The biggest test for racehorse and jockey awaits the runners of the world’s most famous horse race – the John Smith’s Grand National – live for the first time ever on Channel 4.
Known as the ‘People’s Race’, it captures the hearts and the imagination of inveterate racing fans and once-a-year viewers alike.
At four-and-a-half miles it is a marathon horse race in the extreme, severely testing the partnership between jockey and horse as they strive to clear 30 fences and negotiate two circuits of the famous Aintree course on their way to sporting immortality.
Channel 4 will broadcast the 2013 edition of the nation’s favourite horse race live on Saturday, April 6, as well as extensive coverage of all three days of the Aintree meeting (April 4-6), plus a range of support programming building up to the world’s most iconic horse race.
The Grand National is the world’s most famous steeplechase and as one of the few sporting events with national and worldwide resonance it stands as the centrepiece of a three-day meeting at Aintree.
Drawing in 150,000 spectators from the city of Liverpool and beyond, the Grand National itself is televised in 140 countries and attracts an audience estimated by Aintree at 600 million.
As sporting sights go, few match the sheer excitement of 40 horses thundering towards the first fence for the National.
A race steeped in history that always provides a story, the Grand National is the ultimate test of endurance and skill for both horse and jockey, as the pairing must navigate 30 treacherous fences, and then still have enough stamina to make a challenge on the run-in.
To manage a clear round in the 4m-4f epic is no mean achievement, with the fences notoriously difficult and offering unique challenges.
Over the years, there have been countless memorable moments – Devon Loch’s phantom leap in the 1956 contest, Foinavon’s shock 100-1 win in 1967and the brilliance of Red Rum, who took the chase on three occasions in 1973, 74 and 77.
In 1981 Aldaniti and Bob Champion completed a heartwarming tale when winning the race, as Aldaniti had recovered from a career-threatening injurywhile jockey Champion had battled back from cancer.
In 2011 the race provided another fairytale story as Donald McCain emulated his father and Aintree legend Ginger when winning with Ballabriggs, coming just a year after champion jockey Tony McCoy finally gained victory in the race at the 15th time of asking.
Age matters when it comes to picking a winner, as nine-year-old horses have proved the most successful age group in recent years, providing the winner in nine of the last 30 runnings.
They also have the best overall record in the Grand National, winning at least 44 times in 165 runnings.
A change in race conditions instituted for the 2012 running means that only seven-year-olds and upwards can now take part in the John Smith’s Grand National.
Due to the field size and competitiveness of the John Smith’s Grand National, statistics show that the race winner usually starts at double-figure odds in the betting market – only eight favourites have won since 1959.
Last year, Neptune Collonges, ridden by Daryl Jacob, beat Sunnyhillboy in the closest-ever recorded finish to a Grand National.
The now-retired grey, a 33-1 chance, got up in the last stride to win after a photo finish, giving champion trainer Paul Nicholls his first win in the big race in 53 runners.
Despite the tragic loss of two horses, including Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Synchronised, the dramatic conclusion to the race was a fitting end to BBC TV’s long-standing association with the race.
The event enters a new era in 2013 as the historic Aintree showpiece will be broadcast for the first time ever on Channel 4.
Full details of how to follow the 2013 Grand National on Channel 4:
Channel 4 will have exclusive terrestrial coverage of the three-day Grand National meeting for the first time in 2013, incorporate over 15 hours of live action with five daily races.
Having taken over as the home of all major free-to-air racing at the beginning of the year from the BBC, the network promises to provide the most comprehensive coverage of the great race ever seen on British television, with a range of innovations and support programming bringing the great event to a wider audience.
A ground-breaking promotional campaign has supported the channel’s commitment to the event, headlined by the ‘Street Race’ trailer (above) filmed in Liverpool’s Everton Park which has been run across all Channel 4 networks in the build-up to the race.
The Morning Line will preview all the action on Thursday and Friday in its usual 7.55am slot, with Saturday’s show moving to 9:30am to begin Channel 4′s full day programming based around the Grand National.
Clare Balding leads Channel 4′s live afternoon coverage on all three days of the famous Aintree meeting.
She will be joined by Nick Luck, who anchors the analysis and discussion from the Channel 4 trackside studio overlooking the main grandstand alongside Jim McGrath, Mick Fitzgerald, Graham Cunningham and Ted Walsh.
With unique access to the stables, jockeys changing room and steward’s room, Alice Plunkett and Rishi Persad will bring all the atmosphere of the thrilling three-day meeting to the screen enabling viewers to be even closer to the action than ever before.
Channel 4′s principal commentator Simon Holt will call his first ever Grand National for British television.
He will be supported by two additional commentators – Richard Hoiles and Ian Barlett – for the feature four miles, three furlongs contest that incorporates 30 fences that includes landmarks such as Becher’s Brook, the Canal Turn, Valentine’s and the Chair.
Tanya Stevenson will be on-hand to relay the betting news and views alongside veteran RTE reporter Brian Gleeson, while award winning writer Alastair Down stepping in to deliver daily essay-style preview packages.
In total, 45 cameras will be deployed around the Aintree courses for Channel 4′s Grand National meeting coverage, including a brand new tracking camera which will be used to follow the action around the track and will carry an inaugural tracking crane to assist pictures.
A dedicated Becher’s Brook fence camera will be reinstated covering iconic head-on shots, while a new fence sound system will capture the true essence of the high-action and drama of the entire Grand National meeting.
All of Channel 4′s coverage will be available to watch in high-definition on Channel 4 HD, plus live streaming online via channel4.com.
Channel 4′s multi-media platforms will also provide a comprehensive service across the three-days to support viewers’ enjoyment of the event.
Live text commentary and a live TV feed of the parade ring will be available at channel4.com/racing, plus the a recently launched Channel 4 Racing App for iPhone and other mobile devices provides all the latest news, statistics and betting odds.
‘Horse Tracker’ works with Channel 4′s live coverage of the John Smith’s Grand National on your TV, giving you detailed, real-time information on a selection of races over the course of three days at Aintree.
A non-synchronised version of tracker will also be available online via the Channel 4 website.
Commenting on the network’s extensive coverage, Jamie Aitchison, Channel 4’s Sports Editor, says: “Cheltenham Festival proved that racing provides all the drama and emotion of a world class sporting event.
“We were delighted to bring the four days into people’s homes and after a strong start to our Crown Jewels coverage we now head to Aintree with relish.”
Last year’s Grand National winning jockey, Daryl Jacob, said: “It’s brilliant that Channel 4 is determined to take racing to the masses.
“My sport is truly privileged to have a broadcaster that shows such commitment and I know their National coverage will be top class.”
Dedicated horse racing channel Racing UK will screen complete coverage of the 2013 Grand National meeting.
All 21 races will be broadcast live across the three-day event, including exclusive live coverage of the final two races on each day.
To subscribe to Racing UK: CLICK HERE
Channel 4 will run a special season of programmes surrounding the Grand National, including a centrepiece documentary, a Come Dine with Me special, Alan Carr’s Specstacular and a special edition of Sunday Brunch.
On Thursday and Friday, there will be a two-part Come Dine with Me special starring Channel 4 Racing’s Emma Spencer and jockey Mattie Batchelor.
The team behind Inside Nature’s Giants will explore what makes a Grand National winner in a special documentary entitled How to win the Grand National.
Drawing on the testimony of jockeys, and analysis of the anatomy of the horses, presenter Mark Evans will look at the race in forensic detail from its origins in the muddy chaos of Irish cross-country drag hunting, through to laboratories where new research is unlocking the biological basis of success.
On the eve of the big event there is a also a special celebrity packed Alan Carr’s Grand National Specstacular, celebrating Channel 4′s first broadcast of the Grand National.
There’s a heady mixture of celebrities including Jonathan Ross, Paddy McGuinness, James Nesbitt, Miranda Hart and Alex Brooker for some horsey-themed studio games, plus music from Madness.
There are also some special links from a day at the Cheltenham races with Alan and Russell Brand, including a chance encounter with Clare Balding, plus the biggest ever celebrity sweepstake involving not just the studio guests but a host of other famous faces.
Then on Grand National day itself, Channel 4 is on air throughout the day with a special Sunday Brunch, for one week only on Saturday, building-up to the highly anticipated race.
Simon Rimmer cooks up a variety of tempting and delicious recipes at Aintree, while Tim Lovejoy is back at the studio with a variety of celebrity guests and music, before they hand over to Clare Balding and the Channel 4 Racing team for full live coverage from Aintree.Thursday 4th April Come Dine with Me – Grand National Special (Part 1) 5.15pm-6.00pm – Channel 4 Friday 5th April Come Dine with Me – Grand National Special (Part 2) 5.15pm-6.00pm – Channel 4 How to Win the Grand National 8.00pm-9.00pm – Channel 4 Alan Carr’s Specstacular 9.00pm-10.00pm - Channel 4 Saturday 6th April Saturday Brunch 10.30am-1.00pm – Channel 4 .. .. ..
Clare Balding and Nick Luck lead the Channel 4 Racing team as they present all the drama and excitement of day one of the Grand National meeting.
Today’s feature is the John Smith’s Aintree Hurdle, with £200,000 to be won by the country’s top hurdlers.
There’s also the first race over the big fences with the amateur riders’ Fox Hunter’s Chase.14:00 - Matalan Anniversary 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle 14:30 – Betfred Bowl Steeplechase 15:05 - John Smith’s Aintree Hurdle 15:40 – John Smith’s Fox Hunters’ Chase 16:15 – matalan.co.uk Red Rum Handicap Chase 16:50 – Betfred Manifesto Novices’ Chase (RUK) 17:25 – Silver Cross Handicap Hurdle (RUK) The Morning Line: 7.55am-8.55am – Channel 4 DAY 1 LIVE: 1.30pm-4.30pm – Channel 4
Clare Balding and Nick Luck present the second day of high drama and even higher quality racing from Aintree.
Today’s highlight should be the Melling Chase, where Cheltenham hero Cue Card is set to be taken on by the Irish star Flemenstar.
Plus there will be all the news and special features ahead of tomorrow’s John Smith’s Grand National.14:00 – Rose Appeal Supports Alder Hey Top Novices’ Hurdle 14:30 – John Smith’s Mildmay Novices’ Chase 15:05 – John Smith’s Melling Chase 15:40 – John Smith’s Topham Chase 16:15 – John Smith’s Sefton Novices’ Hurdle 16:50 – John Smith’s Daily Mirror Punters Club H’cap Hurdle (RUK) 17:25 – John Smith’s Mares’ Standard Open NH Flat Race (RUK) The Morning Line: 7.55am-8.55am – Channel 4 DAY 2 LIVE: 1.30pm-4.30pm – Channel 4
Clare Balding and Nick Luck are in Aintree to bring viewers all the excitement and drama of the 166th running of the world’s most famous race – the Grand National.
Since it was first won, by the ironically named Lottery in 1839, the famous fences, such as Becher’s, Valentine’s and The Chair, and the lung-bursting run-in of this great race have represented the pinnacle of ambition for jockeys, trainers and owners around the globe.
Ahead of the big race, there are four other top-quality races, and the Channel 4 team will tell many of the great stories that surround the 40 runners and riders facing today’s unique challenge.
Following the race, there will be comprehensive analysis plus a full Grand National re-run, clarifying where history and heroes were made.13:45 – John Smith’s Mersey Novices’ Hurdle 14:15 – John Smith’s Maghull Novices’ Chase 14:50 – John Smith’s Liverpool Hurdle 15:25 – John Smith’s Handicap Chase 16:15 – John Smith’s GRAND NATIONAL CHASE 17:10 – John Smith’s Handicap Hurdle (RUK) 17:45 - John Smith’s Champion Standard Open NH Flat Race (RUK) The Morning Line: 9.30am-10.30am – Channel 4 GRAND NATIONAL LIVE: 1.00pm-5.10pm – Channel 4 Highlights: 12.25am-1.15am – Channel 4 . .