Grand National A-Z Terminology

Here’s a guide to the Grand National terms, from A – Z. Have we missed any out?

Anticipation : The sound, the smell, the feel of a Grand National is perfectly complemented by the sense of anticipation as forty of the finest steeplechasers edge closer to the tapes as the start time of the Grand National draws ever closer.

Bechers Brook The sixth fence, also jumped as the twenty-second. Named after Captain Becher, who was unseated from leader Conrad at the big ditch and crawled into the brook for safety.

Canal Turn The only fence on the British circuit which requires a horse to jump and make a 90 degree turn at the same time. One of the most well known fences and a true test of a horse’s jumping.

Dreams For most, the possibility of a Grand National victory has been but a dream for many a year. For one day a year, that dream is achievable. Every hope and dream leads towards the Grand National at Aintree

Each Way The betting term which sees a punter place a double bet – part to win, part to place. An each way bet sees a return for the punter even if the horse doesn’t win. Multiple bookmakers offer enticing place odds for the Grand National as high as paying the first six places home.

Foinavon The riderless Popham Down caused chaos at the 23rd fence, renamed the ‘Foinavon’ fence after the 1967 renewal, bringing almost the whole field to a standstill, except Foinavon, who was so far back his jockey had time to go round the standstill and jump the fence clear.

Grey A regular method of selection for the once-a-year punter, the selection of a grey horse or two in the hope that a grey will become victorious. Neptune Collonges, the winner in 2012, was the highest rated grey horse to win the race.

Handicap The greatest handicap in the calendar, the Grand National aims to put all of the entrants on a level playing field, providing the top rated horse with a greater weight to carry, compared to the lighter weight carried by the lowest rated.

Irish The influx of Irish horses upon Aintree during the Grand National is high, none more so than in the race itself. This year, 14 Irish horses bid for victory in the Grand National.

Jockeys 40 jockeys bid for racing immortality with victory in the feature National Hunt race, the Grand National.

Key Trials The Beecher Chase and Topham Chase prove ready form lines and guidance to future Grand National winners and provide a key test to the credentials of each aspiring horse.

Lady Katie Walsh will bid to be the first female jockey to win the Grand National since 1977. She is the fifteenth to attempt the feat since history was made in 1977.

McCoy England’s Champion Jockey of seventeen years has won the Grand National just once, on Don’t Push It in 2010. McCoy lives and breaths the sport and thrives on racing. Further Grand National glory is a must for Northern Ireland’s finest export.

Newcomers Year upon year, new horses, jockeys and trainers try to gain that elusive Grand National victory. Many fail, many succeed – the buzz of the Grand National keeps newcomers trying to break that duck.

Old Roan The first place at which the buzz can be felt before entering the Aintree Racecourse.

Pitman The only woman to train the winner of the Grand National, she saddled Corbiere to victory in 1983 and Royal Athlete in 1995. Son Mark trained Smarty, who finished second to Red Marauder in 2001.

Queen Mother Roof The best view possible looking over the vast Aintree complex with the elbow and finishing line right in the centre of view.

Red Rum No other horse comes close in Grand National folklore. A winner of three Grand Nationals, Red Rum is buried at the finishing line.

Spectacle A crowd of around 70,000 racegoers will be expected to flock to Aintree on Grand National day, while the estimated worldwide audience is 600 million, with the race being distributed to 140 countries.

Topham Traditionally the feature race on the Friday of the Grand National meeting, the Topham Chase provides a ready trial for future Grand National entrants. The surname of lease-holding family of Aintree until its sale in 1973.

Unique There are few races in the world that hold the unique aspect that the Grand National provides. Despite recent changes to the challenging aspects of the race, the Grand National remains one of a kind.

Victory Only one horse can reign supreme and be heralded as the Grand National winner for the twelve months following. Few return to defend their titles successfully.

Walsh An ever-present factor which can decide the outcome of many a Grand National. Ted (Father), Katie (Daughter) and Ruby (Son) form the upper area of the betting markets again this year and cannot be ignored.


Youth At 17, Bruce Hobbs is the youngest winner of the Grand National on board Battleship (1938) but Ruby Walsh’s first attempt at the race at the tender age of 20 saw him reign supreme (Papillon 2000)

Zzzzz ….and all was quiet on Grand National eve….

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