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Aintree Grand National Horse Race
 By Saferaphus   •   25th Apr 2017   •   352 views   •   0 comments


Every April, one of the most famous horse races is run. The Grand National has been held every year since 1839. Itís not the oldest race run, nor the first to be run at the Aintree course, but it is one of the most followed by the British public. Held at Aintree Racetrack near Liverpool England, it is run every April and itís estimated that 25% of Britainís population will place a bet on the race. The Grand National is what many would call a steeplechase, but is known as a hunt race.

The Grand National itself is run over a distance of about four and a half miles (about 7k). The two-plus mile track is lapped twice by the racers. The course is known to be much more difficult than similar races. In fact, it claims to be the most difficult in the world. And the jumps are high. The first fence at 4í6Ē is not complicated, but falls are always expected because the horses are not yet settled from leaving the gate.

The names of some of the jumps have become infamous. The sixth fence is the famous Becherís Brook. Itís named for a Captain Martin Becher who took a tumble at this obstacle. Becher hid in the brook to avoid being trampled and claimed the water didnít taste very good. The Canal turn is also difficult as horses must land and immediately negotiate a 90-degree turn of the track. Unlike flat racing tracks, the Aintree track is an uneven trapezoid, rather than a nice smooth oval.

The twenty-third fence is called the Foinavon and is so named because a rider fall caused a huge pile up that allowed a long shot named Foinavon to win. He was so far back in the field when the accident happened that his jockey was able to steer him well outside the mess. Two fences, the Chair which is a 5í6Ē with a 5í2Ē ditch in front and a wide water jump are only jumped on the first lap. In all, 30 jumps must be cleared to finish the race.

The Grand National has had itís ups and downs. The only times the race was interrupted was during World War I and II. One race was declared void in 1993. Protesters had been on the grounds. So when track officials tried to wave red flags to signal a false start, the jockeys thought that it was just more shenanigans by the protesters. Of the 39 starters, 30 took off from the starting line and seven ran the complete race only to find out the race had been stopped. A bomb threat delayed the 1993 race, and it was held the following Monday.

Of course, over the years, animal protesters have tried to have a greater impact on the race. The length, difficulty of the obstacles, the huge fields and grueling pace that test the mettle of both horse and rider also have made it a target for animal rights activists. The Grand National is well known for its spills and accidents. Falls are common and since 2000, 48 horses have been killed during the four-day festival surrounding the big race. Between 2000 and 2010, there were seven horse fatalities in the main race. Since the first race in 1839, one source lists 81 horses that have been lost, most with fractures of the legs or spine. Collapsing from the exertion is the other cited reason. Only one jockey, however, has died in the Grand National.
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