Grand National Inception: Grows from Slapdash Beginning into Greatest in World, Daily Racing Form, 1922-03-24


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j I ! I | I . GRAND NATIONAL INCEPTION • | Grows from Slapdash Beginning Into Greatest in World. ♦ Spectacle at Aintree One Never to J Be Forgotten — Tremendous ! Crowds in Attendance. ] i a— i The Grand National, the famous steeplechase race ■ to be run in England today, like some other great races, had a slap dash inception and has grown with age. In 183S a group of sportsmen iiad taken over the lease of the grandstand anil race course ; at Aintree. on the •mtskirts of Liverpool, and it I was decided to laaagarate the new order of tilings I by starting a contest that would suit The taste , of the public. At that period the sport of racing I over fences was |g its infancy. In an organized I form it began in MM at St. Albans, about twenty miles north of London. There was s steeplechase at Liverpool in lN3t . the conditions governing which read: "A sweepstakes of *." each, with f*M added, fee horses of all denominations, 182 pounds i each, gentlemen riders. seeeM horse receives back his stake, winner to be sold for ,000-. if de- I Bunded." That race was won on a basse called I The Duke, ridden by Captain Recher, whose name I is mentioned ju the description of every race for 1 the Grand National: the reasou why will be given I presently. I The syndieale which had become the lessees at f Aintree deemed it necessary to devise an event that would greatly attract lie public. Willi the I instinct of an astute advertiser they proceeded to 1 bestow upon their new race a high-sounding title. 1 and. having done so, came to the conclusion that a modest endowment would suffice. Anyway, the conditions announced were: "The Grand Liverpool Steeplechase — A sweepstakes , of MOO each. J?!!", forfeit, with 00 added. IBS pounds each, gentleman riders, four miles across country, the second to save his stake and the winner to pay KM toward expenses: no rider to open a [ gate or ride through a gateway, or more than eae hundred yards along any road or footpath." Lottery, with Jem Mason in the saddle, won the first race in 1S39. The race was run over five miles sf the stiffest line of fences ever put up at . Liverpool. Then there was a five-foot stone wall. Which was lowered to tear feet si inches when Jerry I1S40 won. and finally pulled down and substituted by an artificial brook in Charitys 1S41 year. In Lotterys IMP face Comrade, the mount of Captain Recher, fell when leading at the brook. ■ now known as Bechers Brook: bu! nine of the seventeen runners completed that severe course. In Jerrys ps-10 race the distance was reduced. WHENCE BECHERS BR00X NAME. The race answered its purpose well. It brought I sportsmen to Liverpool from all parts of he conn- a : try. Fifty-five horses were entered and seventeen faced the starter, one being Conrad, ridden by 1 Captain Recher, a famous horseman of those days, f ■arty in the race a stream of water, or brook, had I to be crossed. About a yard] from the bank, on the takiug-off Bide, a stout timber fence three feet « high had been HOC ted, and as th" brook was some six feet Wide, the obstacle had become a most for- mkftaMe one. Geared collided with the fence guarding the stream and shot Captain Becher over his head into the water. From that day 1o this the ■ place has bees known as B-chers Brook. On the other side of the course the same stream has again to be jumped and there it is known as Valentines ! Brook. I PreSBSnabty, as merely a conjecture. :t is in some : way Kssociatei with the Irish horse valentine, which finished third in the second Grand National in IS 10. In that and the previous year one of the obstacles W;is a stone wall four feet eight inches high. It was built opposite the stands and so had hail to be negotiated after the tompletiou of the first circuit of the course. Mr. Power, who rode Valentine in 1S40. had made a bet that he would be first over the wall. Valentine and Lottery, at the head of the field, approached she wall side by side, racing toward it as if it were the winning post. Mr. Power won his bet because Valentine was the first over. Lottery, on the other hand. charged into it and fell heavily. Three of the horses immediately following tumbled over Lottery and the displaced stones, so that the occupants of the stands saw right in front of them a somewhat horrifying spectacle. It was the end of the wall. The following year it was displaced by an artificial water juiii; . which is still in use. lottery, by the way. had won the first Grand Nation!. He was the greatest steeplechaser of his time and countless thonsauds of words have been written about his wonderful exploits. TWO MILES OF HUMANITY. Such, then were the beginnings of the world -renowned Grand National Steeplechase. It is beyond all doubt the greatest event of its kind, and the crowds that collect each year to witness it must be seen before their dimensions can be realized. The course, which has to be traversed twice, is two and one-quarter miles round, and for an hour be. fore the race is run it is framed the whole way by a wide ring of humanity. The immense range of stands arc always pecked to suffocation. If you waat to see anything of the race from the stands yo.i must take your place early in the afternoon and remain fixed until the winner has passed the post. Then you may pu li your way to the bear-by railway station and take your chance of getting into an early train back to Liverpool. Before the war the Grand National crowd was becoming larger each sin reeding yepr. Since the war it has grown to a prodigious size. Visitors from others parts of the country find it necessery to travel to places many miles from Liverpool in order in get a bod. But it is no use trying to describe the scenes witnessed before, hiring and after the race. Two years ago visitors reached the eatraace to the paddocks an hour before the first race of tin- day was ma, and so great was the throng waiting to pass thiotigh the tnmstilea that the turn to gain aimlttanm did not cease for half an bear. Last year Irmdieds of late comers never got through the gate at all. If the day is fine and the atmosphere clear a fine spectacle is presented by Aintree on Grand National day. Oace seen it cannot he forgCttCB. The course and its -uiroundiiurs are. let it be said, anything but On the one side of the course there is a high railway embankment, with factories and their tall Chimneys beyond. On the other side there is a canal, the near bank of which, like the railway embankment . affords the public a chance of seehag the race. Away beyond the country is open, flat and ban. The long range of stands is Impress! Te, but strictly utilitarian in character. It is the people and the horses that make toe spectacle. For the time In ing the whole place pulsates with excitement and enthusiasm. Tie great city of Liverpool has for weeks been llv-tng tor this oay. Practically every one of its hundreds of thousands of inhabitants has something at stake on the isue. Latteries are illegal in Kn-land. but they exist under the name of •Sweeps." and hundreds of them are organized in connection with tile t rand National. * *

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