Grand National 2024 explained: Date, time, when the horses are announced

Conflated will carry the heaviest weight after the latest round of scratches – Getty Images/Seb Daly

With the Cheltenham Festival in the rearview mirror attention can now turn to Aintree and the 176th running of the Randox Grand National.

A total of 22 horses have been withdrawn from the race – including the controversial Monbeg Genius – following the latest scratch-off, leaving 58 horses in the running. Check out our comprehensive guide to the runners and riders for full details.

The next round of scratches will come at the five-day confirmation stage on Monday, April 8.

Hewick, winner of the King George of Ireland, received the highest weight but was officially removed from the entries today. Last year’s winner Corach Rambler has narrowed his options after running a superb race to finish third in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

When is the Aintree Grand National?

The Grand National is the culmination of the three-day Aintree Grand National Festival, which this year takes place from Thursday, April 11 to Saturday, April 13.

The main event, the Grand National itself, takes place on Saturday evening.

What time does the 2024 Grand National start?

The runners will be sent on their way at 4pm on Saturday, April 13.

The start time has been brought forward from 5.15pm, following the controversial 2023 edition of the race, to improve the likelihood of good ground. The Jockey Club said the new start time was part of a “continued emphasis on equine welfare”.

Where is the 2024 Grand National being held?

The race takes place at Aintree Racecourse, on the outskirts of Liverpool. Since the first edition in 1839, the race has not been officially held anywhere else.

Are Grand National tickets available?

Tickets for each day of the festival are on sale on the Jockey Club website. For the day of the Grand National prices start at £45 for adults in the Embankment. Many other enclosures have already sold out. The most expensive hospitality package on sale is £1,225. Parking is £35 extra, or £60 if you want to park within easy walking distance of the course.

How many horses run in the Grand National?

For 2024, the total number of horses in the Grand National has been reduced from 40 to 34, to improve the safety of the race. The highest number of runners was 66, in 1929. There were also as few as 10 horses in the race, back in 1883.

When are the horses announced?

The final 34 horses will be confirmed on Thursday, April 11 – 48 hours before the race. As from last year, if a horse is withdrawn after these 48 hour confirmations, that horse will not be replaced.

Initial entries for the race had to be made by 6 February, and the weights (see below) were then published by the BHA two weeks later, on 20 February. The declarations take place five days on the Monday before the race, at which point the field will be reduced to 50.

Only a certain number of horses meet the criteria for being allowed to enter the Grand National. Among the qualifications they must:

  • have an official rating (OR) of 130 or more (in 2023, horses only need to have a rating of 125)

  • be 7 years of age or older,

  • who completed three or more races,

  • They have completed one acute model in the current season,

  • who finished between 1st and 4th in a race over 2 miles 7½ lengths or longer.

What is the race distance?

Traditionally, the Grand National has been described as a 4½ mile race. The official distance, however, is four miles, two furlongs and 74 yards (4m 2f 74y). This distance is measured two yards inside the innermost rail.

The Grand National is the longest running jumps race in the UK.

How long is the Grand National?

About nine minutes. The course record is 8min 47.8sec, held by Mr Frisk in 1990. The jockey that day is Telegraph Sport racing correspondent Marcus Armytage.

How many fences are there in the Grand National?

There are 16 individual fences in the race, 14 of which are jumped twice. That makes a total of 30 jumps.

The fences are made from Sitka spruce or Norway spruce, transported to Aintree from the Lake District in a fleet of lorries. It takes about three weeks to build all the fences.

  • Fence 1&17 – 4ft 6in high, 2ft 9in wide

  • Fence 2&18 – 4ft 17in high, 3ft 6in wide

  • Fence 3&19 – Open ditch

  • Fence 4&20 – 5 feet high, 10 feet 6 inches wide (including a 7 foot ditch on the take-off side)

  • Fence 5&21 – 5ft high, 3ft 6in wide

  • Fence 6&22Becher’s Brook – 4ft 10in high, 7ft 6in wide

  • Fence 7&23Foinavon – 4ft 6in high, 3ft wide

  • Fence 8&24Canal Turn – 5ft high, 7ft wide

  • Fence 9&25Valentine’s Brook – 5ft high, 7ft wide

  • Fence 10&26 – 5 feet high, 3 feet wide

  • Fence 11&27 – 4ft 10in high, 9ft wide (including a 6ft ditch on the landing side)

  • Fence 12&28 – 5ft high, 8ft 6in wide (including 5ft 6in on the landing side)

  • Fence 13&29 – 4ft 7in high, 3ft wide

  • Fence 14&30 – 4ft 6in high, 3ft wide

  • Fence 15Chair – 5ft 2in high, 9ft wide (including 6ft ditch on take-off side)

  • Fence 16Water Jump – 2ft 6in high

The most famous fence of the Grand National

Aintree fences are not as dangerous as they once were. However, they are still the most notorious obstacles in the business.

The Chairman (Fence 15): The Chair is the tallest fence on the course, now standing at five feet two inches.

Becher’s Brook (Fence 6&22): It may not be the biggest 6th and 22nd fence in the race, but its difficulty comes from the fact that the landing side is 10 inches lower than the takeoff side. Named after Captain Martin Becher, a jockey who fell at this stage in the first running of the race in 1839 and hid in the Brook to avoid injury.

Brook Valentine (Fence 9&25): It was named after a horse that allegedly jumped back in 1840. More likely, the horse spun around in mid-air to create the optical illusion of landing hind feet first.

Foinavon (Fence 7&23): 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 (Fence 8&24): As the name suggests, horses must make a sharp left turn after jumping this five-foot hurdle. Another Aintree myth is that horses that were used and refused to turn ended up in the Liverpool and Leeds canal.

National prize money

The total prize fund for the Grand National is £1 million. In 2023, prize money was awarded to the first ten horses posted, as follows.

  1. £516,000

  2. £211,100

  3. £105,500

  4. £52,700

  5. £26,500

  6. £13,200

  7. £6,800

  8. £3,600

  9. £2,000

  10. £1,000

How does the narrowing system work?

The idea behind the narrowing process is that less keen horses can compete with the best hunters. To achieve this, the best horses are asked to carry extra weight. Exactly how much weight will be determined by hand, appointed by the British Horseracing Authority.

The least a horse is allowed to carry (rider included) is 10ths of 2 pounds. The most heavily weighted horse in the race will carry 11st 12 pounds, and all other handicap weights will be worked out from that weight based on each horse’s rating. Last year’s winner, Corach Rambler, carried just 10lb 5.

In 2015 Many Clouds won 11st 9oz, the heaviest weight carried by a recent winner. The last horse to win the top weight was Red Rum in 1973, when he finished 12th.

What are the changes to this year’s Grand National?

Significant changes have been made to the Grand National for 2024. The changes were made after animal rights protesters ambushed the 2023 event, delaying it by 15 minutes. The Jockey Club insists, however, that the changes did not come in direct response to those objections.

The most significant changes are as follows:

  • The field was reduced from 40 horses to a maximum of 34. Evidence shows a correlation between field size and the risk of horses falling.

  • The first fence has been brought forward, towards the starting line, 60 yards to reduce the speed at which the horses reach it.

  • The start will now be a fixed start at the tape, rather than the traditional rolling start. This change is also designed to reduce the speed at which horses reach the first hurdle.

  • All horses must have an official rating of at least 130 (except 125) and will be checked for jumping errors before being allowed to enter.

  • The height of fence 11 has been reduced by two inches and the drop on the landing side will be reduced.

  • Horses will no longer be led onto the course by a handler before the race, instead they will be released to canter in front of the grandstands.

  • The start time has been moved from 5.15pm to 4pm.

To withdraw The Monbeg genius overcomes controversy

A potentially controversial result was avoided for the 176th Randox Grand National after Michele Mone and Doug Barrowman-owned chaser Monbeg Genius was among 17 horses scratched on March 26.

Installed as one of the favorites when the weights were announced, Monbeg Genius’ form of late – well beaten at Kelson, up at Cheltenham – suggested his chances were getting slimmer anyway. However, the most famous race in jump racing looked set to be won by a horse with the couple linked in the PPE Medpro controversy under investigation.

PPE Medpro is subject to media scrutiny and an investigation by the National Crime Agency after it won a £200m contract from the government to supply medical equipment during the Covid-19 pandemic. The government wants to recover £122m because some of the equipment was substandard. Although Baroness Mone, a Conservative peer, has resigned from the House of Lords, she and her husband deny any wrongdoing.

With the top weight Hewick, which cost £800, also, as expected, defecting to the Bowl at Aintree instead the weights will increase by 3lbs across the board and the new top weight Conflated.

Don’t miss out on these ultimate betting offers – explore our list here ahead of the Grand National

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