Not many punters were cheering when Foinavon survived the dramatic pile-up in the 1967 Grand National to win as a virtually unconsidered 100-1 outsider. But Andy Stewart definitely was.

The man whose colours will be carried in Saturday's race by leading contender Saphir Du Rheu had hitchhiked for two days from his Essex home to Merseyside to see a race he has been fascinated with since, aged 12, his parents took him to the 1963 running won by Ayala.

With 6 ($10.70) in his pocket, Stewart kept 1 for "emergencies" and put the rest on the horse which still symbolises sporting underdogs.

Stewart said: "Although I was only 16, I looked more like 20 and used to go to the local pub in Chelmsford. I drew Foinavon in the sweepstake. I had 5 win on him at the track. Suddenly, I had more money than I could dream of.


"I won the same amount as my first year's salary when I went into the City in 1969. After I had won, I said to the bookmaker, 'What's the most expensive hotel in Liverpool?' He said 'The Adelphi, you can probably afford it'.

"I bought a first-class rail ticket back to London for 1 17 and 6 pence. I still have the ticket. Then I got a chauffeur-driven limousine back to my parents' house."

After a long and highly-successful career, Stewart now spends most of his time split between Barbados and the Channel Islands.

Stewart's journey to Liverpool this week will take less than an hour as he is flown from Shoreham to Liverpool's John Lennon airport.

His enthusiasm for the Grand National is undiminished. Stewart's first National runner was Le Duc, who unseated jockey Dominic Elsworth at Becher's Brook on the first circuit in 2007.

Saphir Du Rheu, a 20-1 shot, will be his 11th runner in a race now worth 1m. His got nearest to winning with Ruby Walsh-ridden My Will, who was third to 100-1 shot Mon Mome in 2009.

Stewart's interest at this week's meeting will include As De Mee, owned with actress Dame Judi Dench, in tomorrow's Topham Trophy Chase.

Meanwhile, Bryony Frost-ridden Pacha Du Polder, who was partnered by Victoria Pendleton at 2015 Cheltenham Festival, will try to add today's Fox Hunters' Chase to his win in the Foxhunters' Chase at last month's Festival.

But Saphir Du Rheu is the big one. Hopes were once high that the eight-year-old grey was a ready-made replacement for Stewart's great staying hurdler Big Buck's, who won the grade one Liverpool Hurdle for four years running from 2009.

Jumping initially let Saphir Du Rheu down but he has found his feet in his last three runs and was fifth in last month's Cheltenham Gold Cup.