Where Does The Grand National Rank Amongst The Most Prestigious Events in Horse Racing?
By TOI Team May 10, 2023 Update on : May 10, 2023
As years have gone by and the popularity of horse racing continues to grow, the Grand National has become a true staple of the British sporting calendar. Up there with the likes of Wimbledon and a day at Lord’s for the cricket, the trip to Aintree is one of the most pulsating events in the year. A full-capacity crowd was back in attendance to witness Noble Yeats shock the horse betting odds and win year’s National despite his 50/1 underdog status, and that is the most fitting personification of why the race is so popular — it is unpredictable.
Indeed, the many fences that need navigating, some with an infamous reputation for causing sheer carnage, are among some of the factors to consider when picking your favourite for this year. At any moment things can go wrong and that’s why so many outsiders have won throughout the race’s long history, dating back as far as the 1800s.
The race is drenched in prestige and is rightfully one of the most anticipated events on the horse racing calendar, but where does it compare to some of the other big British race days? Read on, as we look at some of the most prestigious races throughout a year of both National Hunt racing and flats and compare them to the Grand National.
Cheltenham Gold Cup
The curtain raiser for the year is widely believed to be the Cheltenham Gold Cup. The highlight of a week’s action at Prestbury Park, this race attracts thousands to the final day at Gloucestershire, with a gruelling three-mile, two-and-a-half furlong stretch for a place in the history books, slightly shorter than the distance needed to secure victory at Aintree. Culminating with that famous slog up the hill in front of the adoring crowds, experiencing the ‘Cheltenham roar’ is certainly unique and over the years we’ve seen the likes of Willie Mullins, Paul Townend and Nicky Henderson establish themselves as true kings of the Cotswolds.
Onto the flat racing season and the Epsom Derby is one of the highlights of the summer. With shorts out and the sun shining, the race dates back to 1780 and while Aidan O’Brien has dominated recent proceedings, with victories in six of the last 10 races, the Group 1 occasion still has a degree of unpredictability considering there are no fences, with outsiders still picking up wins. Desert Crown was the most recent winner, beating 150/1 overachiever Hoo Ya Mal by just over two lengths, with the favourite going on to crush what would have been a magical fairy tale.
King George VI Chase A great way for many to enjoy the Festive period, the King George VI Chase is one of the toughest steeplechases of the year, taking place at Kempton Park most frequently on Boxing Day. The race is only open to horses four years and older so is a great way for the future talent of National Hunt racing to showcase their ability. Like the Grand National it has seen a range of winners over the years, most recently 28/1 Tornado Flyer who won as an outsider in 2021.Related more articles: Where Does The Grand National Rank Amongst The Most Prestigious Events in Horse Racing?