The Grand National & Aintree 1946-1959

The National Meeting

The first Spring Meeting after the war took place in 1946 with the National being run on the Friday. Unusually and for this year only, the National was the first race of the meeting that was run over the National fences and it was the only National Hunt race on an otherwise all flat card. Saturday saw the Stanley Chase and the Becher Chase (which this year and in 1947 was staged at the Spring Meeting with the Champion Chase moved to the Autumn). In 1947 for the first time in the races history the National was staged on a Saturday. The first glimpse of the National fences was provided by the Stanley Chase on the Thursday whilst Friday saw the Becher Chase and a return of the Foxhunters which was then still run over the full National course and distance. In 1948 the Champion Chase returned from its Autumn run to the Friday of the National meeting. In 1949 to celebrate their purchase of Aintree Mrs Topham extended the meeting to four days and introduced a new race over the National fences, the Topham Trophy which with the Foxhunters was staged on the first day of the meeting. The Topham remained, until 1998 the first race over the National fences at the meeting. The Stanley and Champion Chases were staged on the second day with the National course having a break on the Friday. The same format was maintained in 1950 albeit the Foxhunters was reduced in distance. The Champion Chase was staged for the final time in 1950 and the Stanley Chase passed into obscurity two years later. From 1953 the meeting reverted back to three days and with one exception (1957 when the National was run on a Friday and the Topham and Foxhunters staged on the Saturday) the jumps programme remained pretty much the same until 1975 : -

Thursday - Topham Trophy & Liverpool Foxhunters Chase

Friday - Coronation & Lancashire Hurdles & (from 1954 onwards) a new novices chase over the Mildmay Course, the Mildmay Chase 

Saturday - Liverpool Hurdle & Grand National. 

The Topham Trophy

First run in 1949 to celebrate the Tophams purchase of Aintree. No horse has ever managed to win this race and the National and few tried. The nearest to complete the double in this period was Lord Seftons IRISH LIZARD who won the race in 1953 before finishing third in the National two days later. Of other winners, LITTLE YID who won a total of four races over the National fences could not see out the National distance, CADAMSTOWN fell in his National attempts whilst JOHN JACQUES nearly got round in 1959

Role of Honour 

1949CADAMSTOWN J.Powell J.Brogan 24 
1950 CULWORTH W.Hall R.Curran 16 
1951 CULWORTH W.Hall R.Curran 18 
1952 BALYMAGILLAN Ireland P.Taaffe 15 
1953 IRISH LIZARD H.Nicholson R.Francis 17 
1954LITTLE YID R.Renton G.Slack 17 
1955 STORMHEAD W.Hall P.Farrell 14 
1956 JOHN JACQUES W.Wharton J.Power 10 
1957 ROUGHAN N.Crump. H J East 14 
1958ROUGHAN N.Crump F T Winter 16 
1959 CLANYON W Johns-Powell G.Underwood 19 

The Liverpool Foxhunters Chase

First run in 1923 the Foxhunters was originally run over the same course and distance as the National. After some fairly miserable runnings the race was reduced in distance. As a contest the Foxhunters has gone from strength to strength since the late seventies. As for the role of honour in this decade only 1959 winner MERRYMAN II went on to better things over the National fences although SURPRISE PACKET did his best to try and make all in 1959 before crashing out at second Bechers.

Role of Honour

1946Not run    
1947 LUCKY PURCHASE S C Banks Mr J.Nichols  6 
1948SAN MICHELE H W Metcalfe Mr A J Cunard 12 
1949 BALLYHARTFIELD M J Makin Mr J.Straker  5 
1950 HILLMERE Dalton Mr P.Brookshaw 14 
1951 CANDY II R.Brewis Mr R.Brewis 17 
1952 PAMPEENNE II H.Alexander Col H.Alexander 11 
1953 SOLO CALL R.Brewis Mr R.Brewis  7 
1954 DARK STRANGER L A Colville Mr J.Bosley 14 
1955 HAPPYMINT J S Wight Mr A.Moralee 13 
1956 MR SHANKS J A Keith Mr J.Everitt  8 
1957 COLLEDGE MASTERL.Morgan Mr L.Morgan  6 
1958 SURPRISE PACKET Mrs S.Richards Mr T.Johnson 13 
1959 MERRYMAN II N.Crump Mr C.Scott 10 

 Run over 4 & 1/2 miles 1947-49

The Champion Chase

First run in 1881 the Champion Chase was initially designed as a "consolation" race for horses who had failed in the National the day before and is notable in 1936 for confirming GOLDEN MILLER`s dislike of Aintree when he famously fell at the first fence in the Champion Chase the day after he had sensationally unseated in the National. When the race was moved to the Autumn meeting in 1940 the race seemed something of an irrelevance although it did provide PRINCE REGENT with some compensation for his failure in the National the previous April. Although in 1946 it was worth more than both the Cheltenham Gold Cup and Champion Hurdle combined the race was on borrowed time when it was moved back to the Spring meeting in competition with the newly instigated Topham Trophy. The race quietly slipped from the calender after 1950.

Role of honour

1946 PRINCE REGENT Ireland T.Hyde  3 
1948 LUAN CASCAH.Smythe T.Molony  8 
1949 FREEBOOTER R.Renton T.Molony  6 
1950 FINNURE Beeby R.Francis  5 

N.B :  The race was not run in the 1945-46 season and in 1946-47 staged at the Autumn meeting. In the 1947-48 season the race was brought back to the Spring meeting which meant that the race was not staged during 1947.

Further reading : The Complete Record - issue 39 (Paul Davies - 2005) 

The Stanley Chase

Whilst the idea of a novice chase run over the National fences may seem like madness to todays politically correct racegoer, the Stanley Chase was a fixture of the Spring meeting from 1893.  Run over two and a half miles with (until 1935) the water jump as the first fence it was traditionally run on the opening day of the National meeting. From 1936 an additional National fence was added next to the Chair which would eventually form part of the Mildmay course. This became perhaps more realistically the first fence. The race never took in the Chair. During its history it produced four winners who would go on to triumph in the National (Jerry M, Ally Sloper, Gregalach and Kellsboro` Jack) whilst four others (Kirkland, Rubio, Troytown and Bogskar) contested the Stanley Chase without success. Despite its ability to attract good runners, the Stanley is remembered as a pretty scary race best consigned to the dustbin of Aintree history. Perhaps it is the notorious 1947 running when all sixteen horses fell (Billykin was remounted to win) that the Stanley Chase is remembered for. After that farcical running the race was on borrowed time, the winners did not amount to much and the announcement of the building of a "nursery  course" for potential National runners with scaled down versions of the fences effectively sealed the Stanley Chases fate. The construction of the Mildmay Course rendered the Stanley Chase obsolete and few mourned its passing in 1952.

Role of honour

1946 LUAN CASCA H.Smythe A.Brabazon 16 
1947 BILLYKIN (rem) C.Nicholson T.Molony 16 
1948 BLAKELY GROVE I.Anthony J.Maguire 13 
1949 CARMODY W.Stephenson T.Molony 14 
1950 KNUCKLEDUSTER J.Gosden A.Jarvis  7 
1951 SHAEF J.GosdenA.Jarvis  6 
1952 FINVARRA A S Kilpatrick R.Morrow  6 

 Further reading : The Complete Record - issue 49 (Paul Davies - 2008)