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How to Pick Winners
|The Grand National – Famous Fences – Canal Turn, Valentines Brook and The Chair|
There are five "named" fences on the national course and this trio – the Canal Turn, Valentines Brook and The Chair – come up as fences eight, nine and fifteen on the first circuit. All of the fences with names have a story to tell and these three are no different.
The sharp turn after Becher's Brook is demanding on both horse and rider but that's nothing compared to the sharpest turn that they take on the course at the Canal Turn. Riders must have a clear plan as to how they want to jump this fence as the 90 degree turn straight after the fence is its defining feature. The fence gets its name from the fact that there is a canal in front of the horses when they land.
To avoid it, they must turn a full 90 degrees when they touch down. The race can be won or lost here, with a diagonal leap to the inside of the jump taking the fence at a scary angle, but reducing the turn on landing and saving valuable ground. There was once a ditch before the fence but this was filled in after a melee in the 1928 race.
Straight after the challenge of the Canal Turn, once the riders have straightened up their mounts they are confronted with Valentine's, this makes the third of four famous fences jumped in succession. They can have a big impact on the Grand National. The fence was originally known as the Second Brook but was renamed after the horse Valentines who was alleged to have jumped the fence hind legs first.
The fence itself is a tough ask, and although it doesn't have a drop on the landing side still present a challenge almost as stiff as he twin – Becher's Brook. Another popular place to watch the race out in the country, the site used to house its own stand but that gradually fell into disrepair and was dismantled in the 1970s.
The one fence with its own name that stands away from the others is The Chair which is sited in front of the stands and provides a wonderful spectacle for the majority of the spectators. The fence is a fearsome sight, with a 6ft wide ditch in front of a 5 ft. 3in fence with the ground on the landing side actually six inches higher than on the take-off side, creating the opposite effect of the drop at Becher's.
The fence is the broadest on the course and takes its name from being sited where the distance judge used to sit for the race in the very early days - the fence was originally known as the Monument Jump but The Chair came into more regular use in the 1930s.