The world’s most celebrated horse race is nearly upon us, with the Grand National taking place at Aintree on Saturday 9th April. If you fancy a flutter on the big race click here. To get you in the mood for the National here are 10 weird and wonderful facts you may not know:
1. The race is incredibly tough at 4 miles 3 and ½ furlongs. Several jockeys have died on the course over the years, although none in modern times. When the Duke of Albuquerque completed his last race at the age of 57, it was estimated he had broken 22 bones and suffered over 100 fractures.
2. The horses must navigate famously difficult obstacles, including the Canal Turn and Becher’s Brook. The biggest obstacle in the race is the fence nicknamed The Chair, it measures 5 foot 3 inches, so it is a bit like jumping over a small man on a 70 stone race horse travelling at over 30 mph. Brave jockeys indeed.
3. The first ever winner of the Grand National was Lottery, an apt name as offices up and down the UK these days partake in a sweepstake for the big race.
4. It is regarded as a feat even to just finish the race. Of a maximum field of 40 horses and jockeys, the highest amount of finishers was 23 in 1984. In 1928 just 2 finished the race and 1 of those, Billy Barton, was remounted after the jockey fell off.
5. The oldest competitor was 68 year old Tim Durant. The oldest horse to compete was Peter Simple, aged 15 years. The average of the winner is around 9 years old, that’s the horse not the jockey.
6. On 5 different occasions a horse with odds of 100-1 has won the race. The latest was in 2009 when Mon Mome won by 12 lengths. The shortest odds winner was Poethlyn who won at 11/4 in 1919.
7. Around 600 million people watch the race worldwide. That’s just less than 1 in every 10 people on the planet. If only they all backed those 100 -1 shots.
8. Race horses usually take their names from their sire and dam (daddy and mummy). The progeny of Mared and Quorum was reasonably successful – Red Rum won 3 Grand Nationals, a feat that is never likely to be equalled.
9. The jockey with the most appearances is Sir Tony (AP) McCoy with 20. He won in 2010 with Don’t Push It. Richard Johnson should equal that record in 2016, but has never won the big race.
10. Final fact, if horse racing bores you yet etymology give you a rush then you will pleased to learn the following: The Grand National is run at Aintree, a town settled by the Vikings. It got its name as the Vikings cut down all the trees bar one, Ain (one) Tree. Beautiful.