The Aintree Grand National is one of the most famous horse races in the world, watched by millions each year. A key factor that can influence the outcome of this race is the 'Going'. The 'Going' refers to the condition of the ground on the racecourse on race day, and it plays a significant role in how the race unfolds.

What is the 'Going'?

The 'Going' describes the state of the ground at a racecourse and is categorized into several official descriptions: 'Firm', 'Good', 'Good to Soft', 'Good to Firm', 'Soft', and 'Heavy'. Each category tells us how hard or soft the turf is, which can change due to weather and how the course is maintained.

Categories of 'Going':

  • Firm: Very hard ground, making it easy for horses to run fast.
  • Good: Ideal ground, not too hard or soft.
  • Good to Soft: Slightly softer than good.
  • Good to Firm: Slightly harder than good.
  • Soft: Quite soft, slowing down the horses a bit.
  • Heavy: Very soft and muddy, making it hard for horses to run fast.

How the 'Going' Affects the Race

On the day of the Grand National, the 'Going' can greatly impact the race's outcome. Different horses perform better on different types of ground. Here’s how the 'Going' affects the race:

Firm Ground

Firm ground suits faster horses because it offers little resistance. These conditions often lead to a fast pace right from the start. However, the risk of horses falling increases because they are moving so quickly over the fences.

Soft or Heavy Ground

Soft or heavy ground is more challenging. It slows down the horses and requires more stamina. These conditions can make the race more unpredictable and often lead to long-shot winners. For example, Ben Nevis, a 40-1 shot, won on heavy ground in 1980. In 2001, Red Marauder won at 33-1 under similar conditions.

Impact on Jumping

The 'Going' also affects how horses jump the fences. On firm ground, horses approach the fences faster, increasing the likelihood of falls. On heavy ground, the slower pace and softer landing might reduce the number of falls, but the overall challenge remains high due to the difficult conditions.

Historical Context

Historically, when the Grand National has been run on heavy ground, fewer horses finish the race. On 28 occasions when the race was on heavy ground, only an average of eight horses completed the course. This shows how tough these conditions can be.


Understanding the 'Going' is crucial for anyone interested in the Grand National. It affects the speed, stamina, and jumping ability of the horses, influencing the race's outcome. Whether you are a casual viewer or a serious punter, paying attention to the 'Going' can give you better insights into what to expect from the race.



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