THE first officially recognised winner of the Aintree Grand National is documented as Lottery, in 1839, ridden by Jem Mason for trainer George Dockeray and owned by John Elmore.

However, there is a strong case that the first ever Grand National meeting was held in 1837 at Maghull, Merseyside and not Aintree.

Welsh historian Brian Lee points to the fact that in 1937 Liverpool racecourse described the race as the centenary of the Grand National Steeplechase.

If Lee and other noted historians are correct then the first winner of the race in 1837 was The Duke, who was ridden by Henry Potts, from Glan-yr-Afon, near Mold.

He picked up the ride at the last minute as Captain Martin Becher was injured, the gallant Captain was to achieve immortality two years later when falling at the brook on his mount Conrad, and in doing so had the brook named after him.

He is supposed to have remarked that he did not realise that water tasted so foul without whisky in it.

Our local course at Bangor-on-Dee has a strong tradition with the Liverpool Grand National. Only two horses have won there in the same year and gone on to land the blue riband.

There was Gamecock in 1887, trained by James Gordon for owner E Jay and ridden by Bill Daniels. What was remarkable about Gamecock's victory was that he ran again 24 hours later in the champion chase over the national fences and won again.

The other horse was Cloister in 1893, trained by Arthur Yates for owner Charles Duff and ridden by Bill Dollery, the latter is one of only four horses who have carried 12st 7lbs to victory in the race.

Charles Duff was later to become Sir Charles Assheton-Smith who joined a select band of owners to have won the race three times, his colours were carried to victory by Jerry M in 1912 and by Covercoat in 1913.

Poethlyn, trained by Harry Escott and ridden by Lester Piggott's grandfather Ernie Piggott, who was born in Nantwich, went on to win the 1918 War National at Gatwick racecourse on Poethlyn, which is now defunct and is the current site of the airport.

In the following year in 1919 he won the Aintree Grand National carrying12st 7lbs and in doing so at 11-4 became the shortest priced winner ever of the race, and the last to win carrying 12st 7lbs.

The dual winner was owned by Mrs Gwladys Peel, wife of Major Hugh Peel, the then owner of Bangor-on-Dee racecourse. Poethlyn is buried on the Bryn-Y-Pys estate at Overton.

Ernie Piggott had previously won the race in 1912 aboard Jerry M, who also carried 12st 7lbs, that winner was trained by Robert Gore and ran in the famous colours of Sir Charles Assheton-Smith. Lester Piggott's father Keith also won the Aintree Grand National in 1963, when he trained the 66-1 winner Ayala.

Lester Piggott is regarded as the greatest jockey of the 20th century, in the 19th century that honour was bestowed on the tragic Fred Archer, who rode his first ever winner on a pony called Maid Of Trent, aged 10 in 1868 at Bangor-on-Dee.

He went on become champion jockey 13 times and won 21 classics and rode 2,748 winners before committing suicide aged 29. His father William Archer won the Grand National in 1858 aboard the William Holman-trained Little Charley.

Clerk of the course at Bangor-on-Dee, Major Gilbert Cotton, from 1919-69, had one ride in the Grand National in 1913 aboard The Rejected IV, which fell at Bechers Brook on the first circuit, the race was won by Covercoat. The the former clerk of course at Bangor-on-Dee Bob Davies won the race in 1978 aboard the Gordon Richards trained Lucius.

In 1928 only two horses finished the race, the winner was Tipperary Tim at 100-1, and the gelding was trained at Whitchurch by Joseph Dodd for owner Harold Kenyon and ridden by Chester solicitor Billy Dutton.

This race goes into record books as Tipperary Tim was the only horse to finish the race, the runner up Billy Barton remounted to finish second, that would never happen these days as remounting is not allowed any more in any race over fences and hurdles in National Hunt racing.

The only Wrexham-born jockey to have won the race was Fulke Walwyn, who rode the Noel Furlong owned and trained Reynoldstown to victory in 1936. Walwyn joined a select band of trainers who have won and trained the winner of the race following Team Spirit's victory in 1964.

It was ironic that his American owner Ronald Woodward was stationed at Aintree racecourse during the Second World War.

Eternal who was trained at Cefn Park in Wrexham by Lt Colonel Roderick Fenwick-Palmer finished fourth in the race. The Great Sefton Chase at Aintree, which raced from 1865-1965 was won by Eternal in 1962 and by Team Spirit in 1963

Another long priced winner was Russian Hero at 66-1 in 1949, who was trained at Castle Stables on the Cholmondley estate by George Owen for owner Fearnie Williamson and ridden by Leo McMorrow.

Owen's old stable complex is now used as an overflow yard by trainer Donald McCain. The late Royal jockey and best-selling author Dick Francis finished runner up to Russian Hero on Lord Bicester's Roimond. Ironically Francis would have ridden the winner, but he had joined trainer Peter Cazalet as stable jockey at the start of that season.

Francis was to achieve immortality in 1956 aboard the Queen Mother's runner Devon Loch, who collapsed 50 yards from the post with the race won, despite various theories no satisfactory explanation has ever been found, Francis always maintained that it was the huge noise from the crowd which startled the horse.

Last Suspect was returned at 50-1 when he won the race in 1985 under Hywel Davies, the winner was trained by Captain Tim Forster for Anne, Duchess of Westminster from Eaton Hall, near Chester.

The late Duchess will always be associated with the legendary Arkle, the greatest steeplechaser of all time, the rider of Arkle Pat Taaffe tried to persuade the Duchess to run Arkle in the Grand National, but she always refused to enter him. Taaffe thought the triple Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Arkle would have won, but the Duchess had no regrets. The only horse ever to have won the Cheltenham Gold Cup and the Liverpool Grand National in the same year was the legendary Golden Miller in 1934, it's probably a record that will never be equalled.

In recent times, the late trainer Ginger McCain (known as Mr Aintree) trained Amberleigh House to win the Liverpool National in 2004 for the late Cheshire businessman John Halewood, from his Cheshire base at Cholmondley. The company that Halewood started, Crabbies, sponsored the first ever £1million Grand National.

McCain will always be associated with the Liverpool Grand National after he trained Red Rum to win three Grand Nationals from his yard at Southport.

McCain and Fred Rimell are the only trainers to have trained four winners of the race, Rimell achieved this with ESB (1956) Nicholas Silver (1961) Gay Trip (1970) and with Rag Trade (1976).

Red Rum's record still stands and will probably never be bettered in my lifetime. The only ever triple winner of the race, Red Rum, is buried in his rightful place next to the finishing post at Aintree racecourse and his legendary trainer Ginger McCain, who doted on Rummy, also has a statue at Aintree racecourse.

The legendary late trainer was a very proud man and despite being in poor health he was at Aintree five months before his death in 2011 to see his son Donald McCain win his first Aintree Grand National with Ballabriggs, in the well-known colours of Trevor Hemmings, who was winning the race for the second time after Hedgehunter.

Many Clouds won the race for third time for Hemmings in 2015. In doing so Hemmings becomes one of only four owners to have won race three times, the others were Captain James Machell, Sir Charles Assheton-Smith and Noel Le Mare, the owner of Red Rum.

Ballabriggs recorded his first career win at Bangor-on-Dee in the Beginners Chase at Bangor-on-Dee on March 29, 2008.

Donald McCain was no stranger to the Aintree fences as a rider, he rode in the Aintree Grand National only once in his career, that was aboard Sure Metal who completed the course in 17th in 1996, in the race won by Rough Quest.

In 2017 Blaklion trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies and co-owned by Gresford businessman Gino Paletta finished a respectable fourth in the race to One For Arthur, and in doing so emulated Eternal's fourth in the 1964 Grand National, when trained in Wrexham by Lt Colonel Roderick Fenwick-Palmer.

Blaklion fell at the first fence in last year's race, and the gelding was sold recently to owner Darren Yates to run in this year's race for reputedly £360,000, but unfortunately Blaklion went lame two weeks ago at his new trainer Philip Kirby's gallops and had to be scratched from the race.

For a list of this year's runners and riders see pages 16-17