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Horse Racing at its Best
- The 2017 Grand National will be held at 4.15pm at Aintree Racecourse on Saturday April 8th. Thursday 6th April is Grand Opening Day, Friday 7th April is Ladies Day. It’s now named “The Crabbie’s Grand National”, fancy a bet then see our the Horse Racing Betting Sites and get some great introductory offers off the UKs top bookmakers.
- Along with the Melbourne Cup, the Grand National may be considered as the best-known and even the best-loved single horse race in the whole world.
- The race takes place each April at the Aintree Racecourse, just outside Liverpool, England.
- While the Grand National is the best known of the races, it is just one of many events that take place over the course of a three day meet.
- The National requires competitors to tackle a four mile 856 yard course, complete with 30 fences, including Becher’s Brooke and The Chair.
- Red Rum holds the record for most National victories, with the horse having won it three times in the 1970s.
- Not everyone loves the Grand National. Animal rights groups, who tend to dislike the sport in general, argue that the fences are too high, with many horses injured or even killed as a result.
What is the Grand National?
Along with the Melbourne Cup, the Grand National may be considered as the best-known and even the best-loved single horse race in the whole world. Also known simply as The National, the event is a handicap steeplechase run over a distance of four miles and 856 yards and 30 fences on the National Course at Aintree Racecourse, just outside of Liverpool, England.
Forming the centerpiece of a three day meet at Aintree, the National attracts a massive global TV audience and is popular with both expert gamblers and those who just enjoy one small bet a year. However, the race is not loved by everyone; over recent years, opposition from animal rights groups concerned at the number of horses injured by the high fences has become more vocal.
The 2017 Grand National
The 2017 Grand National meet will begin on Thursday 7th of April and the main event will be held at 4.15pm at Aintree Racecourse on Saturday April 8th. As with previous years, it is expected to attract tens of thousands of race fans and tens of millions of pounds will be placed in bets on the race.
The Grand National will again be the centrepiece of a three-day meet at Aintree. The preceding day will be Grand Opening Day, Friday will be Ladies Day at the racecourse.
The race schedule for the meeting will be as follows:
Grand Opening Day
- The Aintree Anniversary Juvenile Hurdle: This race is for novice riders on horses of at least 4 years of age. The course is a little over 2 miles long and features 9 hurdles. The race is a grade one event (the highest calibre) and often features horses that have already appeared in the Triumph Hurdle, the premier juvenile hurdle race held at The Cheltenham Festival.
- The Aintree Bowl Steeple Chase: Another event with a tie to Cheltenham, this race was originally set up as way for horses that underperformed or missed out on The Gold Cup to prove themselves. It’s a grade 1 event.
- The Aintree Hurdle: The course is a little over 2 miles and features 11 hurdles. All horses are 4 years of age or older.
- The Crabbie’s Fox Hunters’ Steeple Chase: This grade 2 race features 3 miles and 22 fences. Horses have to be 5 or older to enter. Due to the similarity in format to The Gold Cup, it carries the informal nickname of‘The Amateur Gold Cup.’
- The Aintree Red Rum Handicap Steeple Chase: This race, bearing the name of one of the most legendary horses to ever grace the meeting, is handicapped, with horses carrying extra weight according to their pedigree. It’s over 2 miles long and features 12 fences. The horses involved are 5 and over.
- The Aintree Manifesto Novices’ Steeple Chase: This race also takes it’s name from a grand national legend, the 2 time winner, Manifesto. The race features 16 fences spread over a 2 mile course.
- The Aintree Handicap Hurdle: This handicapped hurdle race is a grade 3 event - the hurdle equivalent to the Red Rum Steeple Chase.
- The Aintree Top Novices’ Hurdle: This is a grade 2 race: This race is run over 2 miles and features 9 hurdles. It’s field is often similar to that at The Supreme Novice’s Hurdle at Cheltenham.
- The Aintree Mildmay Novices’ Steeple Chase : This grade 1 race is for 4 year old horses and features a 3 mile course.
- The Aintree Melling Steeple Chase: Named after a nearby town, this grade 1 race is restricted to horses of years of age or older. It’s 2 miles long and features 16 fences.
- The Crabbie’s Topham Steeple Chase: This Steeple Chase features Aintree’s most feared obstacles and has seen some unfortunate incidents. In 2013 Little Josh was killed after falling in the race. In recent times, it’s been dominated by Always Waining who picked up three consecutive wins from 2010-2013.
- The Aintree Sefton Novices’ Hurdle: This race is three miles long and features 13 hurdles. It’s for novices and horses have to be at least 4 to enter.
- The Aintree Mare Only Standard Open NH Flat: This is the last race of the day. It’s for mares only and is a flat course. Usually, this is a race in which younger horses gain competitive experience before moving on to hurdle events.
Grand National Day
- The Crabbie’s Charity Race: This flat event is run for charity by legendary ex-jockeys. It’ a short one at just one mile in length.
- The Aintree Mersey Novices’ Hurdle: This event is similar to The Neptune at Cheltenham, except that it has 11 hurdles rather than 10. This makes the prior race a good place for horses who might do well.
- The Aintree Maghull Novices’ Steeple Chase: This grade 1 race draws a select field. The promising novices involved run over 2 miles and has 12 fences.
- The Silver Cross Stayers’ Hurdle: Formerly known as the Liverpool Hurdle, this high quality event brings the best of the best. In recent times it’s been a happy hunting ground for Big Buck’s who won it four times in a row from 2009-2012.
- The Aintree Handicap Steeple Chase: This race is always run just before the grand national and can be a very hard one to predict. In the last 3 decades it has only been won by the favourite 6 times, whilst outsiders have often managed to pick up a win.
- The Grand National: Widely regarded as the greatest race in the world, this is undoubtedly the big one. A huge field attempts to take on the supremely difficult course in a thrilling contest. As you might expect, it’s none too easy to predict what will happen with so many variables entering into the equation. Though certain horses down the ages have managed to get within touching distance of the status of ‘a safe bet’, there’s really no such thing. Indeed, only as far back as 2009 the race was won by Mon Mome at odds of 100/1.
- The Handicap Hurdle: Following the Grand National is always going to be a tough ask and The Handicap Hurdle on the last day is the weakest race in terms of quality, with only conditional and amateur jockey’s taking part.
- The Aintree Champion Standard Open NH Flat: This grade 2 event is the last race of the meeting. It’s a bumper with a very attractive prize and is another platform where future hurdlers can be seen in the early stages of their career.
Picking a Winner
In terms of difficulty, it’s not too far off taking part, but picking a winner in The Grand National could leave you with a nice little windfall in your hands. Here’s a look at few things you might consider before placing a bet.
- Age: Almost all of the recent winners have been between 9-11 years old. It makes good sense to back a horse that’s in its prime.
- Weight: It’s very rare for a horse weighing more than 11 stone and 3 pounds to win, so it could work in your favour to rule out heavier horses.
- Form: Whilst anything can happen on the day, if you know where to look, the form book could contain some clues as to where the winner is to be found.
- Trainer: It’s not all about the horse. A successful trainer can make all the difference, so look into their track record before you endorse them with a wager.
You can find our hand picked tips for this years Grand National here
This Year’s Favourites
Come back soon for updated odds of the runners and riders for the 2017 Grand National.
Grand National Trivia
- In terms of prize money, the Grand National is the most valuable race on the National Hunt calendar.
- The race is watched by a TV audience of around 600 million people in 140 different countries.
- Red Rum holds the record for the most number of wins. The horse won in 1973, 1974 and 1977.
- George Stevens, meanwhile, holds the jockeys’ record for most wins with five.
- Mr Frisk recorded the fastest-ever National time in 1990, crossing the line in eight minutes 48 seconds.
- Bruce Hobbs holds the record for youngest winning jockey, taking first prize at just 17 years of age.
History of the Grand National
While the exact date of the first Grand National is the source of much debate among horse racing enthusiasts, the general consensus now is that it was established back in the 1830s. Regardless, over the course of the nineteenth century, the race grew in prominence, going from being a local event to a national one and steadily attracting the best riders, horses and trainers of the time.
Following a brief hiatus during the First World War – when the event was moved to Greater London – the National returned to Aintree and quickly established itself as the country’s top horse racing event. Notable events over the decades include the rise to prominence of Red Rum in 1973, with the horse going on to become the only winner of three Nationals, 1993 when the race was cancelled for the first time due to repeated false starts and 1997 when the race was moved to a Monday in front of a relatively small crowd due to a bomb threat.
For almost 100 years, the National course has remained almost unchanged. Horses and riders are required to run a triangular course twice, with all but two jumps hurdled twice. Despite opposition from animal rights groups, the world-famous hurdles of Becher’s Brook and The Chair remain an integral part of the National.
- To learn more about the 2017 Crabbies Grand National, visit the official website.
- Fancy enjoying a flutter on this year’s Grand National? Then check out this guide to betting on a horse first.
- Whilst you’re brushing up on your horse racing knowledge why not check out our guide to the Cheltenham festival.