|The Grand National all Around the World
Thursday 24th October 2019
The Grand National is an institution. First run in 1839, it’s a key date in the calendar for any horseracing fan, or those that don’t share an interest but fancy a punt. Held annually in April at Aintree Racecourse, it is believed that more than 600 million people worldwide watch the National, such is its popularity.
Interestingly, the 2020 horse racing odds from PP are already available, but did you know that there are other equivalents of the race run throughout the course of the year? Here, we take a look at the global Grand National.
October: Grand National Hurdle Stakes
Known as the Grand National Hurdle Stakes to differentiate it from the race run at Aintree, the USA’s equivalent of the Grand National is run every autumn. The race dates back to 1899 and was first run at Morris Park Racecourse in New York, but has since been staged at four other venues. The most recent editions have been held at Far Hills in New Jersey.
The US Grand National doesn’t share too many similarities with its namesake. It is a Grade 1 race run over two miles and the track is made up of 14 hurdles. To qualify, horses must be aged four and above, with two weight restrictions in place. The purse is $300,000, a mere fraction of the £1 million up for grabs at Aintree.
Last year’s winner was Jury Duty, ridden by Robbie Power, who famously rode the 33/1 outsider Silver Birch to victory at the 2007 Aintree race. The seven-year-old belongs to the yard of famous Irish trainer Gordon Elliott.
December: Welsh Grand National
The Welsh Grand National is run at Chepstow Racecourse between Christmas and New Year every winter. Chepstow has hosted the race since 1949, but prior to this, the Grade 3 race was staged at Ely Racecourse in Cardiff, as well as Caerleon – having been inaugurated in 1895.
As well as the change in venues, the time of year has also changed, with the Welsh Grand National originally raced on Easter Tuesday before being moved to February. It’s been staged in late December since 1979, with most editions taking place on December 27th – making it an informative guide for those wishing to take a punt on the Grand National or Cheltenham Gold Cup the following year.
The purse is lower at £150,000 and last year’s winner was Colin Tizzard’s Elegant Escape.
April: Irish Grand National
The Irish Grand National is run at County Meath’s famous Fairyhouse Racecourse. The event was established in 1870 and has always been run at Fairyhouse, held during the Easter Festival meeting. The Irish Grand National takes place on Easter Monday.
Again, the purse isn’t as substantial as its namesake, with a total of €500,000 to be won. However, winners of the Irish Grand National have gone on to win the Aintree race and vice-versa – but never in the same year. The race is open to horses aged five years and older, and is now run over three miles and five furlongs, with 24 fences to be jumped.
Last season's winner was six-year-old Burrows Saint, ridden by Ruby Walsh and trained by Willie Mullins. Despite being so successful at other meetings, it was Mullins’ first victory at the Irish Grand National, but his French-bred gelding was the favourite.
April: Scottish Grand National
Also held in April is the Scottish Grand National, raced at Ayr Racecourse during the two-day meeting. First known as the West of Scotland Grand National in 1858 when it was raced in Houston, Renfrewshire, it wasn’t until 1867 that it was inaugurated properly.
The race moved to Ayr in 1966 from its previous home at Bogside Racecourse, near Irvine. It was from this point that the Scottish Grand National was run over a distance of three miles, seven furlongs and 176 yards. During the race, there are 27 fences to be jumped. Like the Irish Grand National, many horses have won the Aintree race as well as its Scottish counterpart, including Red Rum, who successfully managed the feat in the same year.
Last season’s race saw only 13 of the 23 starters finish the race, with 25/1 outsider Takingrisks the victor.
There are plenty of other exciting races coming up at the end of the year, with the Cheltenham November Meeting at Cheltenham Racecourse signalling the start of the jumps season.