In the equestrian world, many events stand out from the rest. There’s the Kentucky Derby, the Badminton Horse Trials, the Hickstead Derby, and the Cheltenham Festival. All are significant events, but when it comes to a test of a horse’s endurance, the Grand National in the UK comes top.
Over Four Miles to Travel
Events take place over a variety of distances. Five-furlong races and show jumping or cross country events have a distinct emphasis on speed. The clock is ticking, and the fastest (and those able to jump) are the ones that will be the prize winners.
It takes a magnificent horse to win the Grand National and one that can both jump and run over long distances. The race is held over a distance of four miles and three and a half furlongs. Over that marathon distance, 30 fences must be jumped.
To win this race, you don’t just have to be a good jumper, but you also must be alert. Unlike in other equestrian events, there can be 39 other horses taking part. You must be vigilant and do your best to avoid the other runners, particularly those that fall.
A Long History
The Grand National has a long history dating back to 1839 when Lottery won the first-ever race. A lottery may be about picking numbers and hoping luck is on your side. A lot more is needed to win the Grand National.
To prove just how difficult it is to win this race, this fact must be considered: since 1843, only five horses have been able to win back-to-back races. The most famous of those was Red Rum, who won the race three times in all, the only horse ever to do so.
The Great Red Rum
He won the race in 1973,1974 and 1976. No one can forget the way he closed a massive gap on the leader Crisp in 1973 to win his first Grand National. To show a turn of speed to overtake the leader having already run four miles was a fantastic achievement.
The Grand National is a handicap race, and that again shows how tough a race this is to win. In 1974, Red Rum returned to Aintree and won again. It was a fantastic achievement because he had 12 stones to carry in that race.
Back in 1899, Manifesto was the winner and carried 12 stone 7 pounds around the Aintree track. Tough fences, nearly four and a half miles and all that weight to carry, what a performance! Of the horses that finished the race, only one of them wasn’t receiving at least two stone in weight on the winner.
Tiger Roll Bidding to make History
This year could see history made as Tiger Roll bids to win a third successive Grand National. No horse has managed to achieve that feat, but a check of the winning odds at Aintree shows that he is again the 6/1 favorite to win the race.
Now, this is an exciting horse for sure. Not only has he had great success at Aintree, but also at Cheltenham. Tiger Roll hasn’t just won over this marathon distance but also in a race that will interest followers of cross country.
Recent years have seen the introduction of cross-country races with a mixture of different kinds of fences to be jumped. They have proved popular, and Tiger Roll has won the race twice at Cheltenham and finished second this year.
If he is to win a third straight Grand National, he will have to carry his heaviest weight yet. In 2018, he won the race carrying 10 stone 13 pounds. His weight was up to 11 stone 5 pounds last year and is 11 stone 10 pounds. That’s two pounds more than Red Rum had to carry when he won his third Grand National in 1977.
Battling Through the Mud
It’s a long way to travel, but there are other reasons why it is such a test of endurance. The state of the ground plays a big part in this race. Imagine how difficult it is to take part in a showjumping or cross-country event when there has been heavy rain. Now imagine what it is going to be like going over four miles on the soft or heavy ground with a heavy weight on the horse’s back.
The Grand National is one of those races that non-regular gamblers will bet on. It’s also one of the toughest races to win, and again, the nation will be glued to their television screens on April 4 for the ultimate test of endurance.