We all know that the grand national is one of the most popular sporting events in the UK, but few realise just how big the TV audience is for the great race.

In 2011 the grand national was watched by 8.8 million people, giving it a a 65% share of the TV audience. By contrast the 2011 FA Cup Final between Manchester City and Stoke was watched by 8 million.

Most people think that football holds the premier position on the nations TV screens. However, the Grand Nationals viewing figures equal or exceed nearly all of the major footballing events this year. Including the European Championship Qualifiers, Champions League Final (8.8 Million) & big EPL clashes.

Football isn’t the only sport taking a whipping on the box by the Grand Nationals viewing figures, in 2011 the race proved more popular than iTVs coverage of the Rugby World Cup Final (6m), it also put the brakes on the final F1 Grand Prix of the year (4.8m), then smashed the Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic final in the Australian Open (3.5m) and finished by chipped in ahead of Rory McIlroy’s challenge in the Masters Golf (3.6m) from Augusta.

A recent report by the BBC shows that horse racing is one of the few sports that is expanding despite very difficult economic conditions.

Whether your one of the record 73,000 fans who turned up to watch the 2011 race at Aintree or one of the 8.8 million sofa jockeys glued to the telly, the Grand Nationals appeal as a sporting spectacle seems to grow year on year.