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What makes the Grand National such a special sporting occasion?

Some sporting events have a unique ability to bring the British public together, and the Grand National is one such occasion. Whether you’re a fan of horse racing or not, chances are you’ve gathered around the TV with your friends or family to watch the biggest race of the year.

The Grand National offers top drawer sporting entertainment for those who are avid racing enthusiasts, and for those who just like a little flutter on the event each year.

Grand National Sports
Grand National Sports

The 2020 Aintree showpiece is fast approaching, and once again thousands will be flocking to Merseyside to take in the race in person, while millions more will be tuning in on TV and radio across the UK and around the world. Everyone will be casting their eyes over the Aintree betting odds to decide who to take a punt on this year.

But what is it that makes the Grand National such a beloved sporting occasion? Let’s take a look at a few reasons why the famous old race has captured the imagination of viewers and spectators for so many years.

The history

The Grand National is a race steeped in history and tradition. The first official running of the race was in 1839, and since then it has grown in popularity and forged a unique place in the hearts of the British sporting public. The inaugural winner was Lottery, and in the time since there have been scores of different winners.

The Grand National is a yearly tradition for many sports fans, and it has graced the radio airwaves and television screens for decades. People take pride in picking who they think will win and having a punt on their chosen horse, making the Grand National an exciting occasion, even for those who don’t count sport as a major interest.

The excitement

It’s the nature of the race itself that makes the Grand National so enthralling. Run over four miles and two-and-a-half furlongs, the race is the ultimate test of endurance for horses and jockeys alike. To win the Grand National requires horses to be at peak levels of stamina and fitness, and to overcome a pack of 40 other challengers desperate for that winning feeling.

But it’s not only the length of the race that gives the Grand National its thrilling nature. The race features some of the most gruelling fences in horse racing, including the notorious Becher’s Brook, where the landing side is six to ten inches lower than the take-off side, meaning many horses get caught off guard by the slight drop.

The famous faces

Another appealing aspect of the Grand National is that it brings together all the sport’s top trainers and jockeys for the sport’s biggest showpiece event. These include the likes of Willie Mullins, Paul Nicholls and, of course, Gordon Elliott, who has saddled the winner of the last two Grand Nationals, Tiger Roll.

It’s a dream shared by all jockeys to win the historic event, and past winners include famous names like Ruby Walsh, Tony McCoy and Leighton Aspell. The jockey with the most Grand National rides is Richard Johnson, who has won the Champion Jockey title four years running, although victory in the Grand National continues to allude him after 21 attempts. Perhaps 2020 will be the year he breaks his duck.

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