The 21-year partnership between Aintree Racecourse and Alder Hey Children’s Charity is further strengthened today as it is announced that the Grade One chase staged over three miles and a furlong on Opening Day (Thursday 13th April) at the Randox Grand National Festival will be run as the Alder Hey Aintree Bowl in 2023.
One of four Grade One contests on Opening Day, the Alder Hey Aintree Bowl looks set to be an outstanding race this year with multiple Grade One winner Shishkin as well as well as several horses who competed last time out in the Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup including Bravemansgame (second), Conflated (third) and Protektorat (fifth), as well as the 2021 Gold Cup winner A Plus Tard, set to line up.
The annual visit of jockeys to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital will again happen in 2023 on the morning of Ladies Day (Friday 14th April). Confirmed jockeys who will be part of the visit include Harry Skelton, Bridget Andrews, Henry Brooke, Nico de Boinville and ITV’s Mick Fitzgerald, who in his riding days rode the 1996 Grand National here Rough Quest. Also present will be the popular grey Neptune Collonges, winner of the 2012 Grand National.
Dickon White, Regional Director - North West, The Jockey Club, said: “We are very pleased to be running the Grade One Aintree Bowl under the Alder Hey banner in 2023, when we celebrate the 21st anniversary of our partnership.
“It looks pretty much set to be the race of the season and as such should do a fantastic job in promoting the invaluable work of everyone at Alder Hey.”
Frankie, who is just over a year old, is the honorary 41st runner in the 2023 Randox Grand National at Aintree.
Frankie was born in March 2022. Prior to his birth he had been diagnosed with gastroschisis which meant he would be born with his bowels on the outside of his stomach and surgery to fix this would be needed within hours of birth.
Gastroschisis is a rare condition which affects only 1 in 3,000 babies. These operations can only be done in a specialised children’s hospital with full paediatric surgery facilities such as Alder Hey in Liverpool, so Frankie and his family had to leave their local hospital and make the trip to an unfamiliar environment.
Frankie’s mum Jessica was also separated from Frankie during his first night at Alder Hey while she was waiting to be discharged from Arrowe Park Hospital. This meant that she was unable to see her newborn baby until the next day, apart from five minutes before the transport team had to move him to Alder Hey. At midnight that evening Jessica received the phone call to confirm that all had gone well with the one hour-long operation, and that Frankie was recovering in the Neonatal Unit on the cardiac ward at Alder Hey.
To view a video of Frankie and his mum Jessica being presented Aintree tickets by jockey Rachael Blackmore, an ambassador for The Jockey Club who won the 2021 Randox Grand National on Minella Times, please click HERE
Frankie with his mum Jessica alongside Rachael Blackmore and Jennifer Graham from Alder Hey
Rachael Blackmore said: “Frankie and his mum Jessica are truly inspirational in the way they have faced up to the challenges life has presented them with. It was a privilege to meet them both and witness the unwavering support they have received from all the team at Alder Hey.
“It’s fantastic to have Frankie as the 41st runner this year and I look forward to catching up with them both again on Randox Grand National Day.”
Jennifer Graham, Relationships Fundraiser at Alder Hey, added: “We are delighted every year to join with The Jockey Club for a programme of celebrations for the Grand National here at Alder Hey and at Aintree.
“The children just love it, almost as much as the parents and the staff! To have the Alder Hey Aintree Bowl on Thursday is an additional honour for us too and what a line-up that race will be! Good luck to all the horses and jockeys, it’s set to be an amazing race!”
The 41st runner initiative came about as a result of the partnership between Alder Hey Children’s Charity and Aintree Racecourse.
ln 2017 the inaugural 41st runner was five year old Neuroblastoma campaigner Bradley Lowery, who sadly died three months later. The Jockey Club has continued to work with closely with the Bradley Lowery Foundation since Bradley's death.
In 2018, the 41st place was given to three year old Edie Molyneux, who suffered from a rare brain tumour called Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG). "Spider-Ede" - as she was affectionately known due to her love of Spiderman - sadly passed away in October of 2018.
Alder Hey Children's Charity was given the honorary berth in 2019, while the Randox Grand National did not take place in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2021 inspirational Liverpool teenager Lydia Barker was named as the honorary 41st runner. The then-19 year old struggled with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) for years but is studying to be a paediatric nurse and looks forward to a career helping other young people with mental health issues.
Last year’s 41st runner was then four year old Betty Batt, who was born more than four month premature weighing just 650 grams and spent the first 13 months of her life in hospital, primarily at Alder Hey.