Grand National History
The history of Grand National racing started with a popular hare race organised by a Liverpool innkeeper named William Lynn. Wishing to build on his success he leased some land to use as a horseracing ground. Lynn’s plans came to fruition on July 7th 1829 when the first horse race took place at Aintree Racecourse.
Flat racing took place on a regular basis at Aintree until 1835 when Lynn decided to host a steeplechase at his racecourse. The event was an instant success, with The Duke and his rider Captain Becher, winning the event. For the next two years the race, now known as the Grand Liverpool Steeplechase, was held at Maghull.
The first officially recognised race in Grand National history took place at Aintree in 1839 and was won by Lottery. During this race Captain Becher was dislodged from his horse at one of the fences and feel into the brook running past the fence. The infamous fence was later named after him to commemorate this event.
The remainder of the 19th century saw the event’s name change several times before being named the Grand National Handicap Steeplechase in 1847. During these years a succession of legendary horses including Manifesto, Moifaa and The Lamb put in heroic performances at the Grand National, capturing the imagination and hearts of the public.
The early 20th century saw the Grand National disrupted by war. Although the race was run during the Great War it was moved to the current site of Gatwick Airport. During the Second World War the race was cancelled, and only resumed in 1946. 1947 saw the prestigious event moved to a Saturday after the Prime Minister noticed the effects that post race celebrations had on commerce the following Monday.
The post-war era and the growth in public broadcasting saw the Grand National attract even more interest. The race continued its tradition of providing heroic stories and in 1981 Aldaniti created an unforgettable moment of Grand National history by coming back from a leg injury to carry his cancer ridden jockey Bob Champion to victory.
In recent years the Grand National has been a target of animal rights activists, resulting in changes to the course and a safer race. This has done nothing to detract from the thrill of the race and most recently the 2008 Grand National was won by Timmy Murphy on Comply or Die.