The famous Aintree Racecourse barely needs an introduction.
Home to the world-renowned Grand National which is run every April, Aintree’s big race is just one of many top-class National Hunt events staged during the three-day Grand National Festival.
Two more important meetings are staged earlier in the season, in October and December, with this track being all about quality rather than quantity.
- Address – Aintree Racecourse, Ormskirk Road, Aintree, Merseyside, L9 5AS.
- Owner – Jockey Club Racecourses.
- TV Station – Racing TV.
- Type – National Hunt.
- Surface – Turf
Aintree’s racing surface is essentially split into the Hurdles Course, the Mildmay Course and the Grand National Course. All courses stage National Hunt racing only, no flat action takes place here.
The National Course essentially encompasses the other two, with the Mildmay being much tighter in nature.
Grand National Course and Mildmay Course
The Grand National course, as with all at Aintree, is left-handed. It is triangular in shape with its apex being the famous Canal Turn. The Canal Turn is the sharp left-hander the horses take in the Grand National right in front of the cameras and is the furthest point away from the stands.
The Grand National Course is also renowned for having stiff fences. The sixteen spruce fences are still notorious in the game. While these have been reduced in size over the years in the interests of horse safety, they are still a lot tougher to take than on the Mildmay Course.
A feature of the Grand National Course is the elbow. When all the jumping is done, the horses still have a run-in of nearly 500 yards to face including the elbow which has led to many a wide-margin final fence leader being caught close to home.
The Mildmay sits inside the National Course and is known as being easier, featuring birch fences. It is a sharp left-handed track.
Aintree Track Analysis
Something punters should keep in mind when betting at Aintree is that, despite it looking flat in nature, it can still provide a very big test.
This is similar to nearby Haydock which is also flat but for whatever reason, potentially the makeup of the ground itself, major stamina is needed at any distance to get home when the ground gets softer.
When the ground is good, a strong travelling type is needed. Check out some videos beforehand; any horses, even when they are tough and stay on, who are off the bridle a long way from often won’t get there at Aintree.
Front-running types and jockeys who believe they are going well and kick too soon are often caught out here. The run-in is very long which can work in the same way as an uphill finish – it takes an age to get to the line.
Visiting Aintree Racecourse
Along with Cheltenham, Aintree is one of the go-to destinations for all jump racing fans. The track is situated only seven miles from the centre of Liverpool, putting it in an ideal destination.
How to Get to Aintree
There is access to Aintree Racecourse by car. From the north or south, use the M6. Take junction 26 onto the M58 heading west. Head for the A59 heading south towards Aintree and the racecourse is signposted.
The simplest way to get there is by train. From Liverpool Central Station, trains to Aintree run every 15 minutes on race days. The Aintree train station is located right over the road from the racecourse, a short 5-10-minute walk away.
Where to Stay
Given the proximity of Aintree to Liverpool and the train links provided, the majority of visitors choose to stay in or around Liverpool city centre. Many hotels are available close to Liverpool Central Station, including at the famous Albert Dock.
The train link takes only around 16 minutes. The means before and after racing, all the delights of Liverpool are on offer for all Aintree racegoers.
Aintree Racecourse Fixtures
|Saturday||9th Dec 2023||Afternoon||Jump / Turf|
|Tuesday||26th Dec 2023||Afternoon||Jump / Turf|
Major Events at Aintree
When you think of Aintree, you think of the Grand National. That goes for pros as well as amateurs in all fairness, as Britain’s biggest betting event and this track are naturally synonymous with each other.
Aintree is special and the track is essentially held back for special occasions. Here is a full list of all of Aintree’s major handicaps and graded races throughout the jumps racing season:
|Old Roan Chase||Handicap Chase, Grade 2||2m4f||October Meeting||October|
|Grand Sefton Chase||Handicap Chase, Class 2||2m5f||Autumn Raceday||November|
|Houghton Mares’ Chase||Mares’ Only Chase, Listed Race||2m4f||Becher Chase Day||December|
|Fillies’ Juvenile Hurdle||Fillies Only Hurdle, Listed Race||2m1f||Becher Chase Day||December|
|Many Clouds Chase||Chase, Grade 2||3m1f||Becher Chase Day||December|
|Becher Chase||Handicap Chase, Grade 3||3m2f||Becher Chase Day||December|
|Manifesto Novices’ Chase||Novices’ Chase, Grade 1||2m4f||Grand National Festival||April|
|Anniversary 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle||4yo Only Hurdle, Grade 1||2m1f||Grand National Festival||April|
|Betway Bowl||Chase, Grade 1||3m1f||Grand National Festival||April|
|Aintree Hurdle||Hurdle, Grade 1||2m4f||Grand National Festival||April|
|Red Rum Chase||Handicap Chase, Grade 3||2m||Grand National Festival||April|
|Handicap Hurdle||Handicap Hurdle, Grade 3||2m4f||Grand National Festival||April|
|Top Novices’ Hurdle||Novices’ Hurdle, Grade 1||2m½f||Grand National Festival||April|
|Mildmay Novices’ Chase||Novices’ Chase, Grade 1||3m1f||Grand National Festival||April|
|Melling Chase||Chase, Grade 1||2m4f||Grand National Festival||April|
|Topham Chase||Handicap Chase, Grade 3||2m5f||Grand National Festival||April|
|Sefton Novices’ Hurdle||Novices’ Hurdle, Grade 1||3m½f||Grand National Festival||April|
|Handicap Hurdle||Handicap Hurdle, Grade 3||3m½f||Grand National Festival||April|
|Mersey Novices’ Hurdle||Novices’ Hurdle, 2m4f, Grade 1||2m4f||Grand National Festival||April|
|Maghull Chase||Novices’ Chase, Grade 1||2m||Grand National Festival||April|
|Liverpool Hurdle||Hurdle, Grade 1||3m½f||Grand National Festival||April|
|Handicap Chase||Handicap Chase, Grade 3||3m½f||Grand National Festival||April|
|Grand National||Handicap Chase, Grade 3||4m2½f||Grand National Festival||April|
No fewer than 11 Grade One races are staged at Aintree, all during the three-day Grand National Festival. This is just three fewer than at the Cheltenham Festival, showing off the quality that Aintree boasts.
The Grand National itself, while run at Grade 3 level, is the toughest and most competitive race of the entire jumps racing season.
The 40 runners are tasked with taking on thirty fences over 4¼ miles, something that has made the race Britain’s most bet on event of the entire year.
About Aintree Racecourse
Aintree is chock full of history. Back in 1829, the Second Earl of Sefton was approached about leasing some land in order to organise flat races.
This was agreed and so in February of that year, foundations were laid and a grandstand was even hastily built in time for a first meeting in July 1829. Hurdle racing was then added in 1835 involving rider Captain Martin Becher who has since had Becher’s Brook (fence) and the Becher Chase named after him.
Becher in fact helped the owners to put together what was known as the Liverpool Grand Steeplechase. The first such race was staged in February 1836.
Three years later, some famous names including those of royalty were taking an interest. Now a national competition, the Grand Liverpool Steeplechase was described as a four-mile race across country, though in fact was staged on the racecourse proper.
By now handicapper Edward Topham, he of Topham Chase fame, was organising things and in 1843 what was to become known as the ‘National’ was changed from a conditions race to a handicap. It was officially retitled the Grand National in 1847.
Topham and his family then took over the lease at Aintree Racecourse, before buying it outright from Lord Sefton. It was at this point that the Topham Trophy was introduced as the feature race on the first day of the Grand National meeting, the race is still run to this day.
At the back end of 1953 the Mildmay course was completed. It featured smaller versions of the famously tough Grand National fences.
In 1973, the Topham’s organised their final Grand National after the track was sold to Bill Davies, a property developer. His running of the track led to poor attendances following a big increase in ticket prices, and the National was beginning to suffer. In 1983, the Jockey Club took over ownership of Aintree Racecourse and they remain as owners now.
After some very successful years, especially for the National itself, the Jockey Club have reinvested significantly in facilities.
Aintree Racecourse is these days a very classy place to visit. A new weighing room, media suited, parade ring and stable facilities was introduced in recent years, followed by two identical steel-framed grandstands with pre-cast terracing.
New bars and glass fronts were introduced, putting Aintree in line with Cheltenham, Ascot and Newmarket as one of the best-looking racecourse venues in the country.