Plain Fence, Height: 5ft, Width: 3ft 6in
Given that the stretch of fences six through to nine is, statistically, the toughest on the Grand National course, getting a good leap over five (and 21) is of paramount importance.
Eight of the sixteen fences on the layout stand five feet tall (or higher, in The Chair’s case) and the fifth is one of them, so it’s not exactly the easy settler the jockeys might be hoping for ahead of the turn.
The final obstacle of the opening straight, the landing side was levelled out ahead of 2013 to aid the welfare of those involved, and that seems to have aided in more landing safely on their hooves according to the stats.
You’ll generally see some tactical riding here too, with jockeys, well, jockeying for position so that they can attack the next fence – Becher’s Brook – at the right angle. That obstacle sits on the crest of one of Aintree’s famous left turns.
An Arbiter of What’s to Come
Given the complexities of the fences upcoming, it’s on the second circuit where you’ll see plenty of jockeys pull up their horses either before or just after the 21st obstacle.
As far as fallers are concerned, as mentioned this fence has become somewhat easier since 2013, but if you head back to the years prior there are plenty of examples of high-profile horses that have come unstuck at the 5th or 21st.
In 2012, there was a bit of a pile-up when State of Play unseated Noel Fehily on the first circuit here – punters were left dismayed when the 20/1 fancy, Chicago Grey, was brought down along with Rare Bob as a result.
There were two fallers on the first circuit in 2002 – Frantic Tan and Iris Bleu – and that was also the case in 1998 when Celtic Abbey and Griffins Abbey were unable to get over and stay upright.