Aintree Grand National Racecourse
Aintree, the home of the Grand National, is a racecourse based in Liverpool which was opened on 7th July 1829.
The first steeplechase race at the course took place in 1836, and it is regarded as one of the most difficult of all courses to complete, with well-known fences such as the Chair, Canal Turn and Becher’s Brook lying in wait.
This year will be the 172nd annual running of the Grand National, with famous horses such as Red Rum, Party Politics. L’Escargot and Don’t Push It just some of the previous winners to have overcome the toughest challenge in the sport.
Besides the water jump, all the fences on the national course are covered with spruce which is not used at any other racecourse in Britain and here we take a look at the Grand National fences which help make the famous race the great spectacle that it is today.
Aintree Grand National Fences
The Aintree Grand National takes place over a gruelling four and a half miles, with 30 jumps of various heights and difficulty.
The course actually only consists of 16 fences, with the first 14 jumped twice to make up the 30 jumps in the Grand National.
Here we run you through every single fence which makes up one of the most difficult horse races in the world.
At 4ft 6in high, fence one and 17 is one of the smallest on the course but can often claim the most victims with horses tending to run too keenly at the beginning of the race.
The second and 18th is an inch higher than the opening fence and was previously called The Fan after a mare refused to jump the obstacle for three successive years, however, the name was lost when the fences were relocated.
The first big test awaits, with the third and 19th fence standing at 4ft 10in high, and is preceded by a 6ft open ditch.
Along with Becher’s Brook the fourth and 20th fence is regarded as the hardest fence on the course to jump. In 2012 the fence was reduced by two inches following a fatality in the 2011 race.
Fence five and 21 is another plain fence, and has traditionally seen very few fallers in comparison to others.
The sixth and 22nd fence is renowned as the most famous fence in the world. It may seem like a regular fence on take off, but a steep drop on the landing side, coupled with a left hand turn on landing make it extremely tough.
The name of the fence comes from jockey Martin Becher, who took shelter in the brook after being unseated.
Fence seven and 23 is known as Foinavon after he was the only horse to get over the fence in 1967 following a mass pile-up. It’s the smallest fence on the course, but jockeys and horses can be deceived following the toughness of Becher’s Brook.
The Canal Turn
Another tough one, this fence is made of hawthorn stakes and gets its name from the canal in from of the horses when they land.
The difficulty arises from the horses having to turn 90 degrees on landing, unless they decide to leap over the fence diagonally, which can cause issues.
The ninth and 25th fence stands at 5ft high and 3ft3in wide and after initially being called the Second Brook, it was renamed after a horse called Valentine reportedly jumped it hind legs first back in 1840.
A thorn fence, the 10th and 26th fence is the second successive 5ft high fence which leads the runners alongside the canal towards the ditches.
A third 5ft high fence in a row greets the runners at the 11th and 27th, though this one proves to be tougher due to a 6ft wide ditch on the take-off side.
The 12th and 28th keeps up the tough run of similar fences, but in comparison to the previous fence, this has a 5ft6in ditch on the landing side.
The second last fence on the final circuit has been smoothed out since the 2013 race and stands at 4ft7in high.
Fence 14 and 30 precedes one of the most difficult fences – The Chair – but after jumping this on the second circuit it’s a 494 -yard run for home.
One of the most notoriously difficult fences on the whole course, The Chair stands at 5ft2in high, and is preceded by the third open 6ft ditch.
A narrow approach makes it even tougher, and in addition to that, has a higher ground level when landing than when the horse has taken off.
Fence 16 is the last of the first circuit and while it only stands at 2ft6in tall, it requires a huge leap to clear the 12ft6in expanse of water beyond.
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