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Grand National

England’s Grand National is one of the most well known Hunt race in the world. It is one of the most strenuous races, well known for some of the most challenging jumps. The Grand National is watched worldwide. In 2011 it is estimated that 600 million viewers cheered on the race. The 2012 Grand National is scheduled to run April 14th

History of the Grand National

The date of the first actual Grand National is a point of great debate. This race catapulted into fame after three big events. First, a clashing race was not renewed. Secondly, the completion of the railway allowed greater travel to to the area. Taking advantage of these changes, the third big change was a committee was organized to better publicize the event.

This was a great success, and the press coverage as well as the top quality of horses selected to race boosted attendance and many consider this race as the first official Grand National. There were a few races during World War I that were moved to an alternate location. These races are not considered official races and the outcomes are rarely listed with the winner’s lists.

About the Race

The Grand National is one of the most strenuous races in steeplechase racing. The track can be soft at times, which makes it that much more taxing on a horse’s endurance. As many as 40 horses will start the race, and few will complete it. The record for the fewest horses to finish the race is only 2 in 1928. The race is a grueling 4 miles and 4 furlongs, with 16 fences. 14 of these fences are jumped twice. This is a handicapped race for horses 6 years old and up. As popular as the Grand National is with race lovers, it is also popular with animal activists and animal rights groups. As with any strenuous race, injuries do occur. Unfortunately due to the nature of a jumps race, equine injuries can often be fatal. In 2011 there were two equine fatalities forcing a detour of the race to avoid further injuries before the course could be cleared.

The Field

No matter the protests that occur, the Grand National remains the most prestigious steeplechase in the world. Horses from around the world come here to race and to date Ireland holds the record for the most international Grand National winning horses. What began as a local steeplechase has evolved into a world famous 3 day racing festival not only watched around the world, but has even seen the Queen in attendance.

The Purse

Competing in the Grand National is an honor, actually completing the race is a mark of excellence in both horse and rider. But to win the Grand National also brings a very generous prize. The 2011 Grand National’s purse was an impressive £950,000, which is roughly $1.5 million USD. £535,135 of that purse is given to the first place winner. Second place receives £201,590, third place receives £100,890, fourth receives £50,445.