Comic Con Liverpool Countdown 🦹

Open search Close search

Close menu


14 key dates that shaped the history of the Grand National

2 weeks ago

14 key dates that shaped the history of the Grand National
Red Rum. Credit: The Jockey Club / Aintree Racecourse

The Grand National at Aintree is a racing institution around the world, watched by a global audience of millions.

In a history spanning the 19th, 20th and now 21st century, the famous race has witnessed countless headline-making moments, dramas and incredible winners’ stories.

In the run-up to this year’s Randox Grand National festival, from April 11 to 13, here’s a reminder of 14 key dates that shaped the history of the Grand National …


A horse called Lottery became the first winner of the Grand Liverpool Steeplechase in its first year at Aintree. 17 horses took part in the four-mile race including Conrad, ridden by Capt Martin Becher, which unseated its jockey at what was then known as First Brook. Capt Becher dived into the brook for safety, to avoid being hit by the other horses, leading to the fence being renamed Becher’s Brook.


The Grand Liverpool Steeplechase became The Grand National Steeplechase for the first time, won by a horse called Mathew, which was one of just seven horses to finish from a field of 26.


The National had its first taste of a mass audience when it was broadcast for the first time on radio by the BBC. It was also an example of the race winner having a poignant backstory – Sprig was owned by Mary Partridge who kept the horse in memory of her son, Captain Richard Pennington. He had bred it in 1917 on leave from the WWI trenches, hoping that one day they would ride in the National. Captain Pennington was sadly killed shortly before the war ended so never achieved his Aintree dream.


This year saw the fewest finishers in National history – just one. 41 of the 42 starters fell during the race, leaving 100/1 rank outsider Tipperary Tim the last one left to take the win uncontested. 

Red Rum. Credit: The Jockey Club / Aintree Racecourse
Red Rum. Credit: The Jockey Club / Aintree Racecourse


The Topham family bought the racecourse from Lord Sefton, with Miriam Topham as the formidable force running it.


This was the famous year of the nearly-Royal winner – Devon Loch, the Queen Mother’s horse ridden by jockey and later author Dick Francis, looked like a shoe-in for the win until he went sprawling on the run-in just metres from the winning post.


Memorably, 1977 was the year of Rummy – the legendary Red Rum rode his way to a third National victory and a place in the record books (and the hearts of race fans everywhere). 


Another fairytale win, this time for jockey Bob Champion on Aldaniti. He’d gone back to riding having undergone cancer treatment and his story went on to be made into the film Champions starring John Hurt.


After years of uncertainty around Aintree and its most famous race, the Jockey Club – with the help of donations from the public who responded to a campaign to save the National – bought Aintree and in 1984 Seagram Distillers stepped in with sponsorship to secure its future. 


The race that never was – Jenny Pitman’s horse Esha Ness was first past the post only to discover there had been a false start and the race was declared void for the first time in its history.


The National was postponed after two coded bomb threats were received from the IRA, leading to 60,000 spectators being evacuated and the city rallying around to give them a place to stay. The race was rearranged and run 48 hours later on the Monday.

Rachel Blackmore Credit: Terry Donnelly/PA
Rachel Blackmore Credit: Terry Donnelly/PA


Don’t Push It gave champion jockey Tony McCoy his first National success on his 15th attempt – he went on to win the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award.


Tiger Roll, a huge favourite with punters, became the first horse since Red Rum to win back-to-back Grand Nationals.


After a year off during Covid, 2021 was another history-making one for the National when Rachael Blackmore became the first female jockey to win, riding Minella Times. 

Get more info on the Randox Grand National festival here.

For the latest news in Liverpool click here.



The Guide Liverpool

About Us

We showcase the very best of Liverpool City Region through stunning video features and keep residents and visitors updated on what's on and what's good. About Us

The Guide Liverpool

Meet Our Team 👋

Meet Our Team
Eurovision 2023 - Jay And Gem - The Guide Liverpool Video Production

The Guide Liverpool

Video Production & Advertising

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse quis eros sit amet mi eleifend tincidunt. Services