Grand National
(The Aintree Grand National)

The Grand National is the most infamous National Hunt Race currently run in the world. It is hosted at Aintree Racecourse and is conducted over a distance of an incredible 4 miles, featuring no less than 30 fences. Gruelling in lengths and famous for its notoriously difficult - and often dangerous - fences, the Grand National is considered the ultimate test for any steeplechasing horse.

The first official running of the Grand National was staged in 1839 but a similar version of the race first took place in 1836. The race has always been hosted early in April and generally takes place on the first Saturday of the month as the main event of the Festival at Aintree. The 2013 Grand National will take place on April 6th.

The Aintree Grand National is watched annually by over 600 million people worldwide and is broadcast in over 140 countries. The race is the most valuable event of the Jumps Racing Season in the United Kingdom and has a prize fund of £975,000.

One of the reasons the Grand National has been so popular is the large field sizes. The Grand National field is currently restricted to forty runners for safety reasons but field sizes of over sixty horses were commonplace in the 1920s. The famous race is extremely dangerous and the majority of horses generally don't finish the race, with only fifteen of the forty runners in 2012 making it to the finish line. The most dangerous jump is known as Becher's Brook, which has been responsible for ten equine fatalities and over 100 falls in the history of the race.

Another reason the Grand National has maintained its popularity for so long is because it is extremely unpredictable. Favourites have a very poor record in the race and the winner very rarely salutes at odds of less than 10/1. In 2009, French jumper stunned punters by winning the Grand National at odds of 100/1 while last year's winner Neptune Collonges started the race at a price of 33/1.

The most famous horse in Grand National history is the legendary Red Rum. Red Rum won the Grand National in 1973, 1974 and 1977 (the only horse to win the race on three occasions) and finished second in 1975 and 1976. The race course is held by 1990 winner Mr. Frisk who finished the race in eight minutes and forty-seven seconds. This remains the only occasion that the winner of the Grand National has broken the nine minute barrier.

After the death of Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Synchronised in the 2012 Grand National a safety review of the event was conducted. In 2013, the start will be moved ninety yards closer to the first fence while the Becher's Brook landing zone has been leveled to make it less steep.

Recent Winners of the Grand National:

Year Winner Age Jockey Trainer

2012

Neptune

11

Daryl Jacob

Paul Nicholls

2011

Ballabriggs

10

Jason Maguire

Donald McCain

2010

Don't Push It

10

Tony McCoy

Jonjo O'Neill

2009

Mon Mome

9

Liam Treadwell

Venetia Williams

2008

Comply Or Die

9

Timmy Murphy

David Pipe

2007

Silver Birch

10

Robbie Power

Gordon Elliott

2006

Numbersixvalverde

10

Niall Madden

Martin Brassil

2005

Hedgehunter

9

Ruby Walsh

Willie Mullins

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