4PM - SATURDAY, APRIL 5TH, 2025

In October 2023, The Jockey Club announced a shift in the start time for the 2024 Grand National to 4 p.m. This change reflects the evolving demands of modern broadcasting schedules and a global audience. Prior to this, the race was held at 5:15 p.m., accommodating a growing TV viewership.

Early Years and Traditional Start Times

The first official Grand National, then called the Grand Liverpool Steeplechase, took place on February 26, 1839. While the exact start time isn't recorded, it's likely it occurred between 1:00 p.m. and 3:30 p.m., typical for major horse races of the 19th century.

20th Century: Establishing Tradition

By the 20th century, the Grand National settled into a more consistent schedule. For example, the 1940 race, the last before a five-year hiatus due to World War II, started at 3:15 p.m. This tradition continued post-war, with races generally starting between 3:00 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.

Red Rum Era and Television Influence

Red Rum’s historic third win in 1977 occurred at 3:15 p.m. However, as television's influence grew, so did the race's start time, shifting to accommodate a global audience. By 2003, the race started at 3:45 p.m., and by 2005, it moved to 4:10 p.m.

Modern Adjustments

In 2016, the start time shifted to 5:15 p.m., aligning with modern lifestyles and TV schedules. This timing remained until 2024, when it was adjusted to 4 p.m. to balance tradition with contemporary viewing habits.

The Unpredictable Nature of Race Day

Despite the scheduled times, the Grand National is known for its unpredictability. Factors like weather, horse conditions, and even protests can cause delays. For instance, in 2023, animal rights activists disrupted the race, leading to significant delays.

Conclusion

The Grand National’s history of fluctuating start times reflects its adaptation to the needs of its audience and the challenges of live events. As we look forward to the next years race, it's clear that while traditions evolve, the excitement and unpredictability of the Grand National remain constant.

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