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The layout and features of Aintree Racecourse plays a significant role in determining which horses are likely to claim victory in any race run on the Aintree turf. An understanding of the layout and challenges of Aintree Racecourse Grand National circuit is therefore essential for any punter wishing to make educated Grand National bets.
Aintree racecourse comprises two racetracks, the Mildmay Course and the Grand National circuit. The Grand National circuit is left handed and covers 2 miles 2 furlongs. The circuit features 16 tough obstacles, 2 of which are only jumped during the first lap of the Grand National.
Eight of the fences jumped during the Grand National are considered to be regulation fences spanning heights between 4 feet 7 inches and 5 feet. Of these regulation fences, Fence 1 is considered to be the most formidable, and many a Grand National campaign has perished due to an encounter with this fence.
Westhead is the first severe test on the Grand National circuit. Standing 5ft high, the Westhead requires horses to clear a 6ft deep trench on the approach.
Becher’s Brook is one of the toughest jumps in national hunt racing. The fence appears to be low from the approach side, but conceals a 6 foot 9 inch drop over a stream. To complicate matters, riders and horses surviving Becher’s Brook are then required to make a hard right turn.
Foinavon’s Fence is one of the most notorious fences on Aintree racecourse despite being one of the lowest. Following a massive pile-up at the fence during the 1967 Grand National, the jump was named after eventual long-odds winner Foinavon.
Canal Turn is one of the most awkward fences to negotiate during the Grand National. The landing of the regulation fence is cut short by a canal which requires riders and horses to make an immediate 90 degree turn. This forces many competitors to take the risk of jumping Canal Turn at an angle.
Valentine’s Brook is the next major challenge on the Grand National circuit, as competitors are faced with a five foot high fence concealing a brook on the landing side.
The Booth is one of the most hazardous jumps on Aintree Racecourse and requires horses to clear a six foot wide trench as they jump the 5 foot 3 inch fence.
The Chair is virtually identical to the Booth, requiring horses to clear both a trench and a high fence during the jump. The challenge is so severe that competitors are only required to jump the Chair once during the course of the Grand National.
The Water Jump looks like a deceptively easy jump from the approach side, but conceals a six foot wide water hazard on the landing side. The Water Jump is only negotiated once during the course of the Grand National.
The run in covers 494 yards and incorporates a sharp turn en route to the finishing post. Many Grand National bets have been won and lost on the gruelling approach to the Grand National finishing post.
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