him support at his fences and let him organise himself. He wasn’t the biggest, but he knew his way around Aintree.

“He was getting on a bit, but I never thought about that as he was fit and ready to do his job. As they say, you can play many a good tune on an old fiddle!”

With a host of challengers still stacked up in behind heading down to the final two fences, Frost – who would only go on to complete the race only once more in four later attempts – need not have worried as when he asked his mount the question he received the perfect response.

He said: “When I came back on to the course proper there were a few lager louts about on the course, but the horse came back on to the bridle and I thought, ‘hang on, I’ve still got a bit of horse underneath me here’.

“He jumped the last and I thought I might get caught, but then the loose horse Smart Tar joined me before the Elbow and he started galloping on again. At that point I thought, ‘nothing is going to catch me now’, as I knew he would stay on.”

A victory of that magnitude can leave a rider in a state of shock – and for Frost it was no different.

He added: “When I crossed the line I couldn’t believe it, I thought, ‘Christ, I’ve done it’ – I was just sat on the horse shaking my head from left to right. It was all a bit of a shock, but then it felt like my world just took off.

“You had the walk back in with the two big police horses in front of you, and you remember watching that on television thinking you would never believe that you could do it.

“After the race I signed some autographs, but I was back in the car soon after and I drove home and was back home by midnight. Everyone got together in the following days for dinner and drinks to celebrate the victory.

“It may have happened 30 years ago, but it changes your life, hence talking now about the win all those years ago now.”

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