Aintree 2016: New Grand National start time and new distance

New Grand National start time: The start time of the Crabbie’s Grand National will move one hour from 4.15pm to the new scheduled off time of 5.15pm on Saturday 9th April 2016.

In collaboration with Channel 4, Aintree’s terrestrial broadcast partner in Britain, this bold move provides an opportunity for more racing fans to watch and listen to the greatest chase in the world, live on Channel 4 and other media outlets.

It is a great opportunity for British Racing to reach the maximum possible audience and to provide even more people with the chance to view the ‘People’s Race’.

The 2015 Crabbie’s Grand National was watched by 8.9 million TV viewers on Channel 4 in Britain, the highest peak for the Grand National in Channel 4’s history, with more than 600 million TV viewers tuning in worldwide.

Research showed that the later time of 5.15pm should generate an even bigger domestic and global TV audience and also demonstrated that most people didn’t know the old start time was 4.15pm.

A handicap hurdle for conditional and amateur jockeys will be the only race after the 2016 Crabbie’s Grand National, ensuring the big race is the climax of the three-day Festival at Aintree Racecourse. The hurdle is scheduled to be run at 6.10pm.

John Baker, Regional Director of The Jockey Club North West, said: “This is a very positive move for the Crabbie’s Grand National and we are excited about the possibility of showcasing the greatest chase in the world to a wider national and global audience.

“The Crabbie’s Grand National is in a great place and we are already delighted to be Channel 4’s biggest audience of the year at 8.9 million viewers, which is a fantastic figure, but any increase is also good for the sport.

“We are always keen to explore ways to grow and enhance this superb three- day Festival and we believe that in collaboration with our main broadcast partner, Channel 4, and with the backing of the British Horseracing Authority, this is another extremely positive step forward for the ‘People’s Race’.”

Ed Havard, Channel 4’s Head of TV Events, declared: “The Grand National is one of the greatest sporting occasions in the world and one of the most-watched TV events of the year.

“This move will place the National as the fitting climax of the three-day Festival, showcasing the race for the widest possible audience and in the most spectacular fashion.”

The 5.15pm slot follows afternoon live football in Britain and the results round- up on BBC Radio 5 Live, providing football and other sports fans with the opportunity to listen to the race on their journeys home.

Welcoming the news, Richard Burgess, Head of BBC Radio Sport which showcases the Crabbie’s Grand National Festival on Radio 5 Live, said: “We look forward to providing extensive build-up and uninterrupted commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live of the Grand National in its new time slot.

“We’ll also have plenty of time for reaction after the race, with our correspondent Cornelius Lysaght leading the BBC team at Aintree.”


The Crabbie’s Grand National on 9th April 2016 is run over a new advertised distance of four miles, two furlongs and 74 yards as the official distance in 2015 was about four miles, three furlongs and 110 yards.

However, nothing has really changed, except that Britain’s Jump racecourses were re-measured in 2015 using a different methodology.

The project was instigated by the British Horseracing Authority to achieve greater accuracy in Jump race distances from 1st June 2015 and reflects the methodology already used at Flat tracks.

Jump races were previously measured along the mid-point of the course using a surveyor’s wheel, but, under the agreed new methodology have been measured along a line two yards off the innermost running rail position and professionally surveyed to the nearest yard. The new official distances are therefore invariably less than they used to be advertised as and with the Grand National being such a long race the difference is over a furlong.

The previous change to the official distance of the Grand National happened in 2013 when the race was shortened from about four and a half miles to about four miles, three and a half furlongs when the starting point of the race was moved closer to the first fence and away from the crowd in the grandstands.

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