The Grand National is back after a one-year hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic. It is the best known steeplechase in the world in which 40 runners tackle the daunting obstacles of Aintree's 30 Grand National fences over the course of four and a half miles.
When is Aintree's Grand National 2021?
The National is the highlight of Aintree's Grand National meeting which this year runs from Thursday April 8 to Saturday April 10. The main event will be on Saturday as things stand.
However, as our racing correspondent Marcus Armytage reports, that date could be put back in the light of the Government announcing its four-stage plan to move out of lockdown:
A proposal from bookmakers to put this year’s race back a few days or a week later to capitalise on the re-opening on non-essential shops which would include high street bookies on the following Monday, is being considered.Chief executive of the Betting and Gaming Board, Michael Dugher, confirmed bookmakers were right behind the idea and said that the industry was willing to do ‘all it could to iron out any difficulties.’ He added: “Ensuring that the once-a-year punters are able to pop in to their local bookies to have a flutter, supporting their local high street, on the world’s most famous horse race would also help make the Grand National a truly national celebration as we begin to reopen the economy.“And it would ensure that we engage as many people as possible in this great British event, showcasing the fabulous sport of racing. This would also provide a much-needed and timely boost for racing and the high street after such a torrid year for both.”The idea, which would be worth between £1m - £2m – depending on the outcome of the race - to the racing industry in Levy appeared to be gathering pace and is believed to have been discussed in racing’s corridors of power.
What time does the big race start?
The runners will go to post for 5.15pm.
Where is it?
Aintree Racecourse, which has hosted the race since 1839. The racecourse is situated approximately six miles outside of Liverpool.
What TV channel is it on - how to watch live?
Live coverage will once again be on ITV1. Alternatively, you can bookmark this page and return on race day to follow all the action on our dedicated live blog.
What happened last year?
The race was cancelled due to March's announcement of a national lockdown in response to the coronavirus pandemic. In its place was an animated virtual Grand National shown on ITV, won by 18-1 shot Potters Corner. Punters will be pleased that the living, breathing animals are back this time.
Which horses are running?
The final field of 40 runners is yet to be selected and won't be confirmed until the week of the race.
For now, click on the underlined words that follow to read the Grand National runners and riders list as it stands. All of the horses will be assigned a weight by the British Horse Racing Authority Head of Handicapping in February.
The handicap system is simpler than it sounds, and is designed to create as close a race as possible. The better horses carry the most weight while the outsiders carry the least. Each horse has an OR (official rating) and this will largely determine the weight they carry.
Tiger Roll will not be coming back for a crack at a third Grand National, after he was rated just one pound off the top weight held by Bristol de Mai, Santini and Easyland. His Gigginstown owners described that eight as 'unfair'.
What are the latest Grand National winner odds?
Get the latest Grand National betting offers
Cloth Cap 12/1
Burrows Saint 14/1
Secret Reprieve 14/1
Kimberlite Candy 16/1
Any Second Now 16/1
Presenting Percy 16/1
What are some of the famous fences?
The Aintree fences are not quite as perilous as they were once upon a time after a series of alterations. However, they are still the most notorious obstacles in the business and enough to make the palms of any jockey sweat.
Becher's Brook: The sixth and 22nd fence in the race may not be the biggest, but it's difficulty comes from the fact the landing side is 10 inches lower than the take off side. Named after Captain Martin Becher, a jockey who fell at this stage and hid in the brook to avoid injury.
Valentine's Brook: Named after a horse that allegedly jumped it backwards in 1840. More likely, the horse spun around in mid-air to create the optical illusion that its hind legs landed first.
The Chair: The tallest fence on the course now stands a five foot three inches.
Foinavon: One of the smaller fences is named after the 100/1 shot who avoided a disastrous pile-up here in 1967 and went on to win.
Canal Turn: As the name suggests, horses must take a sharp turn to the left after jumping this five foot obstacle. Another Aintree myth is that horses used who refused to turn ended up in the Liverpool and Leeds canal.