Saturday was the John Smith’s Grand National steeplechase race at Aintree. I’ve described the Grand National before as a demolition derby and I’m still just amazed at how different this race is from say, Zenyatta’s run in the Apple Blossom.
The Grand National doesn’t start with six or seven horses loaded into the starting gate and then sent off. Nope. Picture 40 horses milling around in a group and then taking off en masse and racing at the first fence at 30 mph. Aintree is a huge rolling course. These fences can accommodate the horses running and jumping together although the fall rate is well beyond what the US racing public would probably tolerate. At every fence there are casualties. No fatalities, but certainly the falls are heart stopping.
This was (from my limited perspective) one of the Grand Nationals with a fairly low fall rate. A high percentage of these horses actually completed the race. I’ve watched a few where it seems like the winner is merely the last horse standing.
One of the craziest things about steeplechasing in England is that if a horse falls or a jockey is jettisoned off, the jockey can remount and continue. In some of the races the attrition rate is so high that these horses actually finish in the money!
The 2010 Grand National was a good race all the way to the end. Enjoy!