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12 things you might not know about the Grand National

1 day ago

<strong>12 things you might not know about the Grand National</strong>
Aintree Racecourse - The Guide Liverpool - Grand National 2024 Opening Day

Grand National fever has once again hit Liverpool as gates open at Aintree Racecourse for the 2024 edition of the festival.

With a race that goes back to the 1800s and is famous all over the world, you’d think you’d know just about everything there is to know about Aintree’s Grand National.

But believe it or not, there are still things that might surprise you about the well-loved steeplechase and there could be a few of them here;

1. The official history says the first-ever running of the Aintree race took place in 1839, but there is some evidence that an annual race was held at the course three years earlier, from 1836. Others, though, reckon the earlier races were actually held in Maghull.

2. Bob Champion’s victory on Aldaniti in 1981 while recovering from cancer, and Red Rum’s triumphant three wins at Aintree, all make the National the treasured event it is, but sometimes it’s the defeats that we remember too. One of the most famous was when the Queen Mother’s horse, Devon Lock, fell close to the finish line in 1956, with still no real explanation why.

3. The horse that romps homes first in the National this year will win a £561,300 share of the £1m prize pot. Most goes to the owner and trainer, with the jockey getting a percentage on top of an agreed riding fee.

4. Bartholomew Bretherton was the first successful amateur to win the National on a horse called Jerry in 1840. 

5. The only horse ever to win the Grand National and the Cheltenham Gold Cup in the same season was Golden Miller in 1934.

6. The jockey with the most wins in Grand National history is George Stevens, who got five wins under his belt – in 1856, 1863, 1864, 1869 and 1870.

7. Irish racehorse trainer Vincent O’Brien won the Grand National three years in a row – from 1953 to 1955 – with three different horses!

8. There are a total of 16 fences on the National course, which are topped with spruce from the Lake District. Horses must complete two circuits of the course and make 30 jumps, leaving out the last two fences on the final lap.

9. It takes Aintree ground staff three weeks to build the fences from 16 lorry-loads of spruce.

10. The well-known fences at Aintree – Becher’s Brook, Valentine’s, Canal Turn, etc. – all vary in size with the lowest measuring 4ft 6in in height and the highest, The Chair, measuring 5ft 2in. The Chair also has a 5ft-wide ditch on the take-off side.

11. Tiger Roll, who won the Randox Grand National in 2018 and 2019, has become the latest National hero, being the only horse to have won two consecutive Grand National races after the legend that is Red Rum.

12. The home straight of the Grand National is 494 yards – the longest of any UK racecourse.

Follow our Grand National Opening Day coverage as it happens HERE.



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