The Grand National is one of the best-known horse races in the world. The handicap steeplechase, run annually in mid-April at Aintree Racecourse, just outside Liverpool, is the highlight of a three-day meeting, with a total attendance in the region of 150,000 people. The race is a fantastic spectacle, with up to 40 runners racing over 4½ miles and attempting to negotiate 30 of Aintree's unique fences.
The origins of the race date back to 1829, when the owner of the Waterloo Hotel, William Lynn, built a course and grandstand at Aintree. Although a matter of much debate among historians, the consensus is that the first official Aintree Grand National took place in 1839. The inaugural winner was Lottery, the 5/1 favourite. It has been an annual event ever since, with the exception of the World War I years of 1916-18, when it was run at Gatwick and during World War II, when no race took place from 1941-45.
The most successful horse in the history of the race was Red Rum, trained at nearby Southport by Donald "Ginger" McCain. Prior to the 2012 event, Red Rum was the only horse to win the race three times (1973, 19744 and 1977). His first success was perhaps the most memorable. He jumped the last fence some 15 lengths behind Crisp (who was conceding 23lb), but caught up to win by less than a length in one of the most memorable finishes ever seen in the race. Pictured below the statue of Red Rum erected at Aintree
Importance to Liverpool
The importance of the Grand National to the city of Liverpool cannot be overstated. With the race arousing so much worldwide interest, it is an ideal opportunity to promote the image of the city and the region in general to a TV audience that regularly exceeds half a billion people. The week of the Grand National is also the highlight of the year for bars, restaurants, hotels and shops in Liverpool and the surrounding area. The event attracts an influx of 65,000 visitors to the area, many of whom use lodging-world.com to find accommodation. Local businesses benefit to the tune of an estimated £9 million.
Away from the thrills and spills of the National, Liverpool has much else to offer tourists.
Heritage and Culture
Liverpool is rich in heritage and culture. The city was awarded UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 2004. The impressive waterfront runs from Albert Dock, with several Grade-1 listed buildings, via the Pier Head as far as Stanley Dock. These are a legacy of the key role played by the city in world trade and the growth of the British Empire in the 18th and 19th centuries. Culturally, the city is a leading destination for museum visitors, theatre goers and art aficionados.
Near Liverpool there are three 'Royal' courses - Royal Birkdale (Southport), Royal Liverpool (Hoylake) and Royal Lytham & St. Annes. Along with these prestigious Open Championship and Ryder Cup venues, there are many other high-quality courses for visiting golfers to enjoy.
Liverpool ONE, located in the city centre, is a stylish new shopping centre with all the best-known high street brands. Nearby, within a few minutes’ walk, is the exclusive Metquarter shopping centre, featuring a range of fashion and beauty outlets, along with a selection of coffee shops, cafes and restaurants. On Mathew Street, in the vibrant Cavern Quarter of the city, Cavern Walks offers perhaps the best clothes shopping in Liverpool, with a diverse range of independent retailers.