The Grand National is the world's most recognisable jumps race, with the spruce-clad fences at Aintree racecourse a familiar sight to racing enthusiasts and sports lovers alike.
|What||Grand National Festival 2024|
|Where||Aintree Racecourse, Liverpool|
|When||Thursday 11th April - Saturday 13th April, 2024|
|How to watch||bet365 Sports Live Streaming, ITV and Racing TV|
The racecourse at Aintree is situated in the Metropolitan Borough of Sefton, just to the north of the city of Liverpool.
Racing at Aintree dates all the way back to 1829 and in modern times there are two distinct courses at the venue, the Mildmay Course and the Grand National Course.
Grade 1 races like the Aintree Hurdle, Liverpool Hurdle, Bowl Chase and Melling Chase all take place on the Mildmay Course and are key contests during the three-day Grand National Festival.
The National Course and its iconic fences are used much less frequently, ensuring they retain that special sporting appeal.
The Grand National course is triangular with its apex at the Canal Turn, the furthest point from the grandstands.
The Grand National is the world’s most famous steeplechase race, run over two complete circuits of the course.
There are 16 spruce fences to jump first time round and 14 on the second spin and it still provides one of the toughest tests ever devised for horse and rider, despite modern changes that have greatly enhanced the race in terms of safety and horse welfare.
Run over a trip of four-and-a-quarter-miles, the Grand National remains a great sporting tradition and an historic event in terms of British sport.
The race attracts the largest television audience for any horse racing event in the UK calendar, with once-a-year viewers joining racing aficionados in trying to find the winner of the great race.
The race now has a tea-time slot at 5.15 in order to maximise that potential audience, preventing clashes with 3pm afternoon football matches.
Rather uniquely, the Aintree fences have become stars in their own right, many of them named and familiar to Grand National audiences as such.
There are 16 fences on the National Course topped with spruce from the Lake District, which makes their appearance stand out.
Some of best known fences are:
Becher's Brook: Recalling Captain Martin Becher, who fell there in the first Grand National and took shelter in the small brook running along the landing side of the fence while the remainder of the field went over him.
Foinavon: One of the smallest obstacles, but forever famed after a melee in the 1967 running saw a host of horses taken out, allowing 100/1 chance Foinavon claim an unlikely success after he cleared it.
Canal Turn: Famed for the 90-degree left-hand turn on the landing side, horses will often be seen approaching from as wide an angle as they can.
Valentine's Brook: The fence was originally known as the Second Brook, but was renamed after a horse named Valentine was reputed to have jumped the fence hind legs first in 1840.
The Chair: The fence was the location where a distance judge sat in the earliest days of the race, recording distances between runners from his seat. It remains one of the best viewing points for spectators.
With three wins during the 1970s, the great Red Rum remains the benchmark and Ginger McCain's icon will forever be linked with Aintree.
A generation went by without any horse managing to emulate Red Rum (1973 & 1974) in retaining the National, but that gap was bridged by modern great Tiger Roll (2018 & 2019) when he landed successive wins for trainer Gordon Elliott.
They were denied a shot at three-in-a-row, which has never been done, in 2020 as the race was not staged.
Three trainers have won this great race on four occasions.
George Dockeray - Lottery, 1839; Jerry, 1840; Gaylad, 1842; Miss Mowbray, 1852.
Fred Rimell - E.S.B., 1956; Nicolaus Silver, 1961; Gay Trip, 1970; Rag Trade, 1976.
Ginger McCain - Red Rum, 1973, 1974, 1977; Amberleigh House, 2004.
With Tiger Roll's two wins adding to Silver Birch's success back in 2007, Gordon Elliott has closed in on equalling their achievements.
George Stevens holds the record with five wins achieved from 1856 to 1870 in the Grand National.
In more modern times, Brian Fletcher won three from 1968-1974, including those back-to-back successes on Red Rum.
Leighton Aspell (Pineau De Re 2014, Many Clouds 2015) emulated the feat of successive wins, as did Davy Russell on the aforementioned Tiger Roll.
In 2021, history was made as Rachael Blackmore became the first female winning jockey on Minella Times, while in 2022 amateur Sam Waley-Cohen was on board as Noble Yeats claimed victory.
Corach Rambler won the 2023 running of the Aintree showpiece, with Derek Fox on board for trainer Lucinda Williams, as that partnership repeated the success they enjoyed in 2017 with One For Arthur.