Grand National Aintree Racecourse Guide

Aintree Racecourse is one of the most formidable in National Hunt racing. The 2¼ mile course features sixteen tough fences, two of which are only jumped in the first circuit of the Grand National. It takes a human approximately an hour to walk the course, yet the forty Grand National racehorses usually run two laps of the course in just over fifteen minutes.

Grand National Aintree Racecourse Guide – The Fences

  • Fence 1 is 4ft 7in high and 2ft 6in wide. Despite being one of the smallest fences, it has one of the highest fall rates as horses and riders often push themselves too hard trying to take the lead.
  • Fence 2 is somewhat wider than the first, but the same height.
  • Westhead is one of the first severe tests on the course. The 5ft high fence is fronted by a 6ft deep trench.
  • Fence four is a regulation fence at 4ft 10in high.
  • Fence five is 5ft high and 3ft 6in wide, and is covered in needle-like spruce.
  • Becher’s Brook looks harmless from the approach side, but the infamous fence hides its peril in a 6ft 9in drop over a stream, followed by a hard left hand turn.
  • Foinavon Fence is one of the shortest on the course at 4ft 6in high, yet has a reputation as the fence that once halted an entire field allowing rank outsider Foinavon to take the race at 100/1 odds.
  • Canal Turn is one of the most challenging obstacles on the course. Horses clearing the fence are confronted by a canal that forces them into a 90 degree turn. Riders are forced to jump the fence at an angle to avoid a premature end to their race.
  • Valentine’s Brook confronts horses that have survived the Canal Turn. The fence is 5ft high, and horses are required to clear a brook on the landing side.
  • Fence ten is a 5ft high thorn fence.
  • The Booth is 5ft high and 3ft wide, fronted by a harrowing 6ft ditch on the takeoff side.
  • Fence 12 is 5ft high, with a ditch on the landing side.
  • Fence 13 is a regulation fence at 4ft 7in.
  • Fence 14 is relatively incident-free at 4ft 7in.
  • The Chair is jumped only on the first lap. The fence stands an incredible 5ft 3in high, and is fronted by a 6ft ditch on the approach side, requiring horses to clear a total distance of 9 feet.
  • The Water Jump is the lowest fence on the course at 2ft 9in, and requires horses to clear a 6ft water hazard on the landing side. It is only jumped in the first lap.

The Aintree Racecourse finish, at 494 yards, is one of the longest and toughest in horseracing, forcing weary horses and riders to negotiate a sharp turn before racing for the finishing post.