The Grand National is a horse race you are likely to have heard of before even if you do not follow the sport closely. Here is a look at what makes the steeplechase so special, and why millions look forward to the contest each year.
History Dates To 19th Century
The Grand National was first run in 1839, so it is a race that is rich in history. It is just as popular now as it was back in the 19th century. There were times in the late 20th century when the race came under threat, but it survived that period, and it can now boast a prize fund of $1,250,000.
Sam Waley-Cohen winning the Grand National aboard Noble Yeats on his last ever ride before retirement pic.twitter.com/8ztsig6Rh8
— PA Racing (@PAracing) April 9, 2022
Winners of the Grand National, whether they be the horse, jockey, or trainer, tend to become household names on the back of their success. In 2022 Noble Yeats was the latest to do so. He returns this year where he is one of the popular Grand National tips 2023. The Irish horse is +800 to retain his crown.
One of the most famous horses in history is Red Rum. He made a name for himself in the Grand National as he was successful three times, with wins coming in 1973, 1974, and 1977. He was also second in 1975 and 1976.
Distance and Course
The reason the Grand National is described as a marathon test is that it takes place over 4m2½f. That makes it the longest race in National Hunt racing. Most races across the jumps season take place over a much shorter distance than this.
The course at Aintree features fences that are as high as 5ft 2in. These are huge obstacles that make this steeplechase not just a test of stamina, but also jumping. Although there is only one winner each year, those who complete the course are applauded for their achievement.
Large Field Of 40 Runners All Weighted to Have Equal Chance
A maximum field of 40 runners can line up for the Grand National each year. This makes it the largest field for any race in the sport. Each of these runners is given a weight allocation that in theory gives them an equal chance of being successful. The best horses have the highest weight, while those further down the ratings have less weight on their backs.
This handicap system ensures this race throws up some great storylines. For example, Mon Mome was a +10000 surprise winner when he scored in 2009.
Three-Day Meeting Not Just About Feature Race
The Grand National is the feature race at a three-day meeting at Aintree. The best jumps horses in the UK and Ireland tends to feature in their respective divisions across those three race days. Outside of the Cheltenham Festival, it is arguably the second most important meeting of the season.
Some of the other major races to look out for at the Grand National Meeting are the Aintree Hurdle, Aintree Bowl, and Mildmay Novices’ Chase.
This year’s Grand National will be the 175th running in history and it looks set to be another thrilling renewal.
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