The Crabbie’s Grand National at Aintree attracted a peak audience of 8.5 million viewers on Channel 4.

The world’s most famous steeplechase, back on the channel for a second year, won a 56% share of the viewers for the 4.15pm event. An average of 8.3m watched the 15-minute race throughout.

Clare Balding fronted Channel 4's coverage

Clare Balding fronted Channel 4’s coverage

The ratings were slightly down on last year, which peaked at 8.9m, and well down from a peak of 10.9m on BBC1 in 2012.

However, the figures for the three preceding years on the BBC were 8.8m in 2011, 7.6m in 2010 and 8.5m in 2009.

Jamie Aitchison, Channel 4’s commissioning editor for sport, said: “The Grand National is one of the nation’s greatest sporting events and I’m delighted that 8.5 million viewers watched Pineau De Re win live on Channel 4.

“For the viewing figures to top eight million for the second year in a row is testament to the quality of the coverage from the Channel 4 Racing team.”

Channel 4 broadcast almost 15 hours of live racing coverage across the three-day meeting.