The Grand National: Tradition, stories and fashion

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  • The Grand National Steeplechase is one of the most iconic events in the horse racing calendar in the United Kingdom.

    The National is the highlight of a three-day meeting staged at Aintree, Liverpool, during April and it provides a stiff test of endurance for both horses and jockeys.

    The 4m 2f 74y handicap steeplechase attracts a huge betting turnover, with bookmakers estimating that over £250 million was wagered on the race in 2017.

    A crowd of over 70,000 at the course will be joined by more than 600m people watching on television around the world.

    First run in 1839, the race features 40 horses jumping 30 fences over two laps of the course. It is the most valuable jump race in Europe, with a prize fund of £1m on offer.

    Aintree is often described as ‘the ultimate test of horse and rider’ with fences like Becher’s Brook and The Chair etching their names in racing folklore.

    This year’s event is the 171st staging of the race, making it one of the longest standing traditions in the entire sporting calendar.

    Many people will have their only bet of the year on the Grand National, highlighting the importance of the race to the general public.

    Professional and novice punters will take advantage of Grand National Betting Offers 2018 online in the hope of cheering home this year’s winning horse.

    Part of the National’s appeal is its history of dramatic upsets. Perhaps the most famous is the 1967 race where a riderless horse named Popham Down veered across the leaders at the 23rd fence.

    It caused mayhem as horses careered into each other, leaving longshot Foinavon to romp home to an unexpected victory. The fence was subsequently renamed the Foinavon fence in 1984.

    One of the most heart-warming National stories was the 1981 race, which was turned into the movie ‘Champions’.

    Jockey Bob Champion and horse Aldaniti both made unlikely returns from serious illness and injury and stormed up the run-in to secure an emotional victory.

    Events like these, which are embedded in sporting folklore, are part of what makes the National such an important part of life in the UK.

    In addition to being a sporting institution, the National has also grown into one of the most important events in the social calendar in recent times.

    The first day, Grand National Thursday, is popularly known as the ‘Fox Hunters’ due to the feature race for amateur jockeys that is run over the Grand National course on that day.

    It attracts many of the leading point-to-point owners, trainers, riders and spectators, giving them the chance to sport their favourite tweed outfits form the top designers.

    The Friday of the Grand National meeting is Ladies’ Day. This day features‘The Style Awards’ and attracts fashionistas from across the country who battle to win some superb prizes.

    Spectators from every walk of life attend Grand National Saturday, wearing outfits ranging from tweed to designer dresses and everything in between.

    Many people are there as much for the occasion as for the race itself, demonstrating just how much the National is entrenched in UK culture.

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