Open Ditch, Height: 5ft 2in, Width: 9ft
After the best part of two miles navigating some of the toughest fences in National Hunt racing, the Grand National field still has one almighty obstacle to overcome on their first lap.
The Chair, the penultimate fence on that first Aintree circuit, stands a mighty 5ft 2in tall – making it the highest obstacle on the Grand National track. Not only that, this knee-trembling jump also has a 5ft wide ditch on the take-off side and a raised area upon landing, which can have a discombobulating effect on those horses that will have never experienced anything quite like it before.
Known originally as the ‘Monument Jump’, the fence today takes its name from the chair that an Aintree official – known as the ‘distance judge’ – would sit on to gauge how far the Grand National winner was ahead of the rest of the field. Those days are long gone now, of course, but the name remains.
Incidentally, should you ever take a trip to Aintree you can see the original chair used in the Red Rum Garden at the racecourse.
Famous Fallers at The Chair
Although only taken once, The Chair is nevertheless one of the most prolific fences on the Grand National circuit as far as fallers and those unseating their rider are concerned.
At the 2022 renewal, the 33/1 chance Burrows Saint unseated Cheltenham Festival top jockey Paul Townend and Domaine De L’Isle did likewise to Harry Bannister. Kildisart also fell as The Chair showed its teeth.
Even great jockeys like Rachael Blackmore have fallen foul of The Chair – she fell here aboard Alpha Des Obeaux in 2018, as did Nina Carberry on Irish Gold Cup winner Sir Des Champs a year earlier.
Betting favourites have also fallen by the wayside at The Chair, with Arbor Supreme (2010), the AP McCoy ridden Colbert Station (2013) and 10/1 fancy Teaforthree (2014) all crushing the dreams of their backers at this devilish 15th fence.