Grand National Fences

aintree-racecourseThere are few better sights than in National Hunt racing than witnessing top-class horses tackling the legendary Aintree fences in the Grand National.

Four and a half miles over 30 massive fences, that tests the true ability of a horse and its jockey.

There are 16 fences on circuit of the Grand National and the horses have to complete two of them in order to get round. The Chair and the Water Jump, which are jumped on the first circuit only. Each fence is specially made from a wooden frame and covered with the distinctive green spruce.

We take a look at some of the fences the horse have to face:

First fence: This is where it all begins. A whole season’s work comes down to this moment. All the horses have been prepared to perfection but the adrenaline in the jockeys will be taking over that now.

They want to get racing as soon as possible as usually as fast as possible also. The starter lets them go.

grand-national-courseIt is known the braver jockeys start nearer the inside of the course as that side of the first fence is bigger but takes a shorter time to get to.

Jockeys will be trying to get the horses stride right and balancing and although this opening fence is quite small fence it is one that can catch inexperience jockeys out, especially if they go too fast too soon.

Second Fence: This one is the real test early on and has the ability to give the horse a reminder that this will be the biggest jumping test of their careers. The fence takes some jumping and has a very steep drop at the back of it which can lead to unseating of jockeys.

Third Fence: This one is an open ditch, at the front and at the back, but if in a good rhythm early on, horses should be comfortable at meeting it well.

Fourth and Fifth fences: These two are straightforward fences. The only real problems jockeys may face is loose horses which could hamper their chances.

Sixth Fence: Beechers Brook: One of the biggest on the course. It has a huge drop at the back of the fence, which has been reduced in recent years for safety.

The drop is now approximately 25cm (10 inches) on the inside of the course and 15cm (6 inches) on the outside of the course. Horses heads will hit the floor on the landing side but jockeys must be in control and not knuckle over.

Balance is crucial here.

Seventh Fence: Foinaven: An easy fence but can catch a horse out after the shock of the test at Beechers. This fence is famous for the 1967 Grand National when the whole field, bar 100/1 shot Foinaven, was brought down in an extraordinary pile up.

Eighth Fence: Canal Turn: The clue’s is the name as this tricky fence has a ninety degree angle to undertake. Jockeys will look to swing out of it onto the Apex at the corner.

Ninth Fence: Valentines: Another big fence which measures at five foot with a five foot six inch brook.

Fence Fifteen: The Chair: After negotiating a period of easy fences between fence nine and 15 next comes the biggest fence on the course, which catches horses out every year.

There is a massive ditch in front of it and is measured as the narrowest fence to jump on the course.

In 1979 this fence took out nine horses at once, showing just how ferocious it can be. Luckily for all involved it only has to be jumped once.