I hold the Grand National record and nobody will beat me this year

Marcus Armytage is escorted back to the paddock after winning the Grand National in 1990
Marcus Armytage is escorted back to the paddock after winning the Grand National in 1990 - S&G and Barratts

There are many unknowns about Saturday’s Randox Grand National but the one certainty is that Mr Frisk’s record time of 8 minutes 47.8 seconds, set in 1990, will not be broken.

This year’s race is unlikely to take quite as long as Red Marauder’s 11 minutes in 2001 but it will probably take nearer 10 minutes than nine and for all the changes Aintree has made to try and slow the race up this year, it is the weather which will have done that for them.

Of course, 34 years after my greatest day the horse is long gone – ironically after a career in which he never fell he slipped up on a country lane in retirement – and my status as the last winning amateur, which lasted 32 years, now sits with Sam Waley-Cohen.

So of the wreckage of that victory, all I’m left clinging to is the record time. 084780 – notwithstanding a possible security breach, that’ll be my phone lock.

The Telegraph's report of Mr Frisk's victory
The Telegraph's report of Mr Frisk's victory

I am constantly told that it will never be broken now and realistically the only chance is if the water companies cock up so badly – not an impossibility – that one day Aintree is banned from watering the course which it does to slow up the race.

So far, even with the course shortened just over a furlong in 2012 to pull the start away from the cauldron of the new grandstands, only one other winner in 175 runnings, Many Clouds in 2015, has completed a sub-nine minute National.

Before Mr Frisk, the fastest time was set in 1973 in Red Rum’s last-gasp defeat of Crisp, one of the most epic Nationals of all time, in 9 minutes 1.9 seconds.

Ginger McCain used to tell me I’d only broken Rummy’s record because the fences were so small. I used to joke back that Red Rum would have still been jumping the last when I was back in the winner’s enclosure.

However, there are two things both races had in common which led to record-breaking times; lightning quick ground – the only two times since the War when it was firm – and, essentially, a pacemaker.

Red Rum had Crisp blazing a trail and I had the America fast-ground specialist Uncle Merlin being aggressively ridden by Hywel Davies taking us along at a rattling gallop on turf that was a jaundiced yellow from at the end of one of the driest winters on record. Now watering the whole course – not possible in 1990 – is used as a tool to slow it down and make it safer.

But in 1990, once the race had settled into a rhythm, the pace never really let up. On the run to Becher’s second time, I dropped a couple of lengths off Uncle Merlin because the pace was so fierce. I had a little look to see if I could get level with him again at about the 18th but it was to no avail. I had no plan other than to wait and see what unfolded.

Marcus Armytage (left) on Mr Frisk and Uncle Merlin (right)
Marcus (left) on Mr Frisk keeping pace with Uncle Merlin (right) - Getty Images

That year Becher’s had undergone a number of modifications to the drop but it was still enough to catch Uncle Merlin out on the landing side. When I went past, Hywel was perched on his ears and I fully expected him to get back in the saddle and rejoin me, maybe at the Canal. But he never did. I did not know it but he was gone.

A natural front-runner himself, once we had jumped the Canal Turn and were heading for home Mr Frisk never let it slacken. I had no idea how far clear I was (10 lengths) but tried to keep pressing the advantage at every jump.

At that stage of my career, probably about 40 pretty inconsequential winners, it was quite something to lead back over the Melling Road in the Grand National unable to hear another horse and with the petrol tank nowhere near red.

Having dreamed of winning it since my first visit to Aintree for the Red Rum-Crisp epic in ‘73, here I was poised and I remember looking up and seeing the grandstands coming back into view – half a mile and two fences from home. It was the first moment actually winning dawned on me. I just needed to keep it all together. They said the three-quarter-of-a-length runner-up didn’t stay four-and-a-half miles and yet Durham Edition completed the course in a faster time than any horses in history – apart from one.

In my downstairs loo is a framed certificate from Guinness World Records which points out that ‘the fastest time to win the Grand National Horse Race is Mr Frisk, ridden by Marcus Armytage (UK)’.

Marcus Armytage's Grand National Guinness World Record framed certificate
Marcus' Grand National Guinness World Record framed certificate

As the father of kids who are now 19, 18 and 12, I get plenty of grief and back chat – they were born answering back – from them. Occasionally I remind them, when dad’s done something incredibly stupid again, to take a look at what it says at the bottom of the certificate. ‘Officially Amazing’. It’s there in writing isn’t it?

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