If ever there was a race that does what it says on the tin, then this is it. Haydock’s Grand National Trial is a trial run for the big one at Aintree.
Run in February and giving contenders a chance to recover properly before the Grand National itself; the event is staged over 3 miles, 4½ furlongs as a handicap chase, and is a very competitive race in its own right.
Inaugurated way back in 1947, this race was staged every season until 1984 but took a break when no race of its type was on the schedule.
When a “new” race was created in 1991, then named the Whitley Gold Cup, the distance was increased from three miles up to 3½ miles, which essentially created the Grand National Trial, a name that was officially appropriated in 1996.
As a trial, this race reached its peak in the early 1990s, Cool Ground, Party Politics, and Master Oats winning races such as the Welsh Grand National and the Cheltenham Gold Cup.