Aintree Race Course
Aintree is the home of the Grand National. Arguably the greatest horse races in the world, no other race comes close to matching the excitement at Aintree on Grand National day or surpass the amount of bets that online bookmakers take on it.
The story of Aintree race course is also the story of the Grand National, it's inconceivable now to imagine the Grand National being held at any other race course in England.
But, this looked a distinct possibility in the early post war years. In 1965 the Aintree course looked likely to be sold to a property developer, every year the press warned this could be "The Last Grand National".
In 1973 the course was eventually sold to property developer Bill Davies who gave a commitment to keep the race going but his heart never quite seemed in it.
Attendance at the 1975 Grand National was the lowest in living memory (admission prices had been tripled by Davies) and the Grand National had reached its lowest point and it looked like the end for the great race.
In 1975 a campaign was started by Ladbrokes to revive the ailing Grand National race. Ladbrokes took control of managing the Grand National. Ladbrokes had a deep love for the National and were determined to keep it going.
After eight years of management by Ladbrokes the future of the Grand National and Aintree seemed secure. Property developer Davies was unimpressed by the swift chances in fortune and still seemed determined to sell the Aintree course.
Finally the general public realised that this may be the last chance for the Grand National to be saved and huge campaign was launched to rescue the race once and for all. Generous donations from the public allowed the Jockey Club to purchase Aintree from Davies.
In 1984 Distillers Seagram stepped in to provide the solid foundation on which Aintree's revival has been built. The last Seagram sponsored National was in 1991 when the race was won by a horse which chairman Straker twice had the opportunity to buy!
A subsidiary of the Seagram company, Martell Cognac, took over sponsorship in 1992. During this time the National experienced a big boom. In 2004 around 150,000 people were at Aintree to witness the last Martell backed race.
Aintree race course now enjoys its most successful period ever. Plans for the future include a new grandstand, as well as a redeveloped winner's enclosure. According to British Bookmakers, Aintree's £30million plan will be ready for the 2007 Grand National.
Grand National Sweepstake
Check out this free Grand National Sweepstake Kit around race time and you'll be able to print out all of the runners and serves as a great sweepstake kit for the big race.
Simply cut out all the horses names and distribute them amongst work colleagues or down the pub. The sweepstake kit also contains advice on which online bookmakers are offering the best Grand National odds for each of the horses that are running.