In early April, the world’s racing fans descend on Aintree for one of the world’s most iconic horse events: The John Smith’s Grand National. And the nation’s cats get terribly excited at seeing what they could be eating a few days later… Actually, does that even happen? Is it a modern myth? Or do they just get shipped off to make glue as per? Regardless, the race is notoriously challenging for both horse and rider. 

Now in its 164th year, the National has seen some ups – Red Rum winning three Grand Nationals – and some downs – the false starts of 1993 – and at least one evacuation, most notably 1997 when an IRA bomb threat saw the course closed. In the end, the entire weekend meeting was abandoned and the race was finally run on a Monday afternoon at 5pm 

The race has a rich history, spanning from its days as the Grand Liverpool Steeplechase to the course we know today. It all could have been so different if property developer Bill Davies had sold the course, as he’d planned, back in the 70s. Instead, the public and the Jockey Club itself raised the capital needed to purchase Aintree, the latter still running it today with brewers, John Smith’s providing the lumpy prize money and sponsorship: prize money now totals into the millions. If you can, the Steeplechase Enclosure offers the best view of the start.