Grand National History
1839 is now regarded as the official date of the first ever Grand National, which has grown to become the worlds greatest steeplechase and for many the worlds greatest race of any kind. Over its long history it has produced many fantastic stories, the most famous of which can be read on our Grand National Legends page.
Ironically the 1839 race was won by a horse with the highly appropriate name of Lottery, who not only set the first winning precedent but also the precedent for the race which as we all know is often a lottery in its own right.
Its most famous winner however, comes from much more recent times, who will go down in history as the greatest Grand National horse of all time. Red Rum won the National three times in five years and was second on the other two occasions. Quite fittingly he has a bronze monument built in his honour at the Aintree racecourse, where his name still brings tears to the eyes of racegoers.
These days the Grand National is televised each year and goes out worldwide to millions, however its very first live broadcast took place back in 1927 when BBC Radio broadcasted to an audience of listening millions. The race was first televised in 1961, when Merryman II won.
The only times when the race has not been run was between 1941-45 during the second world war, but has run every year before and since, although it had to be declared void in 1993 after a second false start,. Unfortunately most of the jockeys had not heard the call and proceeded to run the race, which was won by Esha Ness who soon after learned that he had become the first horse past the post of the Grand National never to have won.
A bomb scare in 1997 forced the race to be run for the first time on a Monday, however it did not spoil the race which was won by 14/1 shot Lord Gyllene.