Grand National Festival 2022 guide: When is it, times, big races, top horses, trainers and jockeys

The Grand National Festival isn't just about the world's greatest steeplechase...but it plays a big part. Planet Sport's Jonathan Doidge delivers our guide to the big races, trainers, jockeys and more

Whether you like horse racing or not the whole world will turn its attention towards the Grand National on Saturday, April 9 at 5:15pm. It's the horse race everyone and their granny have a bet on, with stakes ranging from 50p each-way to hundreds of thousands of pounds. 

But the Grand National Festival, also known as the Aintree Festival, is not just about one massive race. It's three days of top quality racing and all the big names from the sport will be in attendance.

Planet Sport's racing team will guide you through the Festival and point you in the right direction when it comes to all the action and importantly make you sound like a pro when talking to your friends.

When is the Grand National Festival?: Over three days, April 7-9 inclusive.

The opening day (Thursday, April 7) is known as Grand Opening Day, while the second day (Friday, April 8) is Ladies' Day. The final day, or day three as I like to call it, is known as Grand National Day.

Where is it?: Aintree racecourse, Liverpool, UK.

The Grand National is the longest National Hunt (jumps) race in Britain, contested over 4 miles 2&12; furlongs and a maximum of 40 horses are allowed to race.

How to watch on TV: ITV, ITV Hub and the Racing channel will be covering the Grand National Festival.

Other big races at the Grand National Festival

Aintree racecourse

Thursday, April 7: Racing begins at 13:45 and the last of seven races is scheduled to start at 17:15.

There are four Grade 1 races on day one of the Aintree Festival.

13:45 The Manifesto Novices' Steeplechase (2m3f)

14:20 Doom Bar Anniversary 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle (2m1f)

14:50 Betway Bowl Chase (3m1f)

15:25 Betway Aintree Hurdle (2m4f)

Friday, April 8: Racing begins at 13:45 and the last of seven races is scheduled to start at 17:15.

There are four Grade 1 races on day two of the Aintree Festival.

14:20 Betway Top Novices' Hurdle (2m½f)

14:50 Betway Mildmay Novices' Chase (2m1f)

15:25 Marsh Melling Chase (2m4f)

16:40 Doom Bar Sefton Novices' Hurdle (3m½f)

Saturday, April 9: Racing begins at 13:45 and the last of the seven races is scheduled to start at 18:20.

There are three Grade 1 races on the final day of the Aintree Festival, many people wrongly assume that the Grand National is a Grade 1 race but it's actually a Grade 3.

14:25 Betway Mersey Novices' Hurdle (2m4f)

15:00 Doom Bar Maghull Novices' Steeple Chase (2m)

15:40 Ryanair Stayers' Hurdle (Liverpool) (3m1f)

17:15 Randox Health Grand National (4m2½f) (Grade 3)

Right, now we've got you filled in on the present, let's move on to making you sound like you know what you are talking about with a quick guide to some legends of the Grand National.

Red Rum

Red Rum ridden by Tommy Stack wins the 1977 Grand National

No horse has come close to achieving what this horse did around the Aintree circuit.

By the time he made his first Grand National appearance, he was trained locally in Southport by Donald 'Ginger' McCain. From that base, he became the only horse to win the Grand National three times (1973, '74 and '77). He also finished second in both 1975 and '76.

His record is all the more remarkable because the racecourse fences were significantly more difficult that they are nowadays and he also ran all five of his Nationals over the previous distance of 4 miles 856 yards (approximately 4½m).

Dual Grand National winners

Tiger Roll and Davy Russell win the 2018 Grand National

Tiger Roll (2018 and '19) is the only horse since Red Rum (1973 and '74) to win the race twice in succession.

Abd-El-Kader was the first horse to win successive Nationals, in 1850 and 1851. In addition to him, The Colonel, (1869 & 1870) and Reynoldstown (1935 & 1936) are others to have won it two years in a row.

Youngest and oldest horses to win the Grand National

The oldest winning horse was Peter Simple, aged 15 (1853) which is 48 in human years. The youngest were Alcibiade (1865), Regal (1876), Austerlitz (1877), Empress (1880), Lutteur III (1909), all aged 5, which is 23 in human years.

So be careful if you are backing anything under the age of five, it'll be a record breaker if it wins.

Golden Miller

In 1934, Golden Miller became the only horse to complete the Cheltenham Gold Cup-Grand National double in the same year.

The other horse who came closest to doing so was Garrison Savannah, who was second in the Grand National in 1991, having won the Gold Cup a few weeks earlier.

Grey horses at the Grand National

Daryl Jacob celebrates with Neptune Collonges afteer winning the 2012 Grand National

Everyone loves a grey horse don't they. Especially as they are easier to pick out at a distance. But be warned, betting on a grey is a tricky business. Only three greys have won the Grand National.

The Lamb (1868 and '71 - also the first horse to regain the crown); Nicolaus Silver (1961) and Neptune Collonges (2012). Suny Bay finished second in successive years, behind Lord Gyllene (1997) and Earth Summit (1998). King Johns Castle also finished runner-up second in 2008.

And no, you newbies, Desert Orchid, the only grey horse you've probably heard of, hasn't won the Grand National. He has won the Cheltenham Gold Cup though.

The misery of the mares

You might want to steer clear of backing a mare too. No mare has won the Grand National since Nickel Coin, in 1951. A total of 13 have won the great race.

Since then, the following mares have been in the first four: Gentle Moya (2nd, 1956), Tiberetta (3rd, 1957 and 2nd, 1958), Miss Hunter (3rd, 1970), Eyecatcher (3rd, 1976 and '77), Auntie Dot (3rd, 1991), Ebony Jane (4th, 1994) and Dubacilla (4th, 1995).

Top Grand National jockeys

The jockey who has won the Grand National the most is George Stevens, with five wins.

In the 20th Century, Brian Fletcher rode the winner three times (Red Alligator, 1968; Red Rum 1973 and '74) and preceding him with three winners was Jack Anthony (1911, Glenside; 1915, Ally Sloper; 1920, Troytown).

In recent years, Leighton Aspell, Davy Russell and Ruby Walsh have all ridden the National winner twice.

Davy Russell won consecutive Grand National's on Tiger Roll, who sadly won't be running in 2022. Russell's ride for the 2022 Grand National will be confirmed in the week leading up to the race.

Top Grand National trainers

The great Vincent O'Brien trained the winner in three successive years, all with different horses. Early Mist (1953), Royal Tan (1954) and Quare Times (1955) were the trio.

Only two trainers have had Grand National wins with four different horses. Fred Rimell trained ESB (1956), Nicolaus Silver (1961), Gay Trip (1970) and Rag Trade (1976) to win. George Dockeray recorded his four wins more than a century earlier, with the first ever winner, Lottery (1839), Jerry (1840), Gaylad (1842) and Miss Mowbray (1852).

'Ginger' McCain also had four winners, but with two horses. He saddled Red Rum (1973, '74 and '77) and Amberleigh House (2004). His son, Donald, trained the 2011 winner, Ballabriggs, to keep it in the family.

Three different women have trained winners of the Grand National; Jenny Pitman, Venetia Williams and Sue Smith.

Pitman's historic first win came with Corbiere, in 1983. She won it again with Royal Athlete in 1995 and also trained the winner of the National that never was, in 1993, with Esha Ness. Venetia Williams was successful with 100/1 chance Mon Mome in 2009, whilst Sue Smith-trained the 2013 winner, Auroras Encore, who was a 66/1 shot.

Gordon Elliott has also won the race three times, with two different horses. He was virtually unknown when preparing Silver Birch to win in 2007. He was also responsible for dual winner Tiger Roll (2018 and '19).

Horses to look out for at the 2022 Grand National Festival

Bravemansgame - Exciting novice chaser trained by Paul Nicholls, who is unbeaten this season.

Entries: Thursday April 7, 13:45; Friday April 8, 14:55

Pied Piper - Third in last month's JCB Triumph Hurdle

Entry: Thursday April 7, 14:20.

Brazil - Won the Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival

Entries: Thursday April 7, 14:20; Friday April 8, 14:20.

Clan Des Obeaux - Four-time Grade 1 winner, including the Betway Bowl Chase at this meeting last year

Entry: Thursday April 7, 14:55.

Global Citizen - won the Grand Annual at the Cheltenham Festival

Entry: Thursday April 7, 16:40.

El Fabiolo - Exciting novice hurdling prospect trained by Willie Mullins

Entry: Friday April 8, 14:20.

Jonbon - Second in a high-class renewal of the Supreme at the Cheltenham Festival

Entries: Friday April 8, 14:20; Saturday April 9, 14:25.

L'Homme Presse - 5-5 over fences this year, including last month's Grade 1 Brown Advisory at the Cheltenham Festival

Entries: Friday April 8, 14:55.

Fakir D'oudairies - Winner of the Grade 1 Melling Chase last year

Entries: Thursday April 7, 14:55; Friday April 8, 15:30.

Minella Crooner - Second to Minella Cocooner in what was probably the best stayers' novice hurdle in Ireland this season

Entry: Friday April 8, 16:40.

Colonel Mustard - Classy Irish novice hurdler, third in the County Hurdle last month

Entries: Friday April 8, 14:20; Saturday April 9, 14:25.

Stage Star - Pulled up at Cheltenham on ground he didn't appear to handle but likely to be much better than that

Entries: Saturday April 9, 14:25

Edwardstone - The best two-mile novice chaser in Britain and Ireland this season, as underlined by his Arkle win

Entry: Saturday April 9, 15:00.

Flooring Porter - Dual winner of the Stayers' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival

Entry: Saturday April 9, 15:35.

Minella Times - Last year's Grand National winner under Rachael Blackmore. The partnership is back to defend its crown

Entry: Saturday April 9, 17:15.

Any Second Now - Third in last year's National and one of the leading contenders again

Entry: Saturday April 9, 17:15.

Delta Work - Multiple Grade 1 winner, who goes for the National on the back of a Cheltenham Festival Cross-County Chase success

Entry: Saturday April 9, 17:15.

Snow Leopardess - Classy mare who has won her last three starts, including the Becher Chase over the Grand National fences. Will be trying to end a drought for mares in the National dating back to 1951

Entry: Saturday April 9; 17:15.

Read more: Why is the Grand National the world's greatest steeplechase?

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