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Aintree Racecourse

Aintree is the home of the famous four mile long Grand National handicap horse race which was first run 170 years ago on 26 February 1839 (won by a horse named ‘Lottery’), it is also possibly haunted.

Flat race meetings started at Aintree in 1829, when the proprietor of the Waterloo Hotel in Liverpool, William Lynn secured a lease on the land from Sir William Philip Molyneux, 2nd Earl of Sefton (born 1772 - died 1838). In 1837 and 1838 he held a steeplechase race called the ‘Great Liverpool Chase’ in nearby Maghull. A year later he moved this jumping race to Aintree and a new syndicate was established to run it, this was the first Grand National. The race was managed by a committee including Lord Robert Grosvenor, the Earl of Sefton and the Earl of Derby.

Edward William Topham (born 1805 – died 1873) from Middleham in North Yorkshire had been a Handicapper and Clerk of the Course at Chester Racecourse prior to 1839 when he joined the Aintree syndicate and started the enduring 125 year relationship between the Topham family and this world famous National Hunt horse race.

In 1848 he became the Clerk of the Course for Aintree and took over the lease for the land. A hundred years later theTopham family bought the course from Lord Sefton. Mirabel Topham nee Hillier (born 1891 – died 1980), widow of Arthur Ronald Topham (died 1958) was Managing Director of Aintree from 1958 and she eventually sold the racecourse to a property developer called Bill Davies in 1973.

On 13 October 2008 in a Liverpool Echo article promoting a Halloween event at Aintree, Tina Miles quotes an employee from the racecourse recounting his thoughts on the course being haunted.

‘Derek Thompson, 64, from Aintree, has worked at the racecourse for 41 years and is convinced the place is haunted.

The stable manager said: “I know it is haunted. I’ve seen one of the horses twice. I used to have a bedroom in the stable yard and I saw a grey horse walking in the night.

“The first time I thought one of the horses had got out. The next time I was the only person in the yard and I knew we didn’t have a grey horse in the yard.

“I’ve also seen a ghost horse walk across the course in front of the stands. Different security men have seen sightings as well.’

Ian Topham

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