The Grand National is the most famous horse race in the world. Officially first run in 1839 it is now watched in 140 countries on television with viewing figures of over 600 million.
Run in early April at Aintree, Liverpool the spectacular steeplechase over 30 fearsome jumps over four and a half miles has had a history filled with drama. In the first running a Captain Becher fell into the ditch which now bears his name.In 1956 the Queen Mother’s Devon Loch looked set to win, ridden by future thriller writer Dick Francis in the saddle, only to belly flop, legs akimbo yards from the line. In 1967 there was a pile up at the fence before the canal Turn allowing 100/1 outsider Foinavon to come through to win.
In the 1970’s, when the future of the race looked in doubt, the three amazing wins by Red Rum reengaged the public, and who can forget the emotional win for cancer survivor Bob Champion and Aldaniti in 1981. The ’National has thrown up some great characters such as the Spanish nobleman the Duke of Albuquerque and English future racing journalist Lord Oaksey. In the history of the race the most to start was an enormous field of 66 and the fewest to finish was just two. In 1993 a starting fiasco made the race null and void and it was once postponed by a bomb scare and was run on the Monday.The Little Book of the Grand National tells all these tales with great contemporary pictures and photographs.