The Mildmay Course 1953 - 1975
The brainchild of Lord Mildmay the course that would ultimately bear his name 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 first scheduled meeting in December 1952 was lost to frost and despite being ready to race the course lay dormant during the National meeting. It finally opened on 2nd December 1953 with the first two day Yuletide meeting with Christmas themed race names. A second two day fixture held in January was added in 1961 but 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 Mildmay fixtures suffered the same fate as the Autumn meeting with the Yuletide meeting being staged for the last time in 1964 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.
Issue 59 of "The Complete Record" published in August 2011 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.
The Yuletide Meeting
Note - In 1957 the first day of the meeting was abandoned due to frost and the races from the second day cancelled with the first day staged on the second.
Port & Brandy Chase, 2 miles
1953 : MORCATOR (fell), 1954 : KEY ROYAL (1st), 1955 : PINTAIL (1st), 1956 : FRESH WINDS (pu), 1958: SIRACUSA (1st), FRESH WINDS (6th), SEAS END (fell), 1959 : FORTRON (), 1961 : DAGMAR GITTELL (1st), 1962 : RUBY GLEN (5th), 1964 : GREEK SCHOLAR (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.
1953 : IRISH LIZARD (1st), BORDER LUCK (3rd), 1954 : GOOSANDER (1st), IRISH LIZARD (2nd), NO RESPONSE (3rd), GENTLE MOYA (6th), DUNBOY II (pu), 1955 : IRISH LIZARD (1st), ESB (2nd), GOOSANDER (3rd), ONTRAY (4th), PIPPYKIN (5th), 1956 : KERSTIN (1st), IRISH LIZARD (2nd), MUCH OBLIGED (fell), 1957 ESB (1st), WISE CHILD (3rd), 1958 : PIPPYKIN (2nd), TIBERETTA (4th), MAINSTOWN (5th), JOHN JACQUES (fell), ETERNAL (fell), WISE CHILD (pu), BOLLINGER (pu), 1959: WYNDBURGH (1st), PENDLE LADY (3rd), MERRYMAN II (fell). 1960: WYNDBURGH (2nd), PENDLE LADY (4th), MERGANSER (ur), 1961: DUPLICATOR (1st), DANDY TIM (2nd), PEACETOWN (3rd), HUNTER`S BREEZE (4th), TEA FIEND (fell), 1962 LOOK HAPPY (1st), SIRACUSA (2nd), SHAM FIGHT (3rd), SOLONACE (4th), LOYAL TAN (5th), DANDY TIM (ur), MERGANSER (fell), 1963 : BORDER FLIGHT (1st), CENTRE CIRCLE (2nd), PEACETOWN (3rd), JONJO (4th), 1964: SPRINGBOK (1st), APRIL ROSE (2nd), SUPERSWEET (3rd), BORDER FLIGHT (4th), Mr McTAFFY (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.
1953 :GAY MONARCH II (4th), 1954 : GAY MONARCH II (1st), CHERRY ABBOT (3rd), TIBERETTA (5th), 1955 : WISE CHILD (1st), THE CROFTER (3rd), GAY MONARCH II (4th), 1957 : O`MALLEY POINT (1st), 1961 : DANCING RAIN (1st)
Snap Dragon Selling Chase - 2 miles (abandonned 1957, 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 ?
1953 : TRIPLE TORCH (3rd), 1955 : MOOGIE (fell), 1964: FRENCH COTTAGE (1965) (5th)
Christmas Dinner Handicap Chase - 3 miles, 1 furlong (abandonned 1957)
1953 : SANPERION (1st), PIPPYKIN (3rd), TRAVELLERS PRIDE (fell), BAIRE (fell), 1954 : PIPPYKIN (1st), MUCH OBLIGED (2nd), 1955 : VALIANT SPARK (1st), MUST (2nd), RED MENACE (6th), 1956 : TIBERETTA (1st), BOLLINGER (4th), MORCATOR (ur), 1958 SUNDAWN III (1st), 1959: ARLES (1st), 1960: DANDY TIM (1st), 1963: RUBY GLEN (2nd), PHEBU (3rd), BLACK SPOT (4th), 1964: HARRY BLACK (1st)
Snowball Novices Chase - 2 miles (abandonned 1957)
Small fields the norm in this race. Never got higher than six.
1954 : PINTAIL (1st), 1959: SHAM FIGHT (1st), 1960: HAWAS SONG (1st), DAGMAR GITTELL (fell rem 3rd)
The New Year meeting
The New Years meeting was abandonned in 1963 due to snow.
Maghull H`cap Chase (run as Heswall 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 (4th), 1965: WARTOWN (6th), 1966: CASTLE FALLS (1st), HARRY BLACK (pu)
Birkdale H`cap Chase - 3 miles, 1 furlong
1961: SIRACUSA (2nd), SHAM FIGHT (fell), 1962: DANDY TIM (1st), SIRACUSA (2nd), REPRIEVED (bd), 1964: RED THORN (1st), REPRIEVED (2nd), LOYAL TAN (fell), 1965: ROUGH TWEED (1st), BIG GEORGE (2nd), APRIL ROSE (3rd), HARRY BLACK (fell), 1966: MAJOR HITCH (1st), APRIL ROSE (3rd)
Wirrall Novices Chase - 2 miles
1962: DANCING RAIN (1st), 1965: FOREST PRINCE (unseated rider), 1966: SAN ANGELO (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: THE CROFTER (fell), WARTOWN (ref), 1964 THE CROFTER (5th), 1965: FRENCH COTTAGE (3rd), 1966: POLITICS (1962) (pu)
St Helens H`cap Chase - 3 miles, 1 furlong
1961: ERNEST (1st), PENDLE LADY (3rd), 1962: CHAVARA (3rd), 1964: SUPERSWEET (1st), PHEBU (2nd), RUBY GLEN (fell), 1965: PHEBU (1st), RUBY GLEN (2nd), ETERNAL (4th), WOODBROWN (5th), DARK VENETIAN (pu)
Ainsdale H`cap Chase - 2 miles
1961: DAGMAR GITTELL (1st), 1962: DAGMAR GITTELL (1st)
The Spring/Grand National meeting
Mildmay Chase - 2 miles
1954 : ARMORIAL III (3rd), KEY ROYAL (4th), 1955 : RENDEZ-VOUS III (3rd), DEVON LOCH (fell), 1956 : GLORIOUS TWELTH (3rd), 1957 BADANLOCH, 1958 : OXO (fell), 1959 : LOTORAY (4th) , 1960: DAGMAR GITTELL (4th), CLAYMORE (fell), BARBERYN (fell), 1961: PEACETOWN (1st), FORTY SECRETS (4th), 1962: DANCING RAIN (3rd), APRIL ROSE (ur), 1963 : RED TIDE (2nd), RED THORN (bd), 1964: SOME SLIPPER (4th), HARRY BLACK (6th)