Why the Grand National is the epitome of British horseracingFeature of the week
With the horse racing season coming to an end and the night’s drawing in, thoughts are already turning to next year’s racing calendar. And while every enthusiast enjoys the major flat racing events, nothing quite gets the pulse racing like the Grand National. April might seem a long way off, but it will be here before we know it, so let’s look at what will be in store for us at Aintree in 2018.
A National institution
The Grand National could not be more appropriately named, as it can probably be counted among the top five sporting events of the year. Like the FA Cup Final, the London Marathon or the British Grand Prix, it is one of those occasions that capture the attention of the entire nation, even those who otherwise have no interest in the sport.
Everyone pores over the runners and odds, and for many, this is their one wager per year. But why does the Grand National hold such an important place in people’s hearts?
In part, it is the challenge. This is one of the toughest steeplechase events anywhere, and the traditionally high attrition rate has brought its fair share of controversy over the years. At four miles long, it is also the longest race of the year, and there is plenty of time for the tension to build.
There is also the small matter of 30 jumps, including the famous Becher’s Brook. This is probably the most feared and revered jump in the world, measuring well over six feet on the landing side.
But mostly it is all about the sheer spectacle of the event. Not only is it the one race that almost everyone keeps their eyes on, if you are only ever going to attend a single race in your life, this is the one to choose.
What to expect in 2018
If you’ve never attended before, 2018 is going to be the ideal time to start. Organisers have confirmed that there will be a broader visitor experience than ever before, with a wide variety of events taking place before and after the big race.
The changes include a new festival zone replacing the traditional Tattersalls Enclosure and reduced seating capacity. This will provide more comfort for those in attendance, but it does mean that if you are planning on going, you should book your tickets well in advance.
Ones to watch
Another unique feature of the Grand National is that the runners and riders are announced far earlier than in any other race. Because of this, the multiplier for a potential win is much more favourable: among the most popular horses to back early doors are last year’s winner One for Arthur, being offered at 20/1 and the early bookmakers’ favourite Native River is at 16/1. Expect all this to change over the coming months, so keep a close eye on the evolving odds to cue up the best possible return.
The editorial unit