Ditcheat, Somerset, England (CNN)Imagine galloping 4.3 miles in a group of 40 horses, jumping 30 fences the size of small cars.
Welcome to the Grand National, the most grueling and spectacular steeplechase in the world.
The 172nd edition of the race, staged on April 6 at Aintree Racecourse in Liverpool, England, offers a record prize money pot of £1 million ($1.3 million). The three-day Grand National festival will be watched by 150,000 spectators on the course and a global television audience of over 600 million.
The most valuable jump race in Europe "is a bit like Wimbledon," Clifford Baker, head lad at Manor Farm Stables, the highly successful yard of trainer Paul Nicholls in Ditcheat, England, told CNN Sport.
"It's fantastic, there are so many countries watching it, and it is such a special race," said Baker of the ultimate test for both rider and horse. "It is the most famous race in the calendar, and the hardest to win."
Nine-year-old Tiger Roll, owned by Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary, is a short-priced favorite at 7-2 to successfully retain his Grand National crown after he won the Cross Country Chase last month in Cheltenham by 22 lengths.
Still, being the favorite does not guarantee success in a long race with so many tricky obstacles and horses taking part. The last time the outright favorite won the National was in 2005 when Hedgehunter triumphed.
The last horse to win back-to-back Grand Nationals was the legendary Red Rum in 1973 and 1974. The bay gelding, trained by Ginger McCain, finished