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Aintree Racecourse and the Grand National




In the early 1800s, William Lynn, a hotel owner in Liverpool, created the Aintree racecourse and the spectacular steeplechase event, The Grand National. When William Lynn established a flat racing course in Aintree, he had no idea it would become the home of the Grand National - the most famous steeplechase event today. In the early 1800s, William Lynn, the owner of the Waterloo Hotel in Liverpool's Ranelagh Street, was a man of good reputation and somewhat of an entrepreneur. After sponsoring various successful sporting events, Lynn turned his attention to horse racing.


The former Waterloo Hotel in Ranalagh Street with Bold Street to the right
a former mansion house it was once the home of Jonas Bolds business partner
it was demolished to build Central Station


In 1829, Lynn approached William Philip Molyneux, a gentleman holding the title of Lord Sefton, about leasing land at Aintree to stage flat racing events. Lord Sefton, a racing enthusiast himself, agreed to the lease the acreage. Lynn made plans to build a grandstand, and on Feb. 7, 1829, Lord Sefton laid the first foundation stone, also placing a container of sovereigns inside the footings.





The first meeting at Aintree racecourse was on July 7, 1829. The opening race was the Croxteth Stakes, ran over 1 ¼ miles, and won by Mufti. With the strong financial support and ardent backing from the Jockey Club racing committee, Lord Sefton and a few Aintree syndicate members, the racecourse prospered.







Hurdle Racing at Aintree Racecourse 1835

In 1835, Lynn experimented with hurdle racing, setting aside his October venue as an exclusive hurdling fixture. The event was a complete success, especially when celebrated rider Captain Martin Becher arrived to take part and rode the impressive hurdler Vivian to two successes.

It is rumoured that Becher engaged Lynn in a conversation about the Great St. Albans Steeplechase, a four-mile race from point-to-point, across country and back again. Lynn was fascinated by the event, and with the help of Becher, set about bringing a grand steeplechase event to Aintree.

Aintree 1836 - The Liverpool Grand Steeplechase


On Feb. 29, 1836, Lynn hosted the Liverpool Grand Steeplechase. The race attracted 10 runners with the following racing conditions: all horses carry 12 stone, gentlemen riders only and the winner sold for 200 sovereigns, if demanded.




Mr Edward William Topham, a respected handicapper, was responsible for turning the Grand National into a handicap in 1843 after it had been a weight-for-age race for the first four years. The Topham family owned substantial tracts of land around Aintree and in 1949 they bought the course outright from Lord Sefton, from whom the land had previously been leased since the racecourse opening in 1829.


The Grand National has produced a colourful array of stories throughout its illustrious past.






Mirabel Topham, the ex-Gaiety Girl, who shaped Aintree


One of the great character's of Aintree, Mirabel Topham who died 30 years ago, is still remembered as one of the Grand National legends. A former Gaiety Girl, she ran Aintree during some of the course's most difficult years. Speaking to BBC Radio Merseyside in 1971, at the age of 77, she described her love for the race.
"It's unique and it has held its own as being the stiffest and best test for horse and rider." Even in the mid 1970's Mirabel Topham saw the race as something that stood out in the modern world, "What I would like to keep about Aintree is the uniqueness of the race," she said. "It's something different and in these days of standardisation I think it's rather nice to be something different.
"All the jockeys who have been over Aintree are all very proud if they've even got round, never mind won the race, that's something you can only hear the best talk about."
She had been described as 'the greatest dictator in British racing' but insisted she merely wanted to work her hardest and try her best. "I don't know if that's a compliment or an insult," she said, "I think the sport has needed a dictator, in my small way I've tried to put wrongs right. "I think most of my staff will tell you that they get a kick or a pat on the back and they're both really well merited. "I'm not really vicious at all, in fact I think sometimes I'm a bit over sympathetic, but that doesn't do if you're a woman on your own."In 1949 the Topham family bought the racecourse from Lord Sefton and Mirabel Topham was appointed to take over it's management. Amongst the initiatives brought in by Mirabel Topham was the construction of a motor racing track within the course. Work began in 1954, the track hosted a European Grand Prix and five British Grand Prix. Stirling Moss won his first British Grand Prix at the course 0n 16th July 1955 and was victorious again in 1957 and 1959.


1955...Stirling Moss won the British Grand Prix at Aintree
The last British Grand Prix to be held at Aintree was in 1962. One of her first battles was with bookmakers over charges for information from the course, "I thought that everyone should pay for their raw material," she explained in 1971.


Red Rum

It was nearly 40 years ago now that Red Rum recorded the first of the three victories in the Grand National that earned him pride of place in the record books forever. He still remains the only horse to have won the Grand National three times and, as that statistic suggests, the great horse was a phenomenon. Bred to be a sprinter, Red Rum went on to win the gruelling four-and-a-half mile chase in 1973, 1974 and 1977, as well as finishing second on his other two starts, to become the greatest Grand National performer ever. All of this was achieved after overcoming the debilitating bone disease pedalosteitis, which should have rendered him unraceable. However, fate stepped in: Red Rum was at probably the only yard in the country where the training took place on a beach. The sea water, into which trainer Donald ‘Ginger’ McCain banished Red Rum after viewing the hobbling horse, worked an amazing transformation. On 31 March, 1973, he started 9/1 favourite for his first Grand National. However, by the time the runners had reached the Chair the giant Australian chaser, Crisp, who was shouldering top weight of 12st (a weight that is now forbidden in the National), had built up a massive lead and appeared unstoppable with four fences to go. But, conceding 23lb to Red Rum, his stamina started to wane and he slowly began to falter at the famous Elbow after being more than 15 lengths in front of his rival at the last. Red Rum wore Crisp down, getting up on the line to beat him by three-quarters of a length in a then record time of 9 min 1.9 sec, knocking nearly 20 seconds off Golden Miller's previous best under 12st 2lb in 1934 - this new record would stand for the next 16 years. You can watch this incredible finish to the 1973 National here:


Red Rum wins the 1973 Grand National
Full Race



Below is a full list of all the Grand National Winners from 1950 to 2012 in reverse order:


The 150th running of the race in 1997 was another bizarre story when a bomb scare meant that the course had to be evacuated and the race postponed until the Monday, to allow the course to be searched. The winner on this famous occasion was Lord Gyllene.

Year
Horse
Age
Wgt
Trainer
Jockey
SP
2012 
2011
Neptune Collonges 
Ballabriggs

10

11-00
P Nicholls 
D McCain
D Jacobs 
J Maguire
33/1 
14/1
2010
Don’t Push It
10
11-05
J O’Neill
AP McCoy
10/1JF
2009
Mon Mome
9
11-00
Miss V Williams
L Treadwell
100/1
2008
Comply Or Die
9
10-09
D E Pipe
T Murphy
7/1JF
2007
Silver Birch
10
10-06
G Elliott
R M Power
33/1
2006
Numbersixvalverde
10
10-08
M Brassil
N P Madden
11/1
2005
Hedgehunter
9
11-01
W P Mullins
R Walsh
7/1F
2004
Amberleigh House
12
10-10
D McCain
G Lee
16/1
2003
Monty´s Pass
10
10-07
JJ Mangan
B J Geraghty
16/1
2002
Bindaree
8
10-04
N A Twiston-Davies
J Culloty
20/1
2001
Red Marauder
11
10-11
N B Mason
Richard Guest
33/1
2000
Papillon
9
10-12
T M Walsh
R Walsh
10/1
1999
Bobbyjo
9
10-00
T Carberry
P Carberry
10/1
1998
Earth Summit
10
10-05
N A Twiston-Davies
C Llewellyn
7/1F
1997
Lord Gyllene
9
10-00
S A Brookshaw
A Dobbin
14/1
1996
Rough Quest
10
10-07
T Casey
M A Fitzgerald
7/1F
1995
Royal Athlete
12
10-06
Mrs J Pitman
J F Titley
40/1
1994
Miinnehoma
11
10-08
M C Pipe
R Dunwoody
16/1
1992
Party Politics
8
10-07
N A Gaselee
C Llewellyn
14/1
1991
Seagram
11
10-06
D H Barons
N Hawke
12/1
1990
Mr Frisk
11
10-06
K C Bailey
Mr M Armytage
16/1
1989
Little Polveir
12
10-03
G B Balding
J Frost
28/1
1988
Rhyme ´N´ Reason
9
11-00
D R C Elsworth
B Powell
10/1
1987
Maori Venture
11
10-13
A Turnell
S Knight
28/1
1986
West Tip
9
10-11
M Oliver
R Dunwoody
15/2
1985
Last Suspect
11
10-05
T Forster
H Davies
50/1
1984
Hallo Dandy
10
10-02
G Richards
N Doughty
13/1
1983
Corbiere
8
11-04
Mrs J Pitman
B de Haan
13/1
1982
Grittar
9
11-05
F Gilman
Mr R Saunders
7/1F
1981
Aldaniti
11
10-13
J Gifford
R Champion
10/1
1980
Ben Nevis
12
10-12
T Forster
Mr C Fenwick
40/1
1979
Rubstic
10
10-00
S J Leadbetter
M Barnes
25/1
1978
Lucius
9
10-09
G W Richards
B R Davies
14/1
1977
Red Rum
12
11-08
D McCain
T Stack
9/1
1976
Rag Trade
10
10-12
T F Rimell
J Burke
14/1
1975
L’Escargot
12
11-03
D Moore
T Carberry
13/2
1974
Red Rum
9
12-00
D McCain
B Fletcher
11/1
1973
Red Rum
8
10-05
D McCain
B Fletcher
9/1
1972
Well To Do
9
10-01
Capt. T A Forster
G Thorner
14/1
1971
Specify
9
10-13
J Sutcliffe
J Cook
28/1
1970
Gay Trip
8
11-05
T F Rimell
P Taaffe
15/1
1969
Highland Wedding
12
10-04
T Balding
E Harty
100/9
1968
Red Alligator
9
10-0
D Smith
B Fletcher
100/7
1967
Foinavon
9
10-0
J Kempton
J Buckingham
100/1
1966
Anglo
8
10-0
F Winter
T Norman
50/1
1965
Jay Trump
8
11-05
F Winter
T Smith
100/6
1964
Team Spirit
12
10-03
F Walwyn
W Robinson
18/1
1963
Ayala
9
10-00
K Piggott
P Buckley
66/1
1962
Kilmore
12
10-04
R Price
F Winter
28/1
1961
Nicolaus Silver
9
10-01
F Rimell
B Beasley
28/1
1960
Merryman II
9
10-12
N Crump
G Scott
13/2F
1959
Oxo
8
10-13
M Scudamore
W Stephenson
8/1
1958
Mr. What
8
10-06
T Taaffe, Sr.
A Freeman
18/1
1957
Sundew
11
11-07
F Hudson
F Winter
20/1
1956
ESB
10
11-03
F Rimell
D Dick
100/7
1955
Quare Times
9
11-00
V O’Brien
P Taaffe
100/9
1954
Royal Tan
10
11-07
V O’Brien
B Marshall
8/1
1953
Early Mist
8
11-02
V O’Brien
B Marshall
20/1
1952
Teal
10
10-12
N Crump
A Thompson
100/7
1951
Nickel Coin
9
10-01
J O’Donoghue
J Bullock
40/1
1950
Freebooter
9
11-11
B Renton
J Power
10/1




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