Scottish, Irish & Welsh Grand National Festivals

Scottish Grand National Festival

The two-day Scottish Grand National Festival is the most valuable National Hunt festival in Scotland, featuring 15 races, including the Champion Novice Chase, the Scottish Champion Hurdle and, of course, the Scottish Grand National. The Scottish Grand National was transferred to Ayr following the closure of Bogside in 1965, at which time the distance of the race was lengthened to 3 miles 7 furlongs and 176 yards. The Scottish Grand National takes place in April, often with a week or two of the Grand National proper at Aintree, so horses rarely contest both races. However, Red Rum did win both races in 1974 and, to date, is the only horse to do so.

Irish Grand National Festival

The Irish Grand National, also known as the Fairyhouse Easter Festival, is staged to coincide with Easter, which, by ecclesiastical rules, falls between March 22 and April 25. The Irish Grand National, run over 3 miles 5 furlongs, is the most valuable jump race in Ireland and has been staged at Fairyhouse since 1870, although the distance was lengthened by a furlong in 1991. Former winners of the Irish Grand National to win the Grand National proper include Rhyme ‘N’'Reason, Bobbyjo and Numbersixvalverde, although no horse has won both races in the same year. The roll of honour also includes Arkle, Flyingbolt and Desert Orchid, along with Brown Lad, who won the race three times, in 1975, 1976 and 1978. Aside from the Irish Grand National, the three-day festival also includes the Ryanair Chase, for novice steeplechasers, over 2 miles 4 furlongs.  

Welsh Grand National Festival

Unlike the Grand National, Scottish National and Irish National, which take place near the end of the National Hunt season, the Welsh Grand National is scheduled relatively early in the season, on December 27 each year. The Welsh Grand National is the highlight of a one-day fixture, rather than a two-day or three-day festival, but is nevertheless the most prestigious and valuable race run at Chepstow during the National Hunt season. The race was inaugurated in 1895, but run at Ely and Caerleon before being transferred to the Monmouthshire course in 1949. Notable winners include Corbiere, who went on to win the Grand National proper, in 1982 and Burrough Hill Lad, who went on to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup, in 1983.

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