What is the smallest number of finishers ever in the Grand National?

The smallest number of finishers ever in the Grand National was just two, in 1928, and just one of them, 100/1 outsider Tipperary Tim, completed the course unscathed. The only other finisher, Billy Barton, had been left ahead at the fence before Becher’s Brook on the second circuit, but had been joined by Tipperary Tim when falling at the final fence; he was subsequently remounted and completed the course to finish a distant second.

The 1928 Grand National was run in testing conditions, but the main reason just two of the 42 starters finished was a melee at the Canal Turn on the first circuit, which decimated the field. The Canal Turn was, at the time, an open ditch and Easter Hero, who fell, and Eagle’s Tail, who refused, were the main agents provocateur in reducing the field to nine heading out onto the second circuit. At the fourth last fence, just three horses, headed by Great Span, were left standing; hindered by a slipping saddle, Great Span unseated rider at the second last and, when Billy Barton came down at the last, Tipperary Tim was left, at least temporarily, alone to gallop home unopposed.

Which horse made eight appearances in the Grand National?

The revered Red Rum, of course, made five appearances in Grand National, winning in 1973, 1974 and 1977 and finishing second in 1975 and 1976. However, much earlier in the annals of the Grand National – in fact, in the decades around the turn of the twentieth century – Manifesto made eight appearances in the space of ten years.

Bred and originally owned by Irish solicitor Harry Dyas – who also rode him, albeit no further than the first fence, in the 1896 renewal of the National – Manifesto won twice, in 1897 and 1899, and finished in the first four on another four occasions, including on his debut, as a seven-year-old, in 1895. His second victory, in 1899 – by which time he had been sold to stockbroker John Bulteel and transferred to trainer Willie Moore – was notable for the fact that he carried 12st 7lb. So, too, was his highly creditable third, under an eye-watering 12st 13lb, behind Ambush II in 1900. Manifesto made his final appearance in the National, as a sixteen-year-old, in 1904, finishing eighth and last.

What are the race conditions for the Grand National?

In recent years, in the interests of safety, the race conditions for the Grand National – particularly those relating to the eligibility of horses and jockeys – have been modified more than once. Nowadays, to be eligible to run in the National, horses must be at least seven years old and have an official handicap rating of 125 or more, according to the British Horseracing Authority (BHA). Furthermore, horses must have competed in three or more steeplechases during their careers, including at least one during the current season, and have finished first, second, third or fourth in a steeplechase over an official distance of 2 miles 7½ furlongs or beyond. To be eligible to ride in the National, jockeys, whether amateur or professional, must have ridden at least 15 winners – of which at least ten must have been in steeplechases – under the Rules of Racing in Britain or Ireland. Other changes to the race conditions for the Grand National since the turn of the century include lowering the maximum weight to be carried from 12st to 11st 12lb in 2002 and from 11st 12lb to 11st 10lb in 2009; as previously, no penalties are applied once the weights have been published.

Why is the height of horses measured in hands?

The hand is an ancient, nay archaic, unit of length, which can be traced back to Ancient Egypt. As far as Britain is concerned, the hand was standardised to four inches – that is, the approximately breadth of a man’s hand, including the thumb – by King Henry VIII in 1514.

Nowadays, most European countries measure the height of horses in metres and centimetres but, curiously, Britain and Ireland still do so in hands, despite the hand being obsolete for any other purpose. The height of a horse from the ground to the tallest point on the body, a section of the spinal column above and just behind the shoulders, known as the ‘withers’.

The average height of a thoroughbred racehorse is sixteen hands and one inch at the withers, which is usually written as ’16.1hh’; note that while hands are expressed decimally, they are base four units, so a horse measuring 66”, or 5’6”, would be described as ’16.2hh’, not ’16.5hh’.

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