If there’s one race to get you into horse racing this year it’s likely to be the Grand National – but this race is like no other in the UK. Not only is it packed with 40 runners, the horses must vault 30 jumps and run a huge distance to claim one of the biggest prizes in world sport.
Grand National distance
The Grand National distance is eye-watering. It is quite literally one of the biggest events in horse racing. Not only do 500 million people watch the race live on TV each year, but the prize pot of £1m is hugely lucrative for owners.
And the distance is super-sized too.
Horses at the Grand National must run further than most other races in the world. There are 30 jumps at the Grand National that take in two laps of the Aintree course and covers a mammoth four miles, two-and-a-half furlongs. That’s 6.9km of lung-busting racing.
In fact, the Grand National is so long that it takes around 10 to 12 minutes for the winner to cross the line. The record fastest time at the Grand National was set by Mr Frisk in 1990 when he ran the course in 8 minutes and 47.8 seconds. Lottery – winner of the first Grand National in 1839 – is the slowest winner of this race at 14m 53s.
What type of horses run in the Grand National?
Because of the distance covered and time taken to complete the Grand National, horses that compete in this event are only the very best stayers. This is a racing betting term given to horses that have proven to have high levels of stamina and endurance. Stayers take time to develop and so it’s no surprise the age of Grand National winners in recent times has been between 8 and 11 years old.
In fact, Noble Yeats in 2022 became the first seven-year-old to win the Grand National since Bogskar in 1940, while no 12-year-old has won this race since Amberleigh House stormed to victory in 2004.
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Tiger Roll, who won the Grand National in 2018 and 2019, proved capable of handling arduous courses across the country and also enjoyed long-distance success at Cheltenham, winning the Cross Country Chase – a three mile, six furlong race – in 2018. 2019 and 2021.
Horses often prepare for the Grand National by running in the bigger steeplechases at Cheltenham Festival.
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