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Three Differences Between The American Grand National and English Counterpart

The Grand National at New Jersey venue Far Hills takes its name from another race in the UK at Aintree near Liverpool in England.

Did you know the October jumps feature stateside is very different to the original Grand National?

We've highlighted three major ways in which the two events aren't the same, below.


Distance

While the American Grand National is one of the longest races taking place under rules in the USA, the approximate two-and-half miles distance is nowhere near as far as the English event at Aintree.

 

HORSES running in the UK Grand National really do have their stamina tested to breaking point.

Two circuits of the Aintree course is around four-and-a-quarter miles.

Very few thoroughbred racehorses have the endurance to get through such a marathon trip.

It's common for between two-thirds and three-quarters of the 40-runner field at Aintree not to finish but there are other reasons for that besides the distance.

Obstacles

The US Grand National is a hurdles race but, in England, the race is a proper steeplechase with special spruce covered fences. Many of these obstacles are larger and wider than regulation fences you would get in a normal chase throughout the British Isles.

Some of those Aintree fences have histories of their own.

The Canal Turn, which horses must take at an angle, was the scene of infamous pile-ups in 1928 and 2001, while The Chair is the tallest fence on the Grand National course.

Becher's Brook used to have a small stream of water running through it originally and even small fences have passed into Aintree folklore like Foinavon.

The reason for the special obstacles can be traced back to the Grand National's history as a cross country race.

Other Cross Country style event races are run at Cheltenham racecourse, including their own four-day Festival held annually in March, and over in Ireland at Punchestown.

Race terms

One of the major reasons why Grand National 2019 odds are so wide open compared to its American counterpart because it is run under very different terms.

While the US event is a stakes race off level weights, the English equivalent is a handicap race.

Special weights are published by the British Horseracing Authority for the Grand National. The highest rated horse carries the most and the weight allotted to the others reflects the difference in official figures between that animal and the mark of others.

For example, if a horse has a rating that is five below the top weight, then it will carry 5lb less. One point difference equals a pound in weight.

Another important race term to note is that the American Grand National allows horses aged four and up to run in it. To get in at Aintree, a horse must be a minimum age of seven.

This reflects the vast difference in distance between the two races and the fact that horses younger than the specified age are unlikely to make the trip.

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