The horse racing calendar reaches its pinnacle tomorrow with the Grand National taking place at Aintree. In need of a Merseyside guide for the big race? You’re in luck! Read ahead to find out all you need to know prior to the big day
Where is it taking place?
As is the norm, the race will be happening at Aintree racecourse; six miles outside of Liverpool. The Merseyside course has hosted the race since 1839 and is rich with history.
Where can I watch it?
Considering the scale of the event, it’s unsurprising that all your local Last Orders pubs will be well prepared to show the big race. If, for whatever reason, you are unable to make it to the pub then the race will be shown on terrestrial television on ITV. Football fans will be familiar with the presenter Ed Chamberlain.
Which horses are running?
The race sees a final list of 40 runners that has been whittled down from a far larger list. Each horse has been assigned a weight by the British Horse Racing Authority Head of Handicapping; a handicap system used to keep the race as fair and close as possible. The better horses carry the most weight whilst the ‘outsiders’ carry the least.
Although not as perilous as they once were, the Aintree fences are a worthy challenge for all involved and will have the nerves of any experienced jockey jangling.
The Grand National fences are the ultimate test of horse and jockey. The race comprises two full circuits of a unique 2¼ mile (3,600 metres) course. Along the way, challengers face 30 of the most testing fences in the world of jump racing.
There is a hazard to overcome even before the race starts. The build up, parade and re-girthing prior to the off lasts for around 25 minutes. This is over double the time it takes for any other race.
With 40 starters, riders naturally want a good sight of the first fence. After the long build-up, their nerves are stretched to breaking point. This means the stewards’ pre-race warning to go steady is often totally ignored.
The 474-yard long run in from the final fence to the finish is the longest in the country. It has an acute elbow halfway up it that further drains the stamina reserves of both horse and jockey.
For numerous riders, this elongated run-in has proved mental and physical agony. The winning post seems to be retreating with every weary stride.
Last year’s race
Last year saw One for Arthur, ridden by Derek Fox come out as the winner. He became just the second Scottish winner of the Grand National.
What time is the race?
The race begins tomorrow at 5:15pm – we’ll see you down your local Last Orders for some pre-race spirit!