Grand National Ultimate History


Years No Race

1916 - 1918

As 1915 and the Great War rolled on Aintree was taken over by the War Office and a clamour to ban horse racing intensified in volume. In the end racing was severely curtailed and localised during a war in which eight million horses died. Three substitute races for the Grand National were run at Gatwick which was right-handed with much less severe fences so they bore shallow resemblence to the real thing. The 1918 version boasted a decent quality field, the winner Poethlyn leaving the 1917 victor and two future Aintree National heroes trailing in his wake.

1941 - 1945

About a month after the 1940 Grand National the phoney war was kicked aside by jackboots. The military occupied Aintree racecourse straight after Dunkirk, British, French and then Polish servicemen were billeted there. The Liverpool area suffered badly from air raids, the railway sidings adjacent to the course were a German target and the course was hit several times. Horse racing was subject to periods of suspension in 1940-1941. It was regionalised in 1942, there were transport restrictions upon racehorses. Meanwhile, that year American troops took over Aintree, the course housed many thousands of them in the build-up to D-Day. The 1942-1943 National Hunt season was scrapped. There was no more british steeplechasing until January 1945. Racing continued in neutral Ireland. Many leading British owners (for example, Dorothy Paget) sent their horses over to the Emerald Isle. This gave Irish trainers an advantage in the immediate post-war years.


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Copyright 2017 by Chris Dowling