THRILL OF THE RACE
The passion and perils of the Grand National
There’s nothing quite like the Grand National’s four miles and 30 fences of treacherous, unpredictable, heart-clenching drama. When we were young, my siblings and I would take it in turns to draw a horse’s name out of a hat. I remember watching from behind a cushion as my selected runner perilously navigated Becher’s Brook. At 12, I went in person in my best coat with £10 pocket money. I put £2 on Red Marauder (because I liked the colour of the jockey’s silks) and when he romped to victory – one of only four to finish that year – I thought winning was the easiest thing in the world. Nowadays, my friends and I stand on the sloping concrete of the stalls where you can feel the rumble of hooves before the horses hurtle into view. We keep hand warmers in our pockets, sip champagne from plastic glasses and stand on tiptoe to scan the bookies for the best odds. I rarely win now, but it doesn’t matter – I love the feeling of frenzied crescendo as the steeds vault the final fence and thunder towards the finish line. It’s only as the last piece of turf settles that you realise you were holding your breath for the entire race. teresa fitzherbert The Grand National weekend (www.randoxhealthgrandnational.co.uk) will take place from 12 to 14 April.