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Grand National 2025: Date, rules, history and more

The annual Grand National at Aintree is the world's most recognisable horse race, a gruelling marathon that is one of Britain's most cherished sporting spectacles.

The Grand National is a handicap steeplechase run over a distance of four-and-a-quarter-miles - currently the longest distance of any race run in Britain. 

The unique Grand National fences are topped with spruce, ensuring they are distinguishable from 'regular' fences. The race is the ultimate test of stamina and jumping.

It is widely regarded as one of Britain's greatest sporting institutions and is a race that draws interest from a wide spectrum of society. 

Here's everything you need to know about the world's greatest steeplechase.

Horse Racing

Grand National date

The Grand National will take place on Saturday 12th April 2025 at Aintree Racecourse in Liverpool.

Where to watch the Grand National 

You can watch the Grand National courtesy of our live horse racing streaming service.

The Grand National is also shown live on terrestrial television via ITV Racing - they broadcast action from Aintree on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, including all the major races. 

Racing TV also has dedicated coverage of every race from Aintree across all thee days of the Grand National Festival.

Grand National rules

Ahead of the 2024 Grand National the number of runners was reduced from 40 to 34.

Jockey Club Racecourses concluded that new analysis suggests reducing the field by six will provide the safest conditions for horses and jockeys racing at Aintree.

Other changes included moving the first fence 60 yards closer to the starting line, lowering the height of the 11th fence, requiring standing starts in all races over National fences and putting an end to the formal parade that precedes the Grand National.

Grand National number of fences

Horses have 30 jumping tests to pass in the Grand National as they complete two circuits of the course but there are only 16 unique fences to be jumped. 

The Aintree fences are famous around the world, with names such as The Chair, Becher's Brook, Foinavon, The Canal Turn and Valentine's Brook synonymous with the Merseyside marathon.

Grand National 2024 winner

The Grand National in 2024 was won by I Am Maximus, ridden by Paul Townend and trained by Willie Mullins.

I Am Maximus' National win adds to an already impressive 2024 for Mullins, who already has a Champion Hurdle and Cheltenham Gold Cup to his name.

A 7/1 joint favourite at the off, there was nothing to challenge I Am Maximus when storming to a seven-and-a-half-length victory. Last year's winner and the other 7/1 contender ahead of the race, Corach Rambler, unseated the jockey at the first fence.

Horse Racing News & Videos

View all latest horse racing news & videos here 

Grand National weights

With the Grand National being a handicap, horses are assigned a weight to carry in an attempt to create a level playing field.

However, it is a task that is easier said than done and often some horses can be left 'exposed' meaning that they are essentially penalised for previous performances and are given a big weight to carry that might make their task daunting.

On the other side of that, some horses are 'unexposed'. 

An unexposed horse may not have as much top-level form for the handicapper to work with, this means that they will be given a lower weight to carry in the race than they are perhaps capable of, given they could still be open to further improvement.

This is what makes the assignment of weights such a big date for racing fans, as it gives an idea on the chances of certain horses, or in some cases even giving an indication on if they will run. 

Grand National history

The National is the most iconic jumps race in the world and has a far-reaching appeal that extends beyond regular fans of horse racing.

Perhaps the most famous National horse of all-time is Red Rum, who won three times (1973, '74 & '77) for legendary trainer Ginger McCain. Tiger Roll (2018 & '19) is the only horse since Red Rum to retain the Aintree prize.

The race has been won by the great and the good of jumps racing and the winners often have fantastic stories attached to them. 

In modern times, the quest of 20-times champion jockey AP McCoy to win the race was a long-running story - one that finally resulted in ultimate glory when he won on Don't Push It in 2010.

Grand National biggest upsets

With as many as 34 horses lining up, the Grand National is one of the most open betting heats in the calendar and it takes both ability and luck to win on the day.

The race has thrown up its share of shocks down the years, with five winners returned at odds of 100/1. They were: Tipperary Tim (1928), Gregalach (1929), Caughoo (1947), Foinavon (1967) and Mon Mome (2009).

Grand National number of runners

The maximum field allowed in the Grand National is now set at 34, reduced from 40 for the first time in 2024. The biggest field ever to compete was 66 back in 1929, while only 10 lined-up back in 1883 - the smallest ever turnout.

Back in 1984, 23 horses completed the course, a record high, while there were only two finishers in 1928.

Trainer with the most Grand National wins

George Dockeray sent out four winners in the 19th century, while the tally was equalled by Fred Rimell from 1956-1976. Ginger McCain masterminded Red Rum's three wins in the 1970s and then sent out Amberleigh House to win in 2004.

Gordon Elliott, who saddled Silver Birch in 2007 and two-time winner Tiger Roll, is closing in on equalling that record haul.

Jockey with the most Grand National wins

George Stevens won five times from 1856-1870. In more recent times the likes of Carl Llewellyn, Ruby Walsh, Davy Russell and Derek Fox have won two Grand Nationals. Leighton Aspell achieved a notable feat by riding two different winners back-to-back in Pineau Du Re and Many Clouds in 2014/15.

Grand National prize money

Unsurprisingly, the Grand National is one of the most lucrative races on the calendar, with £1million being handed out in prize money and over half of that, £561,300 to be exact, goes to the winner. 

The winner scoops approximately £350,000 more than the horse that finishes second, which makes even the narrowest of victories, like the one achieved by Neptune Collonges at the expense of Sunnyhillboy in 2012, extremely profitable for the winner. 

Third place also secures a healthy cheque of £100,000, while the top 10 finishers at the Grand National all receive prize money, meaning 25% of the runners will end the race with something to celebrate.

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