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The National Hunt features the two most prominent horse racing events that take place within a month. The Cheltenham Festival kicks off in March, while the Grand National is set to begin in April. For all racing aficionados, this time of the year is jam-packed with great excitement. Over 60,000 of them gather in Gloucestershire and Merseyside to watch the racing unroll over the course of seven days. The spectators go between the racecourses of Cheltenham and the racecourse of Aintree. This is where the Cheltenham vs Grand National battles are in full swing.
How to settle The Cheltenham vs Grand National debate and determine which event is bigger? Is it the winner of the Cheltenham vs Grand National battle decided by the sheer number of attendees in the audience of the races, or how much is wagered on the distinguished races? Should we narrow the choice to which of the two events is extolled by the trainers and jockeys? Which events in the Cheltenham vs Grand National duel the audience cares for more? The straight answer would be that all responses will be different and varied as it all depends on who you talk to.
The Number of Races
Let’s get kicking the most apparent difference that is easily overlooked. The Cheltenham Festival’s Prestbury Park venue includes 28 races spanning over four days. The Grand National is only one race. Yet, those who care little for the sport of horse racing overlook the fact that Grand National is a part of a 3-day festival taking place on Merseyside. The reason for this is that the other two days aren’t as popular and important as the National race.
Of course, tabloid newspapers like the Daily Mail are known to show up to jibe at racegoers looking for a good time, most prominently on Ladies’ Day. However, that has nothing to do with racing and the Cheltenham vs Grand National showdown.
The Cheltenham Festival, on the other hand, incorporates several days of top-notch racing, leading to their pinnacle represented by the Gold Cup. This event is also followed by many other exceptional races that keep punters on the edge of their seats. So, in terms of entertainment and in regards to races such as Queen Mother Champion Chase, Coral Cup, Stayers’ Hurdle, and Champion Hurdle, the Festival might have the upper hand.
What Do Racing Enthusiasts Prefer?
Another decisive factor in the Cheltenham vs Grand National showdown can be the Grading of the races. During the Grand National festival, you get to see eleven Grade 1 races, which is stunning, considering that the Festival is a day shorter than Cheltenham. However, the principal event at the Grand National festival is labelled as just a Grade 3 race. Some racing connoisseurs might consider this insufficient for them to stick around and see it.
Besides, the Cheltenham Festival consists of four days of astonishing top-level races, taking place one after another. In total, there are fourteen Grade 1, two Grade 2, and six races marked Grade 3, making that entire week of racing an exceptional one. Should the Grading make such a difference when measuring the magnitude of a race? In all honesty, it probably shouldn’t, but the racing puritans do care about these technicalities and act accordingly.
Why Is the Grand National the Choice of Punters?
All horse racing punters know how to cherish the Aintree race. The reason for this can be traced back to the 1970s and the era of Ginger McCain. He rode the Red Rum horse and rekindled the public’s interest in the race that has been burning ever since. Namely, Ginger McCain and Red Rum completed a hat-trick win in 1977, with back to back titles in the Grand National in 1973 and 1974 already in his books.
In the eyes of punters, another event marked the Grand National race as a race any horse can win. In 1967, a pile-up that occurred at the 23rd fence allowed an outsider named Foinavon to go around the scuffle and become the longest-odds (100/1) winner in over four decades of the race. That 23rd hurdle is now known as the Foinavon fence.
It is believed among the punters that the broad field at Grand National is the key that allows outsiders to prove their merit and surprise the favourites.
Opposite to the Champion Chase, the Gold Cup, and Triumph Hurdle that often top the list at bookmakers is the Grand National that arouses the most interest with punters.
Cheltenham Is the Choice of Jockeys
It is only logical that jockeys must have a say in the Cheltenham vs Grand National debate, right? One time when Tony McCoy gave an interview for Belfast Telegraph in 2010, he said that all jockeys would prefer a win at the Gold Cup of the Cheltenham Festival over the Grand National. Riders consider the Gold Cup the pinnacle of their sport and generally more exciting.
However, it should be pointed out that McCoy never won at the Grand National opposed to several titles at the Cheltenham Festival. This might be the cause of a bit biased opinion he expressed and which a couple of other jockeys corroborated. All in all, the race tests jockey’s skill and ability, and this might give the Grand National some extra edge.
Which One Wins It?
Although the answer to the question which racing event in the Cheltenham vs Grand National battle is bigger is a bit elusive, some conclusions can be drawn. On the other hand, top-quality races are reserved for the Cheltenham Festival that might tip the scales for many racing aficionados. Now, we’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions.