The Randox Health Grand National is without a doubt the most eagerly awaited horse race in the UK and attracts everyone, whether they be newcomers to the sport or passionate race lovers. It doesn’t matter what camp you’re in, if you want to enjoy the famous steeplechase to its fullest, take a look at these ten facts about the race.
1: The first Grand National took place in 1839
The first running of the Grand National took place in 1839 and it featured fences which were far less forgiving than those of today. The first edition of the steeplechase was won by a horse called ‘Lottery’.
2: Aintree Grand National is one of the longest courses
The Randox Health Grand National is a thrilling spectacle enjoyed by millions around the world and the race involves a gruelling four and a half mile circuit (actually two circuits) along with 30 fences. A maximum of 40 runners take part in the race.
3: The first Grand National winner was the slowest
Lottery was the first horse to win the Grand National but it also holds the record for being the slowest ever to complete the circuit. Nowadays the race can be won in under nine minutes, however Lottery took a full 14 minutes 53 seconds to complete the steeplechase. In contrast, the fastest winner was Mr Frisk in 1990 with a time of 8 minutes 47 seconds.
4: The first female jockey took part in 1977
For the first 137 years of its existence, the Grand National was exclusive to men, however all this changed in 1977 when Charlotte Brew became the first-ever female jockey to take part. She paved the way for more women to take part in the race although as yet no female jockeys have finished first past the post.
5: The youngest winning jockey was just 17 years old
Bruce Hobbs was just seventeen years of age when he won the Grand National aboard Battleship in 1938.
6: Amateur jockeys can ride in the Grand National
Contrary to general belief, you don’t need to be a professional jockey to take part in the Grand National. Indeed many amateurs have triumphed in the race including journalist Marcus Armytage on Mr Frisk in 1990.
7: Red Rum is the most successful horse in Grand National history
Red Rum is a name that stands out in Grand National history, the horse winning the race three times – in 1973, 1974 and 1977, despite a debilitating bone disease.
8: The most intimidating fence is The Chair
The Grand National is renowned for its testing fences, however none come more intimidating than The Chair, a fence which stands 5ft 3 inches tall and one which is a massive challenge for both horse and rider.
9: Golden Miller is the only Cheltenham Gold Cup/Grand National Double winner
Golden Miller is the only horse to have won both the Cheltenham Gold Cup and the Grand National. He won both races in 1934 and also holds the record for the most Gold Cup wins with five to his name in consecutive years between 1932 and 1936.
10: The only trainer to win three years in a row was Vincent O’Brien
Vincent O’Brien has thus far been the only trainer to have won the Grand National three years on the bounce when he won with Early Mist in 1953, Royal Tan in 1954 and Quare Times in 1955.