Open to horses aged five years or older, this National Hunt steeplechase takes place every February at Haydock Park. With 22 challenging fences to clear over a distance of 3 miles and 4½ furlongs. This race serves as an excellent trial for the main event at Aintree in April – The Grand National.
After running every year since 1947, the Grand National Trial hit a bump in the road from 1985 to 1990, when there were no races held over the traditional distance. But in 1991, the Greenall Whitley Gold Cup had its distance increased to 3 miles and 4 furlongs and effectively bringing back the original Haydock Grand National Trial. Fast forward to 1996, and the iconic Grand National Trial name was officially readopted.
The race was recently re-classified as a Premier Handicap, cementing its status as a must-see event for racing fans.
In 2011, the Tote took over as the primary sponsor of this race, and it was renamed totesport.com Grand National trial. This competition is an ideal proving ground for competitors aiming to have a crack at the Grand National.
Horses Who Won The Trial & Grand National
Horses that have claimed a victory in the Haydock race include some renowned names. The most famous horse to win the Trial is undoubtedly Red Rum. Ginger McCain’s legendary three-time Grand National winner, won the race in 1975, two years before his Aintree success in 1977.
Party Politics won this race in 1993, a year after securing his popular win at Aintree. Master Oats followed up his win at Haydock in 1994 with victory in the Welsh National and Cheltenham Gold Cup!
The horse Cool Ground is another runner to have achieved the Haydock-Cheltenham double. He won the Trial in 1991 and the Gold Cup in 1992.
In 2005 Forest Gunner won at Haydock and raced straight to Aintree for a spot in the Grand National. Their fifth place was the best finish by a female rider up to that point in the race’s long history.
Vieux Lion Rouge won the race in 2017, and while he never achieved better than 6th place in the Grand National, he did chalk up two wins in the Becher Chase at Aintree.
The 2023 Grand National Trial Winner
Venetia Williams’ 10-year-old mare, Quick Wave, proved she’s a force to be reckoned with by winning the 2023 Betfred Grand National Trial Handicap Chase at Haydock Park.
Despite a disappointing performance at the Coral Welsh Grand National earlier in the year, Quick Wave bounced back in style, battling fiercely to secure a three-quarters-of-a-length victory over Snow Leopardess (16-1) and Cloudy Glen (28-1).
Punters will be keeping a close eye on Quick Wave this season, she is currently a 25/1 shot for the Grand National in April, and she could be the one to watch as we head toward this iconic race. Although there is still plenty of time until then, Quick Wave has certainly put her name firmly in contention!
What’s The Prize Money?
While the Grand National Trial is undoubtedly viewed as a stepping stone to the Grand National, it’s essential not to underestimate the value of the former, with a prize purse of nearly £57,000 for the winning connections.
Tickets For The 2024 Grand National Trial
Don’t miss out on your chance to see the Grand National Trial live at Haydock Park! With tickets now available for the 2024 race, you can experience the excitement of this premier handicap National Hunt steeplechase firsthand.
Bring your friends and family to Haydock Park for a day of fun and excitement. And maybe even the chance to witness a future Grand National champion in action!
Where Is Haydock Racecourse?
Haydock Racecourse is located in Merseyside, in the North West of England. Specifically, it is situated in the small town of Newton-le-Willows. This is about halfway between the cities of Liverpool and Manchester. The racecourse is easily accessible by car or public transport, with ample parking available on-site and regular train services.