Horse Talk: Cheltenham’s over - now for Aintree and the Grand National

National Hunt racing’s focus switches to Aintree for the Grand National meeting (April 4-6), following on from this year’s record-breaking Cheltenham festival.

Cheltenham have revealed that a total of 235,125 spectators were on course between March 12 and March 15.

The meeting boasted the best attendance figures for the first three days’ racing since the festival was extended to a four-day event in 2005.

The attendance could have been even higher, but for Cheltenham’s decision to limit the number of tickets available for the Gold Cup card on the fourth day – which was won by Bobs Worth – to 67,570.

Yet Aintree will hope to beat that figure on Grand National day. Since 2009 more than 70,000 racegoers have annually attended the world’s greatest steeplechase, staged over four miles and three and a half furlongs.

This year the race includes enhanced modifications designed to increase the safety of horses and riders in the £975,000 contest.

Jockey Club Racecourses’ north-west regional director John Baker, who is responsible for Aintree racecourse, said: “Balancing the Grand National’s enduring appeal while working to reduce risk in the race is a delicate but important balance to strike.

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“We have made significant investments in safety in recent years and we will continue to do so while preserving the unique character of the nation’s favourite race.”

Simon Jackson is a freelance racing journalist based in north west London. He can be reached at for press and PR enquiries, or racing/betting related news stories and features.