Monday 4 April 2016

The Grand National through the Years

The Grand National has been something of a grand occasion for over 200 years. With its roots in the early 1800’s, the Grand National has transformed into the spectacle that it is today. In its humble beginnings, the horses had to jump over a stone wall, cross a stretch of ploughed land and finish over two hurdles. Today betting on the Grand National is a spectacular event, being watched this year by over 600 million spectators worldwide in 30 countries. 

The Beginning

The first Grand National race was won by Lottery in 1839. The current Grand National course was first opened during a period of economic difficulty for Aintree in the post-war years. These difficulties led to the sale of the Grand National grounds to a property developer. Thus striking concerns around the future of the Grand National.

In 2014, for the first time, the Grand National boasted a 7 figure prize which was brought back in 2015.

The Spectators 

As always the spectators thronged to the Grand National from the outset. Men donning their three piece suits and women tottering around in their heels. Pictured below are spectators at the 1922 and 1925 races respectively. 

From the overflowing Georgian styled gowns of the 1800’s to the fitted cocktail dresses of today, fashion has always been in focus at the Grand National. Ladies attending the event have been carefully putting together their outfits for over 200 years. 

Spectators at the 1931 races. 

A women horse racing spectator of the 1950’s.

Tipsters have also always been a common occurrence on the race grounds, as depicted by the below image of a tipster in a fortune teller inspired costume at the 1948 Grand National races. 

The Grand National has also seen some famous faces, the highlight of which being Queen Elizabeth II and her mother at the 1957 races (pictured below).

The Track and Stands 

Shortly after this picture of a crowded grand stand was taken at the 1956 races, the Tattersalls Grandstand was opened in 1960 to deal with the growing crowds attending the event. This meant that the jockeys racing on the first day of the 1960 festival (pictured below) had more eyes on their racing efforts than those racing in the 1956 races (far below).

The Horses

There is no doubt that the Grand National would be nothing without the amazing horses that have won every year. Since its inception, spectators of the Grand National have witnessed some of the best race horses in history race. 

Golden Miller was the Grand National winner of 1934. 

In 1965 the great Arkle took the cup before an accident that took him out of racing. 

Red Rum took the cup in 1973. 

Shortly after, L’Escargot took the winning cup in 1975 with Dawn Run winning in 1986 (pictured below).