The Grand National Horse Racing Event
01 April 2009
Unlike regular horseracing, where a better or fan is interested in things like the horse's speed, its power, and the statistics of the jockey, National Hunt racing is a different game entirely. Instead of a circular track that the horses sprint around, there are 30 obstacles in this horses' path that must be cleared.
Obstacles in horseracing have given European racing a huge advantage over American racing. Throughout the race with the many hurdles and fences, the endurance of the horse and the skill of the rider are put to the ultimate challenge.
Due to the mounting number of injuries - most of which are severe, including a number of deaths - The Grand National has become the UK's most controversial event. This controversy coming from a country that once used horses in jousting events; needless to say, the accident rate is high enough to cause alarm.
Another aspect of the Grand National that draws in the spectators is the laymen side. You don't have to know the first thing about racing to enjoy the sport. With typical racing, terms and figures confuse a lot who watch races like the Kentucky Derby - but with the Grand National, you only have to be a fan for the day. Since the new millennium, the race has been watched by over 600-million viewers a year. Since the early 1800s, the race has been a legend.
The exact origins of the Grand National are debatable. Some say that the first running took place in 1836 with The Duke winning that year, and again in 1837. However, these records are disregarded by others, citing that the races took place at another location, Maghull as opposed to Aintree, the race's home. Other historians disagree with that, claiming that recent evidence suggests that all races were run at Aintree. These theories have cancelled each other out, and to date, the accepted history puts the first Grand National at Aintree taking place in 1839, with a horse named Lottery crowned the victor.
Aintree was closed slightly during WW I, and an alternative race was run at Gatwick Racecourse. All winners from these three years have had their names taken out of the record books due to the fact that only Aintree is recognized as the Grand National's true course.
The race was dominated in the 1950s by Vincent O'Brien, who trained a winning horse for three consecutive years, although with different horses. The most famous horse to ever run at Aintree was Red Rum, who won the race three times, 1973, 75, 77, and placed second twice, 75 and 76. With the explosion of cable television, the race picked up a heavy following. Since the 1980s, the number of viewers watching the Grand National has increased every year.
Tags: grand national, aintree, the duke, maghull, gatwick racecourse, vincent o'brien, red rum, steeplechase,
Posted In: Horse Racing,
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