In terms of name recognision the Grand National is surely second to none. This national hunt race held at Aintree racecourse in Liverpool is emmersely popular with both ardent horse racing fans, but also those not typically interesting in following the sport. From work sweepstakes, to relatives scanning newspapers to place a small wager on a selection they like the name of, the nations eyes turn to the TV screen in their millions during the Grand National which takes place in April of each year.
The Grand National is run over a 4 miles 514 yards course, and those taking part are tasked with jumping 30 fences over two laps. The fences are of various levels of difficulty, but some of them are notoriously difficult such as Becher’s Brook and The Chair. The first Grand National took place in 1839 when the event was founded by Waterloo Hotel proprieter William Lynn on land he’d leased in Aintree. The Grand National meeting (and especially interest in the Grand Nation race itself) has gone from strength to strength since to the point where it now reaches worldwide audiences upward of 500 million viewers.
As with any event steeped in history the Grand National has seen several eras, or moments, that will forever be remembered. One of the first was the 100-1 win from Foinavon in 1967. Foinavon wasn’t given a hope beforehand, so much so that his owner didn’t even bother to turn up to watch the race. However in a stroke of astonishing good fortune while he was lagging 100 yards behind the leading pack, a loose horse veered across the field at the 23rd fence unseating some, and sending others in all directions. John Buckingham simply steered Foinavon around the carnage to claim victory.
Perhaps the era racing fans are most fond of though is the Red Rum period. Red Rum was originally bought as a yearling for just £420 and later by Ginger McCain (for Noel le Mare) for £6,300. McCain persevered with the horse through period of injury and it certainly paid off as Red Rum is today the only horse to have won the Grand National three times (in 1973, 1974 and 1977).
Modern highlights of the Grand National include Ginger McCain’s renewed success at the National 31 years on, with a win with Amberleigh House ridden by Graham Lee, and in 2004 Venetia William’s Mon Mome winning at huge odds of 100-1. The 2018 winner of the event was 10-1 shot Tiger Roll, ridden by Davy Russell and trained by George Elliot.