In February 1839, Lottery became the first winner of the Grand Liverpool Steeplechase, the race that would become known as the Grand National. Horses had to jump a stone wall, cross a stretch of ploughed land and finish over two hurdles.
The current course, which stages races over conventional fences and hurdles, opened in 1839. A difficult period for Aintree in the post-war years led to a sale to a property developer and concerns about the future of the Grand National. Bookmaker Ladbrokes stepped in to manage the Grand National until 1984, when Seagram Distillers became sponsors.
They provided the solid foundation on which Aintree’s revival was built. Today Aintree is owned and managed by Jockey Club Racecourses, one of 14 operated by The Jockey Club subsidiary.
The Crabbie’s Grand National 2014 boasted a seven-figure prize fund for the first time, which will be replicated in 2015. Crabbie’s is part of the Halewood International stable of drinks brands and their sponsorship renews the company’s longstanding relationship with Aintree and racing on a wider level.
Halewood International’s founder, the late John Halewood, owned the Ginger McCain-trained Amberleigh House, who won the 2004 Grand National.
As part of the deal Crabbie’s receives naming rights for the three races over the Grand National fences during the meeting – the Crabbie’s Fox Hunters’ Chase, the Crabbie’s Topham Chase and the Crabbie’s Grand National.
The Grand National is completely unscripted and totally captivating, steeped in a history of unpredictable winners and fabulous stories. The 2013 Grand National commanded an audience of 600 million people worldwide while the 2014 Grand National reached the record figure of £1 million in prize money. The next chapter is ready to be written.