Aintree situated in Merseyside near Liverpool, north west Englands’ most famous meeting is the Grand National. It is regarded as one of the most difficult of all courses to successfully complete, with 16 steeplechase fences including canal Turn and Brecher’s Brook. These are so infamous that even their names strike fear into the most professional of jockeys. Most riders to not finish the race. This makes it the ‘Worlds Greatest Jump Race’.
Four other races take place over the National fences. These are the Topham Chase and the Fox Hunters’ Chase at the Grand National meeting and the Grand Sefton Handicap Chase and Becher Handicap Chase in the November meeting.
Towards Bechers Brook. Looking east along part of the Aintree racecourse
The first official races at Aintree were organised by a syndicate, headed by the owner of Liverpool’s Waterloo Hotel, Mr William Lynn. He leased the land from Lord Sefton, set out a course and built a grandstand. Lord Molyneux laid the foundation stone on February 7, 1829 and placed a bottle full of sovereigns in the footings.
The course staged its initial jump fixture in 1835. On Tuesday, February 26, 1839, Lottery became the first winner of the Grand National. In those days the horses had to jump a stone wall, cross a stretch of ploughed land and finish over two hurdles. The race was then known as the Grand Liverpool Steeplechase.
Now named after its sponsor John Smith’s todays Grand National course is four and a half miles of difficult jumps over water obstacles covered with spruce trees and gates making this a unique British national hunt race. The total prize money is currently £900,000. The intention is for the value of the race is to reach £1 million by 2010. The John Smith’s Grand National takes place on the first Saturday in April at 4.15pm.
For more information and hospitality tickets visit http://www.aintree.co.uk