After the dust has settled on another annual three-day Aintree extravaganza and the horses, jockeys and punters have long-since returned home, what next for our Grand National heroes?
The heroes in question are not the horses who have galloped for miles round the Aintree turf, or the jockeys who have risked life and limb over The Chair and Becher's Brook in the pursuit of glory. Not even the trainers who have carefully primed their charges for their big day on the track. Rather, the unsung heroes who have made it all happen: the stable lads and lasses. In racing yards worldwide, there is no respite and no days off. The lads and lasses who prepare these valuable animals for the track work round the clock to do so. They groom, muck out and ride these racehorses daily, starting work as early as 4 or 5am to ensure their horses are fed, watered and exercised.
So when you see those magnificent animals lining up ready for the starter's gun, their coats gleaming and their ears pricked, remember who got them there. The trainer, certainly. But it is the lads and lasses who look after the horses as if they were their own pet, who know the animal inside out, who have a truly pivotal part to play in the success. Often, they will not even get to the track to see them run. But when they do, they are bursting with joy like a proud parent. And when the excitement has died down, and the event has ended, there's no time for celebration - it's business as usual and another 4am start the next day, and ready for the next race.