This year will see the 173rd annual running of ‘The World’s Greatest Steeplechase’. The Randox 2021 Grand National will be the first time in the race’s history that it takes place behind closed doors. An average of 250,000 pints of beer and 75,000 cups of tea and coffee are normally sold during the three-day festival, with up to 70,000 spectators filling the grandstands and concourses to watch the big race on Saturday afternoon.

two chestnut horses racing; one jockey wearing light and dark blue, the other wearing green and orange

Following last year’s cancellation Aintree is once again preparing to welcome runners and riders as they take on one of the most challenging courses there is. Despite the lack of in-person spectators the action will still be broadcast to more than 140 countries, with an estimated global audience of over 600 million viewers.

In honour of this year’s race we’ve compiled our Top Ten Grand National facts:

  • The first race was run 26 February 1839. 17 horses took part, with ‘Lottery’ being named the winner at 9/1. The race was known as The Grand Liverpool Steeplechase until 1847 when it became the Grand National
  • 1928 saw only two horses finish the race from a starting line-up of 43; 100/1 outsider Tipperary Tim beat Billy Barton who had been priced at 33/1
  • Jenny Pitman was the first woman to train a Grand National winner after Corbiere beat Greasepaint by three-quarters of a length in 1983
  • The fastest ever finisher was Mr Frisk in 1990. He completed the 4 miles and 2½ furlongs (4 miles 514 yards or 6.907 km) course, complete with 30 jumps, in just 8 mins 47.8 seconds
  • Aintree racecourse has also hosted a European and five British Grand Prix. Stirling Moss’s first World Championship victory was in the 1955 British Grand Prix at Aintree, a race he was also the first British driver to win

dark brown horse fitted with bridle and reins

When it comes to Southport’s connection to the race, Red Rum and his trainer Ginger McCain are as firmly rooted in Grand National history as they are in local legend:

  • McCain began training horses in 1962, using small stables located behind his used car showroom on Upper Aughton Road
  • As a teenager, comedian Lee Mack worked as a stable boy for McCain. Legend has it that his first horse riding lesson was on Red Rum!
  • Red Rum suffered from a debilitating condition known as pedal osteitis. McCain took him swimming in the sea and running along the beach at Southport to help with his recovery
  • The only horse to ever win the treble – in 1973, ‘74 and ‘77 – Red Rum also managed to achieve second place in both 1975 and ‘76
  • His historic wins cemented Red Rum’s place as a national legend, so much so that he even switched on the Blackpool Illuminations in 1977

black and white picture of Red Rum and jockey on Southport beach

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