The brave four-year-old girl taking pride of place among the Grand National's runners and riders

Betty with her parents, Phil and Karen
Betty with her parents, Phil and Karen Credit: Family handout/Jockey Club

A four year old girl who was born weighing just 650 grams has been named as the honorary 41st runner in this year’s Grand National.

Betty Batt spent the first 13 months of her life in hospital and was nominated by the Jockey Club, which stages the world’s most famous steeplechase, for the honour.

It means her name will appear around the racecourse and in the racecard, alongside the 40 horses taking part in the £1 million race. 

The aim is to help raise awareness and funds for Alder Hey Hospital, which is treating Betty and has supported her family.

Alder Hey is also the official charity of the Randox Grand National Festival

Betty was born weighing just 650 grams, less than 1lb 7oz. Credit: Family handout/Jockey Club

Betty, who was more than four months premature and just the size of a biro when she was delivered in June 2017, needed constant treatment in the neonatal intensive care unit at Liverpool Women’s Hospital. 

Parents Phil and Karen, from Warrington, say she is a 'little miracle'.

Phil added: “Betty is just amazing. She is the most delightful, placid and brave little girl.

"A nurse once said to us, ‘Betty brings out the best in people’. Betty’s journey will continue and the remarkable NHS that saved her countless times will continue on this road with her. 

“She is our little miracle and no matter what comes we will all continue to love her with everything we have and with utter joy and immense gratitude to those who never gave up on her and gave us this most precious gift." 

Dickon White, The Jockey Club’s Regional Director for Aintree Racecourse and the North West, said: “Our relationships with those in the local community are so important to us all here at Aintree and none more so than the close bond we’ve formed with Alder Hey Children’s Hospital over the past 20 years.

“The work they do is phenomenal and rightly receives not only nationwide but worldwide recognition. We’re proud to work with them throughout the year, not just during the Randox Grand National Festival, and it’s our honour to name Betty as the 41st runner in 2022. 

“By highlighting the Batt family’s story and promoting the work Alder Hey do for children and young people day in, day out we hope to raise awareness and much needed funds to help other youngsters and their families.”  

The Grand National takes place at Aintree Racecourse on Saturday, 9 April.

Thousands of punters at Aintree and watching at home will see Betty's name. Credit: Press Association