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Why is the Grand National so popular?

The Grand National captures the attention of almost everyone in the UK on the second Saturday of April every year. It’s an event steeped in tradition and almost everyone, including your Nan, will have a little bet on the action.

Horse racing occurs almost every day in the UK, but what makes the Grand National so special? Here we break down all the elements that make the Grand National the best race of the year.


The Grand National has a rich history that dates back to 1839 when the first official race took place at Aintree Racecourse. Lottery etched his name in the history of the race by becoming the first winner with a winning time of 14m 53.0s. Since then the race has been run every year apart from breaks of two and four years for the First and Second World Wars respectively.

The race in 1993 was called void, while the event in 2020 was cancelled. In the 183-year history of the Grand National there have only been nine repeat winners of the race, while Red Rum is the only competitor to win the event three times. So, if you’re placing a horse racing bet on the National, it’s best to avoid the horse that won the previous year as there are not many who can raise their game in successive years.


One of the top reasons why British people love the Grand National is that it brings out the best in the underdogs. You don’t have to be the best horse in the field to win the Grand National. There are numerous examples of horses that have come out of nowhere to win the race. Foinavon is arguably the most famous underdog and even has a fence name after him following his win in 1967.

He didn’t even have a jockey the night before the race and was a 100/1 outsider for the contest. However, where others failed to leap over the 23rd fence at the first attempt, Foinavon cleared the obstacle and ran away to claim the win. Mon Mome is another famous underdog that defied the bookies to win as a 100/1 shout in 2009. The National is the great equalizer, where being the favourite means very little over the course of the four miles of the race.


The best news about the National is that you don’t have to be a horse racing expert to watch the event. People can pick their horse out of sentiment based on the name or the colours of the jockey. There’s no need to study the form guide endlessly unless you want to. You can just sit back and watch the race unfold.

It’s appointment viewing in the UK with the race broadcast on ITV at 5:15 pm, meaning there’s plenty of time to gather around the television to watch. No one knows who will win the race, which makes it all the more enjoyable. Everyone can watch, maybe through their hands, to see if their chosen horse crosses the line first. It’s all part of the fun of race day.


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