Which horse won the first ‘official’ Grand National?
The race that eventually became the Grand National was derived from an earlier, and highly successful, race, known as the St. Albans Grand Steeplechase, which was first staged in 1830. A steeplechase, known as the Liverpool Grand Steeplechase, was run at Aintree on February 29, 1836 and was won by The Duke, trained by Mr. W. Sirdefield and ridden by Captain Martin Becher. However, the ‘official’ status of this race, and subsequent renewals in 1837 and 1838 – which some sources state took place not at Aintree, but at nearby Maghull – was revoked later in the nineteenth century.
Most racing historians accept that the first official running of the Grand National – although the title ‘Grand National Handicap Steeplechase’ was not adopted until 1847 – was the 1839 renewal of the Grand Liverpool Steeplechase. That race, too, was staged at Aintree, on February 26, 1839, and attracted seventeen runners. The winner on that occasion was Lottery, trained, at least as far as the record books are concerned, by George Dockeray, and ridden by James ‘Jem’ Mason. The nine-year-old took the lead at the fence known simply as the ‘First Brook’ – although it would soon gain notoriety thanks to the exploits of the aforementioned Captain Becher – and was never headed, eventually winning easily.