Cars and coaches were locked in the course grounds, leaving some 20, people without their vehicles over the weekend. With limited accommodation available in the city, local residents opened their doors and took in many of those stranded. This prompted tabloid headlines such as " We'll fight them on the Becher's ", in reference to Winston Churchill's war-time speech.
Hedgehunter , who would go on to win in , fell at the last while leading. In John Smith's took over from Martell as main sponsors of the Grand National and many of the other races at the three-day Aintree meeting for the first time. The victory was also the first for trainer Venetia Williams , the first female trainer to triumph since Jenny Pitman in The race was also the first National ride for Liam Treadwell.
In the National became the first horse race to be televised in high-definition in the UK. In August Crabbie's was announced as the new sponsor of the Grand National. In March it was announced that Randox Health would take over from Crabbie's as official partners of the Grand National festival from , for at least five years.
The race was not run owing to the coronavirus pandemic ; in its place, a virtual race was produced using CGI technology and based on algorithms of the 40 horses most likely to have competed. Its winner was Red Rum by less than a length, having just passed Manifesto. The Grand National is run over the National Course at Aintree and consists of two laps of 16 fences, the first 14 of which are jumped twice.
The Grand National was designed as a cross-country steeplechase when it was first officially run in The runners started at a lane on the edge of the racecourse and raced away from the course out over open countryside towards the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. The gates, hedges, and ditches that they met along the way were flagged to provide them with the obstacles to be jumped along the way with posts and rails erected at the two points where the runners jumped a brook.
The runners returned towards the racecourse by running along the edge of the canal before re-entering the course at the opposite end. The runners then ran the length of the racecourse before embarking on a second circuit before finishing in front of the stands.
The majority of the race, therefore, took place not on the actual Aintree Racecourse but instead in the adjoining countryside. That countryside was incorporated into the modern course but commentators still often refer to it as "the country". There are 16 fences on the National Course topped with spruce from the Lake District. The cores of 12 fences were rebuilt in and they are now made of a flexible plastic material which is more forgiving compared to the traditional wooden core fences.
Some of the jumps carry names from the history of the race. All 16 are jumped on the first lap, but on the final lap, the runners bear to the right onto the run-in for home, avoiding The Chair and the Water Jump. The following is a summary of all 16 fences on the course:    .
The drop on the landing side was reduced after the Grand National. It was bypassed in on the final lap, after an equine casualty. The second became known as The Fan, after a mare who refused the obstacle three years in succession. The name fell out of favour with the relocation of the fences. In the 20th became the first fence in Grand National history to be bypassed on the final lap, following an equine fatality.
Height: 5 feet 1. It was bypassed on the final lap for the first time in so that medics could treat a jockey who fell from his mount on the first lap and had broken a leg. Becher's has always been a popular vantage point as it can present one of the most spectacular displays of jumping when the horse and rider meet the fence right. Jockeys must sit back in their saddles and use their body weight as ballast to counter the steep drop. It takes its name from 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 thundered over.
It is said that Becher later reflected: "Water tastes disgusting without the benefits of whisky. Before the First World War it was not uncommon for loose horses to continue straight ahead after the jump and end up in the Leeds and Liverpool Canal itself. It was bypassed for the first time in on the final lap as vets arrived to treat a horse who fell on the first lap.
A grandstand was erected alongside the fence in the early part of the 20th century but fell into decline after the Second World War and was torn down in the s. The runners then cross the Melling Road near to the Anchor Bridge, a popular vantage point since the earliest days of the race.
This also marks the point where the runners are said to be re-entering the "racecourse proper". In the early days of the race, it is thought there was an obstacle near this point known as the Table Jump, which may have resembled a bank similar to those still seen at Punchestown in Ireland.
In the s the Melling Road was also flanked by hedges and the runners had to jump into the road and then back out of it. Despite some tired runners falling on the 30th and appearing injured, no horse deaths have occurred at the 30th fence to date. On the first lap of the race, runners continue around the course to negotiate two fences which are only jumped once:.
The fence was the location where a distance judge sat in the earliest days of the race. On the second circuit, he would record the finishing order from his position and declare any horse that had not passed him before the previous runner passed the finishing post as "distanced", meaning a non-finisher. The practice was done away with in the s, but the monument where the chair stood is still there. The ground on the landing side is six inches higher than on the takeoff side, creating the opposite effect to the drop at Becher's.
The fence was originally known as the Monument Jump, but "The Chair" came into more frequent use in the s. Today it is one of the most popular jumps on the course for spectators. The Water Jump was one of the most popular jumps on the course, presenting a great jumping spectacle for those in the stands and was always a major feature in the newsreels ' coverage of the race.
As the newsreels made way for television in the s, so, in turn, did the Water Jump fall under the shadow of its neighbour, The Chair, in popularity as an obstacle. On the final lap, after the 30th fence, the remaining runners bear right, avoiding The Chair and Water Jump, to head onto a "run-in" to the finishing post. The run-in is not perfectly straight: an "elbow" requires jockeys to make a slight right before finding themselves truly on the home straight.
When the concept of the Grand National was first envisaged it was designed as a race for gentlemen riders,  meaning men who were not paid to compete, and while this was written into the conditions of the early races many of the riders who weighed out for the race were professionals for hire. Throughout the Victorian era the line between the amateur and professional sportsman existed only in terms of the rider's status, and the engagement of an amateur to ride in the race was rarely considered a handicap to a contender's chances of winning.
Many gentleman riders won the race before the First World War. Although the number of amateurs remained high between the wars their ability to match their professional counterparts gradually receded. After the Second World War, it became rare for any more than four or five amateurs to take part in any given year. The last amateur rider to win the race is Marcus Armytage , who set the still-standing course record of Frisk in By the 21st century, however, openings for amateur riders had become very rare with some years passing with no amateur riders at all taking part.
Those that do in the modern era are most usually talented young riders who are often close to turning professional. In the past, such amateur riders would have been joined by army officers, such as David Campbell who won in , and sporting aristocrats, farmers or local huntsmen and point to point riders, who usually opted to ride their own mounts.
But all these genres of rider have faded out in the last quarter of a century with no riders of military rank or aristocratic title having taken a mount since The Sex Discrimination Act made it possible for female jockeys to enter the race. The 21st century has not seen a significant increase in female riders but it has seen them gain rides on mounts considered to have a genuine chance of winning.
In , Nina Carberry became the first female jockey to take a fifth ride in the Grand National, her best placing being seventh in Professionals now hold dominance in the Grand National and better training, dietary habits and protective clothing have ensured that riders' careers last much longer and offer more opportunities to ride in the race. Of the 34 riders who have enjoyed 13 or more rides in the race, 19 had their first ride in the 20th century and 11 had careers that continued into or started in the 21st century.
Longevity is no guarantee of success, however, as 13 of the 34 never tasted the glory of winning the race. McCoy is the only rider to successfully remove himself from the list after winning at the 15th attempt in Richard Johnson set a record of 21 failed attempts to win the race from to , having finished second twice, but is still competing.
The other 13 riders who never won or have not as yet won, having had more than 12 rides in the race are:. Peter Scudamore technically lined up for thirteen Grand Nationals without winning but the last of those was the void race of , which meant that he officially competed in twelve Nationals. Many other well-known jockeys have failed to win the Grand National. Dick Francis also never won the Grand National in 8 attempts although he did lead over the last fence on Devon Loch in the race, only for the horse to collapse under him when well in front only 40 yards from the winning post.
Pitman's son Mark also led over the last fence, only to be pipped at the post when riding Garrison Savannah in David Dick won the Grand National on E. Since , any jockey making five or more clear rounds has been awarded the Aintree Clear Rounds Award. Over the years, Aintree officials have worked in conjunction with animal welfare organisations to reduce the severity of some fences and to improve veterinary facilities.
In , a new veterinary surgery was constructed in the stable yard which has two large treatment boxes, an X-ray unit, video endoscopy, equine solarium, and sandpit facilities. Further changes in set-up and procedure allow vets to treat horses more rapidly and in better surroundings. Those requiring more specialist care can be transported by specialist horse ambulances, under police escort, to the nearby Philip Leverhulme Equine Hospital at the University of Liverpool at Leahurst.
A mobile on-course X-ray machine assists in the prompt diagnosis of leg injuries when horses are pulled up, and oxygen and water are available by the final fence and finishing post. Additional vets are stationed at the pull-up area, finishing post, and in the surgery. Some of the National's most challenging fences have also been modified, while still preserving them as formidable obstacles. After the Grand National , in which two horses died in incidents at Becher's Brook , Aintree began the most significant of its modifications to the course.
Other fences have also been reduced in height over the years, and the entry requirements for the race have been made stricter. Screening at the Canal Turn now prevents horses from being able to see the sharp left turn and encourages jockeys to spread out along the fence, rather than take the tight left-side route. These orange-coloured boards are positioned at the base of each fence and provide a clear ground line to assist horses in determining the base of the fence.
Parts of the course were widened in to allow runners to bypass fences if required. This was utilised for the first time during the race as casualties at fences 4 and 6 Becher's Brook resulted in marshals diverting the remaining contenders around those fences on the final lap. Welfare groups have suggested a reduction in the size of the field currently limited to a maximum of 40 horses should be implemented. Opponents point to previous unhappy experience with smaller fields such as only 29 runners at the Grand National , only 31 runners in , and a fatality each at the and Nationals despite smaller fields and the possible ramifications concerning the speed of such races in addition to recent course modifications part of the "speed kills" argument.
Some within the horseracing community, including those with notable achievements in the Grand National such as Ginger McCain and Bob Champion ,    have argued that the lowering of fences and the narrowing of ditches, primarily designed to increase horse safety, has had the adverse effect by encouraging the runners to race faster. During the s and s, the Grand National saw a total of 12 horses die half of which were at Becher's Brook ; in the next year period from to , when modifications to the course were most significant, there were 17 equine fatalities.
The and races each yielded two deaths, including one each at Becher's Brook. In , when further changes were made to introduce a more flexible fence structure, there were no fatalities in the race itself although two horses died in run-up races over the same course. In , the race sponsors John Smith's launched a poll to determine five personalities to be inducted into the inaugural Grand National Legends initiative.
They were: . A panel of experts also selected three additional legends: . In , nine additional legends were added: . John Smith's also added five "people's legends" who were introduced on Liverpool Day, the first day of the Grand National meeting. The five were: . A public vote announced at the Grand National saw five more additions to the Legends hall:. In the 70 races of the post-war era excluding the void race in , the favourite or joint-favourite have only won the race ten times in , , , , , , , , and and have failed to complete the course in 37 Nationals.
Since its inception, 13 mares have won the race but none have since   . Since , women have ridden in 20 Grand Nationals. Geraldine Rees became the first to complete the course, in In Katie Walsh became the first female jockey to earn a placed finish in the race, finishing third. The favourite for the race, Different Class, was owned by actor Gregory Peck. The winner Ayala and the winner Rag Trade were both part-owned by celebrity hairdresser Raymond Bessone.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article is about the British horse race. For other uses, see Grand National disambiguation. English steeplechase horse race that takes place at Liverpool's Aintree racecourse.
Oh, that's racing! Rutherfords has been hampered, and so has Castle Falls; Rondetto has fallen, Princeful has fallen, Norther has fallen, Kirtle Lad has fallen, The Fossa has fallen, there's a right pile-up And now, with all this mayhem, Foinavon has gone off on his own!
He's about 50, yards in front of everything else! They're willing him home now! The year-old Red Rum, being preceded only by loose horses, being chased by Churchtown Boy They're coming to the elbow, just a furlong now between Red Rum and his third Grand National triumph! It's hats off and a tremendous reception, you've never heard one like it at Liverpool Main article: Grand National.
Main article: List of Grand National winners. BBC Sport. Archived from the original on 27 February Retrieved 5 April Aintree Racecourse. Archived from the original on 13 May Retrieved 8 April Sky News. Archived from the original on 11 April Archived from the original on 20 March Retrieved 11 March The Daily Telegraph.
Archived from the original on 11 November Retrieved 13 June Archived from the original on 28 January Archived from the original on 7 April Retrieved 14 April Retrieved on 11 March Archived from the original on 2 February Retrieved 4 March Thoroughbred Heritage.
Archived from the original on 12 April Archived from the original on 14 June Archived from the original on 27 August Popular Nostalgia. A Romance of the Grand National. A Novelette London: F. The Independent. Archived from the original on 25 September Archived from the original on 2 April Retrieved 11 April Archived from the original on 10 November Retrieved 17 April Archived from the original on 4 January Retrieved 10 July The Guardian.
Archived from the original on 2 March Retrieved 12 July Aintree Grand National. Coral spokesman Simon Clare said: "The Grand National is one of Britain's most popular sporting occasions, with two-thirds of the adult population likely to place a bet. Clare said it was hard for bookmakers not to make a profit from the race. It's almost the one event in the year when you actually create a proper book, where there isn't a loser," he said.
Many of those betting on the National do not place bets on any other sporting event. As a result many bets are not made in betting shops. Kate Miller of William Hill said of the bets placed on Friday: "The most striking early sign is probably mobile phone betting, which has been absolutely huge.
Four hours before the race, Miller said her firm was taking 1, mobile bets per minute. She estimated that a quarter of Britain's adult population would bet on the race, judging from William Hill's figures and extrapolating across the industry.
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