This year sees the 168th Grand National as the leading horses, riders, trainers and owners compete to win Europe’s most prestigious racing prize.
The three day racing festival takes place at the historic Aintree racecourse in Liverpool from 9 to 11 April and promises the biggest celebration of horse racing ever. So here’s what to expect.
The famous Aintree racecourse is a notoriously challenging circuit. The left handed turf track features over 30 fences to be navigated in the main race as competitors complete two circuits over four miles and three and a half furlongs.
With many of the fences such as Becher’s Brook and The Chair having unseated many favourites in the past, it’s clear why this event at Aintree has become the pinnacle of the steeplechase calendar.
It’s also a great social occasion as thousands flock to enjoy Liverpool’s famous hospitality. In the past many celebrities such as Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney and HRH Zara Philips have taken time to cheer on their favourite horses.
Grand Opening Day
And as for the horse racing action itself, the three days have an incredible amount packed in. It all kicks off on Thursday 9 April with Grand Opening Day.
This raises the curtain with three Grade One races, kicking off with the Anniversary Novice’s Hurdle that sees many runners from the Cheltenham Triumph Hurdle taking part. But the Fox Hunter’s Chase may the hardest test of the day with the best amateur jockeys getting to face the infamous National fences.
Ladies Day takes place on Friday 10 April and promises all of the glamour and panache that you’d expect from this highly anticipated event. There’s also some great racing action too.
Key races to look out for include the Melling Chase that sees the two and a half mile National Hunt race providing all of the excitement that has previously led to famous wins by the likes of Master Minded and Sprinter Sacre.
Grand National Day
And finally, Grand National Day on Saturday 11 April is one of the biggest days in Britain’s sporting calendar with millions tuning in on television to witness the captivating racing action.
There are six Graded races to look forward to on this day, but the one that everyone will be waiting for is the Grand National itself.
This famous event was won last year by the French horse Pineau de Re that started at as a 25/1 outsider but ran an excellent race to win by five lengths. This year the betting is wide open but last year’s second place horse Balthazar King is already an early contender for racing’s biggest prize.