Where Are The Horses Kept On The Day Before They Race The Grand National?
On Grand National day, the horses are the stars of the show, but what we see on track is only part of the bigger picture that goes off. From looking after them, ensuring no issues with travel, keeping them safe and away from security breaches, and a lot more, is all required to make sure the Grand National goes off without a hitch.
The stabling of horses is one of the most important aspects of that. With runners from all across the UK, plus further afield, as we usually have a big contingent from Ireland, a lot of planning needs to go into this. Some will arrive the day before racing, or earlier, while others will find their way to Aintree on the morning of the race.
Looking After Horses The Day Before The Grand National
Some runners will be at home prior to Grand National day, but the logistics of that are impossible for many, which means that Aintree racecourse has a job on to get them sorted and happy. Don’t forget that the Grand National festival is a three-day event, so runners for the big race who arrive on Thursday or Friday will be arriving on days when racing is taking place at the course, and the staff have that to deal with.
Despite that, there is room for those who need to travel and arrive early, with an overnight stabling area at Aintree that looks after these. The horses are stabled here, with workers from their yards at home travelling with them to ensure a smooth passage to the race.
Each morning, the track is open for runners to go and exercise, for some this will be a gentle walk out, but for others, horses will be galloped by their work riders, it all depends on home routines which each trainer has in place.
The most important aspect of this though is that from a horse welfare point of view, or for those backing runners who arrive early, these horses are not simply kept in the stables until the race, they have the freedom to follow their training plan from home. This is the case even if that means going out on the morning of the race, or the day before, and being ridden for a short piece of work.
Looking After Horses On Grand National Day
Those that don’t arrive at Aintree early will arrive very early on the morning of Grand National day, and when the final runner has made it to Aintree, it is down to the stable staff on course to look after the runners.
Not only do these horses need the essentials, such as a stable, food and drink, but there is also the security side of the operation to consider on race day. It is imperative that the runners are kept safe, with no outsiders able to get into the stables and potentially harm one of the runners.
The stabling area of Aintree racecourse is one of the most secure parts of the entire area, with passes and checks required for anyone who wants to get in and out of this area. Safety is the first priority all day, but as we approach race day, there is another priority alongside that, which is to give all horses a check-over before they take each other on.
The veterinary team at Aintree will give every horse a pre-race medical check, to make sure they are fit and well ahead of hitting the track. It is at this point where we could see horses become non-runners, if the vet does not believe they are fit and ready to race. If your horse does not run, and the reasoning behind this is down to a vet certificate, then this is something that will have come to light in the pre-race checks.
This is also a moment where horses are checked over quickly for disease and illness because we do not want to see this spread around the other runners who are taking part. Finally, when all the checks are complete, horses are in a state where they are ready to run and will remain stabled until it is time to head to the pre-parade ring.