January 28, 2022
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SPONSORED: Irish Grand National – Ireland’s Most Valuable Steeplechase

The neighbouring countries in the British Isles are home to the long-standing and impressive record of horse racing industries. The most notable ones are in the U.K. and Ireland. Given their long history and locals’ fervent passion for this spectator sport, it has already become an integral part of their cultures and societies. Now, we see these two nations making a strong presence on a global scale.

In the field of National Hunt racing, the U.K.’s Grand National is one of the greatest accomplishments. In Ireland, its equivalent race is called the Irish Grand National. On this page, allow us to give you an overview of it and see why it is the country’s most valuable steeplechase.

About the Irish Grand National

While Ireland has a myriad of notable National Hunt horse races, the Irish Grand National is at the pinnacle of the Irish racing calendar. Since it opened its right-handed turf track in 1870, it encompasses everything great about Emerald Isle’s love for the sport and a source of gambling action. Betting on horse and greyhound racings are on par with playing slots and casino table games.

The Irish Grand National is a Grade-A handicap race for horses aged five years and older. Currently sponsored by Boylesports, known as the country’s largest independent bookmaker, it yearly takes place on Easter Monday in Fairyhouse Racecourse in County Meath. The race’s distance used to be 3 miles and 4 furlongs. Since 1991, it has changed to 3 miles and 5 furlongs.

Most successful and leading records

Ireland is one of the world’s leading nations in Thoroughbred breeding. This enduring practice has become a major economic activity, thereby resulting in exporting Irish-bred Thoroughbreds in different countries. By 2016-2017, it has already amassed an estimated €229 million. That is why most of the Irish Grand National winners have also captured titles in its English counterpart in Aintree Racecourse.

Now in its 151st year — with a total purse value worth €500,000 (€270,000 for the first runner-up) — let’s take a look at the most successful and momentous wins of all the time.

Most successful horses


English-bred and Irish-based Ascetic was the first contender to complete the double Grand Nationals. He was first a dominant sire of steeplechasers who later became a horse racing star in the early 1900s.

Brown Lad

Brown Lad is, by far, the most successful Western European horse in the early 1970s. He dominated the 1974 Sun Alliance Hurdle and Reynoldstown Chase. Then in 1975, he took over the Lloyds Bank Hurdle in Cheltenham. Here in the Irish Grand National, he is the only three-time champion (1975, 1976, and 1978).

Most successful trainer

Tom Dreaper, who had no formal training in working racehorses, prevailed in Ireland’s horse racing industry in the ‘90s. Calling upon his instinct and judgment, he developed his own system. He created a legacy with only nothing but perfection and excellence in training Thoroughbreds. Here in the Irish Grand National, he produced 10 winners, which are as follows:

Note: Weights are in stones and pounds.

Year Winner Age Weight
1942 Prince Regent n/a 175 lbs
1949 Shagreen 8 10-00
1954 Royal Approach 6 12-00
1960 Olympia 6 09-11
1961 Fortria 9 09-12
1962 Kerforo 8 10-03
1963 Last Link 7 09-09
1964 Arkle 7 12-00
1965 Splash 7 10-13
1966 Flyingbolt 7 12-07

Most successful jockey

Patrick ‘Pat’ Taaffe was an Irish National Hunt jockey and trainer. Along with Arkle, they triumphed in several National Hunt races in the mid-’60s. These include the Irish Grand National (six times), King George VI Chase, Ladbrokes Trophy, Cheltenham Gold Cup, and the Bet365 Gold Cup.

Cancelled season due to COVID-19

Over 150 years of superb races, there are three deferred events (1919, 1941, and 2020). The latter year was caused by the dreadful COVID-19 outbreak. While there were no winners and sports betting actions, locals had found another pastime playing online slots and live dealer games while staying safely at home.

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