Grand National. (2024, January 18). In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grand_National
Jumps season is now in full swing with some of the most significant dates in the National Hunt calendar just around the corner. Horse racing fans will soon be piling into racecourses around the country in the early months of 2024 as they watch jockeys and trainers test their mettle in some fierce conditions. UK horse racing fans have fallen in love with the National Hunt format over the years; some of the country’s most iconic and well attended races are National Hunts and have made the careers of several legendary jockeys and trainers. They are some of the most challenging races out there on the calendar given the arduous obstacles and taxing length and the UK boasts some of the best National Hunt tracks in the world. Here’s our look at some of the longest races the UK has to offer.
Aintree hosts the world’s most famous National Hunt race every April when racing fans flock from the world to watch the Grand National. The iconic race originated in 1839 and is by far the longest race on this list at four miles, two and a half furlongs long. The event routinely sees record TV viewership and well over 70,000 fans come to Liverpool each year. Its popularity is largely down to the treacherous nature of the track as well as the massive number of entrants with 40 horses competing for the honour of winning the National. As if getting the better of 39 other runners wasn’t difficult enough, its iconic fences have ended the hopes and dreams of many a top jockey over the years. The ominous five foot high Becher’s Brook, Valentine’s and The Chair have all helped establish the Grand National as one of the most fearsome and prestigious races on the circuit. It’s considered a bucket list attraction for any racing fan worth their salt and 2024’s meet promises to be another enthralling affair. Corach Rambler is currently the frontrunner at 14/1 followed by Fastorslow but with the meet still several months away, it’s hard to say with any certainty whether the early favourites will make good on their billing. The CopyBet sign up offer will give you more to bet on these races.
Scottish Grand National
Sharing the same name as the iconic meet in Merseyside is the Scottish edition of the Grand National, the most prestigious race on the calendar north of the border. The racecourse in Ayr is known to be a slightly tamer edition of the National than the one Aintree serves up but there remains a large field to contend with as 30 runners compete each year. The 27 fences are not as taxing for the jockeys to navigate but by dint of taking place in Scotland in the early stages of Spring, the erratic weather can serve up some treacherous conditions to navigate often making it a thoroughly exciting and unpredictable contest. At four miles long it is the longest race in Scotland and comfortably one of the longest in the UK. 2024 will mark the 50 year anniversary of Red Rum’s victory at both Aintree and Ayr and hopes will be high amongst racing fans that this year’s edition can serve up another historic landmark for the sport.
Cheltenham Gold Cup
Widely considered to be the best National Hunt race in the UK, the Cheltenham Gold Cup is a staple of the country’s most popular horse racing event of the year in the Cheltenham Festival. The best and brightest names of the Jumps season arrive in Gloucestershire to tackle the 22 fences over a distance of three miles, two and a half furlongs. The tough downhill fences have been known to trip up plenty of riders and while the course length isn’t the longest on this list, the pressure of competing in front of 68,000 roaring fans in March has seen many of horse racing’s biggest names buckle under the pressure. It may not be the most difficult test out there for jockeys and trainers but it certainly is the most famous and the one that everyone who competes dreams of winning.
Newcastle isn’t exactly renowned for its racing scene but that doesn’t mean the racecourse can’t serve up some of the most exciting meets the UK has to offer; case and point is the Eider Chase at the Newcastle racecourse. This meet takes place in February each year and features 26 fences over a distance of four miles, half a furlong with many considering it a precursor/trial to the Grand National. With a similar length and number of fences, it offers up a good indication of where the field is at coming into the famous Aintree race given the short turnaround before April and similarities between the tracks. It was first introduced in 1952 and given its significance in the buildup to the Merseyside meet, it will likely be a staple of the National Hunt schedule for years to come.