Magnificent Racehorses” has been released in the build-up to this year’s Grand National, as the Jockey Club have enlisted the support of Marvel artists to support their initiative designed to attract the next generation of racing fans. The Telegraph reports that the imagination and creativity of Martin Griffiths and Simon Furman have been utilised to full effect to illustrate some of the greatest stories from British horseracing history, including the exploits of such legendary names as Red Rum, Frankel and Kauto Star.

As Grand National fever sweeps the country, with last year’s champion, Tiger Roll seeking to emulate the great Red Rum by retaining the main prize, The Jockey Club came up with the novel concept of the free 24-page downloadable comic to boost interest in the sport of kings.

Their patron, The Queen, a racehorse owner in her own right, also appears in the publication in addition to 10 of the most iconic racing superstars.

Looking to attract new fans

As news of the intriguing project came to light, the chief executive of Jockey Club Racecourses, Paul Fisher, excitedly announced that the intention was “to ensure a new generation of fans are constantly discovering the drama and excitement of horseracing’s stories.”

Biggest horse race in history expected

This year’s Grand National horse race at Aintree is expected to be the biggest in the event’s history, with bookmakers predicting that around £300m may be wagered on its outcome alone. The three-day meeting at Liverpool’s historic venue began on Thursday, with some bookies indicating that a figure of approaching £650m in bets may have been made by the close of the event on Saturday across the full race card.

Global audience to reach 600m

Besides a switch for terrestrial TV coverage from Channel 4 to ITV1, a later start for the Grand National to 5.15pm is also expected to boost interest in proceedings and bookies’ takings, as predictions indicate that a worldwide audience of 600m in 140 countries will tune in to see how the race unravels.

Tiger Roll seeking to emulate Red Rum

Tiger Roll appears to be many punters’ favourite tip to repeat the success from twelve months’ ago, but other popular horses include Anibale Fly, Vintage Clouds and Rathvinden. Last year’s winner has certainly been in top form recently – winning by 22 lengths at Cheltenham - as the well-respected horse seeks to become the first back-to-back winner at the Grand National since the legendary Red Rum achieved the notable feat back in 1974.

Safety concerns being addressed

With daunting fences such as the “The Chair” and “Becher’s Brook” in their path, not to mention the challenge of over four miles of racing, safety concerns have been high on the organisers’ agenda in recent times as the welfare of horses and jockeys has become paramount. This year’s event is expected to be the safest in the history of the race, after four “schooling fences” were installed at venues across the country, with the aim for horses in the race to acclimatise in advance of the big day.

In addition, around £1.5 million has been spent at Aintree on safe turf to ensure that fallers have the softest possible landing that they can have. Safety concerns over the Grand National arose in recent years, with 11 fatalities since 2000, so event organisers will be hoping that their precautions are successful in safeguarding horse welfare.