The Grand National





William Lynn the hotelier, owner of the Waterloo Hotel in Liverpool was the person that brought the Grand National Steeplechase in to being. He was also the man that was responsible for the Hare Coursing event The Waterloo Cup. Leasing land from the 2nd. Earl of Sefton William Molyneux he set about laying out a course and building a grandstand, the foundation stone being laid by Lord Sefton on 1829.


There is much argument and debate as to when the first Grand National was actually run. From 1836 to 1838 it is said to have been run at a place called Maghull. The first two races being won by a horse named The Duke.The third race in 1838 was one by a horse called Sir William.


Some racing historians claim that the races were run at Aintree and should be classed as Grand Nationals. The first event to actually be called “National” was the 1839 race.Martin Becher was The Dukes jockey and Bechers Brook Fence was named after him. Unfortunately he fell at this fence in the following years race.


Red Rum WinningRed Rum Winning


Three things happened in 1838 and 1839 that helped turn the venue and event into what it is today. Firstly the Great St. Albans Chase was not run after 1838. As the two races clashed this left The National to take up the slack in the racing calendar.


The second and possibly the most significant event was the arrival of the railway in Liverpool. This made rail transport to the course possible for the first time, greatly increasing access for the general public, many of who found it impossible to attend race meetings before.


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Thirdly the formation of a committee made the event more organized, leading to better publicity and in turn bigger and better turn out of horses and riders. This drew in bigger crowds with the press giving better coverage. The first three years races were soon forgotten about and the Grand National as we know it soon began to emerge.The Grand National is a National Hunt Horse Race, run over 4 Miles and 3.5 Furlongs.


William Lynn’s health was starting to deteriorate by the mid 1840’s and Edward Topham, a member of Lynn’s syndicate began gaining influence over the rest of the syndicate and the Grand National. He changed it to a handicap event in 1843and took over the lease of Aintree 1848. The Topham family finally bought the course outright one hundred years later in 1948.



Red Rum GraveRed Rum’s Grave


Amost certainly the most famous horse to win the Grand National was Red Rum, having won it on no less than three occasions 1973, 1974 and again in 1977.


There has been much controversy over the years, the fences too high etc., but the race has continued to this day and is one Britain’s major sporting events. Fences have been modified over the years in an effort to make it safer for both horses and jockeys, last year’s race I believe was incident free. For all the changes it is still arguably the most famous horse race in the world.




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