The Grand National and Aintree 1960-1969

The Mildmay Course

Opened in 1953, the Mildmay course was originally designed as a "nursery" course for future Grand National runners with scaled down versions of the National fences for the runners to negotiate. As these were spruce fences rather than the traditional birch fences found on other racecourses they were not universally popular with trainers and races over the fences attracted very small fields. The main benefit of the Mildmay course was that Aintree could for the first time stage all National Hunt cards. The two day Yuletide meeting was first staged in 1953 and in 1961 a second two day fixture held in January was added. The course was only used for one race, the Mildmay Chase at the Grand National meeting. Sadly, with the fate of the racecourse uncertain after 1964 the two day fixtures suffered the same fate as the Autumn meeting with the Yuletide meeting being staged for the last time in 1965 and the New Year meeting disappearing after 1966. From the 1966-67 season until November 1992 the Grand National meeting remained Aintree`s sole fixture and for ten years the Mildmay course was used for just the one race a year. The one off autumn fixture staged in October 1972 featured a hurdle race and two races over the National fences but there was no room for a race over the Mildmay fences. By 1975 the scaled down National fences were replaced by birch fence, paving the way for the phasing out of flat racing from 1976 onwards. From the second day of the 1976 National meeting Aintree became a National Hunt only venue.

The latest edition of "The Complete Record" covers the Mildmay course and provides a full analysis and history of the course from its inception to the present day. As the course was intended as an introduction to the National fences all I have done here is to list all the National runners who competed over the course during the sixties. The year of the horses National appearance/appearances will be in brackets after the horses name.

The Yuletide Meeting

Port & Brandy Chase, 2 miles

1959 : FORTRON (1962) (fell), 1961 : DAGMAR GITTELL (1963) (1st), 1963 : RUBY GLEN (5th), 1964 : GREEK SCHOLAR (1966, 1967) (1st) 

Christmas Cracker Stakes - 3 miles, 1 furlong

The highlight of all races run over the MIldmay Course in the fifties and sixties. This race was a National Trial in itself and one of the best races in the run-up to Christmas. It regularly attracted Aintree specialists yet the race is largely forgotten.

1959: WYNDBURGH (1957-62) (1st), PENDLE LADY (1960) (3rd), MERRYMAN II (1960-62) (fell). 1960: WYNDBURGH (2nd), PENDLE LADY (4th), MERGANSER (1964) (ur), 1961: DUPLICATOR (1962) (1st), DANDY TIM (1962, 1963) (2nd), PEACETOWN (1963-65) (3rd), HUNTER`S BREEZE (1961) (4th), TEA FIEND (1960, 1961) (fell), 1962 LOOK HAPPY (1963) (1st), SIRACUSA (1962-63) (2nd), SHAM FIGHT (1963) (3rd), SOLONACE (1965-66) (4th), LOYAL TAN (1963) (5th), DANDY TIM (1962-63) (ur), MERGANSER (19640 (fell), 1963 : BORDER FLIGHT (1964) (1st), CENTRE CIRCLE (1964) (2nd), PEACETOWN (3rd), JONJO (1960, 1961, 1963) (4th), 1964: SPRINGBOK (1962-64) (1st), APRIL ROSE (1965-67) (2nd), SUPERSWEET (1964, 1966) (3rd), BORDER FLIGHT (4th), Mr McTAFFY (1965) (5th) 

Turkey & Ham Chase - 2 miles

A dire race which regularly attracted fields of less than four it did not feature greatly in the plans of future National runners.

1961 : DANCING RAIN (1964) (1st) 

Snap Dragon Selling Chase - 2 miles (not run in 1963)

Another dire race which raises the question, if you are finishing unplaced in a selling chase what the hell are you doing running in the National ? 

1964: FRENCH COTTAGE (1965) (5th) 

Christmas Dinner Handicap Chase - 3 miles, 1 furlong 

1959: ARLES (1960) (1st), 1960: DANDY TIM (1st), 1963: RUBY GLEN (1965) (2nd), PHEBU (1965) (3rd), BLACK SPOT (1965, 1966) (4th), 1964: HARRY BLACK (1966, 1967) (1st) 

Snowball Novices Chase - 2 miles

Small fields the norm in this race. Never got higher than six.

1959: SHAM FIGHT (1963) (1st), 1960: HAWAS SONG (1965) (1st), DAGMAR GITTELL (1963) (fell rem 3rd) 

The New Year meeting

The New Years meeting was abandonned in 1963 due to snow. 

Maghull H`cap Chase (run as Hesworth H`cap Chase in 1961) - 2 miles

The last running in 1966 was one of only two races at these meetings that attracted a double figure field. 

1964: FRESH WINDS (1961) (4th), 1965: WARTOWN (1963), 1966: CASTLE FALLS (1967, 1969) (1st), HARRY BLACK ( 1966, 1967) (pu)

Birkdale H`cap Chase - 3 miles, 1 furlong

1961: SIRACUSA (1961-63) (2nd), SHAM FIGHT (fell), 1962: DANDY TIM (1st), SIRACUSA (2nd), REPRIEVED (1963, 1964) (bd), 1964: RED THORN (1964) (1st), REPRIEVED (2nd), LOYAL TAN (1963) (fell), 1965: ROUGH TWEED (1966) (1st), BIG GEORGE (1966) (2nd), APRIL ROSE (3rd), HARRY BLACK (fell), 1966: MAJOR HITCH (1966) (1st), APRIL ROSE (3rd) 

Wirrall Novices Chase - 2 miles

1962: DANCING RAIN (1st), 1964: FOREST PRINCE (1966) (ran out), 1965: SAN ANGELO (1968) (1st) 

Burscough Selling H`cap Chase - 2 miles

Rare in a Mildmay course race as it attracted ten runners in 1962 and a record eleven in 1966

1962: WARTOWN (ref), 1965: FRENCH COTTAGE (3rd), 1966: POLITICS (1962) (pu) 

St Helens H`cap Chase - 3miles, 1 furlong

1961: DAGMAR GITTELL (1st), PENDLE LADY (3rd), 1962: CHAVARA (1962, 1963) (3rd), 1964: SUPERSWEET (1st), PHEBU (1965) (2nd), RUBY GLEN (fell), 1965: PHEBU (1st), RUBY GLEN (2nd), ETERNAL (1963, 1964) (4th), WOODBROWN (1963) (5th), DARK VENETIAN (1962, 1963, 1965) (pu)

Ainsdale H`cap Chase - 2 miles

1961: DAGMAR GITTELL (1st), 1962: DAGMAR GITTELL (1st) 

The Spring/Grand National meeting

Mildmay Chase - 2 miles

1960: DAGMAR GITTELL (4th), CLAYMORE (1964) (fell), BARBERYN (1967) (fell), 1961: PEACETOWN (1st), FORTY SECRETS (1963) (4th), 1962: DANCING RAIN (3rd), APRIL ROSE (ur), 1964: SOME SLIPPER (1968) (4th), HARRY BLACK (6th)