History of the Grand National

The Grand National is one of the biggest jump races in the racing calendar and in this year’s race Anibale Fly and Total Recall are the joint favorites at 11/1. The race takes place on the 14th April at Aintree Racecourse and both horses will be hoping that they can join the likes of One For Arthur, Red Rum and Foinavon in winning the big race.

Behind Anibale Fly and Total Recall in the Grand National best odds from Betfair is Blaklion, who finished in 4th place in last year’s race and is priced for the race this year at 12/1. At 14/1 both Minella Rocco and Tiger Roll will be hoping to make memorable debuts when they line up on the 14th April.

For one horse history beckons and, depending on the nature of the win, there is the potential to become a household name. Foinavon was one such example after his legendary victory in the 1967 Grand National, in which he was priced at 100/1. The race saw Popham Down, who had unseated his rider earlier in the race, cut across the course just before the 23rd fence, which also happens to be the shortest fence on the course and this caused a pile-up. John Buckingham managed to steer Foinavon to avoid the pile-up and took the lead, which he would hold onto and finish as the winner in dramatic circumstances.

Another legend of the Grand National who has a fence named after him is Captain Martin Becher who, in 1836, became the first ever rider to fall into the brook at the sixth fence. From the 1839 race onward that fence became known as Becher’s Brook and is one of the most well-known fences in the Grand National.

Red Rum is possibly the biggest name in jump racing and is the only horse to have ever won the Grand National on three occasions, having done so in 1973, 1974 and 1977. His victory in 1973 saw him close down an astonishing lead that Australian chaser Crisp had opened up. At the final fence, Crisp was 15 lengths clear of Red Rum, however he was tiring badly and Red Rum was able to overtake him just before the finishing line, claiming a historic victory. Red Rum would also go on to win in the 1974 race, finish 2nd in the 1975 and 1976 races before claiming his third and final Grand National victory in the 1977 race.

 


Such was Red Rum’s legendary record at Aintree Racecourse that he attained the status of a national treasure in the UK. With his celebrity status, he was used for all manner of publicity events, including opening supermarkets and switching on the Blackpool Illuminations in 1977. His death, in 1995 at the age of 30, shocked the country and he made the front page of the national newspapers. His ashes were buried at the winning post of Aintree Racecourse and there is also a statue of him in the grounds of the racecourse. Red Rum also has a race named after him, the Red Rum Handicap Chase, which takes place on the first day of the Aintree Festival.

The Grand National runners and odds are suggesting that such a peculiar race is unlikely to happen at this year’s festival, given how close the odds are for many of the horses. With no clear favorite, a close race is expected and the result could all come down to the going, with a fairly dry week expected in the lead up to the race.

Back in 2013 the fences were altered in order to reduce the potential for injury to the horses and jockeys. The construction of the fences was changed from the traditional wooden stakes which supported the fences and in their place was a new plastic center, which made the fences more flexible and not as likely to cause injury when hit. At Becher’s Brook, the landing side has been raised by 5in, meaning that while the fence remains the same height of 4ft 10in, the horses will be faced with a less awkward landing.

The prize money for this year’s race will total up to £1 million and will be paid out to the top 10 horses, with the winning horse earning their owner £561,300. The horse than finishes as runner-up will still collect a sizeable amount of money, £211,100. As you’d expect, this amount gets smaller and smaller until you reach the horse than finishes in 10th place, who is the last horse to win any money, with £1,000 being paid out to the owner.

At the Grand National, there is the potential for legends to be created, this year one horse will enter the history books and will forever be known as the 2018 Grand National winner and could potentially go on to greater things, just as Red Rum did.