ON THIS DATE in 1938, seventeen-year-old Bruce Hobbs rode his mount, Battleship, to victory in the prestigious Grand National steeplechase. A 40-to-one longshot, Hobbs and Battleship edged an Irish horse, Royal Danieli, by a head in a thrilling finish at England’s Aintree Racecourse. The rider from Long Island, New York, was the youngest jockey in the race and easily the tallest at 6-foot-3, yet his horse, owned by American millionaire Marion duPont Scott, was the smallest mount in the four-and-a-half-mile race.
Hobbs rode 35 winners during the 1937-38 season and became the first jockey to win three Grand Nationals in one year. Later in 1938 he broke his spine during a crashing fall from a horse and was told he’d never ride again. He defied the odds by returning to the saddle before serving in World War II.