History

Irish Grand National History

Irish Grand National HistorySir Robert Peel was the very first winner of the Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse racecourse, the year was 1870and the total prize fund on offer at that time was 167 sovereigns. So established is the race that it has been run every year since, with the exception of 1919 and 1941. The 2009 race will be the 137th running. Like any major race, the Irish Grand national has delivered its fair share of Irish Grand National Legends, including The Gift, who won twice in 1883/4. Then of course more recently there was Arkle in 1964, Flyingbolt in 1966, Rhyme and Reason in 1985 and Desert Orchid in 1990.

Steeplechasing had its origins in England back in the 18th century but it had become even more popular in Ireland by the mid 19th century. It had originally been developed from course marked out over rough terrain where the rider selected his own route around the course; the winner was usually the horse that lasted longest. It was an ideal contest for those horses of the day who were considered long stayers who could handle any ground.

The idea soon developed and became more refined until eventually point to point racing had become the way forward. Steeplechasing was to follow and by 1807, it had become the premier race mode for staying horses. By the 1870s it had been decided that Ireland needed an equivalent steeplechase of the English Grand National and the idea of the Irish Grand National was born.

These days it is the biggest steeplechase in Irish racing. Fairyhouse is usually swamped with visitors and there is great demand for Irish Grand National Tickets. Betting on the big race too has grown out of all proportion with many Bookmakers, particularly innovative ones like Paddy Power, have put together a variety of Irish Grand National Free bets that the modern day punter can take advantage of.