Oh, hurrah. I’ve been waiting for this weekend for a year now, ever since enjoying it so freaking much last year. It’s the Grand National!!! Saturday, 10 April @4:15pm marks the most prestigious horse-racing event of all of England, held at Aintree, Liverpool.
If you don’t purchase tickets to attend the spectacle itself, at least make sure to root yourself on a pub stool earlier in the afternoon to procure your spot for prime TV-viewing. I can’t vouch that all pubs will be broadcasting it, but me, I’m heading to the Sporting Page in Chelsea, a classic riding-themed venue of an intimate size off a quiet street. The atmosphere there starts out low-key enough, until within the hour before race-time the crowd starts to develop (many dressed as jockies if not horses!), and it becomes standing-room only as everyone rallies behind their horse of choice. Amateur gamblers should love this event—there is zero skill involved on your part in selecting a winner. Statistics be hanged! It’s any man’s/horse’s race out there. If you don’t make it over to a Ladbrokes or William Hill to place your bets, there will probably be an informal pool to be had among your pub-peers.
Why do I play this race up so much? Whereas most horse races are over in a blink, this one lasts almost ten minutes. Those horses definitely sloooow down to a huffing gallop after a while, so exhausted they are from the steeple-chase that challenges them to bound over 5-foot hedges and simultaneously send their jockies flailing in the air. I’m not joking…I audibly screamed (many, many times) when I first watched this and saw how jockies fly off their horses and then curl up tightly on the ground to protect against the other horses still leaping over the fences. It’s terrifying and exhilerating and hilarious all at once. The horses may run for a while without their riders, enjoying the frolic with their horsie friends and delighting in how much easier it is to jump the hedge with their lightened load.
Tune in for certain, even if it’s just within the comforts of your home that London Relocation Ltd. placed you in (or will place you, in time for next year’s race!)