Grand National

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Grand National

the. an annual steeplechase run at Aintree, Liverpool, since 1839

Grand National

First Saturday in April
Grand National is the world-famous steeplechase run at the Aintree Racecourse in Liverpool, England. It was started in 1839 by William Lynn, owner of the Waterloo Hotel in Liverpool, as a means of attracting hotel patrons. The first races were at Maghull just outside Liverpool, but the course was moved to Aintree in 1864 and remained unchanged until 1961 when a railing was erected to keep spectators off the course. The next change was in 1990 when the slope at the infamously hazardous Becher's Brook jump was modified because so many horses had been killed there.
The course is four and one-half miles long and has 16 bush fences, of which 14 are jumped twice. The fences average 5'3" high. All have ditches either on the take-off or landing side. The race is limited now to 40 starters, and usually there is a full field. Of the starters, rarely do as many as half finish, and sometimes only as few as three or four. Horses have to qualify by winning three other set races in England, although any horse that wins the Maryland Hunt Cup is automatically eligible to run.
Probably the greatest horse to run the Grand National was Red Rum, a big, strong horse that won in 1973, 1974, and 1977. In 1973, Red Rum set a record for the fastest time—9 minutes, 1.90 seconds.
The race became widely known to the general public with the 1944 movie National Velvet, based on the 1935 bestseller by Enid Bagnold. It starred Mickey Rooney, playing an ex-jockey, and Elizabeth Taylor as Velvet Brown, the girl who trains "The Pi" for the Grand National steeplechase. When the jockey scheduled to ride proves unsuitable, Velvet cuts her hair and rides to victory herself, but is disqualified when it's discovered she's a girl. Only men could ride originally, but today women are eligible.
CONTACTS:
Aintree Racecourse
Ormskirk Rd., Aintree
Liverpool, L9 5AS United Kingdom
44-15-1523-2600; fax: 44-15-1522-2920
www.aintree.co.uk
SOURCES:
DictDays-1988, p. 50
References in periodicals archive ?
For a chance to win just phone our hotline with the answer to this question: Name this year's Aintree Grand National winner?
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