In April, we see one of the most significant racing events to hit the calendar. Once again, Aintree Racecourse hosts this popular event that is broadcast the world over. This day sees around 150,000 people over the three-day festival, and it’s never without a dull moment, especially when the outsider’s take the lead.
Aintree Racecourse has hosted the event since 1839 and is just outside the vibrant city of Liverpool. People both nationally and internationally come to see the jockeys in action, and this year is set to be no different as a host of favourites take on the four-mile two-furlong course.
So what makes this event so unique in the racing calendar?
There a number of reasons why this is the case, and in this guide, we will give you an insight into why it’s a nail-biting race to watch either at home or the racecourse.
One of the main aspects of the Aintree grand national is that it is unpredictable. The bookies have their favourites, and a lot of research and statistics go into giving you as much information as possible on the predicted outcome. However, nothing is ever set in stone. The fun part of it is that you never know what might happen and placing that bet on the outsider might actually come up trumps. The race has seen some surprising wins with riders such as Mon Mome in 2009 winning at an odds of 100-1.
Aintree is steeped in racing history
You can’t deny the unrivalled presence Aintree has in the racing world. This course has played host to some of the worlds most exciting and historical events in the racing calendar and continues to be a place where the best jockeys in the world hope to race. Back in the 70s, the racecourse saw the famous horse Red Rum win three consecutive times.
The course puts the rider and horse through their paces
This four and a half-mile long racecourse is said to be one of the toughest challenges for horse and jockey. It also has a range of fences that have their own names due to how famous they’ve become. They are notoriously challenging to ride over and make some thrilling watching as the riders take the leap often all in one bundle.
Some of the most famous fence examples are:
Becher’s Brook – Named after the rider Captain Martin Becher who hid in the brook at the fence after falling – this fence is a challenging leap as the landing side is approximately six to ten inches lower than the take-off side.
Foinavon – This fence is the smallest in the course but isn’t without its dramatic events. It’s named after the outsider horse that avoided a pile-up here and then went on to win the race.
The Chair – Riders only jump the 15th fence in the race once, but that’s certainly enough. It’s the tallest example on the course and stands at 5ft 2ins with a 6ft drop into a ditch the other side. It’s quite a feat for any rider.
Other famous fences on the course include Valentine’s Brook and Canal Turn.
The race isn’t just for horseracing fans
As the race is shown across the world, it has become a national treasure in the UK. The appeal of the competition is that you don’t have to be an avid fan of horseracing to go ahead and pick your favourites. Of course, the odds make it slightly easier to gauge. However, if you want to try your luck, you can choose what horse you think looks the best or has the funniest name. Some people go for their lucky numbers too, and it can make for some fun competition among family and friends.
The runners selection process makes it a nail-biting experience
The race is made up of 40 runners, yet there are often around 100 horses entered into the competition for the chance to be selected. The process whittles them down to make the race as close as possible; that way, you’ll always experience a thrilling and nail-biting experience. The horses are chosen closer to the event. However, there is time to withdraw entries depending on the horse and rider. This year’s event takes place on Saturday 4th April, but the confirmed runners won’t be made until 2nd April, where 40 will be chosen along with four reserves.
You don’t have to be there to feel part of the action
The excitement surrounding this event is always unprecedented. As mentioned before, it is broadcast around the world and is one of the most popular sporting events in the racing calendar. The beauty of it is that you don’t have to be at Aintree to experience the electric atmosphere of this race. However, if you do want to, you’ll never experience anything like it. The entire festival has a selection of events, including Liverpool’s Day Thursday and Ladies Day at Aintree on Friday. The main event is on Saturday and will undoubtedly make for thrilling watching.
If you can’t be there, the race will be broadcast on ITV and other news outlets, including online media.
It’s a fashionable affair
Another aspect of the race is the fashion worn on the day. Although there is technically no dress code, smart clothing is preferred and always adhered to by revellers. Some of the top displays include the spectacular ensembles by the ladies who go all out in glamorous dresses and eye-catching hats. The guys look smart too in tailored suits and stylish accessories. There’s also the flurry on celebrities that take to the enclosures. So there could be a chance to spot a star while you enjoy the race.
The Grand National and Aintree are a fixture in British racing history and always provide an explosive event each year. Why not check out your favourites this year and see whether Tiger Roll will be lifting the trophy and scoring his third consecutive win to mirror Red Rum’s success in the 70s.