Who founded Aintree?
Of course, nowadays, Aintree Racecourse is synonymous with the most famous steeplechase in the world, the Grand National. However, the race that became the Grand National, the ‘Grand Liverpool Steeplechase’, was not run for the first time until February, 1836, nearly seven years after Aintree staged its inaugural Flat meeting in July, 1829.
Horse racing at Aintree was the brainchild of local hotelier and sports promoter, William Lynn who, in 1829, approached William Molyneux, Second Earl of Sefton with a view to leasing the land on which the racecourse now stands. Molyneux sanctioned the use of his land for horse racing and, following the construction of a grandstand, the first race, the Croxteth Stakes, was run on July 7 the same year.
The venture proved highly successful and supported, financially, by Molyneux, the Jockey Club and others, Aintree Racecourse flourished. National Hunt racing was introduced in 1835 – although the National Hunt Committee would not be formed until three decades later – and the following year, drawing inspiration from an existing race, the Great St. Albans Steeplechase, Lynn staged his own version. The Grand Liverpool Steeplechase was still known by its original title until 1947, when it was renamed the Grand National, but the word ‘national’ was first used in connection with the 1839 renewal, which is now generally considered the first ‘official’ running of the Grand National.