The Site of one of the most famous Equestrian Racecourses in the UK is Aintree, home of the Grand National Steeplechase and just 10 miles north of the centre of Liverpool. Aintree Racecourse was the brainchild of William Lynn, Liverpool hotelier who formed a syndicate of interested people to support his idea, rented the land from Lord Sefton the owner of Sefton Park and proceeded to build the Aintree racecourse and the grandstand near the village of Aintree.
The first Grand National Steeplechase was run in 1839 on a course different to that of the present day with horses having to jump a stone wall, gallop across a heavily ploughed field and jump 2 high hurdles before crossing the finishing line demonstrating incredible strength as well as endurance. The winner of the first Grand National was aptly named ‘Lottery’ marking the instant success of the venture and drawing crowds up to 40,000 annually to watch.
The Aintree racecourse today comprises of two left handed circuits with the longer Grand National Circuit on the outer circle and the smaller Midmay Course on the inner ring. The length of the Grand National Steeplechase is 7.24 kilometres and horses must jump over 16 fences that are covered in Spruce making them totally different to other British steeplechase fences and far more challenging for horses to jump as they cannot see through at what is on the other side of each fence.
About 40 horses take part in the race annually with usually around 10 finishing the very strenuous course. In the 1970’s it was ‘Red Rum’ who won the Grand National 3 Times and became a legend amongst steeplechasers, still talked about today for his incredible courage and tenacity. The Aintree Racecourse has been under threat with closure on many occasions but various sponsors and investors have always come forward and the Racecourse is now run by the Jockey Club which also owns many other racecourses in the UK ensuring investment and continuity in the ‘Sport of Kings’. The Grand National Continues to be ‘The’ Race that most adults in the UK and Ireland have a ‘flutter’ on each year generated huge revenues for the bookies and owners of the horses, helping to keep the industry alive and well.