The Grand National prize money is something that hits the headlines every year. Over much of the past century the Grand National has steadily increased – although there have been some occasional reductions.
The reasons for these increases are mainly down to the popularity of the race and the availability of sponsors over the past four decades.
It means Grand National horses now compete for a £1million prize fund – an eye-watering figure compared to what the winners used to be paid.
Yet the Grand National isn’t even close to being the richest horse race on the planet. Here, Paddy Power explains the evolution of the Grand National prize money in our latest Demystifying Racing guide…
How big is the Grand National prize money?
The 2023 Grand National carries a prize purse of £1m. Of this, £561,300 will go to the winner. There will be 40 horses running at the Grand National in 2023 and only the top 10 finishers will earn any prize money. That means 75% of the field will go home with nothing.
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History of Grand National prize money
The £1m purse was finally set back in 2014 when organisers raised the Grand National prize money up from £975,000. But of course the purse wasn’t always this high.
Back in the 1920s winning owners were given £5,000 in prize money – the equivalent of £300,000 today. That’s still a big windfall for the champion owners, and over the years the prize fund steadily grew.
In 1939 the prize fund hit £10,000 for the first time, and by 1958 it had risen to £14,000. A New York Times report from 1973 outlines how Red Rum secured $63,175 for his first Grand National victory – roughly two thirds of the overall pot.
In 1984 the Grand National got its first title sponsor: Seagram. And from here the prize money shot up. Between 1986 and 1987 the first prize amount rose from £57,254 to £64,000. In 1992 the total fund was £167,386 and the first prize skirting £100,000.
The £200,000 mark for the total purse was broken in 1995 and two years later it surpassed £300,000.
John Smith’s took over the title sponsorship in 2005 – a year where the fund rose to £700,000. However, a year later it actually fell to £689,360, and two years after that dropped to £450,640.
Thankfully for the industry there has only been one further drop since. In 2021 the Covid-19 pandemic meant no-one could attend the race, and thus prize money fell from £1m to £750,000. However, pot rose back to £1m in 2022 and is fixed for 2023 as well.
Where does the Grand National prize money come from?
The majority of Grand National prize money is generated from sponsors and ticket sales for the Grand National festival. More than £3m is handed out in prize money over the course of the festival, and naturally the main focus is on the Grand National pot.
Randox are the current sponsors and have an agreement in place to headline the Grand National until 2026. The deal is thought to be worth several million pounds. And thousands of racing betting fans but Grand National tickets every year – a money-spinner for Aintree, that’s for sure.
Is the Grand National the richest horse race in the world?
No – and not by a long shot. The richest event in world horse racing is the Saudi Cup, a £16.6m sprint over the Riyadh dirt with £8.3m available for the winner. The Dubai World Cup comes swiftly after the Saudi Cup in the horse racing calendar and has a £9.6m purse, while Australia’s newfangled race The Everest offers up £8.24m.
More historic races such as the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (£3.8m), Japan Cup (£3.4m) and the Breeders’ Cup Classic (£2.2m) boast higher prize purses than the Grand National. Even America’s Pegasus World Cup offers more cash, despite its initial £9m purse being slashed to £2.5m in recent years.
2023 Grand National prize money
The prize money split for the 2023 Grand National is as follows…
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