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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing


By Carl Bulzacchelli for HRI Foreign Staff — Now that the Grand National has been and gone, it’s a good time to reflect on what makes this event so magical and why it’s considered Britain’s most fantastic horse race.

This year’s race, which took place on Saturday, 15th April, was full of the usual excitement that this Steeplechase event usually brings to the world of horse racing and ended with the Irish thoroughbred Corach Rambler taking home the Grand National Trophy.

The Grand National is a British tradition, a staple event on the yearly calendar for all the nation, not just horse racing enthusiasts, but what makes this event so unique? Let’s take a look at what this historic event is all about and what it means to the UK. 

The first race is said to of taken place in 1839. However, some historians debate this (one being John Pinfold) and suggest it took place in 1836, but this is discredited due to the fact it is widely believed the races that took place until 1839 ran in Maghull. The first winner was a horse called Lottery; back then, the race was much different than today, with the horse having to jump over a stone wall and finish over two hurdles. 

What the event has become today is magical; the thrill and the intensity can’t be matched, there is always a feeling that any horse can win if lady luck is on the side of these majestic creatures, and this has been proven time and again with the number of surprises and unpredictable winners that have sprung up over the years. 

I have a particular affection for this race, as it was the first time I ever tried my luck on the horses. I put my money on a horse called Comply or Die, the eventual race winner. I remember sitting in the pub with the rest of the locals all huddled around the television, holding our betting slips. For an 18-year-old, the excitement of winning made me fall in love with this race and horse racing as a sport instantly. The extra money helped as well as stacking shelves at the local cooperative three days a week wasn’t the most lucrative work. 

With an extensive list of free bets available on major bookies, everyone can experience that same thrill from anywhere and on a larger scale — whether one is a professional punter or a newcomer to wagering. Today’s betting world has expanded far beyond its original scope with competitive odds, numerous markets, and the overall convenience of online betting, which makes it easy for anyone to place their bets and participate in the excitement of major horse racing events such as the Grand National.

And the excitement is aplenty, as the build-up to the race the week before is palpable; the buzz can be felt around the United Kingdom. Every workplace, be it an office or a building site, is dominated by conversations about the world’s most fantastic steeple chase, and we all know that one person who runs the sweepstake every year.

The cheers of the delight of the person that pulls out the odds on favourite, or the disgruntled moans and groans of the less good pulls from the hat are always amusing and add an extra layer of fun to things, and distract us from the daily grind life can be. 

On race day, everything stops around the whole country. People’s eyes and ears are transfixed on this magical race; for a brief moment, the country is unified. Everyone has their part to play from the spectators to the Jockeys, and of course the stars of the show, the majestic horses, and that’s what makes this race so special, there truly isn’t another race like it in my humble opinion. Not one that invokes so much feeling and passion. It truly is special. 

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