What Is In Store At This Year’s Aintree Grand National Festival?

By Ian John
March 27, 2023

We are approaching April and this year’s excellent Cheltenham Festival is now a receding memory.

But fear not because there is another massive horse racing meeting on the horizon, the Grand National meeting held at the famous Aintree course in Liverpool.

Named after the famous steeplechase, the Grand National Festival is now a lot more than this single race, having evolved to three days of outstanding jumps action during the spring.

In this article, we are going to take a look at some of the history behind this famous event, some of its most famous winners, as well as a look ahead to this year’s meeting and of course, the big race itself.

All odds shown and any bets shown in this article are taken from bet365 Sport and were correct at the time of writing, but the odds and runners/riders may well have changed in the run up to the race.

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The Grand National – A Short History

The first ‘official’ Grand National took place at Aintree in 1839, although there is evidence to suggest that three races before that (from 1836 to 1838) may have been the first true Grand National races, although they have not been entered into the record books.

Although there have been breaks in its history due to war and pandemics, the race has become one of the biggest betting events in the UK every year, with many casual punters having their one and only bet on the horses on this race.

Grand National Records

  • Most Grand National Wins (Horse) – Red Rum – 3 (1973, 1974, 1977)
  • Most Grand National Wins (Jockey) – George Stevens – 5 (1856, 1863, 1864, 1869, 1870)
  • Most Grand National Wins (Trainer) – George Dockeray, Fred Rimell, Ginger McCain – 4 wins each
  • Most Grand National Wins (Owner) – James Octavius Machell, Sir Charles Assheton-Smith, Noel Le Mar, Trevor Hemmings, Gigginstown House Stud – 3 wins each
  • Fastest Winning Time – Mr Frisk (1990) – 8 minutes 47.80 seconds.
  • Longest Odds Winner – Tipperary Tim (1928), Gregalach (1929), Caughoo (1947) Foinavon (1967), Mon Mome (2009) – all at 100/1
  • Shortest Odds Winner – Poethlyn (1919) – 11/4
  • Most Horses To Finish Race – 23 in 1984
  • Fewest Horses To Finish Race – 2 in 1928
  • Most Rides in the Race – Richard Johnson – 21 (1997 to 2019)

Famous Grand National Winners

  • Lottery – the first winner of the official Grand National in 1839
  • Abd El Kader – the first horse to win the race twice (1850 & 1851)
  • Ambush II – The 1900 winner was owned by the Prince of Wales, who later became King Edward VII.
  • Foinavon – After a massive pile up of horses caused by a riderless horse (appropriately called Popham Down) saw most of the field refuse the 8th and 24th fence, Foinavon was able to jump the fence and claim an unlikely victory at odds of 100/1. The fence now bears his name.
  • Red Rum – The most famous winner of them all, Red Rum not only won three races in 1973, 1974 and 1977, but also finished second in the 1975 and 1976 races. Rummy’s win in 1973, where he chased down Crisp after being 15-lengths down after the final fence to win by three-quarters of a length in what was then a record time (only beaten since by Mr Frisk in 1990). Red Rum’s ashes are now buried near the finishing post at Aintree.
  • Aldaniti – Aldaniti recovered from a chronic leg problem to win the race while jockey Bob Champion had also beat cancer to ride the horse to a stunning victory in 1981.
  • Corbiere – Ben de Haan rode home 13/1 shot Corbiere in 1983 and in doing so made Jenny Pitman the first female trainer to train the winner of the race.
  • Mr Frisk – Mr Frisk remains the fastest horse ever to win the Grand National, doing so 14.1 seconds faster than Red Rum in 1973. The record still stands to this day, despite the course now being 342 yards (312.72 metres) shorter in length than it was in 1990.
  • Esha Ness – The winner of the race that never was. Esha Ness was one of a number of horse that ran the entire 1993 race not knowing it had been stopped by race officials due to a jockey being caught up in the tape at the start. The race was declared void and Esha Ness removed from the history books.
  • Tiger Roll – Tiger Roll became the first back to back winner since Red Rum when winning the 2018 and 2019 races. The pandemic forced the cancellation of the 2020 meet and Tiger Roll’s owners did not enter the horse for the race in 2021 due to being unhappy at the weight given to him by the handicappers, thus denying him the chance to be the first ever three-time consecutive winner and just the second horse to win three Grand National races.
  • Minella Times – The 2021 winner was the first horse ever to win the race while ridden by a female jockey, Rachael Blackmore.
  • Noble Yeats – Last year’s winner saw Sam Waley-Cohen become the first amateur jockey to win the race since Marcus Armytage on Mr Frisk in 1990. Waley-Cohen announced his retirement after the race.

The Grand National In Facts & Figures

  • The Grand National is a handicap steeplechase over 4 miles and 2.5 furlongs (4 miles, 514 yards) and horses jump 14 fences twice, plus the Chair and Water Jump over the two laps of the Aintree circuit.
  • The purse for the Grand National now stands at £1,000,000 with the winner taking home half the full purse amount (£500,000). This makes it the most valuable jump race in Europe.
  • The race is only open to horses aged 7 years old and upwards, that have placed in a recognised chase of 2 miles 7.5 furlongs or more and that are rated at 125 or higher by the British Horseracing Association.
  • The Grand National was first broadcast live on British TV in 1960.
  • It is estimated that around 500-600 million people tune in to watch the Grand National live across 140 different countries around the world.
  • The favourite or joint favourite has only won the race ten times in the 70 races since the second world war.
  • Favourites have only completed the course in 33 of those 70 Grand National races since the war.
  • 13 mares have won the race, the last being Nickel Coin who won in 1951.
  • Only three grey horses have won the race, the last being Neptune Collonges in 2012.
  • Fence 15, known as The Chair, is the tallest fence in the race at 5ft 2 inches high and it is preceded by a 6ft wide ditch.
  • Other famous fences include Fence 3 and 19 – Open Ditch, Fence 6 and 22 – Becher’s Brook, Fence 7 and 23 – Foinavon, Fence 8 and 24 – Canal Turn, Fence 9 and 25 – Valentine’s Brook, Fence 16 – Water Jump.
  • Becher’s Brook (7 and 23) and The Chair (15) are difficult fences as the landing side is at a different height to the take-off side. At Becher’s Brook, the landing side is six inches lower than the take-off side, while at The Chair, the landing side is six inches higher than the take-off side.
  • 3 time winner Red Rum was named because Red Rum read backwards is Murder.

The Full 3-Day Aintree Meeting – With Race Lists

The Randox Grand National Festival is now held over three days starting on Thursday 13th April through to Saturday 15th April.

The race list and theme for each of the days are outlined below:

Day One – Opening Day

  • 1.45pm – The Manifesto Novices’ Steeple Chase (2m 4f)
  • 2.20pm – The Jewson Anniversary 4-y-o Juvenile Hurdle (2m 1f)
  • 2.55pm – The Aintree Bowl Steeple Chase (3m 1f)
  • 3.30pm – The William Hill Aintree Hurdle (2m 4f)
  • 4.05pm – The Randox Foxhunters’ Open Hunters’ Steeple Chase (2m 5f)
  • 4.40pm – The Close Brothers Red Rum Handicap Steeple Chase (2m)
  • 5.15pm – The Goffs UK Nickel Coin Mares’ Standard Open NH Flat (2m 1f)

Day Two – Ladies Day

  • 1.45pm – The Mildmay Novices’ Steeple Chase (3m 1f)
  • 2.20pm – The Wiliam Hill Handicap Hurdle (2m 4f)
  • 2.55pm – The Top Novices’ Hurdle (2m 0.5f)
  • 3.30pm – The The Marsh Steeple Chase (Registered as the Melling) (2m 4f)
  • 4.05pm – The Randox Topham Handicap Steeple Chase (2m 5f)
  • 4.40pm – The Cavani Menswear Sefton Novices’ Hurdle (3m 0.5f)
  • 5.15pm – The Abersoch Land and Sea Handicap Hurdle (2m 0.5f)

Day Three – Grand National Day

  • 1.45pm – The EFT Systems Maghull Novices’ Steeple Chase (2m)
  • 2.25pm – The Bridle Road Handicap Hurdle (3m 0.5f)
  • 3.00pm – The Turners Mersey Novices’ Hurdle (2m 4f)
  • 3.35pm – The JRL Group Liverpool Hurdle (3m 0.5f)
  • 4.15pm – The William Hill Freebooter Handicap (3m 1f)
  • 5.15pm – The Randox Grand National Steeple Chase (4m 2.5f)
  • 6.20pm – The Weatherbys nhsstallions.co.uk Standard Open (2m 1f)

Grand National 2023 – Preview & Antepost Betting Odds

Bet365 Sport is offering no-runner, no bet prices on all the runners in this year’s race and some of the horses that are ranked as the favourites to win include:

  • Corach Rambler – 7/1 fav
  • Noble Years – 8/1
  • Gaillard Du Mesnil – 10/1
  • Delta Work, Any Second Now, Conflated – 12/1
  • Longhouse Poet, Mr Incredible – 14/1
  • Galvin, Le Milos, Ain’t That A Shame, Ashtown Lad – 20/1
  • Capodanno – 22/1
  • Lifetime Ambition, The Big Dog, Our Power, Vanillier, Quick Wave, Darasso – 25/1
  • Coko Beach, Lord Lariat, Escaria Ten, Carefully Selectd, Envoi Allen, Royal Pagaille – 33/1
  • 40-1 bar

Our Early Grand National Ante Post Tip

It’s still early for a bet, but Envoi Allen at 33/1 is a tasty each way tip but for more updates on the race check out our article ahead of the race for a tip on who to back to win the 2023 Grand National!

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