Horse racing

10 Glamorous Facts about the Grand National

The Grand National is one of the most famous sporting events across the world, and with good reason! The jockeys and noble steeds that are lucky enough to make it to this horse racing festival are among the best on the planet – it’s a leviathan steeplechase unlike any other. With that in mind, here are some fun facts about the Grand National to clue up on.

1. What is the Grand National?

If you have never heard of the Grand National, let us explain! It is a national hunt horse race that has been held every year since 1839 in the United Kingdom. It is usually held in Liverpool, England, to be more precise.

2. It’s all about Aintree.

The race is held in a part of Liverpool known as Aintree. The town was settled in by the Vikings centuries ago, and named after the one tree that was not cut down, the Ain Tree. However, it’s best known now, of course, for the Grand National.

3. Let the races begin!

The winning horse at the very first Grand National race was known as “Lottery” – a fitting name considering it won at 5/1 odds – and at the slowest winning time ever! It won the race in 14 minutes and 23 seconds.

2012 Grand National

4. A true obstacle course!

To compete properly in the Grand National, horses and their jockeys have to be incredibly skilled! They have to navigate through the race, surrounded by others, jumping over obstacles such as Becher’s Brook, the Canal Turn, and the dreaded Chair!

5. What’s so bad about The Chair…?

As small as The Chair may sound, it is largely considered to be the most difficult obstacle at the Grand National! It reaches an incredible five feet two inches high (around 1.57m) and has a five-foot wide ditch at the front (around 1.52m)!

6. How many jumps are there on the Grand National course?

There are a total of 16 fences on the Grand National race course. However, 14 of those jumps are made twice during the race, making it a total of 30 jumps for the horses and jockeys during the course to get through. That’s a lot of jumping!

7. 40 runners and riders.

For safety reasons, only 40 horses are allowed to participate per race. This is due to an incident back in 1929 in which 66 horses took place in one meeting! As you can imagine, it was not easy to manage – and ended up being particularly dangerous!

8. Who was Charlotte Brew?

You may have heard of a jockey named Charlotte Brew, and if you haven’t, then it’s time you did! She was the first female jockey to ever compete in the Grand National. Her race took place back in 1977 with her trusty steed, Barony Fort. Since then, only 19 women have ever competed in the Grand National.

facts about the grand national

9. Champion by name…

If you have ever seen the 1984 film, “Champions,” then you may have heard of a particular star of the Grand National known as Bob Champion. He was a jockey who won the Grand National back in 1981 after battling cancer.

10. It’s possible to win the race in less than nine minutes!

To this day, the fastest-ever win in the Grand National was achieved by a horse called Mr Frisk! The race was won in an incredible 8 minutes and 47.8 seconds!


Ballabriggs at the 2011 Grand National

FAQs about the Grand National

When does the Grand National take place?

Typically, the Grand National takes place over several days in the middle of April each year. The main race takes place on a Saturday, while the festival actually opens the Thursday before.

Is there a dress code for the Grand National?

No, there is no official dress code at the Grand National. However, many attendees take the opportunity to dress up in spectacular fashion for the occasion!

Who are some of the most famous Grand National winners of all time?

Some of the Grand National’s champion horses may well ring a bell - Red Rum, Foinavon, and more recently the back-to-back winner, Tiger Roll, are some of the best-known runners in the event’s history.

Further reading:

Do you know any fun facts about the Grand National? Share them in the comments below!

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This page was last modified on July 26, 2023. Suggest an edit

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