The American Grand National was first held in 1899 at Morris Park Racecourse and is one of the oldest races in steeplechasing. The race is now held annually at Far Hills, New Jersey and is a Grade 1 event run over 2+5⁄8 miles.
The race has a prize value of $500,000 and is one of the most important steeplechases outside Europe.
With the high prize money, some of Britain and Ireland’s most prominent trainers, such as Gordon Elliott, Willie Mullins, and Nicky Henderson have been drawn to the race in recent years.
European trainers won back-to-back runnings of the American Grand National in 2018 and 2019, with Jury Duty and Brain Power, respectively.
Hewick Bids For American Grand National Glory
This year’s race is shaping up to be another competitive affair, with several top European horses set to take on the best of America. One horse that will be looking to make an impact is Hewick.
The Shark Hanlon-trained Hewick is a seven-year-old owned by TJ McDonald. He has already landed both the bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown and the Galway Plate. He will now attempt to add the American Grand National to his list of achievements.
Talking to Sporting Life, Hanlon said “We are going to America with him and the flights are set, the plane is booked and he’s definitely going,” adding “He flies out on October 6.”
“After America, I think he will get a couple of months off and I will probably go back straight to Cheltenham for March.”
Aintree Grand National Entry?
Hewick is already well fancied for the 2023 Aintree Grand National. He is currently available at odds of 25-1 with some bookmakers. However, his trainer has not committed to running him in the world-famous race just yet.
Hanlon said “We will go Gold Cup first. He is only a young horse, only a seven-year-old and he hasn’t had too many runs over fences, so we might hold off going for the Aintree National next year.”
The American Grand National takes place on October 16 at Far Hills, New Jersey.
American vs Aintree Grand National
There are several key differences between the American and Aintree Grand National.
While both races are classed as Steeplechases, the fences in the American version are not as fearsome as those in the Aintree race.
The fences at Far Hills are standard size with no variation on the takeoff or landing side. The Aintree fences, on the other hand, vary in size and pose a much greater challenge for the horses.
The American Grand National is also run over a shorter distance than the Aintree marathon. The Far Hill course is just 2+5⁄8 miles, while the Aintree race is over 4 miles. As the Far Hill course is considerably shorter than Aintree, runners have fewer fences to jump.
Another important difference is the number of runners in each race, with the American Grand National field usually between 8 – 12 runners. The Aintree race allows for a maximum of 40 horses.
The Prize Money
The prize money on offer in each race also differs, with the American Grand National offering a purse of $500,000. The Aintree version has a prize fund of £1 million.
Despite the differences, the two races share a long history. And while the American Grand National may not be as well known as its British counterpart, it is still a hugely important race in the world of steeplechasing.
The American race has produced some notable winners over the years: including five-time winner McDynamo. Other horses to have tasted success in the race include Flat Top (1998, 2002), and Jury Duty ridden by Robbie Power (2018). Not forgetting Rawnaq with legendary Irish jockey Ruby Walsh onboard in 2016.
The most recent winner of the American Grand National was The Mean Queen, who took victory in 2021.