The Grand National - "How It All Began"
Mr Lynn had been licensee of the grandstand of the defunct Maghull
racecourse. He owned the Waterloo Hotel in the Liverpool suburb of
Aintree. In July 1829 he opened a flat racing course. In 1836, in
accordance with the spirit of the times, he inaugurated the "Grand
Liverpool Steeplechase", a sweepstake, gentlemen riders at 12 stone, 20
fences in each of two circuits, and two flights of hurdles in the
straight. Captain Becher won on the The Duke. In 1837 the City of
Liverpool gave £100 added money. The Duke won again, but Becher was ill
and another jockey rode.
Mr Lynn lacked either luck or skill. He
wrote to the artist Ferneley in 1838 that the venture had lost him all
his money. A syndicate then took over Aintree racing, with a
distinguished Race Committee including Lord George Bentinck and Lords
Eglinton, Derby, Sefton and Wilton. The first race under the new
dispensation was on 26 February 1839, four miles and 29 jumps. There
were 53 entries, wide public interest, and heavy ante-post betting at
the Talbot Hotel. 17 started. Becher on Conrad, fell into a brook on
the first circuit, remounted and carried on, fell into it again on the
second circuit, and this time stayed there while the field jumped over
him. Emore's Lottery won, ridden as always by Jem Mason.
is regarded, illogically, but invariably as the first Grand National.
It was still called the Grand Liverpool. It became the Liverpool and
National in 1843 and in 1847 it was called The Grand National.
of the course was plough-land. The obstacles were both natural and
artificial. The two brooks were widened. In 1840 a stone wall was added
for the benefit of the Irish and an oxer for the Leicestershire men.
From these humble beginnings it has become the most exciting and prestigious horse race in the world.