Horse racing is one of the most popular sports on the planet as millions tune into their streaming services or televisions to watch the leading meets. The Grand National in the United Kingdom is arguably the most famous race in the world, drawing huge attendances at Aintree Racecourse and millions of viewers across the country.
The National is one of the few events that transcends cultural barriers in the UK as all generations are glued to events at Aintree to see which of the 40 horses comes out on top in the event. There are people that bet only once a year on the National that scour the horse racing tips in the hopes of pulling off a winner with the dream of selecting a horse such as Mon Meme, who won as a 100-1 outsider in 2009.
However, there is more to the race than the hope of securing a significant windfall from your wager. The excitement of the National cannot be matched by any other race in the UK outside of the Cheltenham Gold Cup, but even that contest is on a Friday and does not hold pride and place in the Saturday schedule on television.
In the modern day, where on-demand television has taken hold of entertainment, the National is one of the few events that makes people gather around televisions at 5:15 pm BST and watch their screens for 10 minutes. In 2021 8.8m people in the United Kingdom tuned in to watch Rachael Blackmore become the first female jockey to win the Grand National when she guided Minella Times to victory.
There are not many sporting events that can command such a captive hold of their audience. The time factor does weigh into the equation as it only requires a small amount of attention before people can go about their usual business once again. On the other hand, time and again people make time for the occasion to watch the action unfold. There is something magical about its hold over the nation and perhaps even the world that other sporting events struggle to match.
Even an event such as the Super Bowl that draws a huge audience in the United States has other elements, notably the half-time show and the range of funny commercials. Premier League soccer matches featuring Manchester United, Liverpool, Manchester City, and Chelsea have their core of loyal supporters, and other fans that watch the sport due to their passion for the sport. You’re not going to get the same level of rabid fandom for the competitors in the Grand National, making its appeal and success all the more impressive.
The lure and prestige of the Grand National ensure that it attracts sell-out crowds at Aintree on a yearly basis. However, its power goes beyond watching the event in-person and remains just as much of a behemoth on the screen as it was when there were limited channels. As a result, the event should continue to command huge audiences well into the future.