Aintree Racecourse – Home of the Grand National

Aintree has become one of the most famous courses in the world.  It is recognised by horse riding enthusiasts around the world. The reason for this is that it has been the home of the Grand National since its inauguration in 1939. Over the years, the course has become an integral part of the Grand National. The steeplechase actually began in 1936 at Maghull Racecourse in Liverpool.  However, these first three years were discounted as they weren’t held at Aintree.

The course is thought of as the most difficult track to complete in the world, making for such an impressive show.  The racetrack is made up of various obstacles including brush, fences and water ditches.

Redesigned Fences – Following pressure from animal rights activities, the cores of the fences were altered.  New plastic flexible structures are now being used instead of the rigid wooden cores, with the aim of reducing injury to jockeys and horses alike.

Infamous Fences – The 16 fences at Aintree are some of the most challenging in the world, and often play a crucial role in determining the outcome of the race

Becher’s Brook – Thought of as the world’s most dangerous hurdle, this fence has been the cause of countless melees throughout Grand National history, bringing down as many as 9 horses in one race).  It name comes from jockey Martin Becher, who sheltered in the brook to avoid getting trampled after getting thrown from his horse.  The landing side is significantly lower than the front side, making it particularly hard for horses to anticipate.

Foinavon – This fence was named after Foinavon and jockey John Buckingham famously were the only pair to finish the race in 1967.  The victory was particularly notable as Foinavon was a rank outsider at 100/1.  It is far from the hardest jump at Aintree, but the fact that it’s after Becher’s Brook is the reason why it causes so many problems.  In Foinavon’s victorious performance, all remaining horses went down in a mass melee, allowing him to gallop to victory unchallenged.

The Canal Turn – The challenging jump is one of two fences jumped twice in the Grand National.  It’s the eighth fence and takes its name due to the fact that horses must make an almost 90 degree turn upon landing.  Making it harder is the fact that it’s one of the highest jumps, at five feet high.

The Chair – This is the penultimate jump and is one of the hardest on the track, at a height of six feet.  The fact that the horses have already run over four miles by this point makes it such a decisive obstacle.

The Water Jump – This jump makes it’s first and last appearance as the last of the race.  Although a relatively low jump, at a height of 3 foot 2, the aquatic expanse following the jump adds a degree of difficulty.  From the moment the horses leave the ground, they must clear a four metre stretch before landing.