By News Team
Last Updated: 17th March 2021
The Grand National is held annually at Aintree racecourse, in Liverpool. The race, first run in 1839, is National Hunt racing’s most iconic event and has come a long way from its humble beginnings to now being watched in over 140 countries by an estimated 600 million people. The race has become tradition for many all over the country attracting experienced to punters to novice gamblers looking to land the Grand National odds.
The Grand National race
The race is contested by horses and ran over 4 miles 2½ furlongs on the Grand National racecourse at Aintree which features the unique Grand National fences, which are different to those normally found at Jumps courses. In total horses must leave the ground 30 times around the course, some famous examples of these fences include Becher’s Brook, The Chair, and the Canal Turn, these tricky obstacles combined with the distances of the race make the Grand National the ultimate test of skill and stamina.
The Grand National runners
Because the race is a handicap it means the Grand National runners all carry a different amount of weight, the theory being that all horses should have an equal chance of winning regardless of ability. The lowest number of finishing runners in the Grand Nationals history is just two back in 1928, whereas the greatest number of finishers was 23 in 1984. The low number of finishing horses and the recently imposed limit of 40 runners is testament to how tough the Grand National course can be too complete let alone win. However, there have been plenty of famous winners of the race including Red Rum, who won the race a record three times, Aldanti who captured the public’s imagination after winning the race with Bob Champion after health problems for both jockey and horse prior to the race, and Don’t Push It who was ridden by Sir AP McCoy for JP McManus. The most recent example is Tiger Roll who won consecutive Grand Nationals in 2018 and 2019 collecting the valuable prize pot on offer.
The Grand National prize money
The Grand National is the most valuable jump race in Europe with a prize pot of £1,000,000. The winner of the race is entitled to half that amount and so collects £500,000 for winning, while the prize money can be dwarfed by some races seen on the Flat the prize relative to other Jumps races is outright impressive. To put that in perspective the Cheltenham Gold Cup is the second biggest prize at £625,000.
Grand National odds
Over the years the race has seen many outsiders win including Mon Mome (2009), Foinavon (1967), and Caughoo (1947) all at 100/1. While many of the race’s favourites have also obliged including Tiger Roll at 4/1 and Don’t Push It at 10/1, the current favourite is Cloth Cap at 12/1 for trainer Jonjo O’Neill. The Cheltenham based trainer, who successfully trained the winner in 2010, used to be a Jump jockey and rode in the Grand National eight times but failed to complete the course on all of those occasions. It is common for a horse to either outrun its odds or not run up to its odds in the race given the difficult nature of it, but that hasn’t stopped people betting big over the years. One example came from owner/trainer Edward Studd who staked £1,000 on his horse at 40/1 in 1866, and when his horse won he collected winnings worth nearly £3 million at today’s value.