How To Win The Grand National

How To Win The Grand National

A four mile slog over 30 massive fences in front of 70,000 screaming punters. Whichever way you look at it, the Grand National is a hell of a horse race.

Like many animal-lovers, I worry about the welfare of race horses. I think it’s very important for all those who work with, care about and watch race horses to appreciate and understand how the bodies and brains of these magnificent animals work.

In this one-off documentary I was given the opportunity to explore what it takes biologically for a horse just to complete this mother-of-all equine assault courses, let alone win it. Leg tendons 30 times more efficient than any man-made spring; huge bellow-like lungs that shift air six times faster than the flow of water from a fireman’s hose; and a heart that can fill the fuel tanks of six VW Golfs with blood in a minute.

I argue in the film that the race horse is, in some ways, the equine equivalent of a Formula 1 car. Biologically or mechanically, both are stripped down to the absolute bare essentials. But there’s a price to pay for this kind of power-pimping.  As a result, both are fragile. Both exist on a knife edge between glory and catastrophic failure.  So, in the case of race horses, that raises an important question.  Is the Grand National too tough ?  I hope my film will help focus your thoughts and inform your view.

A 60-minute documentary, this film first aired the night before the Grand National in 2013. The world of racing has been talking about it ever since.



Channel 4, Prime Time
Specialist Factual
Main Presenter & Producer
1 x 60’ doc
Oxford Scientific Films


Channel 4 Website