Undisputed super-welterweight champion of the world, Natasha Jonas, has been named as an Aintree ambassador for next year’s Grand National Festival.
The 38-year-old Liverpudlian, who became the first British female boxer at the 2012 Olympic Games and only turned professional in 2017, has made an indelible mark on women’s sport. The Merseysider is one of the most respected talents in British sport, and The Jockey Club has acknowledged her magnificent year by including her in next year’s Grand National festivities.
Jonas secured a points victory over the previously undefeated Patricia Berghult in front of a packed M&S Bank Arena in her home city. Although there has been nothing to suggest Jonas is retiring, as she reaches her advancing years in the sport, it would surely be a fitting time to bow out as unified world super-welterweight champion.
Jonas made a recent appearance at Aintree’s Sporting Masterclass
Either way, Jonas has won the hearts of the British public and will feature at Aintree Racecourse throughout the three-day Grand National Festival in 2023, which is scheduled at a later-than-usual date of 13th-15th April.
Jonas took some time out of her recent fight preparations to visit Aintree’s Learn to Ride Summer School, joining Grand National-winning jockey Rachael Blackmore and Liverpool women’s football icons Niamh Fahey and Leighanne Robe for the masterclass.
As part of Jonas’ ambassadorial role at next year’s Grand National Festival, she is named on the panel for the Ladies Day’s eighth Grand Women’s Summit on Friday 14th April. Upon announcing her role, Jonas said she was “thrilled” to be part of the festival again. She went on to acknowledge Aintree’s “very significant role” within the “heart of the community”.
Jonas has been an inspiration to young sports fans in the last decade, alongside the likes of Jurgen Klopp’s successful Liverpool side and even Southport’s very own golf star Tommy Fleetwood, who has thus far rejected advances to join the LIV Golf movement.
Dickon White, north-west regional director at The Jockey Club, also spoke of the racecourse’s delight at having Jonas on board next year. White said Jonas’ “presence” at the recent Sporting Masterclass was “much-appreciated by all”, and she remains “very popular” with the next generation of sports fans in the wider community.
Jonas and the Grand National: Two of the jewels in Merseyside’s sporting crown
The Grand National is one of the biggest events in north-west England’s sporting calendar, and it attracts tens of thousands of racegoers each year. Approximately 33,000 embark on Aintree on the Thursday of the festival, followed by 50,000 on the following Ladies’ Day. On Grand National Day, Aintree can house up to 70,000 spectators that fill its deep grandstands, providing an exceptional view of the steeplechasing action.
As the 2022/23 National Hunt season prepares to enter full swing, anyone looking for potential talent at next year’s Grand National should keep a close eye on the races horses today entered into any steeplechases raced over three miles or more. As we all know, Aintree is one of the stiffest tests of stamina in world horseracing, let alone British horseracing.
The official distance of the Grand National is four miles and 514 yards – 6.907 kilometres in metric terms. For a horse to be eligible for the National, it must have placed in a recognised steeplechase of at least two miles and seven-and-a-half furlongs. Only horses aged seven years old and above are eligible, and they must carry a British Horseracing Authority (BHA) rating of at least 125.
The first National was staged on 26th February 1839, and it has since become a gruelling test of bravery, skill and stamina for jockeys and horses alike.
With no less than 30 fences to jump around two laps of Aintree Racecourse, it’s not for the faint-hearted. Some of the fences are tougher than others, with the iconic Becher’s Brook and The Chair some of the most challenging obstacles in worldwide steeplechasing.
It took 182 years for the Grand National to see its first female jockey win the race. Rachael Blackmore was the inaugural winner on board Minella Times in the 2021 Grand National.
In 2009, the race had its longest-priced victor in the shape of Mon Mome, who came home to win by 12 clear lengths, despite having been priced at 100/1 and above by the on-course and high-street bookmakers. It was a spectacle that continues to capture the imagination of the British public.