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The 2020 Aintree Grand National
01 April 2020
Few sporting events match the excitement of horse racing. The fast-paced competition, the beauty of the horses, and the skill of the jockeys all add to the sport’s allure. The Grand National is one of the most prestigious events in horse racing, taking place each spring in England. This spring, fans all over the world bet on their favorites at Spin Sports, then watch as the action unfolds.
The history of the race
Horse racing has been around for thousands of years, with generation after generation falling in love with the sport. There are many different types of races, with different breeds of horses and types of courses and obstacles. The Grand National is the most revered horse racing event in England and began back in the 1830s. Since then, it’s become hugely popular throughout the country and around the world, with everyone from casual betters to devoted racing fans.
The tradition was begun by hotel owner William Lynn at a track he built in Aintree, near Liverpool. When a Manchester-Liverpool railroad was completed in 1839 the race organizers began to publicize their event, and the Grand National was born.
The Grand National is a handicap race, meaning that horses have to carry different weights during the race in order to level the playing field. A horse’s handicap is determined by factors like its past performance, age, and jockey.
Betting on handicap races is a bit different from betting in other types of races, such as the Kentucky Derby, where bettors can study a horse’s record and training and bet accordingly. In handicapped races, betting also requires considering which horse will best overcome its handicap for that race. However, handicapping can also make the race more exciting by equalizing competitors’ chances.
The course and challenges
The National Course at Aintree is just shy of 7 kilometers long (4 miles and 2.5 furlongs). The race is a steeplechase, meaning that the horses have to jump over various obstacles, including fences and ditches. The fences at the Grand National are larger than those in most National Hunt Tracks, making it a notoriously difficult race for both horse and rider.
Competitors loop through the course twice during the race, with a slight detour at the end. There are a total of 30 fences, which require immense skill to make and land each jump. It’s not uncommon for horses to fall or throw off their riders, and watching the jumps is the most exciting part of the race for many fans.
What makes a good competitor
To compete in the Grand National, a horse has to be over seven years old, have a 120+ BHA rating, and must have placed in a recognized chase over three miles. Horses can compete multiple times—the horse with the most wins, Red Rum, won three times in the 1970s.
A horse can’t just be fast, like in many horse racing events, but also must be agile and skilled at clearing barriers. This takes great skill from both the jockey and the horse. Some horses still complete the course very quickly though, with the 1990 winner, Mr Frisk, clocking in at a record 8 minutes and 47.8 seconds.
It’s common for horses not to finish the race, or even for there to be fatalities. This has led to some changes in the course and improvements in veterinary treatment in order to make the event safer.
Picking a winner
Because of the handicapping in place for the Grand National, picking a winner can be tougher than in other races. The favorite has only won the race 10 times in the last century or so, and long shots have won several times.
In the race’s history, horses with Irish trainers have tended to be successful among international racers, with 16 Irish-trained winners since 1900. Luck doesn’t seem to favor grey horses, with only 3 winners in the race’s history, or mares, with only 13.
How to catch the race
This year’s race is sponsored by Randox Health, with an impressive purse of a million pounds, with over half going to the winner. You can see the race broadcast on TV in the UK or stream it online from around the world. Around 600 million people tune in every year. No matter where you are, you’ll always find the latest stats and odds at Spin Sports, where you can place your wagers before the race begins.
Please note: the dates and details of this event may no longer be relevant. To find out more, click here.