Even people with little or no interest in horse racing will have heard of the Grand National, held every year at Aintree in Liverpool. This race is one of the most famous in the world, and attracts massive viewing figures on television. It also tempts many of us who never bet at other times in the year to take a chance with the hope of that 500/1 shot romping home in front and giving us a nice windfall.
The National was first run in 1836, although in a different location from the present course at Aintree. The first few races were low-key, but in 1839 the race began to attract much more attention from horse owners and the general public. The appeal of the race was the unpredictability and the high fences the horses had to jump over, the same factors which still makes it a highlight of the racing calendar today. The National has been run every year since, excluding the years during the First and Second World Wars, and 1997 when the race had to be postponed until the Monday due to a bomb threat.
The best known name in Grand National history is probably that of Red Rum, the horse who won three times in the 1970s. Other famous names from the past include Foinavon, the horse who completed the race alone after all the others fell, Mon Mome who came in at 100/1 in 2009, L’Escargot, Aldaniti and Devon Loch who took the race on the final straight run home. The beauty of the National is that the favorite is not a guaranteed winner, and this has been proven by the number of times a complete outsider has been at the winning post first.
Criticism and Welfare
Animal rights activists have often stated that they feel the Grand National is cruel, due to the number of injuries sustained by the horses each year. Trainers and owners reply to the criticism by stating that their horses are well cared for and given the best veterinary treatment which money can buy. Controls at the course are tight, with all horses being tested to ensure they are both healthy and drug free before racing. Many owners will give their animals equine herbal remedies to treat minor ailments, but these all have to be cleared with the authorities to make sure the horse does not fail the drugs test. Doping a horse to make it run faster or longer has long been an issue in racing, so to keep the sport’s clean image, even something as innocuous as an equine herbal remedy has to be declared.
Tips and Betting
Betting on the National is as much about chance as it is about knowledge. For every punter who spends hours analyzing the field, past performance, jockey’s history, whether the horse has been giving equine herbal remedies or other medication, trainer, owner and so on, there will be another who picks which horse to back based on their lucky number or a name which is in some way significant. Given the nature of the race, each method is probably equally effective.
The Equine Warehouse has a great selection of essential equine herbal remedies available.