Grand National Day is the third and final day of the three-day meeting at Aintree, and gets its name from the most iconic horseracing event in the world: the Grand National. Of course, thousands of people flock to Aintree and millions will be watching at home anticipating the main event, but there are in fact six other races to be enjoyed throughout the day. The final day sees three Grade 1 races and three Grade 3 races; and concludes with a conditional jockeys’ and amateur riders’ race. Here, we will run through all of the races on the final day of Aintree’s Grand National.
Gaskells Handicap Hurdle
The final day kicks off with the Handicap Hurdle: a race inaugurated in 1985 and run by horses aged four years and above, over three miles and half a furlong. Trained by David Pipe, Mr Big Shot won the Hurdle last year – but over the years, many famous trainers have been successful including Jonjo O’Neill, Gordon Elliott and Nicky Henderson. Battle Group and Carlovent are the most successful horses in the race, both winning twice in three years.
Mersey Novices’ Hurdle
The Mersey Novices’ Hurdle is a Grade 1 race, open to horses aged four years or older and is run on the Mildmay course over a distance of two miles and four furlongs. The entries in the race often previously run in the Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham Festival and in 2016, Yorkhill won both races (and was the last horse to do so). Nicky Henderson’s exciting prospect Champ looks the favourite this year and he was runner-up at Cheltenham.
Maghull Novices’ Chase
Paul Nicholls is the leading trainer in the Maghull Novices’ Chase, with eight wins overall which include the last two (Diego Du Charmil in 2018 & San Benedeto in 2017). The race usually features horses that previously ran in the Arkle at Cheltenham and the last horse to win both events in the same calendar year was Douvan in 2016. The race is for novices over the age of five and is run over two miles on the Mildmay course.
Also known by its sponsor’s name, the Ryanair Stayers’ Hurdle, the Liverpool Hurdle is a Grade 1 race run over three miles and half a furlong. It was originally raced at Ascot, when it was inaugurated in 1974 and became established at Aintree in 2004. Horses that race in the Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham tend to race in the Liverpool Hurdle, and no entrant has been more successful than Big Buck’s. Jockey Ruby Walsh tasted victory with him in four consecutive races between 2009 and 2012.
The Handicap Chase was only made a Grade 3 race last year, but has been running since 1988. It’s open to horses aged five-years or older and is run over three miles and one furlong. Jonjo O’Neill is the leading trainer with four wins since 2000 and Irish-bred Thomas Patrick won last year’s race.
The Grand National is the penultimate race of the event and understandably is the one that punters flock to. First run in 1839, it’s a race over four miles and 514 yards. Consisting of two laps, there are 30 hurdles to be jumped, with 16 jumped on the first lap and 14 on the second. The most recent race was won by Tiger Roll and in terms of Grand National 2019 runners, he’s the favourite again followed by Rathvinden and Anibale Fly. However, it’s difficult to pick a winner as there are so many entries (usually 40) and typically, the favourite doesn’t win. In the 70 races of the post-war era, the favourite or joint-favourite has only won nine times and failed to complete the course in 37 Nationals.
Aintree Handicap Hurdle
The final race of the Grand National meeting is the Aintree Handicap Hurdle (also known as the Pinsent Masons Handicap Hurdle). It’s a race for conditional jockeys and amateur riders and is run over a distance of just over two miles. Havana Beat at 12/1 won last year’s Hurdle, but it’s often difficult to predict the winner – with a bumper field of entries.