The Grand National A-Z
Aintree. Just outside of Liverpool, is the home to one of the most famous racecourses which hosts the ‘World’s greatest steeplechase’. Also A P McCoy. Arguably the greatest National Hunt jockey of all time and picked up the BBC Sports Personality of the Year gong in 2010 after partnering Don’t Push It to victory in that year’s National.
Becher’s Brook. Standing at five foot with the landing side 6in to 10in lower than the take-off side, Becher’s is one of the most feared obstacles on the course. It is jumped twice as fence 6 and 22.
Charlotte Brew. The first lady jockey to ride in the race on her own horse, Barony Fort, in 1977. Geraldine Rees became the first female rider to complete the course five years later.
Distance. The Grand National is run over a trip or distance of four and a half miles, over which thirty fences are jumped.
Elbow. The 494-yard run-in from the final fence to the winning post is the longest in the country and has featured numerous fortunes change in National history as horses and riders negotiate the acute ‘elbow’ halfway up the run-in.
Female trainers. Only two lady trainers have ever won the National; Jenny Pitman (twice with Corbieres in 1983 and Royal Athlete in 1995) and Venetia Williams, who also rode in the race in 1988 and trained Mon Mome to win three years ago.
Gold Cup. The only horse to win both the Cheltenham Gold Cup and the Grand National in the same season was Golden Miller in 1934. Synchronised is bidding to emulate him this year.
Horse welfare. A number of modifications have been made to the course to make the race safer over the years, including reducing the landing side of Becher’s after last year’s race. Parts of the course were also widened in 2009 to allow runners to bypass fences if required.
Irish runners. Irish-trained horses have the best record in the race of participants from outside of the UK, having been responsible for 16 winners since 1900 and six of these coming since 1999.
John Buckingham and Foinavon. Pairing who were fortunate winners of the 1967 race after a riderless mount caused mayhem and brought down or stopped almost all the remaining horses in front of them. As a result, the seventh fence on the circuit is now named after Foinavon.
King, Jeff. Holds the rather unenviable record of most rides in the race without a success, riding in 15 Nationals between 1964 and 1980.
Lottery. The rather appropriately-named first winner of the Grand National at Aintree in 1839.
Monday National. The race was famously run on a Monday in 1997 following the course
being abandoned on the Saturday as a result of a bomb scare.
Number of finishers. The smallest number of runners to complete the course was two in 1928, while the highest number to finish was 23 in 1984.
Outsiders. There have been five horses win the race at odds of 100/1, the latest being Mon Mome in 2009.
Party Politics. Topical winner of the National in 1992 just five days after that year’s General Election.
Queen Mother. Another iconic moment from the race’s history was when the Queen Mother’s horse Devon Loch, ridden by the late thriller writer Dick Francis, was set to win the National in 1956 only to stumble spectacularly and unaccountably 50 yards from the winning line.
Red Rum. The most famous of all Grand National horses, having won the race a record three times in the 1970’s for the late Aintree legend, trainer Ginger McCain.
Silver. Only two grey horses have ever won the famous steeplechase; The Lamb (in 1868 and 1871) and Nicolaus Silver (1961).
The Chair. Another iconic jump on the course, the Chair is one of only two fences on the course that is only jumped once (the other being the water jump also in front of the stands) and includes a six-foot wide ditch on the take-off side.
Unseated rider. With 40 runners charging over 30 spruce fences, jockeys are understandably fearful of being unseated in the famous race. Many National dreams have been shattered by such events.
Valentine’s. Not the day for amorous couples in February, but the ninth fence on the Grand National circuit! Named after the horse Valentine who reputedly jumped the fence with his hind legs first in 1840.
Weights. The Grand National is a handicap race; this means horses carry different weights according to their previous racing success. The "best" horse in the race is given the top weight (about 11st 10lb) and the weights allotted to the other horses are set in relation to this. This year the horse that will be carrying top weight is Sychronised.
X-rays. Something which all runners and riders will hopefully avoid having to undergo post-race.
Youngest jockey. Bruce Hobbs was only 17 when he won the 1938 National aboard Battleship.
Zoedone. Won the 1883 renewal ridden by his owner Count Karel Kinsky, who was the Austro-Hungarian Ambassador to Britain.
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