If you ask most people if they watch horse racing, they’ll probably tell you ‘no’. However, ask this question again on a sunny Saturday in April and the answer will be a resounding cheer.
The Grand National is one of the key dates in the British calendar and allows people a chance to get involved with a sport they otherwise wouldn’t, feel the excitement as they back their horse, and even have a little flutter. The Grand National is a day to remember for many gracing pub gardens up and down the country, but imagine the excitement for those who are actually there at Aintree. How does one go about a day at the races?
A day at the races isn’t complete without looking the part. The day usually starts fairly early, with parties piling onto trains early in the day to make the most of taking part in the event. Plan in advance to make the most of deals on transport to Liverpool either by train, coach, or even ferry.
Many consider the journey part of the experience and will often be in high spirits, even sometimes engaging in a singsong. The dress code for most races is usually extremely formal, with men in elaborate suits and women donning gowns and fascinators. The tradition of dressing to the nines for race day comes from the race day being an extremely privileged experience. Indeed, outfits worn to the Cheltenham Festival or Royal Ascot can sometimes rival the attire of a royal wedding. Though, as most racing pros will tell you, it’s important to also plan for the weather. There’s nothing glamorous about standing in an enclosure in the rain without suitable equipment and clothing.
Placing bets is in no way mandatory, but it’s considered a rite of passage for race days and gives some added excitement and investment in what might happen in the race itself. There are food and drink stalls at most races and the Grand National is no exception, so you’ll be able to spend the hours leading up to the main race in good company and being properly taken care of. By the time the actual race starts, the day will have been ongoing for some time and the tension felt in the enclosure is palpable.
The Race Itself
The race itself is a sight to behold and your experience is usually dependent on the tier of package you purchase from the racecourse. Usually, the best seats are reserved for the owners of the horses or those with a huge stake in the performance of each individual horse. But, there are plenty of other seats that allow you to watch the action in front of you for portions of the looping track, as well as TV screens that broadcast the race as we see it at home.
The main race usually kicks off around 4pm, so getting to a good spot to watch it by then is key, especially as most people will have been up celebrating the day for several hours at this point. The line-up has still not been announced, but interestingly it looks to consist of less Irish-trained horses than previous years. Odds for Irish-trained horses have been slashed from 33/1 to 16/1 as Oddschecker shows, making a move away from the three-eighths of horses that were Irish trained running in last year’s Grand National.
Once the race is over, the celebrations continue and depending on who you were backing, the night could take slightly different turns. Ultimately, you’ll probably be tired from the day and can most likely find some Grand National themed bar to while away the hours in or even some Grand National offers on food in some of the eateries in Liverpool.
A day out at the races is a wonderful way of experiencing something new without actually having to go that far from the doorstep. You’ll still feel the good vibes of travelling, without breaking the bank and with having a day that you’ll remember. The experience might even result in finding you a new hobby and you might find yourself getting dressed up for race days across the country from York races to Ascot to Epsom. A day out at the Grand National is definitely not one to be missed.