Looking back at when the iconic Grand National race was held at Gatwick

The Grand National takes place on Saturday as usual at Aintree, near Liverpool, but 100 years ago the race was held at Gatwick!

Wednesday, 5th April 2017, 10:56 am
Updated Thursday, 7th June 2018, 8:16 pm
To celebrate 100 years since Gatwick Racecourse hosted the 1917 Grand National, Gatwick Airport has installed authentic jockey scales in the South Terminal. The jockey pictured is wearing traditional silks in Gatwick colours

And Gatwick Airport this week is celebrating the centenary of hosting the 1917 steeplechase.

The UK’s most iconic race took place on the site of the current airport for three years due to its traditional home Aintree being taken over by the War Office.

To mark the occasion, authentic jockey scales have been installed in the airport’s South Terminal, offering passengers the chance to weigh their luggage in the same way that riders will be weighed ahead of the big race this Saturday.

The traditional scales will allow passengers to solve the age-old problem of knowing how much their luggage weighs before checking-in, while adding a uniquely equine twist for racing fans.

Guy Stephenson, Chief Commercial Officer, Gatwick Airport, said: “We wanted to mark the centenary of the Grand National being hosted at Gatwick Racecourse by bringing a little piece of the race day experience to the airport.

“The jockey weigh-in is a big part of horse racing, like weighing your baggage is an important aspect of any journey through an airport so we have combined the two in celebration of this historic event.”

Renamed ‘The War Steeplechase’ while hosted at Gatwick, the Grand National was run over the same distance, four miles and 856 yards, as the course at Aintree.

The winning horses and jockeys for the races were:

1916 - Vermouth ridden by J.Reardon

1917 - Ballymacad ridden by E.Driscoll

1918 - Poethlyn ridden by E.Piggott (legendary jokey, Lester Piggott’s, grandfather)

Gatwick Racecourse opened in 1891, but at the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939 the land next to the course was requisitioned by the Air Ministry and Gatwick hosted its last race meeting in March, 1940.