The most famous jump race in the world is the Grand National at the picturesque Jockey-Club affiliated Aintree Racecourse in Liverpool, England.  The race has been held annually since 1839 and the 2018 renewal is scheduled for April 14, which concludes a three-day race meet with a card of seven races each day.  The Grand National has a purse of £1 million with £561,300 going to the winner.  In keeping with its aura of prestige, the event has a portfolio of sponsors like Bentley.

The Grand National is run at a distance of 4 miles and 514 yards and over 30 fences.  In every one of the 21 Grand National betting events, bettors have to search for horses that are in peak condition to stay the course and contend.  Trainers try to exploit their horses speed and build stamina through a combination of actual works and long and leisurely gallops over trails.

As with racehorses on the flat, chasers only have so many runs in them at peak levels before they begin to taper off.  And the Grand National races are so esteemed that trainers do everything they can to have their charges at the top of their games.

Bettors should initially satisfy themselves that leading up to a Grand National race, an entry has shown improvement in form in its two or three most recent races.  Clues to a horse’s fitness can also sometimes be picked up by watching the animal in the paddock or during the warmup.

Once the current form question has been answered with a yes, the next issue is about the horse’s class.  The fittest of horses is unlikely to be competitive if it is placed in a race with others who have consistently raced in much higher-level races (class and form are the subject of yesterday’s article “Class and Form at Cheltenham.”)  It is asking a lot for a horse that has been racing in nondescript races to abruptly move up and compete against proven Group I or Grade I winners.

In the Grand National especially, absolutely no win can be counted on until the horse in front has passed the finish line.  In the 1956 race, the famous mystery writer and then-jockey Dick Francis had cleared the final hurdle in front with Devon Loch, owned by the Queen Mother.  The horse proceeded to do a belly flop and defeat was snatched from the jaws of victory.

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