09 April 2022

Racegoers ready for ‘electric’ Grand National as crowds return after three years

09 April 2022

Racegoers are gearing up for an “electric” Grand National as crowds return to the world’s greatest steeplechase for the first time in three years.

Punters have not been at Aintree to cheer on the Grand National runners since 2019, after the race meet was cancelled in 2020 and held behind closed doors last year.

They braved rain and chilly temperatures on Saturday to make their return.

Siblings Nicky and Steven Baird at Aintree racecourse for the Grand National (Peter Byrne/PA) (PA Wire)

Siblings Nicky and Steven Baird were at the racecourse with their father George after the family originally planned to come for his 70th birthday in 2020.

Mr Baird, from Glasgow, who wore a checked suit and bow tie with sparkly loafers, said: “We ended up having a Zoom call for his birthday instead so not quite the same as Aintree.

“Today is going to be electric. We want to see Rachael Blackmore win in person this year.”

Ms Baird added: “We’re so excited to be here. I think it’s 100% going to be extra special this year, it has to be.”

The day is sold out, with 70,000 punters expected on the course for the Grand National race at 5.15pm.

Among those attending were Sky Sports presenter Chris Kamara and former Liverpool FC manager Sir Kenny Dalglish.

Racegoer Judith Beckett at the Grand National (Peter Byrne/PA) (PA Wire)

Judith Beckett, 69, from Chesterfield in Derbyshire, returned to the course after attending Ladies Day on Friday.

She said: “This is the big one. It is wonderful to be back, it was so lovely yesterday.

“It’s been a long two years.”

Ms Beckett wore handmade dresses to the races, with the cream dress she wore on Saturday made from end-of-roll curtain fabric.

Nicole Gray, 23, from Huddersfield, Yorkshire, said: “It’s exciting to be here. I think it’s going to be even better than before because people haven’t been here for three years.”

Rachel Carhart, 30, from Prescot, Merseyside, was at Aintree for her 10th time.

She said: “I love it, it’s my favourite day. The atmosphere is amazing.”

Her friend Gabriella Nielson, 27, said: “We have missed it so much. It’s such a good day for everyone to get together.

I've been watching the Grand National on the television all through my life and I have always wanted to be here so it is a massive thrill

“When you win it is the best feeling ever.”

Carl and Laura Gallimore had travelled from Birmingham to come to Aintree for the first time.

Mr Gallimore, 38, said: “We just had to duck for cover to miss the big rain shower but the sunglasses are back on now so fingers crossed it is going to be a nice day.”

Ian Hares, 36, and a friend, from Andover, Hampshire, were also visiting the racecourse for the first time.

He said: “It is amazing. I’ve been watching the Grand National on the television all through my life and I have always wanted to be here so it is a massive thrill.”

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