Postfest V, Part II: The Gran National
Date: Tue, August 09, 2005
Topic: Peoples & Culture
And they're off! Welcome to the greatest horse race in the Flanaess! A steeplechase, the Gran National attracts horses and riders from across the Sheldomar Valley and beyond. Only by functioning in perfect tandem can a horse and rider prevail. The sport of kings is enjoyed by throngs of onlookers every year in Hookhill, with lesser steeplechases popular throughout the Gran March, Bissel and Keoland.
The Gran National
By: Glenn Vincent Dammerung, aka GVDammerung
Used with Permission. Do not repost without obtaining prior permission from the author.
Date: 28th Planting
Location: Hookhill, Gran March
The Gran National is perhaps the most famous horse race in the Flanaess, drawing contestants from Keoland, the Yeomanry, Sterich, Geoff, the Gran March, Bissel, the Ulek States and even Ket and Tusmit. Entrants from the north and eastern Flanaess are less common but there are inevitably a few. The field is limited to 60 horses. However, the nature of the race guarantees even this vast number of horses a chance to win.
Not simply a race, the Gran National is a steeplechase. Around the racecourse are scattered thirty jumps - watercourses, hedges, set poles, fences, low walls, ditches and logs. Between obstacles, the flat grounds are of varying lengths - sometimes allowing a horse to build up speed before the next jump but sometimes allowing hardly any opportunity to prepare before the next obstacle. Each year the course is remade so that it is impossible to prepare in advance for a particular layout. It always the case that there will be spills, collisions or accidents that radically alter which horse finishes first.
The origins of the Gran National rest with the Knights of the Watch and that Order owns more Gran Cups, awarded to the winner, than any other group, with the Rhola Stables and the Stables of Neheli close behind. Run for over one hundred years, the Gran National brings together the greatest horsemen of the Sheldomar Valley and beyond. The fastest horse does not necessarily win as a steeplechase tests more than just speed. As well, the rider is tested. Horse and rider must work in perfect tandem to win.
Several training stables for the Gran National, and other steeplechases that have become popular in the Gran March and Bissel, can be found in and around Hookhill and Pellack. These stables tend to cater to distant owners attempting to win the Gran National. The Prince of Ulek is famous for such attempts to breed a winner and for his repeated, and expensive, failures. It is said by the Watch that a champion jumper is born and that training is of little practical value. This hasnít stopped attempts by the Prince, the Pasha of Tusmit and various other grandees from trying.