Last Saturday, April 5th 2014, the world watched as Pineau De Re beat both the odds and two of the highest-profile jockeys in the race to claim this year’s Grand National champion title. The race was particularly exciting for me to watch as my friend and neighbour, Leighton Aspell, rode Pineau De Re to victory.
I was elated to see Leighton win as I knew he truly deserved it – just the weekend before we’d been at a pony club event together with both our families, so what a contrast! Leighton rents a yard next to our West Sussex home and stables, and is often the first person I see each morning as we both go out to feed our horses.
Our children often play together, and they were extremely excited to see their friends on the television in the winner’s enclosure! The Dace’s really are thrilled for Leighton, and this isn’t the first time we’ve had a close connection to a Grand National winner either. In 2009, we watched as jockey Liam Treadwell won the National, riding Mon Mome to victory. My wife Louise worked with Liam when he was just starting out in his career, and he won his first ever race on a horse I trained.
So, what makes the Grand National so exciting for the estimated 500-600 million people who watch it each year? The most valuable jump race in Europe, people swarm in their thousands to see the race first hand, whilst many others watch from the comforts of home, in 150 countries to be exact! With this year’s prize fund totaling more than £1 million, it’s an incredibly popular event for betting too.
1. What is the Grand National?
- Firstly, for anyone who doesn’t know, the Grand National is a horse race held annually at Aintree Racecourse in Liverpool.
- The first official run was in 1839.
- Since then, it has gradually become the most valuable jump race in Europe.
2. Why is it so famous?
- The course is uniquely challenging. It features much larger fences than those found on other usual courses.
- These jumps are famous in their own right; those such as ‘The Chair’ are notorious for their difficulty.
- The course has 16 fences, the first 14 of which are jumped twice.
- This special course layout makes it extremely popular with betters and spectators – you never know what to expect!
3. This Year’s Race
Often called the ‘world’s greatest steeplechase,’ this year’s race was no different in terms of excitement and drama. It was the second Grand National to be criticised for its modified fences, with some calling them far too soft.
Unlike last year, when every runner cleared the first seven fences, Twirling Magnet, Burton Port and Big Shu tumbled at regular intervals during the initial fences. Fortunately all horses returned without serious injury, with a total of 18 completing the full course.
All in all, it was a hugely exhilarating event. The Grand National attracts punters and spectators alike because of the enormous excitement it generates – there’s nothing quite like the thrill of the race! It’s my ultimate dream to train a horse that wins the Grand National, and with Dr. Richard Newland, Pineau De Re’s trainer, being relatively new to horse training, having been a former GP, anything is possible! There have been several occasions when the underdog has won the race, so watch this space! Having secured several wins this year myself, who knows what the future will bring.
If you’re interested in my winning racehorse training facilities, feel free to contact us via the website to find out more.