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The Grand National is the most valuable National Hunt handicap horse race in the United Kingdom. It is the biggest betting race in the United Kingdom, and is popular amongst many people who do not normally watch or bet on horse racing at other times of the year. It is also one of the most controversial, due to the number of injuries and fatalities suffered by the participating horses and has, consequently, been targetted by animal rights groups who have campaigned to have it banned. It is usually held on a Saturday in early April at the Aintree Racecourse in Liverpool. The steeplechase is run over two circuits of the Aintree 'National' course, covering four and half miles (7.2 km). This is not to be confused with Aintree's standard 'Mildmay' park fence and hurdle course. There are 16 fences on the 'National' track, 14 of which are jumped twice (The Chair and the water are omitted on the second circuit). Some of these have acquired near-legendary status for their severity, particularly Becher's Brook and The Chair, although in recent years this severity has been much reduced due to pressure from various animal rights groups. The National is the centerpiece of a three-day meeting, one of only four run at Aintree in the racing season. The 2007 Grand National meeting will run from Thursday 12th - Saturday 14th April. In 2007 the Grand National sponsors John Smith's launched the John Smiths Peoples Race which gives 10 members of the public the chance to ride in a flat race at Aintree on Grand National day.

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      17.04.2011 18:51
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      Still can't pick a winner from a three legged donkey

      I must admit gambling on horses is completely out of my depth. I could not distinguish between a winner and a three legged donkey. However , my boyfriend and his friends have been going to Aintree for the last several years, so when they suggested the girlfriends also join them I thought why not. The Grand National at Aintree in Liverpool is the biggest racing social event of the year spanning over three days with the main even taking place on the Saturday. The event always takes place in April. This year the even took place on the 10th April 2011 and attracted crowd f around 75,000. My overall experience was mixed. I did not play any part in organising our groups outing so unable to comment of the price range of tickets. I think the tickets cost around £20 which are the cheapest tickets available. These tickets get you into the steeple chase part of the ground. We got out tickets around January time, but for the best seats I hear people book them up to 12 months in advance. The steeple chase is basically a grass verge, at the top are a number of port loos and a bar whilst at the bottom the bookmakers set out their stalls. Upon entering Aintre you are able to purchase a race programme, we paid £5. This is handy as it gives you information about the individual horses and race times to aid your selections. At the bar there are a selection of drinks available which included strongbow, fosters, john smiths, wine and a small selection of spirits. Drinks are not cheap often costing at least £3.50, they then poor them into plastic cups. Although I understand the reasons behind this, I find it really irritating as it results in people spilling their drinks everywhere especially whilst trying to manoeuvre down a steep hill. Plastic bottles would have been far more practical. I found one of the most enjoyable aspects of the day was trying to find the bookmaker with the best odds once you have picked the horse you want to back. It is important to note that with the exception of the Grand National race itself you don't actually see any horses run past you if you are watching from the steeple chase. The action has to be watched from a screen. I couldn't help felling a bit cheated by this. For the most part I could not see or hear what was going on which completely removed any excitement of the race as you had no idea how your horse was doing. We were fortunate enough to experience glorious sunshine. I think had it been raining the experience would have been quite awful. Many women being women including myself opted to wear heels-big mistake! First of all it was quite a walk to the ground once being dropped of by taxi or getting a train. Many women were complaining of burning feet as they entered the racecourse. The good weather meant many people could sit on the grass and many women opted to remove their shoes as standing on a steep hill in heels is quite uncomfortable. If it had been unfortunate to rain I dread to think about the mud bath that would of happened. Overall I did find the day quite enjoyable. I'm mot convinced if was enough to guarantee I will attend next year but one thing is definite-I will wear flat shoes!

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        12.12.2009 13:47
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        Its a good experience.

        I have been to the Grand National for the last two years. It is held in Aintree, just outside Liverpool on Aintree racecourse which is one of the worlds most famous racetracks. The grand national is the most watched horse race every year in the UK and as a result is the bookmakers busiest time of the year. It is run over three days with the main event shown on the Saturday afternoon of the race weekend. The Grand National is normally on in mid April. The race is run over two circuits of the racetrack, which is triangular in shape and on which there are sixteen fences. On the second circuit two of the fences are missed out. The most famous horse to win the grand national is Red Rum who won three times and finished second twice, although a lot of people (including me) expect this to be beaten in the next few years. In terms of my experiences at the National I was asked to go two years ago for a friends birthday, although at first I wasnt sure, because I wasnt really into gambling or horseracing at this time. Neverthless I did go along and im glad I did. Gates open I think from 10-11 o clock in the morning. We were in the Steeplechase enclosure- the cheap end. As you walk in you are searched and scanned etc and then there are lots of food vans and programme sellars, which I think are essential to keeping up with whats happpening during the day. Most importantly is the bar right at the top of the hill and men walking around with beer on thier backs, the drinks are quite expensive though, I think about £3.50 for a can of Fosters. All along the botton of the slope are the bookies, which all offer different odds for each race and I feel this is half the fun trying to find the best odds for your horse. Before the national itself there are normally 4-6 races and 2-4 afterwards so there are plently of chances to have a bet. On my first year I did win quite a bit of money as nearly all my horses won or did well, this year I didnt do quite so well however it was still lots of fun as its a day out that gives you a chance to dress up (if you want- its not cumpulosry in certain areas of the racecourse) and have a bit of a different day out with friends and familly.

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        20.10.2009 22:55
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        Great for the seasoned Racegoer but not my thing really

        The Grand National is probarbly one of the most famous horse races in the world and takes place at Aintree Race Course, in Liverpool, England, every year around April time. The race brings people and the press from all over the world and when concorde was still spanning the skies, it brought people to the city to spend their hard earned money on what is a very prestigious race. The world always seems to descend on Liverpool over this 3 day meet, which always culminates to the big Grand National Steeplechase on the Saturday. It can often be seen as a cruel race as horse and rider bid to race around a gruelling track full of difficult and often fatal jumps including the Canal Turn, Beechers Brook and many more. Many horses have lost their lives over the years but it still attracts thousands to the meet and millions on the TV. People who neve bet a penny during the year suddenly find themselves in betting shops, or send someone else to put a bet on for them. The 50p each way brigade suddenly turn up in droves and sit clutching their slips hoping that their horse survives to the end of the race. It normally takes about an hour to find out if it even started! I would go if it was free, but having gone back in the 1990's at some stage, i don't really think it is my scene. I loved it in the Queen Mother Stand having a few beers but my interest in horse racing was almost zilch. I find the whole sport a little cruel and seeing a horse fall is not my favourite of pastimes. If the rider falls then so be it, they choose to do this, and whilst i understand horses are born to run wild, i don't think making them jump over fences time and time again until they break a leg and have to be put down, is no fun at all for our equine creatures.

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          27.03.2009 19:51
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          A racing extravaganza of gargantuan proportions.

          The John Smith's Grand National is the most prestigious horse race in the United Kingdom, which is run annually at Aintree Racecourse in Liverpool, usually on the first Saturday in April. With almost 600 million viewers from 140 Countries, and close on 70,000 people actually attending Aintree Racecourse itself to view this fascinating spectacle at first hand, for just this one day, Liverpool, the jockeys and the horses become the central attention and focus of the world. Run over a distance of 4 miles and 865 yards, with 30 demanding and gruelling fences ahead of them, the horses must have stamina in abundance, and be able to negotiate the fences with all the elegance of a stag, because hitting a fence, or the jockey failing to time his mount's take off point to perfection, can cause the jockey to be thrown heavily to the floor (hurting pride, body and pocket), or cause the horse to lose valuable ground and gradually drain away its much needed energy. There are 16 fences in total which have to be jumped twice, except for the 'Chair' and 'The Water Jump' which only have to be negotiated the once, which is just as well because the 'Chair' (which is so named because of its position which is directly opposite the 'seat' reserved for the distance judge) is the most challenging and demanding of all the fences on the course, also being the tallest and the broadest with a six-foot long ditch on the take-off side, which more than any of the other fences, demands perfect timing of the jump. Meet this fence wrong and that's the end of the jockey's dreams of winning The Grand National for sure. If horse and jockey have safely managed to jumped the thirty fences without too much mishap, then there remains a gruelling 'run in' to the winning post of 494 yards via a very sharp turn known as 'The Elbow' (for obvious reasons). Grand Nationals have been won and lost on this long and tiring surge to the winning post, as, after an exhausting four and a half miles, horses legs start to turn to jelly as their jockeys drive their horses out, trying to get every last ounce of energy and stamina from their respective equine partners, pushing, shoving and encouraging their horses for that little bit extra that will force their heads over the winning line in first position, thus ensuring horse and jockey go down in the annals of horse racing history. Such are the gruelling demands of this unique race that often amateur jockeys are able to upstage their professional rivals. John Francome, Peter Scudamore, and more recently Tony McCoy, (deemed to be three of the best jockey's ever to sit on a saddle), have all failed in their attempts to win this coveted prize, yet amateurs such as Marcus Armytage (Mr Frisk 1990) and Dick Saunders (Grittar 1982) have succeeded where these professionals have so miserably failed! Since the equal opportunities legislation came into force in 1976, female jockeys were allowed to take their rightful place in The Grand National, and all eyes were on Charlotte Brew in the 1977 Grand National, as she was the first 'woman jockey' to have a ride in the event. More eyes and judgement were centred on here than on any of the horses or jockeys, as the men, and Charlotte on her horse Barony Fort, lined up for the race. Not many people took her seriously but to her credit she managed to jump 26 of the 30 fences before her horse refused at the last open ditch. She did not have to suffer too much in the after-race interviews however, because that was the year that the brilliant Red Rum won his third Grand National! Following Charlotte's brave attempt, five years later, Geraldine Rees became the first woman to actually complete the demanding Grand National course, jumping all thirty fences successfully on a horse called Cheers. Although finishing last of the eight horses that had managed to keep their feet, Geraldine had secured her place in the history books as the first female jockey to complete the course. With its demanding fences and gruelling distance, many people think that finding the winner is a bit of a lottery. Interestingly enough, the first ever winner of the Aintree Grand National was a horse aptly named 'Lottery', who won way back in 1839. People travel from all over the world to descend on Aintree for this fascinating spectacle, and in excess of 3000 caterers ensure there is enough food to go around, and almost one hundred ground staff spend months before the big race, preparing the fences and topping them with that beautiful spruce which is transported all the way from The Lake District. Virtually every year without fail, the winning horse or jockey has its own unique story behind it. For example, in 1992 Party Politics won the race despite a tube in his neck to help him breathe. Then there was Aldaniti's win in 1981 for jockey Bob Champion. Aldaniti had been plagued by injuries and Bob Champion was recovering from cancer. Despite these setbacks both horse and jockey defied the odds and sauntered home to victory. Also, in 1991 The Grand National was sponsored by a firm called Seagram and hence, was called The Seagram Grand National, and guess what the name of the horse was who won that particular years National? Yes, you've guessed it.....Seagram!! Millions of pounds are wagered each year, in trying to predict the outcome of the race. Some choose to go down the 'form' route, seeking out horses who will stay, jump well and will be suited to the particular going, while others simply pick a name or colour that takes their fancy. Whose to say one method is better than the other? Of course, no review of The Grand National will ever be complete without mentioning the legend that is Red Rum. He is the only horse ever to have won the race three times. On the other two occasions he took part, he finished gallant seconds. He made his début, coincidentally, in a five furlong sprint race at Liverpool, where he dead-heated for first place. The first of Red Rum's Grand National wins came in 1973. That was the year that another horse in the race called 'Crisp' looked to have an unassailable lead as he was almost 20 lengths clear of Red Rum as they jumped the last fence. It is to Rummies great credit and sheer determination that he gradually ate into that enormous lead and managed to force his head in front just yards from the winning line. Twelve months later, back at the scene of his famous victory, Red Rum did what only two horses had ever managed to do in the National's rich and glorious history...He did the almost impossible, and won the race for a second consecutive time, with Brian Fletcher doing the steering. This was the beginning of the Nations love affair with Red Rum, the likes of which are only bestowed upon a chosen few. In 1975 he met the twice Gold Cup winner L'Escargot and had to give him 11lbs. However he was still in front at the last, but the ground was very soft that day and Red Rum hated the ground, so with combination of giving weight away and the soft ground to contend with he had to give best to L'Escargot, still managing to run a very respectable second. In 1976 he took on another top class horse by the name of Rag Trade, and again having to carry top weight for the third successive year he found the task of giving the winner a 12lb weight advantage beyond him. Although he never gave up and closed in on him up the straight he was again destined to finish a gallant second. A year later, 1977 and Red Rum, already twice a winner, was now starting to get a little older. He was now 12 years old and many racing pundits and experts believed that Red Rum had gone to the well once to often and really had little or no chance this time round. Still having to carry the heaviest weight of any horse in the race due to his recent exploits, Red Rum took the lead shortly after Becher's Brook and strode away to win by an incredible 25 lengths from Churchtown Boy. This feat of sheer skill, determination and guts ensured Red Rums place in the Nations hearts, becoming a National hero and a household name overnight. Red Rum turned up for the next three years in an attempt to win his fourth National, but on each occasion was found to be lame before the start of the races, and being the grand age of fifteen, connections had to admit the inevitable, that Red Rum was now feeling his age and could no longer take part in a race that he had virtually made his own, and sadly retired him. This was not the end for Red Rum however. He now had a second life where he would lead the Grand National Parade well into the 1990's. He also attended opening ceremonies, drawing in vast crowds all eager to catch a glimpse of the 'wonder horse'. He even appeared on the BBC Sports personality of the year award. Red Rum died on October 18th, 1995 at the grand old age of thirty. His place in the history of the Grand National and of the Aintree racecourse will live on for ever, and a statue was built in his honour at the course. He was also given the honour of having his final resting place in one of his favourite places, and today he lays buried under the Aintree soil, with his head facing the winning post, much like he did in life. A fitting tribute indeed, to the Nation that held him so dear in their hearts!

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            24.03.2009 21:51
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            a great race

            The grand national is one of the biggest and best horse races in the calendar, and its also one of the trickiest to pick a winner. This is because its quite a tough course for the horses to race, there are a lot a lot of horses that race it too, I think its around 30 horses, and that's why its also a hard race to pick the winner as it really could be any of them as there's 30 fences to jump in total, and about half of the horses don't actually make it too the end, and there are usually a lot of fatalities in the race (in terms of horses). Last year the winner was comply or die, which was one of the favourites to win, I had only placed a £2 bet on it and so I only made about £10. However the year before that, the winner was silver birch and although I didn't place a bet on that, my friend had, and she won over £100 off a three pound bet she had put on it. So that just shows you that any horse could win it. Some of the horses are at over a hundred to one, I think one last year was at 250 to one, and I was tempted to place a bet on it, however I was pretty sure it wouldn't win. Despite the risks in this race, there are risks in every horse race, and every sport that people compete in. There are some people who want this race banned, and who indeed want all horse racing banned but I think that it is a great sport, and the amount of causalities isn't that high. It is a great spectators sport, and I hope it never gets banned.

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              11.01.2009 12:47
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              this race is for some people, not for me though

              The Grand National is one of the most famous horse racing races in the world and probably the race which attracts the most interest at the bookies too. It is a grade 3 handicap chase in which horses have to jump a great number of fences, thirty in total. The better horses are more handicapped than the lesser ones by the adding of weight to slow them down somewhat; virtually any of the horses has a shot of winning and some of them are priced hugely, meaning there is the potential to win a lot of money. It is currently open to horses aged six years and above. Last year's winner was Comply or Die ridden by Timmy Murphy and trained by David Pipe. It was not a year for a big payout though because the horse was in fact the 7/1 joint favourite to win the race. The previous year was better for the punters though with the 33/1 Silver Burch taking 1st place. Many people are dead set against the Grand National and many have protested to get the race stopped over the years, mainly animal rights protesters. It is fact that during the one hundred and sixty two runnings of the race, fifty seven horses have lost their lives. My feeling on the event is that although it is a great sporting spectacle, it is a very challenging course, possibly too challenging for the horses in my opinion. For this reason it is a race that I tend not to bet on, preferring the Epsom Derby or the Cheltenham Gold Cup as my main races of the year. Thanks for reading, feel free to comment.

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                06.04.2008 10:35

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                racing at aintree has been going on since the 1800's why ban its, its like fox hunting thats been going for 100's of years yes it is sad horses die but you breed chickens to eat and horses to race whats the difference

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                05.04.2008 23:27
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                time to tackle this subject

                It's so sad that the racing industry claim that horses would not exist without racing! non-competitive horse ownership is huge in the UK. I actually have no problem with racing per say, although I do have a problem with race horses being continually stabled as it results in behvioural problems, I am an Equine Scientist so I am in a position to comment! The National however is one race that I cannot condone, that volume of horses, over that distance, at that speed, over those fences is a recipie for disaster. It's not just the animals that die on the course, but those that are destroyed at a later date due to injuries sustained. I work in farm animal welfare as well as equine, and I can promise you that I am not an animal rights freak...in fact I spend a lot of my time trying to explain real welfare to these people, and it drives me mad when I have to disturb a farmer or owner because of a silly complaint. There are always risks in sport, a horse died at Badminton Horse Trials last year in horrific circumstances, but that was a freak accident, at least in other horse sports all possible measures are taken to prevent accidents, in British Eventing, you can be reprimanded for excessive speed or rekless riding. I strongly feel that this race should have serious measures taken to prevent these accidents, or should be disbanded altogether if you put it into context, how could you ban fox hunting and still allow the national to continue?

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                  15.04.2007 12:45
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                  ban it

                  I am writing to protest about this race. I don't watch grand national. It is cruel. Horses are made to run for 4 1/2 miles jumping 30 massive fences. Stand on one side of these fences and you won't see the other side that is how big Aintree fences are. Grand National was first run in 1837. Last year 247 horses died due to injuries sustained while racing in UK. This happens every year. Grand National is run over bigger fences than usual and on these fences horses are more at risk than usual. Information on death of horses at Aintree is difficult to find. I searched Google and couldn't find how many have died in last few years. Death of horses that race at Aintree where Grand National is run occurs almost every year. In 2003 five died. In 2000 national race I think 3 horses died, in 1998 several died, look back in archives and you will find 2007 is a special year (no horse died in the national), I think there was one that died on Thursday so not so special. We never hear of the ones that die off the course in days and weeks after the race due to injuries. Running for 4 1/2 miles tires out the horses. More than half fell in the race this year, this happens every year and of course when a horse falls some die. Grand National should be banned. It is run for bookmakers and businesses involved in horse racing to make money. Welfare of horses is second to profits. This is not only Aintree it is in the whole of racing industry. 1 in 33 horses run on British race courses dies every year. Ban Grand National and ban racing horses and dogs. Argument against this is that horses won't exist without racing. This is true but horses are bred to run and 3% die from injuries from races every year. This is not acceptable.

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                    14.04.2007 11:08
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                    Middle classes have to go into betting shops

                    April is just an amazing time for sport in the UK and with this weird and wonderful weather we are having it will be somewhat strange to see pretty girls in bikini tops and shorts for tomorrows Grand National. The Aintree event is traditionally more winter than summer in my experience of going up to Liverpool for the worlds most famous steeplechase and when the west wind blows off the Irish Sea you can taste the sewage scree in the air, carried all the way across from Southport and its grey and choppy estuary. It's the working mans big day out up north and a lot of beer is drunk and just as many tattoos on display, and that's just the girls. The royal enclosure here is the toilet block with the lids! But it has a unique atmosphere as far as the day goes and like any race meeting if you have a winner or two the world is a lovely place. The biggest problem at Aintree is getting out of the car park to go home, the winter mud and grass turned up like a plough under the zillions of coach wheels, many a stiletto never to be seen again. But would Wayne gallantly pluck Colleen from the hedgerow after one too many with her distinctly northern girlfriends. http://www.aintree.co.uk/ The bet. A win bet is money on the horse to finish first. You get your stake money back too. 10-1 with a pound bet pays 11 pounds. No tax anymore. An each-way bet splits your stake into two. One half bets on the horse winning, the other on it placing. If the horse wins at 10-1 each way with a one pound stake you get 50p at ten to one-£5.00-plus the place winnings-usually a quarter of the odds-paying £1.25p, a total win stake with your pound back is £7.25p! High street bookies have a minimum 50p stake trick box. Now, when you queue up to fill in the special betting slips just for the race make sure you ask for the price first if you want the current odds. If you don't the odds can tumble on a big betting race like this. Equally they can creep out. Ladbrokes and Hills have a sneaky little box you tick at the bottom to secure the price at the point when you pay the bet. This will print the price you secured on your receipt and help granny know what's what just before the off. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grand_National Superstitions The bookies will play on coincidences and price the horses accordingly. Every woman thinks they are psychic and just as they think 1,2,3,4,5,6 will never come up on the Lottery, even though it's the same odds as 45,12,3,18,24,11 coming up, they will bet on a nag called April Showers because its April! Saying that Party Politics won in an eelction year in the 90s so who knows. To pick a winner. I used to say it's not as hard as it sounds in the modern day National, but after Mon Mome's win at 100-1 you can forget that. But the notorious brutal fences have been lowered over the years, and so the horses a better quality because of. Until last year the nine of the last ten races the winner has been under 25-1, Mon Homme the wrecker of that stat, and well worth backing this year at 10-1 because it ran great at Cheltenham last month. The winners generally come from the top 25% of the field although the last two years they have not. But regular favourites winning are unusual for a steeplechase, the fences and stray horses always a lottery. In fact I guarantee you will get your money back this year if you bet the first ten horses each way, and even more money if you put that stake on the first five in the betting to win, such are the perfect conditions for the favorites today. The top weight -MADISON DU BERLAIS-never wins because of the lead in his saddle, and rarely places either, so discount that one. The jockey has to lose too much weight for the day and that tires them and the horses, trying to pull the old nags over the giant hedges, the nature of the leveling ethos of the handicap. French horses never seem to win either so you can run a line through them on the Daily Mail pull-out. Obviously the ground will be good to fast and so you can avoid the mud larks and the horses that prefer 'give' in the ground. Most of those will have been scratched by race day anyway. That will leave you with around 30 horses, but many of those will have silly odds, e/w fun bets at best. Dream Alliance is one of them, the 33-1 shot that was raised ona Welsh allotment! The handful of horses left under 25-1 will now be the ones to study harder. No horse has won back-to-back nationals since Red Rum, although they often place. Four of the last six winners have placed the following year. Remember you will get the first four places at quarter odds at the high street bookies. Big FellaThanks at 7-1 is the favourite but they usaully come down the first tie they pitch up at Aintres so not for me. My 3 predictions... State of Play 16-1 The Package 14-1 Mon Homme 10-1 to place Good luck! Especially to the horses when they land upside down on the hard ground. I'm just going to back the first five in the betting when I arrive at the bookies and count my winnings during the United game on TV. Remember it's about winning and not how much you win.

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                      14.04.2007 00:20
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                      Win

                      A yearly event for which we all will place a bet, something we may never do any other time in the year. But for this one we do, but why?? Who knows, I never watch horse racing any other time, but I study form, check out the course, await with anticipation this event. This year it is to be held on the 14th April, Saturday of course as it always is. Aintree in Liverpool is the venue. The course is 7.2 km, with 16 fences, famous fences such as Becher's Brook by which we eagerly await the fallers. I go to the bookies and place a bet, I also do whatever my work place is running which is usually lucky dip. Last year I was sucessful and my horse ran the whole course. So good luck all you novice racing betters and good luck to the Grand National Runners.

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