Which is the smallest fence on the Grand National Course?
At a height of just 2’6″, the smallest fence on the Grand National Course is the Water Jump, which is the sixteenth and final fence on the first circuit of the Grand National. Along with the preceding fence, The Chair – which, at a height of 5’2″, is the largest fence on the Grand National Course – the Water Jump is jumped just once during the Grand National. On the second circuit, after jumping the final plain fence, runners are diverted onto the infamously long, 494-yard run-in, bypassing both The Chair and the Water Jump.
Nevertheless, the positioning of the Water Jump, directly in front of the grandstands, provides a thrilling spectacle for racegoers before the National runners head back ‘out into the country’ for the second circuit. The fact that the Water Jump immediately follows The Chair occasionally catches a horse unawares, but the main characteristic of the obstacle is an expanse of water, 8’10” wide and 6″ deep, immediately beyond the fence itself. The ‘spread’ of the Water Jump is 12’6″ so, while the fences presents few problems, jumping-wise, it is not uncommon for horses to drop their hind legs in the water.
The Water Jump became a permanent fixture on the Grand National Course in 1847. Back in the early, pioneering days of the Grand National, its position was variously occupied by a stone wall, an artificial brook and an artificial brush hurdle.