The Grand National

The most valuable jump race in Europe is almost here and it is incredibly prominent within British culture. The Grand National has been held at Aintree Racecourse since 1839, when it was first run 180 years ago. It is a handicap steeplechase over 4 miles and 514 yards, with the horses jumping 30 fences over two laps. The fences are much larger that the fences found at regular national hunt tracks; the jumps Bercher’s Brook, The Chair and the Canal Turn have become famous in their own right.

For three years during the first World War, an alternative race was held at Gatwick Racecourse, due to Aintree Racecourse being taken over by the war office. The Gatwick Racecourse is now a disused course on land occupied by Gatwick airport.

At the 1928 Grand National, an extraordinary event happened - 41 out of the 42 starters fell during the race, due to adverse weather conditions. As the field approached the Canal Turn, Easter Hero fell, causing a pile up from which only 7 horses emerged with seated jockeys. The number then reduced to 3: Tipperary Tim, Great Span and Billy Barton. Great Span’s saddle slipped leaving Billy Barton in the lead until he fell. Tipperary Tim finished first with the outsider odds at 100/1.

In 1941 during the second World War, Aintree was occupied for defence use, meaning that the Grand National could not be held during 1941-1945.

During the 1970's, Red Rum was breaking all records to become the most successful racehorse in Grand National history. Red Rum became, and remains as of 2018, the only horse to have won the Grand National 3 times, in 1973, 1974 and 1977. He finished second in the intervening years, 1975 and 1976, turly earning his position as one of the ‘Three Kings.’

The 2018 Grand National was won by Tiger Roll ridden by jockey Davy Russell for trainer Gordon Elliott. Tiger Roll will be running again this year.

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