The Grand National

The Grand National is a horse race that takes place over 30 fences with a distance of 2 1/2 furlongs (approximately 4 miles, 6.9km). It was first run in 1839 and is held annually at Aintree Racecourse in Liverpool in the west of England.

It is a very popular event in Britain and is even watched by people who don’t typically watch or bet on horse-racing. It is aired on free-to-view TV, originally on the BBC, but more recently has been shown by Channel 4 and ITV as well as the radio. An estimated £250 million is bet on this race alone. 

The circuit is made up of 16 fences that are larger than conventional tracks and famous in their own right, such as Becher’s Brook, Canal Turn and The Chair, the latter being infamous at 5 feet 3 inches tall with a 6 foot ditch on the take-off side. The competitors complete the circuit twice.

Fun Facts

  1. Red Rum, a champion Thoroughbred, won 3 times and became a national hero. A life size statue was erected in his honour at Aintree Racecourse.
  2. Mr Frisk ran this race the fastest in 1990 with a time of 8 minutes and 47.8 seconds.
  3. The oldest jockey to win was Dick Saunders at the age of 48 on Grittar.
  4. The youngest jockey to win was Bruce Hobbs aged 17 on Battleship.
  5. The jockey with the most wins is George Stevens, who won 5 times.
  6. The first female jockey to win was Rachel Blackmore in 2021 on Minella Times.
  7. Vincent O’Brien was the only trainer to win the race 3 times in a row from 1953-55.
  8. You don’t have to be a professional jockey to take part. The first amateur winner was Mr Bretherton in 1840.
  9. An average of 250,000 pints are drunk over the 3-day festival.
  10. The jockey, Bob Champion, famously and courageously went on to win in 1981 after being diagnosed and treated for cancer on Aldaniti, who was also recovering from a life-threatening leg injury.

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