The Grand National Steeplechase was founded in 1898 by several young men who wanted to compete in the Maryland Hunt Cup, but were too young to enter. Since its founding, the Grand National has become a standard in Maryland timber racing. The race is often compared to the Maryland Hunt Cup, and for good reason; the two races do share many similarities. But if the Hunt Cup is the most demanding timber race, the Grand National is the most demanding three-mile timber race – a critical difference, as the shorter distance means faster racing over eighteen unyielding obstacles. Since the race moved to the current course in 1946, there have been sixteen horses to win both races, but there have been fifteen Hunt Cup winners to start the Grand National and never win. The Grand National Steeplechase is a truly unique race with its own distinct set of challenges.
Many great equine names of the sport have graced the Grand National, but only a few have left their mark with the distinction of having won the race three times. They are: Inshore, Winton, Landing Party, Mountain Dew (pictured with Janon Fisher III aboard), Buck Jakes, Welter Weight and Senior Senator. With his fourth win in 2001, Welter Weight joined only one other legendary mount in winning the race more than three times. The other, a six-time winner and, still, reigning king of the Grand National, is Mountain Dew. Eight starts, six wins, two seconds and never a faller over 144 fences, he beat horses that had won or would win the Hunt Cup. He would make history in the next weekend’s race as well.
In 2023, the Grand National Steeplechase celebrates its 120th running – a significant milestone for a thriving equine event. Grand National Day, the second-to-last Saturday in April, has been and will continue to be one of the most highly anticipated days of the year for all enthusiasts of timber racing and equine sport. The Grand National benefits the Valleys Planning Council, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to land use planning, agricultural and historic preservation, and environmental advocacy. Visit the Valleys Planning Council to learn more.