The parade ring at Aintree Racecourse is a gold mine of information. The parade usually takes place 15-20 minutes prior to the start of the Grand National.
So if you’re on-course then it’s essential that you check out the horses at the parade and pre-parade.
The parade gives you the best chance of getting up close to the horses you’re interested in backing. This is your chance to spot any potential positive or negative factors that may have a bearing on how the horses will run.
Savvy punters will always check out the horses at the parade!
But what exactly should you be looking for? Well, our parade ring tips will give you a few pointers to watch out for.
Normally, this would apply to the main race as well as all races during the Aintree Festival. But 2024 will be different.
New changes to the race will be implemented from the 2024 Grand National onwards.
That means that a handler on-course will no longer lead horses during the pre-Grand National parade.
Instead, the runners will be released at the end of the horsewalk and will then canter in front of the grandstands to allow them to prepare for their race in their own time.
However, that doesn’t mean you won’t see them as they trot by, so the points below still stand. And, of course, you can use them for any race with a parade ring.
It’s not uncommon to see a horse sweating up before a race, especially on a hot summer day. Don’t worry too much about patches of sweat on the horse’s neck, but stay away from a horse that’s dripping in sweat!
It’s known as ‘Boiling Over’. Just like humans, horses sweat excessively when nervous, overwhelmed or generally unwell. Excessive sweating is a bad signal.
Just like dogs, horses with glossy coat are seen to be in very good condition. It’s like a human having good clear skin!
So look for those signs, compare one horses coat with another in the parade ring. Horses will look good when they feel good.
A horse’s head can tell you a lot, so look at the horses in the parade ring and which have their heads up, looking around. Which horses are looking at the floor?
Like football players, horses are prone to sulky moods. A horse with its head down can be a bad sign.
In human terms, ‘Coltish Behaviour’ would be like a typical teenager’s behaviour. Examples would be the horse getting overexcited in more ways than one, generally messing around, giving the stable girl a tough time etc.
It normally shows a horse’s mind is somewhere else other than the racecourse. Bad Sign!
Everyone has an opinion about horses in the parade ring. Some like a horse that’s a little bit excited, and others look for calm, steady types.
Making The Best Of Your Grand National Day Out
The parade ring is a popular spot, so arriving early will allow you to secure a good spot and watch the horses as they make their way around the ring.
The Grand National is a formal event, so dressing appropriately is a must. Dress to impress, but wear comfortable shoes as you might have to stand for a while.
If you want to get a closer look at the horses and jockeys, bringing binoculars can be a great idea.
Follow The Action
Keep an eye on the screens around the course to stay up to date with the latest information on the race.
Don’t Touch The Horses
It’s important to remember that the horses are there to race, not to be petted or touched. Keep a safe distance and enjoy the spectacle from afar.
The Grand National is a long day out, so make sure you stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
Don’t spend the entire day in the parade ring. Take breaks, walk around and explore the course to appreciate the event fully.
Be respectful of other fans around you and try not to block their view.
Most importantly, have fun! The Grand National is a unique and exciting event, so enjoy the experience and soak up the atmosphere.
Watching The Parade Ring From Home – What To Look For
Not all of us are lucky enough to enjoy a race as amazing as the Grand National in person. So if, like millions of other fans, you are watching the parade ring from home, there are a few things you can look for to get a better understanding of the horses and jockeys before the race:
The horses’ behaviour: Watch how the horses behave in the parade ring. Are they calm and relaxed, or are they agitated and restless? Horses that are nervous or stressed may not perform as well on the course.
The horses’ appearance: Take note of the horses’ appearance. Are they well-groomed and healthy-looking? Do they appear fit and ready to race?
The jockeys’ behaviour: Observe the jockeys as they mount their horses. Do they appear confident and focused, or are they nervous or tense?
The trainers’ behaviour: Keep an eye on the trainers as they give instructions to the jockeys. Are they calm and collected, or do they appear worried or concerned?
The racecourse conditions: Look for any clues in the parade ring that might indicate how the horses will perform on the course. For example, if the course is wet and muddy, watch for horses with long legs and big hooves, which may perform better in those conditions.
By paying attention to these details, you can gain a better understanding of the horses and jockeys before the race and make more informed betting decisions.
However, it’s important to remember that even the most well-prepared horse can have an off day, and nothing is guaranteed in horse racing.
Why Do Racecourses Have Parade Rings?
The main point of a parade ring, also known as a paddock or a walking ring, at a racecourse is to give the public an opportunity to view the horses and jockeys up close before the race.
It is a designated area where the horses are paraded around, allowing the public to get a closer look at them, examine their form, and watch how they move.
The parade ring also provides an opportunity for the jockeys to mount their horses and for the trainers to give them last-minute instructions before they head out to the course.
The parade ring is a crucial part of the race-day experience for many fans, who enjoy the chance to see the horses and jockeys before the race and to get a better understanding of what’s involved in preparing for a horse race.
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