The clock has started ticking towards the 2018 Grand National and even after over 180 years the most famous horse race in the world still holds a special place in the hearts of the British people.
Ever since I can remember Grand National Day has always been that one day of the year when everyone has a little flutter and are glued to the TV at 3pm for the race. There’s never a lot of skill used when it comes to my horse selections, mainly I just go for the cool sounding names or the complete outsiders and hope for a repeat of 1967 when a loose horse wiped out the entire field except for 100-1 outsider Foinavon (who was so far behind had time to navigate around the carnage) and won. It hasn’t happened yet, but I live in hope!
Placing a bet is a lot easier these days. It used to be you’d have to venture down the town to the local, smokey, bookmakers shop on the corner and line up in the queue with everyone else. Nowadays you can place a bet from the comfort of your home in your pants. Online bookmakers like William Hill offer a huge selection of accumulators and bets win races such as the Grand National
To get you in the mood for Grand National Day 2018, here’s some interesting stuff you may not know about the race.
The first ever Grand National took place in 1836 and was won by ‘The Duke’. It was run on land in Aintree, Liverpool and has been raced in the same place ever since. The famous fence Becher’s Brook is named after Martin Becher, jockey of ‘The Duke’. The year after he won he fell off at this fence and sheltered from the other horses in the water underneath. It was renamed in his honour. The race is run over 4 miles and the horses jump 30 fences over two laps. Last year some 500-600 million people watched the race in all corners of the globe.
There are no records regarding the prize money of the first ever Grand National, but one thing is for sure it wouldn’t have been anywhere close to the £561,300 cheque that will be given to the winner of the 2018 Grand National. Incidentally the Jockey gets to keep about 8% of the prize money and over a £1million will be dished out to the top horse owners.
Most Famous Winner
The most famous winner arguably is Red Rum and is the only horse (up to now) to win the race three times. Over 5 races between 1973 and 1977 Red Rum won the race 3 times and came second on the other two. His most famous win was against ‘Crisp’ when he came from a huge way back to beat him right at the post. After his successes in the Grand National Red Rum became quite a celebrity and I actually saw him open a betting shop in my old hometown years ago. Sadly it was before Instagram so I wasn’t able to get a selfie. He died aged 30 in Oct 1995 and is now buried by the winning post at Aintree.
Incidentally, on as lightly more sinister note, did you know ‘Red Rum’ is ‘Murder’ spelt backwards?
Ladies’ day fashion
Aside from the race, The Grand National is a place to see and be seen and the most important day for dressing up in a new frock or outfit is Ladies Day. Celebs like Collen Rooney and Rebecca Ferguson are regular visitors and for normal people its a great excuse to go shopping. It can also be the place to wear that hat you bought for that wedding last year, but haven’t worn since!
One word of advice for the ladies dressing to impress, choose your shoes wisely. High heels might look great, but after 8 hours walking around on grass it can start to become painful.
Despite their general preference for Ascot, the Royal Family have run many horses at the National and way back in 1900, the winner ‘Ambush II’ was owned by HRH Prince of Wales, who later went on to be King Edward VII.
When 1994 winner Miinnehoma came back to the paddock it was greeted by its owner, none other than popular (at the time) comedian Freddie Starr. This was some 8 years after the infamous ‘Fredie Starr Ate My hamster’ headline. Fortunately for the horse he had already eaten lunch in the VIP area.
Who is going to win this year?
A lot can happen between now and race day, but three horses are already out in front with the bookies this year. Blaklion, who was 4th last year, Total Recall and The Last Samuri (runner-up in 2016) all look strong contenders. However, if you want a tip from me, the horse I like the look of is Vincente, trained by Paul Nicholas. The reason; Vincent Van Gogh.