The Irish Grand National is one of Ireland’s most prestigious and eagerly anticipated horse racing events.

Held annually at Fairyhouse Racecourse, it marks a high point in the Irish sporting calendar and in 2024, will take place on April 1st.

Dating back all the way to 1870, it is one of the oldest national hunt races in Ireland and has evolved into a key event that showcases the best of Irish steeplechase racing.

Now a crucial fixture in the racing calendar, many potential runners also get an entry into the Aintree counterpart with trainers and connections often torn between the two.

That is generally because the events take place very close to each other, with the Irish Grand National determined by the Easter calendar.

As such, it always takes place on Easter Monday, irrespective of which actual date that falls on.

The Race

The Irish Grand National is a steeplechase race that covers a distance of approximately 3 miles and 5 furlongs (5,834 meters), featuring a challenging course with 24 fences.

It is open to horses aged five years and older, and with a maximum of 27 runners follows a similar format to the Aintree Grand National in so far as the race attracts more entries than places so the numbers are whittled down in the weeks leading up the race.

The demanding course and the prestige of the event attracts a high-caliber field with many running at Fairyhouse in the year before they take their chances in Liverpool.

Case in point is the 2023 Irish Grand National winner, I Am Maximus, from trainer Willie Mullins and owner JP McManus. He is now the ante-post favourite for the Grand National at Aintree on April 13th, 2024.

Can he win both races? He looks good enough and if he does, will undoubtedly give punters who love horse racing betting a great payday should they decide to back him.

That said, connections could still opt to run him at Fairyhouse again. The Irish Grand National entries for 2024 are not out yet so only time will tell.

Otherwise, it looks like another great year for the Irish Grand National, and with a €500,000 in the prize purse, it’s all to race for.

How To Pick An Irish Grand National Winner

This is the big question everybody asks on the run-up to the Irish Grand National – who will win it?

The good news is that over the years certain trends have emerged which makes picking a winner slightly easier than going into the betting market blind.

While by no means a science, by applying even a little bit of knowledge you can reduce the options to find a runner more likely to win.

Firstly, winners of the Irish Grand National tend to fall within a specific age range. This is usually between 6 and 9 years old. Though six of the last nine winners have been either 6 or 7 years old.

As it is a handicapped race, runners who carry less weight have a better chance of making it around the course.

11-12 is the top weight but it has been decades since a horse won carrying it. Rule out any runners carrying more than 10-13.

Only two of the last 20 winners carried more than that. They were I Am Maximus (11-01 in 2023) and Our Duke (11-04 in 2017).

Winners usually come into the Irish Grand National having shown good form in their previous races. A common trend is for winners to have stamina-proven performances over distances close to or exceeding 3 miles.

So check the form and look for those that have won or placed at 3 miles in the season of the race.

While not all winners have raced at Fairyhouse Racecourse many have shown an ability to perform well under conditions similar to those they will face in the National.

Experience and success in other National Hunt races, especially those over long distances and with challenging fences, are common among winners.

Is The Irish Grand National The Biggest Race In Ireland?

The race draws the best national hunt horses from Ireland and beyond, making it one of the most competitive steeplechase races in the world.

The international recognition it receives elevates its status and further solidifies its claim as the biggest horse race in Ireland.

But it has some tough competition for the title. Ireland is renowned for its rich horse racing tradition and boasts several prestigious events.

Beyond the Irish Grand National, there is plenty of racing action all year around which is equally as famous.

The Irish Derby

Held annually at The Curragh Racecourse in County Kildare, the Irish Derby is one of Ireland’s most prestigious flat races.

Established in 1866, it is a Group 1 race for three-year-old thoroughbreds, covering a distance of 1 mile and 4 furlongs.

The race usually takes place in late June or early July and is the Irish equivalent of the Epsom Derby in England.

It is part of the Irish Triple Crown, which also includes the Irish 2,000 Guineas and the Irish St Leger. The Irish Derby not only attracts the cream of Irish racing talent but also contenders from across the globe, making it a truly international event.

The Punchestown Festival

Although not a single race, the Punchestown Festival is a crucial highlight in the Irish horse racing season, featuring several top-tier races.

Held over five days in late April at Punchestown Racecourse in County Kildare, the festival is the Irish National Hunt season’s grand finale.

It includes races like the Punchestown Gold Cup, the Champion Chase, and the Champion Hurdle showcasing the best of jumping prowess, stamina, and speed.

The Galway Races

The Galway Races, held at Ballybrit Racecourse in Galway, is a unique and eclectic mix of flat and jump racing that takes place over seven days at the end of July and the beginning of August.

The highlight of the festival is the Galway Plate, a chase run over 2 miles and 6 furlongs, and the Galway Hurdle, a hurdle race over 2 miles.

The festival is one of the most popular in the country and is as much a social occasion as it is a sporting one.

With huge crowds and a festive atmosphere, it is a standout event in Irish horse racing.

Memorable Irish National Moments

Throughout its history, the Irish Grand National has been the stage for numerous memorable moments that have captivated audiences.

One such moment occurred in 1999 when Bobbyjo, trained by Tommy Carberry and ridden by his son, Paul Carberry, won the race, marking a heartwarming family triumph.

Another notable victory was in 2011, when Organisedconfusion, ridden by Nina Carberry, won impressively, sending her into the history books as the first female winning jockey in the race.

Not to be outdone, Katie Walsh followed suit just four years later when Thunder and Roses romped home for the win in 2015.

And more recently, who can forget when Freewheelin Dylan, ridden by Ricky Doyle won at staggering odds of 150/1?

Each and every Irish Grand National brings its own unique and memorable story and 2024 will be no different.