Grand National 2024 explained: Date, time, when the horses will be announced

Conflated will carry the heaviest weight after the latest series of scratches – Getty Images / Seb Daly

With the Cheltenham Festival in the rear-view mirror, attention can now turn to Aintree and the 176th running of the Randox Grand National.

A total of 22 horses have been withdrawn from the race – including the controversial Monbeg Genius – after the final scratch round, leaving 58 horses in the race. Check out our comprehensive guide for runners and riders for all the details.

The next scratch round will take place during the five-day confirmation phase on Monday, April 8.

Irish-trained King George winner Hewick was due to carry the top weight but has been officially removed from the entries today. Last year’s winner Corach Rambler has seen his chances sink after running a great race to finish third in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

When is the Aintree Grand National?

The Grand National is the culmination of Aintree’s three-day Grand National Festival, which this year runs from Thursday 11 April to Saturday 13 April.

The main event, the Grand National itself, is on Saturday afternoon.

What time does the 2024 Grand National start?

The runners will be sent out on Saturday, April 13 at 4 p.m.

The start time has been brought forward to 5.15pm, following the controversial 2023 edition of the race, to increase the chance of good ground. The Jockey Club said the new start time was part of “an ongoing focus on equine welfare”.

Where will the 2024 Grand National be held?

The race takes place at Aintree Racecourse, on the outskirts of Liverpool. Since the first edition in 1839, the race has never been officially held anywhere else.

Are Grand National tickets available?

Tickets for each day of the festival can be purchased via the Jockey Club website. For the day of the Grand National, prices start at £45 for adults at The Embankment. Many other enclosures have already sold out. The most expensive hospitality package on sale costs £1,225. Parking costs an additional £35, or £60 if you wish to park within walking distance of the track.

How many horses are in the Grand National?

For 2024, the total number of horses in the Grand National has been reduced from 40 to 34, to improve the safety of the race. The highest number of runners was 66 in 1929. The race also had only 10 horses in 1883.

When will the horses be announced?

The final 34 horses will be confirmed on Thursday April 11 – 48 hours before the race. If a horse is withdrawn after these 48-hour notifications, this horse will not be replaced since last year.

The first entries for the race had to be made by February 6, with the BHA publishing the weights two weeks later on February 20 (see below). The five-day declarations take place on the Monday before the race, at which point the field is reduced to 50.

Only a certain number of horses meet the criteria to participate in the Grand National. Among the qualifications they must:

  • have an official rating (OR) of 130 or more (in 2023 horses only need to have a rating of 125)

  • be 7 years or older,

  • have completed three or more tower hunts,

  • have completed one steep hunt in the current season,

  • have finished between 1st and 4th in a steep chase over 2 miles and 7½ furlongs or further.

What is the race distance?

Traditionally the Grand National is described as a 4½ mile race. However, the official distance is four miles, two furlongs and 74 yards (4m 2f 74y). This distance is measured at two meters inside the inner rail.

The Grand National is the longest show jumping race held in Great Britain.

How long is the Grand National?

About nine minutes. The record for the course is 8 minutes 47.8 seconds and was held by Mr Frisk in 1990. The jockey of the day, Marcus Armytage, is now Telegraph Sport’s racing correspondent.

How many fences are there in the Grand National?

There are 16 individual obstacles in the race, 14 of which are jumped twice. That makes a total of 30 jumps.

The fences are made from Sitka spruce or Norway spruce, which is transported to Aintree from the Lake District by fleet of trucks. Installing all the fences takes approximately three weeks.

  • Fence 1&17 – 4ft 6in high, 2ft 9in wide

  • Fence 2&18 – 4ft 17in high, 3ft 6in wide

  • Fence 3&19 – Open ditch

  • Fence 4&20 – 5ft high, 10ft 6in wide (including 7ft ditch on the start side)

  • Fence 5&21 – 5ft high, 3ft 6in wide

  • Fence 6&22Becher’s Brook – 4 feet high, 7 feet 6 wide

  • Fence 7&23Foinavon – 1.20 meters high, 3 meters wide

  • Fence 8&24Canal bend – 1.80 meters high, 2.20 meters wide

  • Fence 9&25Valentine’s Brook – 6 feet high, 7 feet wide

  • Fence 10&26 – 5ft high, 3ft wide

  • Fence 11&27 – 4ft 10in high, 9ft wide (including 6ft ditch on landing side)

  • Fence 12&28 – 5ft high, 8ft 6in wide (including 5ft 6in on landing side)

  • Fence 13&29 – 4ft 7in high, 3ft wide

  • Fence 14&30 – 4ft 6in high, 3ft wide

  • Fence 15The Chair – 1.80 meters high, 9 meters wide (including 1.80 meter long ditch on the starting side)

  • Fence 16Water jump – 2ft 6in high

The most famous gates of the Grand National

The Aintree fences are not as dangerous as they once were. However, they are still the most notorious obstacles in the industry.

The chair (fence 15): The chair is the highest fence on the track and now stands at a height of one and a half meters and five centimeters.

Becher’s Brook (fence 6 and 22): The sixth and 22nd obstacles in the race may not be the biggest, but the difficulty comes from the fact that the landing side is 10 inches lower than the take-off side. Named after Captain Martin Becher, a jockey who fell at this stage of the first race of the race in 1839 and hid in the stream to avoid injury.

Valentijnsbeek (fence 9 & 25): Named after a horse that is said to have jumped it backwards in 1840. More likely, the horse spun in the air to create the optical illusion that its hind legs landed first.

Foinavon (fence 7 and 23): One of the smaller fences is named after the 100/1 player who avoided a disastrous pile-up here in 1967 and went on to win.

Canal bend (fence 8&24): As the name suggests, horses must take a sharp left turn after jumping over this five-foot obstacle. Another Aintree myth is that used horses that refused to turn ended up in the Liverpool and Leeds Canal.

Large national prize money

The total prize money for the Grand National is £1 million. In 2023, the prize money was awarded to the first ten horses to pass the post as follows.

  1. £516,000

  2. £211,100

  3. £105,500

  4. £52,700

  5. £26,500

  6. £13,200

  7. £6,800

  8. £3,600

  9. £2,000

  10. £1,000

How does the handicap system work?

The idea of ​​the handicapping process is that horses with less imagination can compete with the best hunters. To achieve this, the best rated horses are asked to carry extra weight. The exact amount of weight is determined by a handicapper appointed by the British Horseracing Authority.

The least a horse is allowed to carry (including the jockey) is 10st 2lb. The horse with the highest weight in the race will carry 11st 12lb, with any other handicap weight based on that weight calculated based on each horse’s rating. Last year’s winner, Corach Rambler, carried just 10st 5lb.

In 2015, Many Clouds won at 11st 9oz, the heaviest weight carried by a winner in recent history. The last horse to win at the highest weight was Red Rum in 1973, when the top handicap was set at 12th.

What are the changes to this year’s Grand National?

Significant changes have been made to the Grand National for 2024. The changes were made after animal rights protesters ambushed the 2023 event, causing a 15-minute delay. However, the Jockey Club insists the changes did not come as a direct response to those protests.

The most important changes are as follows:

  • The field has been reduced from 40 horses to a maximum of 34 horses. There is evidence that there is a link between the size of a field and the risk of horses falling.

  • The first fence has been moved 60 meters forward, towards the starting line, to reduce the speed at which the horses reach it.

  • The start will now be a standing start at the tape, instead of the traditional rolling start. This change is also intended to reduce the speed at which horses arrive at the first obstacle.

  • Each horse must have an official rating of at least 130 (instead of 125) and will be checked for jumping faults before being admitted.

  • Fence 11 has been reduced in height by five centimeters and the height on the landing side will be reduced.

  • Horses are no longer led onto the course by a handler before the race, but are released to gallop in front of the stands.

  • The start time has been moved from 5:15 PM to 4:00 PM.

Withdrawal of Monbeg’s genius spares controversy

A potentially controversial outcome of the 176th Randox Grand National has been avoided after the hunter Monbeg Genius, owned by Michele Mone and Doug Barrowman, was among 17 horses scratched on March 26.

Installed as one of the favorites when the weights were announced, Monbeg Genius’ form of late – well beaten at Kelson, retired at Cheltenham – suggested his chances were slimming anyway. However, the prospect remained that show jumping racing’s most famous race would be won by a horse owned by the couple embroiled in the PPE Medpro controversy currently under investigation.

PPE Medpro has been subject to media scrutiny and a National Crime Agency investigation after winning a £200m contract from the government to supply medical equipment during the Covid-19 pandemic. The government is trying to recover £122 million because some of the equipment was substandard. Although Baroness Mone, a Conservative peer, has resigned from the House of Lords, she and her husband deny any wrongdoing.

With topweight Hewick, who cost £800, also defecting to the Bowl at Aintree as expected, weights will rise by 3lb across the board, with Conflated as the new topweight.

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