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Wednesday 16 January 2013

All change at Aintree !

There a lot of changes in line for the Grand National meeting this year and next, this year sees a new TV channel presenting, the distance reduced, the core of the fences changed to plastic, the prize money increased, the race programme changed and a new managing director in John Baker who reveals in an interview in the Liverpool Echo that his Aintree love affair started many years ago

Baker recalls: “I remember my grandad sitting me down in front of the TV when I was about five and said we are going to watch this race. He said it’s got horses and I’ve got 10p for you. You pick a horse and put 10p on it.
“I picked Red Rum – I can’t remember why. I just liked the name. So he put that on for me. I think it was 9-1 but I wasn’t thinking about that. I didn’t really know. And then to see Crisp so far in front and seeing them jump those fences – I thought it was amazing.
“The colours of the jockeys and just this horse miles out in front and the drama of seeing him as he jumped the last you could just Red Rum starting to catch him. Crisp was obviously out on his feet.
“I don’t think it was the fact that I had 10p on it – that was a bonus. It was the fact that I had followed him through the race and saw him catch him on the line. I thought that this was just the greatest thing ever. Looking back now, you look at poor Crisp and feel so sorry for him. But at the time I was thinking that it was amazing. It was the best thing and I wanted to know what it was all about. I wanted to know more about the fences, how high they were and I just loved racing from that day on.
“I said to my granddad when is it on again. It was stupid, but I had fallen in love with it.
“Almost from that day it has been a dream to be involved in the Grand National.
“And I am delighted I’m here now and really looking forward to it.”
After studying at Essex University Baker embarked on a career in racing which has landed him his dream job at the end of September last year.
He said: “I didn’t actually start to go racing regularly until I was much older and I had been to university.
“My first job after I left was at Weatherbys helping compile the jockey club formbook – designing the pages, checking the comments that come in from the race readers, that sort of thing.
“Then I got a job at the racecourse association where I started to go to racecourses regularly as part of my job – doing racecourse announcements, dealing with sponsors and that sort of thing. That was when I really got involved and wanted to be involved at racecourses.”