The History of The Grand National: The Most Famous Race In The World


The history of the Grand National is one of the most colourful tapestries in the horse racing world. It’s a captivating jump race, held over 2 and a half furlongs (circa 4 miles), with historical ties dating back to the 1800s. The Grand Liverpool Steeple Chase was first held in 1839 and over time became known as the Grand National.

The race, which is run at Aintree Racecourse each year, has seen incredible achievements from horses such as Red Rum. Red Rum was the first horse to ever win the Grand National on three separate occasions. But 2021 is going to be one for the record books if Tiger Roll can win the third consecutive Grand National on the trot and become the first horse to win three races back-to-back. All eyes will be on Aintree in April!

The race is so unpredictable and that’s part of why it captures the heart of the nation and is the subject of many workplace and family sweepstakes year in, year out! The first winner in 1839 was aptly called Lottery, at 5/1, but just over ten years ago, Mon Mome shocked the racing world and stormed home to take the first place at 100/1. But perhaps one of the most incredible betting wins in history was in 1866 when Edward Stuff bet £1,000 on Salamander at 40/1, which would have netted him almost £3million in today’s money.

In 2019, nearly ten million viewers tuned in to watch the race unfold. But in 2020, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the race was cancelled. There is no word yet on whether 2021 will suffer the same fate. Avid Grand National fans were still able to get their fix when ITV broadcasted the Virtual Grand National. Established in 2017, the virtual race is a simulated event with all of the runners due to take part in the real race transformed into an animated version of themselves. Betting giants, Tote, explain how the race is played out:

“The result is determined solely by a random number generator (RNG), like a bingo draw. Each horse has been allocated a guide price. The probability of each horse winning is weighted according to its guide price. The higher the guide price the lower the weighting in the RNG and therefore the less chance it has of being selected as the winner.

With all the information fed into the machine, the computer will then run the race to crown the winner of the 2020 Virtual Grand National.”

The simulation has produced some very promising results since its inception, with the first virtual race winner, Cause of Causes in 2017, going on to take second in the actual race and then predicting the perfect result in 2018, which saw Tiger Roll take first place in both the virtual and real race. 2019 was a little off course, with the simulator unsuccessfully predicting Tiger Roll’s second consecutive win but did manage to predict three out of the first five horses past the finish line. The 2020 race had the added bonus of all profits that Tote received on the race donated to NHS charities.

We’re eagerly awaiting any announcements from Aintree Racecourse regarding the state of play for 2021 and we’ll update you as soon as we hear more on our social media channels. Tickets are currently unavailable for the three-day event but booking for hospitality is open. So if you are heading to Aintree for the 2021 Grand National and want to arrive in style then charter a private helicopter with Atlas Helicopters. Our operations team can take care of your transport, tickets and hospitality allowing you to concentrate on the more important details and deciding where to place your bets! Contact the team today or find out more about The Grand National here.

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