Pure racing entertainment
Aintree racecourse is home of the Grand National steeplechase, one of the most famous and demanding races in the world. The Grand National is run over 4½ miles (7.24 km), sometimes on soft ground, which makes the race all the more demanding on stamina and jumping. All fences bar the water jump are covered with spruce unlike any other course in British National Hunt racing.
The racecourse is seven miles from the centre of Liverpool and is located on the A59, just one mile from the M57 and M58. The National course is nearly two and a quarter miles round while the Mildmay course is about one and a half miles.
Prior to the event being held at Aintree, the race was run in the nearby district of Maghull. Steeplechasing at Aintree was introduced in 1839 and the National itself was first run 10 years later, though flat racing had taken place there for many years prior to this. It is regarded as the most difficult of all courses to successfully complete, with 16 steeplechase fences including renowned obstacles The Chair, Canal Turn and Becher's Brook.
In 1928, 42 horses started and only two finished the course. The record for the most victories in the Grand National is held by Red Rum, who won three times in the 1970s, in addition to coming second twice.
The track's future had been in doubt in the 1970s and early 1980s until a deal was struck, but the course now enjoys one of the most recognisable events in the sporting calendar.
Stewart Machin and Graham Cunningham present the three part preview to the 2012 Aintree Grand National:
In the last 6 months at Aintree, our top prediction for each race