Aintree: The History of the Racecourse by John Pinfold

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Each year, for a few hours on a Saturday afternoon in April, Aintree Racecourse becomes the focus of the sporting world and the stage of the world’s greatest steeplechase, the Grand National. More than 70,000 spectators at the course along with a global live broadcast audience of millions thrill to the spectacle of 40 horses and their riders racing over the world’s most famous steeplechase course.

There have been many accounts of the Grand National, but this book, Aintree, breaks entirely new ground. It tells the story of the iconic racecourse from its early days as a flat racing venue, through William Lynn’s inspired inauguration of the first Liverpool Grand Steeple-Chase in 1836, the redesign of fences in the 1880s, and subsequently the impact of wartime occupations, followed by dramatic postwar decline to the more recent and welcome renaissance as a three-day festival of jumping.

Aintree also reveals previously unexplored aspects of the racecourse’s colourful history: its spectators, buildings, animal welfare issues, and some unexpected, remarkable stories such as the early history of women’s football and development of powered flight.

After years of dedicated research, John Pinfold, a leading historian of the Grand National, exposes some of Aintree’s tales as myths, while adding many a new stories to the rich tapestry of the annals. Aintree, The History of the Racecourse is lavishly illustrated with numerous pictures never before reproduced. The author draws on previously untapped sources, including the Topham family archives, to weave a fascinating story that spans three centuries.

This book will appeal to both the horse racing enthusiast and the general reader.