By Simon Jackson.
Aintree officials have expressed their delight following news that the 2016 Crabbie’s Grand National attracted a peak live UK television audience of more than 10 million.
The figures justify Aintree’s decision to run the race at the later start time of 5.15pm. The number of viewers represents a whopping 12% increase from 2015 where 8.9 million people tuned in to watch the world’s greatest steeplechase which this year was won by the Irish-trained Rule The World.
Rule The World, trained by Mouse Morris for Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary and ridden by David Mullins, ran on well in the closing stages to score in front of a sell-out crowd of 70,000 at Aintree. The attendance continues the success of the three day Crabbie’s Grand National Festival, that this year attracted a total of 152,665 people.
“We’re thrilled more than 10 million people just in the UK watched the world’s greatest chase at its new time of 5.15pm,” north west regional director for Jockey Club Racecourses, John Baker, said.
“That is one of the largest viewing audiences in British sport and will normally be Channel 4’s biggest of the year across all its programming. The Crabbie’s Grand National truly is the ‘People’s Race’.
“Around the world, hundreds of millions of people will have tuned in to watch, while a sell-out crowd of 70,000 people at Aintree enjoyed top-class racing and enhanced customer facilities. Many congratulations to Rule The World, Mouse Morris, Gigginstown House Stud and David Mullins on their victory.”
Baker also applauded news that for the fourth successive year no horses were injured in the Grand National where, since a series of modifications were made to the Grand National course in 2013, all 158 runners that contested the unique steeplechase have returned safely.
He added: “2016 was the fourth Grand National since our £1.5 million of important changes on the course and, with all horses and jockeys again returning safely, those changes are working well. I’d also like to give credit to the jockeys for their professionalism in the big race.”
Read ‘Horse Talk with Simon Jackson’ at London24 for the latest horse racing news.