Grand National Thursday – Opening Day

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The three-day Aintree Grand National Festival gets going each year on a Thursday, with plenty of high-class jumps racing in store and racegoers set for a real treat.

Despite the crowds being smaller than on Grand National day, it remains a hugely popular day on the jumps racing calendar. The Aintree racecourse can expect around 35,000 people to come through the turnstiles and, outside the Cheltenham Festival, this is one of the most popular racing days for jumps racing fans. The racing gets going on Merseyside at 1:45pm and, with seven top-class races to enjoy, the Thursday card always attracts runners from National Hunt yards from both the UK and Ireland.

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Grand National Thursday

Grand National Festival – Aintree Racecourse, Liverpool, Britain – April 12, 2018 Balnaslow ridden by Derek O’Connor before going on to win the 16:05 Randox Health Foxhunters’ Open Hunters’ Chase Action Images via Reuters/Jason Cairnduff TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY @SCANPIX

When is Grand National Thursday?

The date of the Aintree Grand National Meeting can often vary and this is mainly due when Easter falls each year. In 2024 the three-day meeting will begin on Thursday 11th April 2024. The Grand National Ladies Day follows on Friday 13th April. With the 2024 Cheltenham Festival finishing on Friday 15th March, and the opening day of the 2024 Aintree Festival on 11th April, there’s nearly a month between the two. This gives horses that would have raced at Cheltenham an extra week to recover when compared to 2022, so it remains to be seen whether more top horses will run at both these big festivals in 2024.

Cheltenham was great this year, with trainer Willie Mullins picking up a lot of wins over the course of the 4 days. There were also wins for former football managers Harry Redknapp and Sir Alex Ferguson. This has built up the excitement for the 2024 Grand National.

How many races are on at Aintree Thursday?

Thursday is the opening day of the 2024 Grand National, with 7 races for fans to enjoy. Horse racing fans will be treated to a lot of great races on Grand National Thursday and there is over £900,000 in prize money up for grabs on the day. It will no doubt be a great day to open up the great festival at Aintree.

Grand National Start TimesWatchRaceDistancePrize Money £
1:45pm Watch at Paddy Power Manifesto Novices’ Chase2m 4f120,000
2:20pm Watch at Unibet Jewson Anniversary 4YO Juvenile Hurdle2m 1f110,000
2:55pm Watch at William Hill Aintree Bowl Chase3m 1f250,000
3:30pm Watch at Betfair William Hill Aintree Hurdle2m 4f250,000
4:05pm Watch at Unibet Randox Foxhunters’ Chase2m 5f50,000
4:40pm Watch at William Hill Close Brothers Red Rum Handicap Chase2m100,000
5:15pm Watch at Paddy Power Goffs UK Nickel Coin Mares’ Standard Open NH Flat2m 1f50,000
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Why go to Grand National Thursday?

Quite simply, Grand National Thursday is a chance to see top class racing at relatively affordable prices.

Four Grade One races, with the anticipation of the Grand National itself at fever pitch creates a wonderful day at the races at around half the cost you’d be paying to attend on the Saturday.

Sporting heroes from the area may also be present, with stars like Michael Owen, Kenny Dalglish, Graeme Sharp and Olympic gold medallist Sam Quek ready to mingle with the Aintree racegoers. Some say this is the best day on the UK Jumps Racing calendar, offering four grade one races.

What time does Aintree races start Thursday?

The first race at Aintree Racecourse during the 2024 Grand National will start at around 1:45PM on Thursday 5th April 2024, with the horses and riders getting ready and onto the Aintree Racecourse about 15 minutes before the start of the race. The first race is the Manifesto Novices’ Steeple Chase.

Grand National Thursday race times & running order

  • 1.45pm – The Manifesto Novices’ Steeple Chase (Class 1) Grade 1; 2m 4f
  • 2.20pm – The Jewson Anniversary 4-y-o Juvenile Hurdle (Class 1) Grade 1; 2m 1f
  • 2.55pm – The Aintree Bowl Steeple Chase (Class 1) Grade 1; 3m 1f
  • 3.30pm – The William Hill Aintree Hurdle (Class 1) Grade 1; 2m 4f
  • 4.05pm – The Randox Foxhunters’ Open Hunters’ Steeple Chase; 2m 5f
  • 4.40pm – The Close Brothers Red Rum Handicap Steeple Chase (Class 1) Grade 3; 2m
  • 5.15pm – The Goffs UK Nickel Coin Mares’ Standard Open NH Flat (Grade 2); 2m 1f
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