The Grand National is held annually at Aintree Racecourse in Liverpool, England. First run in 1839, it is a handicap steeplechase over 4 miles 3½ furlongs (7,200m) with horses jumping 30 fences over two circuits of the racecourse.
The most valuable jump race in Europe, with a prize fund of £975,000, It is popular amongst many people who do not normally watch or bet on horse racing first run in 1839 and has a special place in the hearts and minds of the UK public with bets expected to exceed £350 million.
The Grand National is not without it’s detractors. As one of the toughest, if not the toughest race in the world it has witnessed a documented 70 horses die since the first race in 1839, along with one jockey, Joseph Wynne, who was racing in his first Grand National in 1862.
Over the years there have been some exceptional events that have stayed in the public memory.The first race in 1839 secured its place in history as the first official Grand National. It was won by rider Jem Mason on the 5/1 favourite and aptly named Lottery.
Legend has it that on the day of the 1928 Grand National, before the race had begun, Tipperary Tim’s jockey William Dutton heard a friend call out to him: “Billy boy, you’ll only win if all the others fall down!” These words turned out to be true, as 41 of the 42 starters fell during the race leaving Tipperary Tim the winner at 100/1. In 1967 Foinavon won in similar circumstances when a loose horse caused the leading horse to either fall or pull up leaving Foinavon to jump alone and gallop away to victory before the rest of the field could regroup.
The running of the 1956 Grand National witnessed one of the chase’s most bizarre incidents. Devon Loch, owned by Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, had cleared the final fence in leading position, five lengths clear of E.S.B. and only forty yards from what seemed like certain victory, when suddenly, and inexplicably, Devon Loch half-jumped into the air and collapsed on the turf allowing the trailing horses to pass the unfortunately stricken horse.
Possibly the greatest disaster from a racing viewpoint was the 1993 Grand national, which went in to history as the “The race that never was”. While under starter’s orders a series of incidents occurred which resulted in one jockey being tangled in the starting tape. A false start was declared, but 30 out of the 39 jockeys were unaware of the decision and began to race. Course officials tried to stop the runners by waving red flags, but many jockeys thought that they were protesters and continued to race. Seven horses ran the course in its entirety, forcing a void result. The first past the post of the horses that completed was Esha Ness in the second-fastest time ever run.
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