Aintree

Fago, ridden by Barry Fehilly, falls at the open ditch on the way to winning the 'Supporting The Everton In The Community Steeple Chase' during the Grand National horse racing meeting at Aintree, northern England

Russell Cheyne/Reuters

Fago, ridden by Barry Fehilly, falls at the open ditch on the way to winning the ‘Supporting The Everton In The Community Steeple Chase’ during the Grand National horse racing meeting at Aintree, northern England on Friday.

Seven year old Amelia Jayne Hughes from Knowsley cheers on Zarkandar ridden by Ruby Walsh during the John Smith's Aintree Hurdle during Grand Opening Day of the 2013 John Smith's Grand National Meeting at Aintree Racecourse, Sefton.

Seven-year-old Amelia Jayne Hughes from Knowsley cheers on Zarkandar, ridden by Ruby Walsh during the John Smith's Aintree Hurdle at the Grand Opening Day of the John Smith’s Grand National Meeting at Aintree Racecourse, Sefton. Dave Thompson/PA

The Grand National race meeting at Aintree, near Liverpool, will culminate on Saturday in “the National” itself, a race with a history dating to before Victorian times. It is four and a half miles, involves 40 horses and 30 fences, the most fearsome of them with names ingrained in the culture. British horseracing has been marginalised but the Grand National pushes it back to centre stage, writes Matthew Engel