On Saturday 8 April, the 2017 Randox Health Grand National will see 40 horses and jockeys line up to race across the famous fences.

The Course

  • Run at Aintree over 4 miles 3 furlongs and 110 yards (nearly 4.5 miles).
  • Part of the reason the Aintree course looks so spectacular is the 150 tonnes of spruce branches sourced from forests in the Lake District to help build the fences.
  • Famous fences on the Grand National course include Becher’s Brook and The Chair.
  • Becher’s Brook is named after Captain Martin Becher who was unseated from his mount, Conrad, and fell into the ditch when leading in the first ever Grand National. He was famously quoted for saying, “Water tastes disgusting without the benefits of whisky.”
  • The Chair is the tallest fence at 5ft 2ins and is also the broadest. The fence got its name as it was once alongside the seat used by the distance judge.
  • 2013 saw the re-design of fences for welfare reasons, widely proclaimed as a success as there were no injuries to horses or jockeys during the big race. 

History of the Race

  • The race was first run in 1839, won by a horse called Lottery.
  • The biggest ever field to come under starter's orders was in 1929 when 66 horses lined up.
  • No horse has ran in the race more times than Manifesto, who competed in eight renewals of the event between 1895 and 1904, winning the race twice in 1897 and 1899 and finishing third on three other occasions.
  • No seven-year-old has won for more than 70 years, no six-year-old has won since 1915.
  • The youngest winning jockey was 17-year-old Bruce Hobbs in 1938 on Battleship.
  • The older victorious rider was 48-year-old Dick Saunders in 1982 on Grittar.
  • Red Rum is the most successful horse, winning the race in 1973, 1974 and 1977.
  • Golden Miller is the only horse to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup and Grand National in the same season.
  • Only three greys have won the Grand National – The Lamb (1868 and 1871), Nicolaus Silver (1961) and Neptune Collonges (2012).
  • Thirteen mares have won the Grand National but the most recent was Nickel Coin back in 1951.
  • In 2012, Katie Walsh (sister of two-time winner Ruby Walsh) achieved the best placing by a woman to date - third place on Seabass.

Grand National Winners

Mr Frisk, winner of the 1990 Grand National (Press Association Image Archives)

  • Three women have trained the winner of the Grand National – Jenny Pitman, Venetia Williams and Sue Smith.
  • Last year’s race was won by 25/1 shot Pineau De Re ridden by Leighton Aspell for trainer Dr Richard Newland.
  • In 2014, there were 18 finishers and no horses or jockeys were injured.
  • Telegraph racing journalist Marcus Armytage holds the Guinness World Record for the quickest ever winning time in the Grand National when he won as an amateur on Mr Frisk in 1990.
  • This year’s Grand National will be worth over £1million in prize money.

This year

The Grand National Festival starts with the Grand Opening Day (6 April). The first race, the Grade 1 Manifesto Novices’ Steeple Chase (Grade 1) will go off at 13.40(UK). The festival certainly opens with a bang, as the first four races are Grade 1 races. They include the Aintree Hurdle, which was won last year by the fantastic Annie Power.

Ladies Day is the second day of the Grand National Festival. It also features seven fantastic races, including The Crabbie’s Top Novices’ Hurdle and the Mildmay Novices’ Steeple Chase. While there is no dress code at the Grand National Festival, Ladies Day encourages people to dress in their finery for the races. Ladies’ Day at Aintree will take place on Friday 7 April, with the first race going off at 13.40hrs (BST).

Grand National Day is the final day of the Grand National Festival. Obviously, the highlight is the great race itself, but it also has six other potential thrillers on the card. The Liverpool Stayers’ Hurdle is probably the pick of the bunch. Last year’s winner Thistlecrack has been ruled out for the season with a tendon injury, so the Stayers’ Hurdle will be wide open.