What’s the average number of finishers in the Grand National?

In the history of the Grand National, the lowest number of finishers, just two, was recorded in 1928, when 100/1 outsider Tipperary Tim beat the remounted Billy Barton by a distance. By contrast, the highest number of finishers, 23, was recorded in 1984, when a safety limit of 40 runners was imposed for the first time.

However, it is worth noting that the ‘modern’ Grand National has undergone several significant changes, in the name of safety, some of which may have influenced the number of finishers from year to year. The fences have been modified, the distance of the race has been reduced by half a furlong and the Grand National Course is now routinely watered to create going no faster than ‘good to soft’. Thus, any meaningful average for the number of finishers should reflect the major changes, the last of which took place in 2013.

Since then the number of finishers has been 17, 18, 19, 16, 19, 12, 19 and 15 respectively, giving an average number of 17 or thereabouts. The 2018 renewal of the Grand National, which produced the lowest number of finishers in recent history, was subject to two late withdrawals, reducing the field to 38 runners, rather than the usual 40. It was also run on heavy going, producing an attritional contest in which 12 runners were pulled up at various points on the second circuit, most of them between the fourth-last fence and the finish.