Why is the Mildmay Course at Aintree so-called?
The Mildmay Course at Aintree was the brainchild of Anthony Bingham Mildmay, a celebrated amateur jockey, who rode in the Grand National before and after World War II. Indeed, he may well have won the National, but for his reins coming unbuckled on Davy Jones in 1936 and a debilitating attack of cramp on Cromwell in 1948.
Known to his friends as ‘Nitty’, Mildmay originally devised what became known as the Mildmay Course as a training ground for horses with Grand National aspirations, complete with the same idiosyncratic spruce fences, albeit on a smaller scale, as those on the National Course. In any event, Mildmay died prematurely in a swimming accident, once again caused by a crippling attack of cramp – the result of a neck injury, sustained during a fall at Folkestone in 1947 – off the coast of Devon in 1950; he was just 41.
The Mildmay Course did not officially open until 1954 and, when it did, the departure from traditional, birch fences did not go down well with trainers of the day, resulting in small fields. Nevertheless, the spruce fences remained until 1975, when they were replaced with conventional park fences and, in 1990, the water jump was removed and the layout modified to create the Mildmay Course as ut is today.