Grand National Thursday – Opening Day

The three-day Aintree Grand National Festival gets going each year on Thursday. In 2022, the opening day marked the efforts of the NHS during the pandemic, with Aintree Racecourse donating 10,000 Grand National Thursday tickets to NHS workers across Merseyside, to show appreciation for their efforts. Whatever the focus in 2023, racegoers are in for a real treat, with plenty of high-class jumps racing in store.

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.

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 2023 the three-day meeting will begin on Thursday 13th April 2023. With the 2023 Cheltenham Festival finishing on Friday 17th March, and the opening day of the 2023 Aintree Festival on 13th 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 2023.

Grand National Start TimesWatchRaceDistancePrize Money £
1:45pm Watch at Paddy Power The Merseyrail Manifesto Novices’ Steeple Chase (Grade 1)2m 4f100,000
2:20pm Watch at Unibet The Doom Bar Anniversary 4YO Juvenile Hurdle (Grand 1)2m 1f100,000
2:50pm Watch William Hill The Betway Bowl Steeple Chase (Grade 1)3m 1f150,000
3:25pm Watch at Betfair The Betway Aintree Hurdle (Grade 1)2m 4f200,000
4:05pm Watch at Unibet The Randox Health Foxhunters’ Steeple Chase (Class 2)2m 5f40,000
4:40pm Watch William Hill The Betway Red Rum Handicap Steeple Chase (Grade 3)2m90,000
5:15pm Watch at Paddy Power The Goffs Nickel Coin Mares’ Standard Open NH Flat (Grade 2)2m 1f45,000

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.

Grand National Thursday race times & running order

  • 1.45 The Merseyrail Manifesto Novices’ Steeple Chase (Grade 1) 2m 4f
  • 2.20 The Doom Bar Anniversary 4YO Juvenile Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m 1f
  • 2.50 The Betway Bowl Steeple Chase (Grade 1) 3m 1f
  • 3.25 The Betway Aintree Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m 4f
  • 4.05 The Randox Health Foxhunters’ Steeple Chase (Class 2) 2m 5f
  • 4.40 The Betway Red Rum Handicap Steeple Chase (Grade 3) 2m
  • 5.15 The Goffs Nickel Coin Mares’ Standard Open NH Flat (Grade 2) 2m 1f

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