The Grand National Fences
The course is nearly two and a quarter miles around and is in its two circuits a unique test for rider and horse.
There are 16 grand national fences and a run in of 494 yards.
The first fence is a 4 foot 6 inch fence and is of no real consequence other than it gets a lot of fallers due to the fact that the horses run too quickly to this obstacle It is Shame that good horses go out here and if you have bet on this race you always have your heart in your mouth at this fence because horses that should easily clear this can come down. Incidentally past and future winners have done this
A 4 foot 7 inch fence , At this you are still a little nervous
The first open ditch. The ditch is 6 foot and the fence is 5 foot
N.B. Anyone who does not know about racing may think that an open ditch fence has a fence and then a ditch but this is not the case, The ditch is in front of the fence so the horse has to jump the ditch before the fence this obviously sometimes means that if the horse has misjudged the jump he may get his legs in the ditch this usually gives him no chance of negotiating the fence.
A 4 foot 10 inch fence. the horses by now are starting to settle down . But remember they are often still going quite quickly at this stage.
A 5 foot fence. A good grand national fence but boy does not give you a notion of what is next.
Bechers Brook . The most famous fence in the National. (Named after Captain Becher Who fell at this fence )
You can tell when this fence is approached as there is a hedge in the run up to this one . This fence is a 4 foot 10 inch fence with a 5 foot 6 inch Brook on the landing side and is a drop fence. This fence had been altered in 1990 the bend has been slightly altered and the ditch was filled in. Now some people say that it is not the test that it was I do not agree. the changes were carried out to stop horses that had fallen here from dying after falling and not to make jumping the fence any less difficult I think this was a good change and does not take away from the difficulty of the race. The fall of Uncle Merlin here in 1990 cost him the race as he was going very easily although Mr. Frisk was a good winner.
The Foinavon fence. A 4 foot 6 inch fence at an angle.Named after The 1967 Winner Who was the only horse to jump this fence at the first attempt.
The Canal Turn. This is a 5 foot fence however what makes this fence difficult is that the runners turn 90 degrees to the left immediately after jumping this fence.
Good horses and jockeys can gain many lengths by jumping this fence at an angle.
But it does cause grief to many. One of my favourite horses had his downfall here.
St. Valentines Brook A 5 foot fence with a 5 foot 6 inch Brook
This is a critical point on the second circuit if your bet is in the first five you have a great chance of winning.
A five foot fence.
The Booth. An open ditch with a 5 foot fence and a 6 foot ditch
Westhead. A five foot fence followed by a 5 foot 6 inch fence.
This is a long way from the 12 th fence the horses run across the Melling road and turn left into the straight to meet this 4 foot 7 inch fence. A lot of horses lose their chance at this fence on the second circuit as it is the second last then.
A 4 foot 6 inch fence. And like the 13 th many horses mess this up and lose their chances on the second circuit due to fatigue this is not a bad fence otherwise However it may lead a horse into a false sense of security on the first circuit as the next fence is ' The Chair '
The Chair. This is the biggest fence in the National which is a surprise to many. It is a 6 foot fence with a 5 foot 2 inch ditch. suprisingly does not seem to claim many fallers. It is only jumped once on the first circuit.
This is the water jump and is a long jump rather than a high jump. this will often catch a horse unaware after jumping the chair but does not bring down that many horses. it is one of the two grand national fences which is only jumped once on the first circuit.
After all this heartache they then have to go around again !
After jumping the 14 th fence on the second circuit ( It is the 30 th fence then ) There is a long 494 yard run in. with an elbow roughly half way up the run in
This 494 yards has caught out many in the past and is an added trial for a tired horse and rider.