Grand National 2019 Race card: What to watch during the festival
With the Aintree-based festival just days away, here is a look at the must-see races at the Grand National 2019. Betway Aintree Hurdle – Thursday, April 4th The Betway Aintree Hurdle is the top event of race day 1. The Hurdle pays out a £200,000 prize purse to competitors. Horses run the two-mile, four-furlong course while jumping over 11 hurdles. The Aintree Hurdle is open to four-year-old and older horses. Famed horse trainer Nicky Henderson has provided the winner in the last two years. Buveurd’Air and L’Ami Serge won the Aintree Hurdle in 2017 and 2018, respectively. The JLT Melling Steeple Chase – Friday, April 5th The JLT Melling Steeple Chase headlines day 2 of the Grand National. The Grade 1 race takes place on Ladies’ Day as the glamour is turned up a notch at Aintree. The Melling Chase is open to horses five-years old or older. Most years see horses that competed in the Cheltenham Festival’s Queen Mother Champion Chase and Ryanair Chase run. However, this year, Ryanair hero Frodon will not run in the Melling Chase. Despite Frodon not participating in the event, Altior is set to compete. Henderson’s nine-year-old is in brilliant form having won 18 straight races. A win at the Melling Chase would enable Altior to pass Big Buck’s consecutive wins record over obstacles. Sprinter Sacre is the only horse to ever win the Champions Chase and the Melling Chase in the same year. Altior is bidding to be the second horse to accomplish the feat. Like the Betway Aintree Hurdle, the Melling Chase features a £200,000 prize purse paid to competitors. The race’s first running came in 1991, and on seven occasions, the same trainer has won in back-to-back years. However, that feat hasn’t been accomplished since 2012 and 2013 when Henderson did a double at consecutive festivals. Grand National – Saturday, April 6th The Grand National is the granddaddy of all jumps races. Forty runners will start the race but only one will win the most prestigious race in British and Irish horse racing. Tiger Roll won last year’s event thanks to a photo finish. He is back for another run at glory and leading sportsbooks believe Tiger Roll can be the first back-to-back winner since Red Rum in 1973 and 1974. The Grand National is always one of the marquee races on the British and Irish race calendar. Winning the event can make a horse’s career. This year, the Grand National will feature a £1 million prize purse handed out to contestants. The prize purse makes the Grand National the richest horse race in Britain.