The Grand National
The Grand National is an iconic horse race which happens every year in April at Aintree Racecourse in Liverpool in England. It started in 1839 and is still a very popular event today in the UK. The racecourse is the shape of a triangle and is about four miles long. The horses (and the jockeys!) have to go over 30 fences during the two circuits of the race course. As you can imagine, the race is very difficult and a lot of jockeys fall off their horses and therefore do not manage to complete the full course of the race. Sometimes there are serious injuries on the racecourse and some people say that the race is cruel, although a vet and doctor are always nearby in case of emergencies.
Many international jockeys and horses join the 40 competitors in the event. The most famous horse in the Grand National was one called 'Red Rum' which won the race three times during the 1970s and also finished twice in second place.
People get dressed up to go and watch the race in Liverpool and many women wear beautiful hats and dresses. Many people watch it on television. Some people even gamble in the Grand National and bet some money on the horse that they think will win the race which, if it wins, will reward them with a lot more money than they started to bet with. If a horse does not have a big chance of winning the race then the prize money will be greater. Sometimes, a horse that no one expects to win actually wins the race, which means that a lot of money is won by the people who placed a bet on it.
It is estimated that around 500 to 600 million people in over 140 countries watch the Grand National. Do you watch it in your country?