There are 16 different fences in the Grand National, 14 of which are vaulted twice over the four-mile, two-and-a-half furlong course at Aintree. The fences play a major part in the drama at the Grand National as they test the skill of horse and jockey to the limit.
In recent years the Grand National fences have changed somewhat to make them safer. This has included lowering the heights, while the materials used within the fences are less bulky than before.
Here, Paddy Power gives a run-down of the fence heights at the Grand National, and why they differ.
GRAND NATIONAL FENCE HEIGHTS
Before we look at specific heights of fences at the Grand National it’s worth remembering that the minimum height for fences in the National Hunt season is 4ft 6in. The difference between fences and hurdles are both the height and the way they are built.
Workers at Aintree Racecourse have over the years changed the sturdiness of the fences in order to make they easier to pass over. They remain an integral challenge in horse racing but aren’t as dangerous.
Of the 16 different fences at the Grand National, seven are between the minimum 4ft 6in and 4ft 10in. There are six 5ft fences plus one that also features an open ditch. This is the 11th and 27th jump of the race and is called Booth, after a former fence builder at Aintree.
The Grand National also features a Water Jump on the 16th that is only 2ft 6in high. However, the water pond behind the fence stretches back further than an open ditch, meaning horses must leap as far as 12ft 6in to scale the jump.
HIGHEST FENCE AT GRAND NATIONAL
The Chair is the highest fence at the Grand National, standing at 5ft 2in. It it two inches taller than any other jump and is a notoriously difficult jump to master. Horses only scale The Chair once, as on their second lap round the racecourse both this jump and the Water Jump are missed out, as the horses charge towards the winning line instead.
The Chair gets its name from back in the 19th century when heats were run before the Grand National itself. A racecourse official would sit at this jump and any horse that failed to scale it before the first horse crossed the winning line was subsequently disqualified and cut from the list of contenders.
Racing betting fans will often hold their breath when their picks square up to The Chair, as vaulting this jump marks the halfway stage of the race.
GRAND NAITONAL FENCE HEIGHTS
16 – Water Jump
1 – Plain fence
7 – Foinavon
14 – Plain fence
2 – Plain fence
13 – Plain fence
4 – Plain fence
6 – Becher’s Brook
3 – Westhead
5 – Plain fence
8 – Canal Turn
9 – Valentine’s Brook
10 – Plain fence
11 – Booth
12 – Plain fence
15 – The Chair
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