The Grand National Fences are a big-part of the history of the world’s most popular horse race. 16 of last year’s 39-runner field managed to get round the 30 Grand National Fences, with 12-runners pulled-up, whilst 13 fell or unseated their rider.
Therefore, we thought we’d talk you through the famous fences, with a fence-by-fence guide to the Grand National.
1st & 17th
Not a particularly tricky fence since the drop on the landing-side was reduced, but there’s always a danger that the field will set-off to fast. Claimed only one victim last year, but it was a different story back in 1951 when 12 horses failed to get past the first.
2nd & 18th
Once known as The Fan, but not now, it is 3ft 6in wider than the first fence. Claimed 2 victims last year, including the well-fancied Holywell.
3rd & 19th
Called Westhead, this 4ft 10in fence with a 6ft ditch is considered the first major jumping test of the Grand National. However, no horse fell or unseated here last year first-time round, though it claimed one victim second time round.
4th & 20th
Earned its place in history by becoming the first fence to be bypassed (as the 20th fence) in 2011. However, after statistics showed that it was amongst the hardest of fences to get passed, officials chopped 2in off it in 2012. It was a safety-measure that worked as it claimed no victims in 2016.
5th & 21st
A 5ft high Spruce fence that was made easier by the levelling-off of its landing-side, and it claimed no victims last year.
6th & 22nd
Named after Captain Martin Becher, Becher’s Brook is arguably the most famous fence in the world. Runners must navigate a steep drop whilst turning left at the same time if they want to take the most economic route, whilst jockeys must use all their skills to keep the horse balanced as the landing-side is up to 10in lower than the take-off side. The 22nd fence claimed two victims last year.
7th & 23rd
Famous for the legendary pile-up in 1967 that allowed 100/1 shot Foinavan to win the race. However, the Foinavan Fence is generally an ordinary fence, one which claimed no victims last year.
8th & 24th
The Canal Turn is another famous fence, where horses turn left at almost right-angles to take the shortest route. Brave jockeys take the inside-route, though those with plenty of horse under them often play safe and steer a wider course. The 8th claimed one victim last year.
9th & 25th
At 5ft high, Valentine’s Brook demands an accurate jump, but all the horses still going at both the 9th and 25th got over it last year. The name is derived from a horse called Valentine who, legend has it, cleared it hind-legs first in 1840.
10th & 26th
A 5ft thorn fence that claimed no victims last year.
11th & 27th
Horses must clear a 6ft ditch as they take-off, but it caused no problems in 2016.
12th & 28th
After jumping a ditch on the take-off side at the previous fence, the runners must clear a landing-side ditch measuring 5ft 6in ditch. All who got to it cleared it last year.
13th & 29th
A relatively easy fence at just 4ft 7in, but tired horses who are being urged for maximum effort can still fall here, and it claimed one victim last year.
14th & 30th
Similar height to the second-last, but not many horses fall at the last fence, and the 16 horses who reached it in 2016 all got to the other side.
The Chair is renowned as one of the hardest fences to jump in the Grand National which is no surprise as, at 5ft 2in, it is the tallest of all the fences, with runners also having to clear a take-off side ditch measuring 6ft. It is only jumped once, but claimed two victims last year.
Unbelievably, in the current safety conscious world, this fence was once a stone wall. However, it is now a water jump which is jumped just once, and it claimed no victims in 2016.
After jumping the final fence, the runners veer to the right of the Chair to a 474-yard run-in that incorporates the famous elbow. It is the longest run-in anywhere, and its stamina-sapping nature has seen the complexion of the race change in many renewals.