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Why the Grand National is Such a Major Sporting Event?

Whether you’re intrigued by the majesty of the race, backing your favourite horse, or just attending for the splendid occasion, the Grand National is one of the biggest sporting events in the UK

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Here is why the Grand National is one of the biggest sporting events in UK. Pixabay
  • Grand National is one of the biggest sporting events
  • Everywhere it garners a massive audience
  • Almost everyone in the United Kingdom is a huge fan this horse racing event

Every year, the Grand National garners a massive gathering. But, this huge crowd of people watching the Grand National at the venue and on television isn’t the collective of horse racing fans. Almost everyone in the United Kingdom, regardless of horse racing fandom and knowledge, has a flutter on the major event. Now, thanks to the wonders of the internet, people all over the world are tuning in and watching the horses that they back.

But why exactly does the Grand National stand in such high prestige, and how does it draw such a massive audience?

The Race Itself

Source: BBC Sport, via Twitter
Source: BBC Sport, via Twitter

The Grand National is one of the premier jump events on the horse racing calendar – likely only trailing the Gold Cup at the Cheltenham Festival in the opinion of most. To add to the trials of the jumps, the race takes place over a massive four miles and two-and-a-half furlongs. As the longest race in Great Britain, that also incorporates jumps, it’s seen as a great test of skill and stamina for the horses and jockeys.

Due to the nature of the race as well the massive field of competing horses – the most to line up was 66 horses in 1992 – upsets occur regularly. The last five winners have all had starting prices above 10/1, including One For Arthur’s 14/1 in 2017, Rule The World’s 33/1 in 2016, and Auroras Encore’s 66/1 in 2013.

At the 2018 Randox Health Grand National (14th April), there’s still a huge field of horses for people to back. According to William Hill, Blacklion, Tiger Roll, and Total Recall are the favourites at 10/1, but that doesn’t preclude the 16/1 The Last Samurai, or the 33/1 Vieux Lion Rouge from winning.

So, whether you back the favourite horse by the bookies, your favourite number, or a grey horse, there’s always the chance that your horse will stay in the race and jump all 30 fences while others fall by the wayside.

The Occasion

Source: BBC Merseyside, via Twitter
Source: BBC Merseyside, via Twitter

While other horse racing venues, such as Cheltenham and Epsom, boast the more recognisable tracks, Aintree is not only a scenic location, but it’s also in an area of residence. It’s known as the People’s Race; being so entrenched in the local community of Aintree embodies that sentiment.

With the Grand National seen as a major date on the calendar, people dress up in their finest and wackiest attire. Aintree is flooded with people who want to see the annual race as well as get swept up in all of the pageantry and the atmosphere.

One pub in particular now goes hand-in-hand with the Grand National. The Queens, which stands just a minute away from the racecourse, says that the Grand National weekend is the best of the year. With the bar open, barbecues fired up, and lots of music, The Queens becomes the perfect post-race venue.

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Much of the buzz comes from everyone having the chance to win a bet. This gets people cheering in a sport that they may not follow for most of the year. In fact, last year, it was predicted that in the UK alone, around £250 million was wagered on the Grand National.

Whether you’re intrigued by the majesty of the race, backing your favourite horse, or just attending for the splendid occasion, the Grand National is one of the biggest sporting events in the UK every year.

Next Story

Here’s Everything you Need to Know About the Indian Cricket Team

Know what it's like to be an Indian cricket selector

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Cricket in India
Over the last few years, the Indian Cricket team has progressed a lot. Wikimedia Commons

BY YAJURVINDRA SINGH

The Indian cricket team is progressing, as one in horse-racing terms would say, “in fine fettle”. Cricket in India has become a lucrative career option and so cricketers are now being unearthed from many nooks and corners of the country. The glamorous status that it exudes with the added incentive of pots of cash alongside has now emerged as a dream for any aspiring sportsman.

This was earlier possible by becoming a superstar in the Indian film world and Bollywood was the platform to do so. Many of the legends of the glamorous film industry made their fortune coming to Mumbai or Bombay as it was then called. Cricket has taken over from the pretentious super heroes of the scripted film industry to real time heroes.

The limited-overs cricket has added that additional amount of spice and hence cricketers now have become the villains and the heroes of the entertainment world. The cricket industry is flourishing in all aspects of the game, whether it be the media, journalists, event organizers, administrators, medical doctors, fitness trainers, corporate sponsors, coaches or the cricketers themselves.

The words — transparency and good governance — are being spoken of to showcase professionalism. The process is still in the stage of transformation but a path to it has been clearly demarcated. The one area that is now an issue of concern is the selection of the cricket selectors not only for the national team but also for all the age groups as well as the state teams around India.

Indian Cricket team
Cricket in India has taken over from the pretentious super heroes of the scripted film industry to real time heroes. Wikimedia Commons

The present national selectors, some of whose terms should have come to an end, have had a fair amount of criticism not only from former cricketers and ardent cricket followers, but also from the present players. To please one and all is a very difficult task, but the very process of a selector being appointed at all levels is an area that needs to be looked into very seriously in the competitive Indian cricket diaspora.

Cricketers now, from the very junior levels onwards, are giving their life to the sport and it should become one of the most important tasks for the Board of Control for Cricket in India to focus on. A proper structure for the appointment of a selection committee should be formulated in the constitution of every cricket association and establishment that fields a cricket team in India.

The selectors of the national team are the most important cricket committee members in Indian cricket. One needs to have played a certain number of matches as an international or national player in order to qualify. However, the folly of this system is that the five wise men are appointed through a zonal representative basis. The zonal based committee was there because one had to select a zone team for the Duleep and Deodhar Trophy tournaments. This old practice still continues even though the zone based teams have been discontinued.

The tenure of a selector, which is now being debated, is not as important as the credentials and knowledge that a selector brings to the table. The zonal format leads to favouritism and ‘my man’ concept. If the coach of the Indian team is being selected through an interview process, so should the selectors. It needs to be an open race for the five positions, after all it is now a paid profession and has to have some seriousness to it.

Similarly, the same process should be followed at the state level and at all the junior levels. Nominating at random is why aspiring and established cricketers are very critical of the present process and a change is the only desirable way forward.

A selector at the state level is still doing an honourary job and so to get a totally committed person giving a 100 per cent of his time is a rarity. This is where former cricketers can play a major part, if the casting is open to all of them. In addition, selectors at all levels should be adequately compensated for their time.

Cricket training
Cricketers now, from the very junior levels onwards, are giving their life to the sport. Wikimedia Commons

Selection is one of the most critical areas of cricket as it can make or break a cricketer’s career. Identifying talent among hundreds of aspirants is definitely not a picnic in the park. A thorough research, analysis of past performances, specific skill requirements for the team and the playing conditions are only some of the areas of selectors’ workload.

Being truthful, honest, upright and unbiased are essential characteristics that a selector needs to possess. More than age and conflict of interest, the BCCI has to put in place a system for selecting a selector. It has to have transparency and brilliance in all aspects.

The lives of many aspiring young cricketers are in the hands of a selection process that is full of bias and favouritism. The flow of talented cricketers that are being churned out without a proper system of selection are putting a blindfold on most of us. There are many talented cricketers who slip out of the net. Indian cricket needs to create a process that gives every talented cricketer a chance to showcase his ware.

The BCCI now has a cricketer heading it and one who has been through the ups and downs of the cricket selection process. A cricketer is always ready to face the failure and success that comes with the game of cricket, but a selection dilemma in his life, is something that hurts very hard. Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman, two legends of the game whom we admire, have both been victims of the selection process during their cricketing days.

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They have written about it in their respective published books. Ganguly’s book “A century is not enough” has tales of what he went through and similarly Laxman in his book “281 and Beyond”.

If Indian cricket needs to progress, the process of change needs to be first and foremost through a different selection system at every level. One prays that this will come into effect soon. (IANS)