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Thousands of punters flock to Aintree for the prestigious race, whilst 600 million people around the globe halt to a standstill. It is believed that half of the adults in the United Kingdom place a bet on the National. However, many people don’t even know where to start.
Well, not to worry as our beginner’s guide to this year’s race will make you nothing short of an expert and maybe even give you some stats to impress your mates with down in the pub.
Where and when is the Grand National?
The Grand National is held at Aintree Racecourse near Liverpool. The three-day festival takes places in April with Liverpool’s Day opening the meeting on April 2nd before being followed by the infamous Ladies Day. The National itself takes place on Saturday, April 4th at 5:15pm.
How long is the race and how many hurdles are there?
The race is somewhat of a marathon for the horses. The course is a whopping four miles and two and a half furlongs long, a full mile longer than Cheltenham’s Gold Cup course. There are 30 hurdles around the track, including 16 steeplechase fences – there is no wonder the Aintree course is considered one of the most difficult to complete.
How many horses compete?
105 horses have been entered for the National. However, between now and the final entries on April 2nd, the horses will dwindle down to 40, although, last year only 12 of those who started the race finished – the fewest for 11 years.
What does the term ‘the going’ mean?
‘The going’ refers to the condition of the turf underfoot on the day of the race. This is important as it can affect a horse’s race. If the going is soft it means the ground is holding more moisture and could cause a slower race, while if the going is firm, it means the ground is hard and can result in a faster face. Horses tend to perform better in certain conditions, so it is worth checking all this before having a flutter.
Who is the favourite and how often do they win?
Last year’s winner, Tiger Roll, is the industry’s favourite to win the National. Should the Gordon Elliott-trained horse win the illustrious race back-to-back, he would be the first to do so since the much-loved Red Rum in the 1970s.
In terms of the favourite going on to win the race, it doesn’t happen as often as you’d think. In the last 10 Grand Nationals only two of the favourites have won – Don’t Push It in 2010 and Tiger Roll last year.
Does the horses’ weight matter?
Yes, horses carrying more than 11 stone rarely win the race, in fact, since 1983 only four horses weighing more than 11st have gone on to win the race – all of which came last decade. To narrow it down a little more, only two horses over 11st 5lbs have won the race since 1977 – Neptune Collonges in 2012 and Many Clouds five years go.
Does the horses’ age matter?
Simply put once more, yes! There hasn’t been a Grand National winner under the age of eight for over 75 years, so avoid seven-year-old’s at all costs. In terms of what age to look out for, it has been mostly varied across the last number of years, so maybe keep an eye out for ten-year-olds, such as Tiger Roll.
Other things to look out for when picking your horse
- All winners since 1970, bar Rule The World, have won over three miles.
- Nine of the last 20 winners have jumped the infamous Aintree hurdles in the past
- 18 of the last 28 winners have been no further than 10th in the betting.
- Irish-trained horses are always worth a punt – eight of the last 20 winners have come from the Emerald Isle.