Aintree Racecourse Guide
One of the most famous racecourses in the UK, not least as it hosts the famous Grand National Steeplechase, Aintree hosts a number of jumps racing fixtures throughout the year although at one point the course was dual-purpose also hosting flat racing fixtures until 1976.
Situated close to Liverpool, the Aintree Grand National Festival held over three days in April is the track’s biggest meeting of the season and features a number of Grade One prizes which attracts many of racing’s biggest names to the course.
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Grand National Meeting Tips
Aintree Major Meetings
Over the course of the season Aintree hosts a number of fixtures, starting in October with the feature Old Roan Chase which also bears the name of three-time winner of the race Monet’s Garden and a nine-time winner overall at the venue.
Following a fixture in November the next big meeting at Aintree pays a first visit to the Grand National fences with the Becher Chase with the Grand Sefton Chase also taking place over the unique fences later in the day on a racecard which also includes the Grade Two Many Clouds Chase on the Mildmay Course.
After a break the famous Grand National Festival comes around in early-April and takes place over three top-class days with each day featuring a number of Grade One races as well as one race over the Grand National course before the final summer fixture a few weeks later brings the curtain down on the Aintree season.
Aintree Track Characteristics
There are two chase courses at Aintree, the Grand National Course and the Mildmay Course as well as the hurdles course.
The Grand National Course is flat and triangular in shape with a unique 90-degree turn at the Canal Turn - the furthest point from the stands. The spruce-covered fences have been adapted through the years to increase safety yet it still retains its’ reputation as a tough test for horse and jockey.
The Mildmay Course is situated inside the Grand National course and is a flat track with sharp turns and stiff birch fences. The track suits nimble, strong-travelling types best and while level in nature the long straight can often find out those with questionable stamina. Front-runners often do well at Aintree.
The hurdles course meanwhile sits between the two and while sharing similar characteristics to the Mildmay Course it isn’t quite as sharp although horses need to be able to travel and stay well to be successful.
Aintree Leading Trainers
Dan Skelton is by far the man to keep onside when it comes to finding winners at Aintree over the past five seasons; while he has only amassed a 17% strike-rate in that time his runners have returned a massive 70pt profit over the period.
Skelton is the only trainer over the past five years to be in profit with his runners at Aintree although following Willie Mullins would almost leave backers even with the trainer showing a slight loss. Top trainers Nicky Henderson and Paul Nicholls might be worth avoiding with both trading at bigger losses over the five-year period.
Aintree Leading Jockeys
Like his brother, Harry Skelton is the man for Aintree with the jockey winning on 19% of his rides at Aintree over the past five years for a 86pt profit; while weighing room colleague Aidan Coleman boasts the same strike-rate from less rides and a 20pt profit from his mounts.
Aintree Track History
Aintree has been racing since 1829 where it started life as a flat racing track although it began to host jumps racing over hurdles in 1835.The first ‘Grand National’ took place in 1836 and was modelled on the Great St. Albans Steeplechase first run in 1830 although some argue the 1839 running of the race was the first due to it being backed at the time by the aristocracy of the generation and starting and finishing on the racecourse, the race eventually being won by Lottery.
Aintree was used as a storage depot and American army encampment during WW2 and no racing was held at the track before it reopened with the Spring Meeting in 1946.
The Mildmay course was introduced in 1953 as a miniature version of the Grand National layout; it was however unpopular with trainers and in 1975 was revamped with the then-spruce fences replaced by birch fences, while the water jump was removed in 1990.
Flat racing took place at Aintree until 1976 but in 1967 it heralded the first appearance of Red Rum in a five-furlong selling plate race. The three-time Grand National winner finished in a dead-heat with Curlicue before later embarking on his incredible career over fences.
The course has seen no end of drama on and off the track including the infamouse 1967 Foinavon incident and Devon Loch snatching defeat from the jaws of victory in 1956 when inexplicably jumping a shadow and sprawling on landing, handing the victory to E.S.B.
Aintree Racecourse Address
0151 523 2600
Aintree Racecourse Directions
Road: Aintree Racecourse is located on the A59 and only one mile from the M57 and M58, which link into the M62 and M6. To get to the course follow the A59 towards Liverpool where signposts will offer directions and routes to the racecourse and car parking.
Bus: A regular service from Liverpool city services the Aintree racecourse. Routes 300, 310 and 345 all serve the track.
Rail: Racegoers going to Aintree can travel to the course from most major railway stations around the country. The racecourse has it’s own station adjoining the racecourse, Aintree Station reached by a local service from Liverpool Lime Street.
Air: The closest airport to Aintree is Liverpool John Lennon Airport which is situated 10 miles from the track. Travelling by road takes approximately 20 minutes.