The Grand National is one of the most prestigious horse races of the year and it attracts competitors from around the world. The race is a handicap, which means that some of the less-fancied horses are given a chance to compete on a more even playing field. The handicapping formula means that lower-rated horses carry less weight than their higher-rated counterparts, with a minimum weight for the race set at 10st 2oz. The weights for this year’s Grand National were announced in February.
The weather forecast for the race is difficult to predict accurately, but given that the race takes place in mid-April, in the North West of England, it is likely to be changeable. Last year, the going was rated as good to soft, with light scattered showers. Tickets for some areas of the Aintree racecourse have already sold out, but as of mid-March, there are still tickets available for adults, ranging in price from £40 to £85. There are also hospitality tickets available, ranging from £405 to £1,095.
Forty horses will be selected to run in the Grand National, and only a certain number of horses meet the criteria for being allowed to race. Horses must be aged seven or older and have an Official Rating (OR) of at least 125. They must also have completed three or more steeplechases, including one in the current season, and have finished between 1st and 4th in a steeplechase over 2 miles 7½ furlongs or further.
In the lead-up to the race, there have been a number of defections among the competitors, which have allowed some horses to move up the rankings and increase their chances of competing. Our Power, a shorter-priced British horse, is one of the horses to benefit from other horses dropping out. If only one more horse drops out between now and the 48-hour declaration stage, Our Power will make the cut. Irish horses dominate the remaining entries, with 39 of the 57 entries from Irish trainers. The final field is likely to have around 30 Irish horses and 10 British horses, the smallest home representation ever.