Grand National 2021 Full Preview

Grand National Day 2021 Schedule

The biggest steeplechase of the year is back, for real this time, and Mark Jarvis has got you covered with a preview of the big race. We’ve looked at the history of the Grand National, the course, the fences, the shortlisted runners, the favourites and previous winner’s trends to get you covered for the big day from Merseyside.

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1.45 // The Bridle Road Handicap Hurdle (3m ½f Hurdle)

1.25 // The Betway Mersey Novices’ Hurdle (2m 4f Hurdle)

3.00 // The Doom Bar Maghull Novices’ Steeple Chase (2m Chase)

3.40 // The Ryanair Stayers’ Hurdle (3m ½f Hurdle)

4.20 // The Betway Handicap Steeple Chase (3m 1f Chase)

5.15 // The Randox Heath Grand National Steeple Chase (4m 2½f Chase)

6.20 // The Weatherbys Racing Bank Standard Open Flat Race (2m 1f Flat)

What is the Grand National race?

The Grand National steeplechase is the feature race ran at the three-day Grand National Festival event.

When is the 2021 Grand National race?

The 2021 Grand National steeplechase gets underway on Saturday, April 10th 2021.

It will be the 173rd running of the famous race, having official first ran in 1839 under the name ‘Grand Liverpool Steeplechase’.

Where is the Grand National race held?

The Grand National steeplechase, part of the Grand National Festival, is held at the famous Aintree Racecourse in the village of Aintree near Liverpool in Merseyside, England.

What time does the 2021 Grand National race start?

The 2021 Grand National steeplechase gets underway at the scheduled time of 5.15pm GMT. However, the race times for all the races across the three days, including the Grand National steeplechase, are subject to a potential change as we get closer to the Grand National Festival.

What channel is the 2021 Grand National race on?

ITV and Racing TV are the two main UK broadcasters of the Grand National steeplechase.

How many 2021 Grand National Festival races are being broadcasted?

ITV have secured coverage of five of the seven races on Day Three of the Grand National Festival, with the final race broadcasted being the Grand National steeplechase itself.

The two races which are not being broadcasted by ITV on Grand National Day (Day Three) are 1.20 Bridle Road Handicap Hurdle race and the 6.20 Weatherbys Racing Bank Standard Open National Hunt Flat race.

The first and last races of Day One and Day Two of the festival are also not going to be broadcasted by ITV.

How many horses are running in the 2021 Grand National race?

The 2021 Grand National race is competed by 40 runners and riders over the iconic huge fences at Aintree.

A list of over 100 horses will be whittled down over the next few weeks in the lead up to the big race so that there are 40 runners and then four runners in reverse for the big race.

We already know that 2018 and 2019 winner Tiger Roll will unfortunately not be competing in this year’s race due to weight. That means that the Gigginstown 11-year-old will miss out on the chance to secure three consecutive Grand National wins in a row as the 2020 race was not run.

What is the Prize Money for the 2021 Grand National race?

The prize money for the Grand National steeplechase totals to £1m, an immense sum for such a prestigious race. The winner will receive around half of the prize pot, around £500k. The runners-up prize pot sits at around £200k, whilst securing third in this race bags you £100k.

Will fans be in attendance at the 2021 Grand National?

With the UK Government setting out its roadmap for transitioning out of lockdown announced recently, the earliest in which we might see a small number of spectators in attendance at UK sports events is May 17th, which is step three of four of the roadmap plan.

Therefore, the Grand National Festival will join the Cheltenham Festival in going ahead behind closed doors and with no spectators in attendance, much to the disappointment of avid racegoers.

What happened to the Grand National in 2020?

Unfortunately, the 2020 Grand National did not run, and it was cancelled because of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

In fact, the Cheltenham Festival 2020 was the last sporting event in the UK to have full capacity spectators, with a national lockdown in place by the time the Grand National came around.

It was just the eighth time in the entire history of the race that the race did not go ahead. The previous times were during the two World Wars, as the 1916-1918 and 1941-1945 races did not go ahead.

The last time the race was not complete was in 1993, when the race was declared void after most of the runners carried on racing despite a false start. The Jockey Club deciding not to re-run the race.

An unofficial virtual Grand National race ran in 2020 with the power of CGI technology. Using certain formulas to calculate who would be the winner of the race, Potters Corner came out on top in the animated race, a winner of the 2019 Welsh Grand National.

They also held a virtual race between all winners of the historic race in a ‘champion of champions’ style-race. The race bought back a lot of memories of some winners from the previous century, and to little surprise, it was Red Rum who came out on top. As far as an alternative event to the actual race, it was certainly an enjoyable spectacle which captured the nation and raised £2.6m for the NHS.

Can I stream the Grand National with Mark Jarvis?

Yes you can. With our Watch and Bet service, you can simply log in to your Mark Jarvis account on the Mark Jarvis sportsbook, select the race meeting (Aintree) and the race time (5.15) and then you can select the TV icon to start streaming the race without needing to place a bet on the race or deposit money into your account.

Course and Fences


The Grand National Steeplechase is a 4m 2½f race.


The Grand National Steeplechase consists of two full circuits of the 2¼m course at Aintree.

Number of Fences

The Grand National Steeplechase feature 16 fences, in which 14 of the 16 are jumped twice during the circuit. The only two fences that are jumped once during the race are Fence 15, also known as The Chair and Fence 16, also known as The Water Jump.

Runners jump these two fences at the end of the first circuit before they start the second circuit around the course.

Famous Fences

Below is a list of some of the most well-known, famous and iconic fences in the Grand National Steeplechase race.

Becher’s Brook (Fence 6 & 22)
Foinavon (Fence 7 & 23)
The Canal Turn (Fence 8 & 24)
Valentine’s Brook (Fence 9 & 25)
The Chair (Fence 15)
The Water Jump (Fence 16)

Becher’s Brook (Fence 6 & 22)

Arguably, Becker’s Brook is not only the most famous fence in this race but also in worldwide horse racing. It is named after a top jockey of his time, Martin Becher, was unseated from his horse Conrad in the first ever official Grand National in 1839. Becher opted to take shelter in the brook to avoid injury.

The fence itself is 4ft 10in tall and it looks like a regular fence on approach, however there is a steep drop awaiting runners and riders on the other side, as well as a left-hand turn to think about, which makes the fence very difficult. The landing drop is 6ft 9in, and the fence has been altered over the years to make it safer.

All Fences

Below outlines each of the fences which runners and riders will need to overcome during the Grand National steeplechase.

Fence 1 & 17
Fence 2 & 18
Fence 3 & 19 (Known as Westhead)
Fence 4 & 20
Fence 5 & 21
Fence 6 & 22 (Known as Becher’s Brook)
Fence 7 & 23 (Known as Foinavon)
Fence 8 & 24 (Known as Canal Turn)
Fence 9 & 25 (Known as Valentine’s Brook)
Fence 10 & 26
Fence 11 & 27
Fence 12 & 28
Fence 13 & 29
Fence 14 & 30
Fence 15 (Known as The Chair)
Fence 16 (Known as Water Jump)

History of the Race

Inaugural Race

They contested the first ever official Grand National in 1839 at Aintree Racecourse. The race was known as the Grand Liverpool Steeplechase.

There were only 18 runners declared for the race and of those, 17 ran on the day. The winner was Lottery, a nine-year-old ridden by James Mason.

The first time in which the race was run under the ‘Grand National’ name was not until 1847. The winner that year was an Irish horse named Matthew, who became the first ever Irish winner of the Grand National.


The founder of the Grand National was William Lynn, a proprietor who had leased the land in Aintree. Lynn started building the course in the late 1820s. There are rumours that the first Grand National race was held as early as 1836, but with no official records the races were held at Aintree, and believed to be held as Maghull instead, historians believe the 1839 edition is the first official Grand National.

Handicapper Edward Topham took on a bigger role in the 1840s and made the Grand National a handicap race in 1843. By 1848, he had the lease of the land from William Molyneux, the Second Earl of Sefton. It was over a century until the Topham family bought the land outright from Hugh Molyneux, the grandson of William Molyneux and the Seventh Earl of Sefton, after leasing for all that time. The fee was £275,000, which in today’s money would be valued at nearly £10m.


During its history, there have been exceptional circumstances which caused the Grand National to relocate. This was true in 1916, 1917 and 1918 during the First World War, in which the Aintree Racecourse was taken over by the War Office. Instead of cancelling the race, the Grand National was moved to Gatwick Racecourse in London, which is now the same land in which the Gatwick Airport was built on. The races went ahead under the names Racecourse Association Steeplechase and War National Steeplechase, but are often not recognised as official Grand National races.

Historic Moments Timeline

As the biggest steeplechase in the world, the Grand National has certainly had some iconic moments in its rich history. Below is a list of famous moments in the history of the Grand National Steeplechase.

1839 – Becher’s Brook
1928 – Tipperary Tim
1956 – Devon Loch
1967 – Foinavon
1970s – Red Rum dominance
1981 – The Bob Champion National
1993 – Void National
2020 – Virtual Grand National

Grand National Leading Horse

The leading horse, with three wins to his name, is none other than Red Rum. He is considered to be one of the greatest racehorses of all time. His dominance came in the 1970s, winning the 1973, 1974 aned 1977 editions, and came close on two more occasions, coming second in the 1975 and 1976 editions of the race.

Grand National Leading Jockey

No jockey in the new era has matched the five wins recorded in the 19th century, when the race was still very young, which jockey George Stevens secured over a 15-year period between 1856 and 1970. His first ever win was on Freetrader, and he secured his final win on back-to-back winner The Colonel, who he rode in the previous year to victory.

Grand National Leading Trainer

Three different trainers share the record for the most wins in this race with four career wins. George Dockeray was the first trainer to become the most successive, securing all of his wins in the infancy years of the race between the 1830s and 1850s. It took over 120 years before the next trainer matched Dockeray’s four wins, as Fred Rimell trained his fourth winner Rage Trade in 1976.

During the 70s, of course, it was Red Rum and Donald McCain that were dominating Aintree, but it was not until 2004 in which ‘Ginger’ added to his Red Rum success in the race when Amberleigh House won in 2004. In fact, that horse remains the last 12-year-old to win the race.

Grand National Leading Owner

James Octavius Machell was the first owner to secure three wins in the race, all coming in the 1870s. A whole century later and Noel Le Mare were the next owners to match the record, tasting tremendous success with the historic treble-winning Red Rum during the 1970s. More recently, Trevor Hemmings’ 2015 winner Many Clouds meant he became the latest owner to match the record, having also secured wins with Ballabriggs in 2011 and Hedgehunter back in 2005.

The Irish stud Gigginstown are now the latest owners to make it three wins in this race, having remarkably won three of the last four races with Rule the World in 2016 and then the back-to-back success of Tiger Roll in 2018 and 2019. They will unfortunately miss out on the chance to make history at the 2021 edition as Tiger Roll won’t feature, meaning he cannot match Red Rum’s record of becoming a treble winner.

Runners and Betting


The Grand National is open to horses who met multiple criteria. This includes previous experience, rating, age and form. To qualify, horses need a rating of at least 125, having ran at least three steeplechases previously, are at least seven years old and have finished inside the first four places of a steeplechase over a 2m 7f steeplechase.

List of Runners

Below is the latest shortlist of runners for the 2021 Grand National. This list will be reduced further ahead of the race to 40 runners. There will also be four horses in reserve to fill in for any replacements that are made late on all the way up until Friday morning before the race on the Saturday.

Acapella Bourgeois
Alpha des Obeaux
Ami Desbois
Anibale Fly
Another Venture
Any Second Now
Balko des Flos
Beau Bay
Beware The Bear
Brahma Bull
Bristol de Mai
Burrows Saint
Cabaret Queen
Captain Drake
Chris’s Dream
Class Conti
Cloth Cap
Definitly Red
Deise Aba
Double Shuffle
Flying Angel
Give Me A Copper
Golan Fortune
Gold Present
Hear No Evil
Hogan’s Height
Hold The Note
Kauto Riko
Keeper Hill
Kimberlite Candy
Lake View Lad
Le Breuil
Lord Du Mesnil
Magic of Light
Milan Native
Minella Times
Mister Malarky
Monbeg Notorious
Musical Slave
Ok Corral
Plan of Attack
Potters Corner
Prime Venture
Roaring Bull
Run Wild Fred
Secret Reprieve
Shantou Flyer
Shattered Love
Some Neck
Soupy Soups
Sub Lieutenant
The Hollow Ginge
The Jam Man
The Long Mile
The Storyteller
Tout Est Permis
Vieux Lion Rouge
Yala Enki


Below are some common trends and patterns from previous Grand National races ran over the years.

Age – Only three of the last 11 winner horses have been under the age of nine, as the most common age of winning Grand National horses in the last decade is between nine and 11 years old. The minimum age in which a horse must be in order to qualify for the Grand National is seven years old. There have been no seven-year-old winners since 1940, with Bogskar won at 25/1. 12-year-old are also very rare winners of the race. Since 1980, there have only been four winning horses aged 12-years-old, most recently Amberleigh House in 2004.
Winning race time – The record for the fastest time in the Grand National was broken in 1990 when Mr Frisk, ridden by Mr Marcus Armytage, managed to complete the gruelling circuit in a time of 8 minutes and 47 seconds. The average time of winning horses is usually around 9 minutes to 9 minutes and 30 seconds. In 2015, Leighton Aspell rode Many Clouds to win his second Grand National as a jockey and became the first jockey in this century to ride a sub 9 minute race, passing the finish line in 8 minutes and 56 seconds.
Season form – All of the last 11 winning horses in the Grand National have had at least three runs during the season, with seven of the last 11 Grand National winners having at least four runs
The favourites don’t win that often – it’s no surprise with so many runners and just stiff competition that the favourite does not go on to win. In fact, only four favourites or joint-favourite runners have gone on to win the race since the turn of the century. Tiger Roll defended his crown in the 2019 edition as a 4/1 favourite, and Hedgehunter won as a 7/1 favourite in the 2005 race. Joint-favourites Comply or Die and Don’t Push won the 2008 and 2010 editions respectively at 7/1 and 10/1 prices.
Rating – Nine of the last 11 winners have had a rating between 148 and 160. The minimum rating required in order to qualify for the race is 125. With a rating of 160, Many Clouds has been the highest rated horse to win the Grand National in the last decade.
Cheltenham to Aintree – With nine of the last 11 winning horses in the race having their last race ran within the previous 35 days leading up to the race, five of those 11 winners had actually ran across different races at the Cheltenham Festival.
Huge outsiders should never be completely ruled out – there have been three winners at 100/1 prices, including as recently as 2009 with Mon Mome, and since the turn of the century, six of the 20 winners have won with prices of at least 33/1.

Early Favourites

Cloth Cap is a clear ante-post favourite heading into the Festival week. The Jonjo O’Neill trained horse has had some decent form of late, including a win at Newbury in the Ladbrokes Trophy Chase and could shine on a quick surface.

Other favourites include Any Second Now, Secret Reprieve, Kimberlite Candy and Irish Grand National winner Burrows Saint.


You can see the full markets for the Grand National here on the Mark Jarvis sportsbook.

Don’t forget to check out the extra places offered on the race (T&Cs will apply)

You can also download the Mark Jarvis app on iOS and Android for free.

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Author: Terry Brooks