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Grand National 2024: your guide to the big day

1 month ago

Grand National 2024: your guide to the big day
Grand National Festival - Ladies Day 2024 - The Guide Liverpool

Whether you’re an avid racegoer or just someone who likes the occasional flutter, the Grand National is one of those events that’s odds-on to get everyone excited.

The Randox Grand National at Aintree is a fabulous three-day festival that sees the eyes of the world on Merseyside – but there are no doubts as to when the spotlight is well and truly on us, and that’s Saturday, the most thrilling day of all when the big race is run.

As always there’ll be a full day of top-class racing leading up to, and after, the most famous steeple chase, the main event Grand National.

So as we gallop towards horse racing heaven, here’s your guide to Saturday’s big day…

When is the Randox Grand National Day taking place?

The biggest day of all is on Saturday, April 13 – and we can’t wait!

Where will it be held?

The Grand National is held at Aintree Racecourse, home of the Grand National Festival since 1839.

What time do gates open?

Gates open at 10am and with the first race taking place at 1.20pm – The William Hill Handicap Hurdle – there’s plenty of time to settle down and crack open the fizz. The final race, The Weatherbys nhstallions.co.uk Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race, will run at 5.35pm. 

What time is the Randox Grand National Steeple Chase?

This year’s big race is being held at 4pm, earlier than last year to increase the likelihood of good ground.

How many horses run in the Grand National?

The number of horses bidding for glory in the National has been reduced from 40 to 34 this year. It’s part of new measures by The Jockey Club to ensure the best welfare conditions for racehorses and jockeys. Other changes include moving the first fence closer to the start to slow the early stages of the race.

Grand National Festival - Ladies Day 2024 - The Guide Liverpool
Grand National Festival – The Guide Liverpool

Race distance

The Grand National is the longest jump race held in the UK at four miles, two furlongs and 74 yards.

How many fences are there in the Grand National?

There are 16 individual fences in the race, with 14 of them being jumped twice, which makes it a total of 30 jumps. They’re built using Sitka spruce or Norway spruce brought to Liverpool from the Lake District.

The most famous fences

They’re arguably all famous but some are more famous than others, among them:

Becher’s Brook: The sixth and 22nd fence in the race may not be the biggest, but its difficulty comes because the landing side is 10 inches lower than the take-off side. It’s named after Captain Martin Becher, a jockey who landed in the ditch after being unseated by Conrad in the first running of the race in 1839 and hid in the brook to avoid injury.

Valentine’s Brook (Fence 9 and 25): Originally named Second Brook, it was renamed after a horse called Valentine is said to have jumped it hind legs first in 1840. 

Canal Turn: Fence 8 and 24, it gets its name from the Leeds-Liverpool Canal and has a sharp, 90-degree left-hand turn that runners have to take as soon as they’ve jumped the fence.

Aintree Racecourse - The Guide Liverpool - Grand National 2024 Opening Day
Aintree Racecourse – The Guide Liverpool – Grand National 2024 Opening Day

How much does the winning horse get?

The prize pot for the Grand National is a whopping £1 million with the winner expected to take home more than £500,000 of that. 

All about the horse racing?

Well that’s the biggest part of it, but there’s more to the Randox Grand National Festival than some of the best racing. It’s party time at Aintree, so there’s live music and entertainment on all three days, including the big day itself.

There’ll be live music and DJs on from 10.30am until 7pm. As well as the main Red Rum Garden Stage, there are nine other sites across the course with fantastic entertainment from the likes of the Merseybelles, Brothers of Swing, Rag Tag Misfits, Fat Cats, and the Roaming Tones.

Can I still get a ticket?

As you’d expect most areas have already sold out. But, while you’ll have to be quick, you might still be able to get a ticket on the Embankment with views of the first fences but no access to the main course at £45 per adult or, for £85, tickets to the Festival Zone.  It could all change very quickly though …

You can purchase your tickets here.

Aintree Racecourse - The Guide Liverpool - Grand National 2024 Opening Day
Aintree Racecourse – The Guide Liverpool – Grand National 2024 Opening Day

How do I get there?

With so many heading to Aintree over all three days, you need to make getting there as simple as possible, and that’s where Merseyrail comes into its own. Aintree station is just a two-minute walk across the road from the racecourse and there’ll be extra trains running to make sure it all goes smoothly. 

Merseyrail’s running a special timetable for The Randox Grand National 2024 Festival, with a seven-and-a-half-minute frequency of service running between Liverpool City Centre and Aintree station before the start and after the finish of the races on each day of the festival.

Trains on the Merseyrail Northern line will run to a slightly amended timetable to provide the best possible service to those attending the iconic event. Travellers need to check the journey planner on Merseyrail’s website or app for up-to-date departure times before travelling. 

A seven-and-a-half-minute service will run between Aintree and Liverpool Central/Moorfields stations at the following times:

Liverpool city centre to Aintree, from approximately 11:00 – 13:00 (before the races)

Aintree to Liverpool city centre, from approximately 16:30 – 20:30 (after the races)

A 15-minute service will run at all other times.

How can I watch it?

If you’re not lucky enough to be at Aintree for the Grand National you can catch all the action live on ITV – and, of course, The Guide Liverpool will be bringing you all the latest news and info throughout the day!

You can also find out more at The Jockey Club’s website here

Find all the latest news on the Grand National here.

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