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7 things to know about the Grand National

7 things to know about the Grand National


As one of horse racing’s biggest races gets ready to start live on ITV, here’s your essential guide to the action

By Virgin TV Edit

Whether you follow horse racing or not, the Grand National is one of those few sporting events that can stop the whole country in its tracks.


After last year’s race was cancelled due to the pandemic, normal service will be resumed on ITV HD from Thursday 8 April with the Randox Health Grand National Festival at Aintree. The main race? That’ll take place on Saturday 10 April.


With the jewel in horse racing’s crown ready to return in all its glory, here’s what you need to know before the action gets under way…


1. The favourite is Cloth Cap

Cloth Cap in the Grand National

With two-time winner Tiger Roll not competing this year, Cloth Cap has been installed as the favourite to cross the finish line first. Should the nine-year-old come out victorious at Aintree, it would be a record fourth Grand National triumph for owner Trevor Hemmings.


2. The favourite doesn’t always win

Why wouldn’t you back the favourite? After all, a horse has short odds for a reason, right? Because just six of the last 27 Grand Nationals have been won by the favourite.


3. Last year was a virtual race

With the 2020 race cancelled due to the pandemic, organisers staged a virtual Grand National thanks to a bit of tech wizardry. How did they manage it? By using CGI technology and algorithms based on the 40 horses most likely to take part. Potters Corner won the race, which you can watch in the video above.


4. Debutants have a knack of winning

Beginner’s luck has been a feature throughout the history of the Grand National, with a host of jockeys coming out victorious on their first attempt. Recent debutants who have triumphed include Ryan Mania (2013), Liam Treadwell (2009), Niall Madden (2006), and Ruby Walsh (2000).


5. The course is a proper test

Aintree’s National Course is a biggie. Measuring four miles and four furlongs, it’s considered one of the toughest tracks in the business. Plus, with 16 fences and a long home straight, courage, skill and stamina are all needed to master it.


6. Red Rum is still the king

Red Rum in the Grand National

When it comes to the most successful Grand National runners of all time, one horse towers above the competition: Red Rum. With an unparalleled trio of triumphs in 1973, 1974 and 1977, it’s often forgotten that this most magnificent of Thoroughbreds also finished second in 1975 and 1976.


7. Experience counts

Horses aged between eight and 11 have won the last 11 Grand Nationals. Eight-year-old horses have fared particularly well at Aintree, with victories in three of the previous five races. Thinking of backing a seven-year-old horse? Don’t. It’s been more than 75 years since one crossed the finish line first.


When is the 2021 Randox Health Grand National Festival on TV?

Coverage of this year’s three-day event starts at 1pm on Thursday 8 April on ITV HD (CH 103/113). Coverage of the main race starts at 1pm on Saturday 10 April on ITV HD (CH 103/113).

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