See the world’s greatest steeplechase in person  

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   by  stacey.cavanagh 

Caption: The crowd at Aintree – the Grand National’s traditional racecourse

When you’re in the UK, there are plenty of things that you’ll want to see and do. There’s so much history and culture packed in both the cities and the countryside. And with four countries in one, you can never see all of what there is to see. It would take a lifetime of visits, and even then, you probably would still have other things you’d like to see.

If you are in the UK, though, don’t miss out on the chance to take part in on a great British tradition if you’re visiting the country in April. This is when one of the world’s greatest horse races – the Grand National – takes place.

Horse racing isn’t known for having the legions of fans that some other sports such as football do. However, those who love racing are passionate about it, and no race brings out more passion than the Grand National, staged at Aintree near Liverpool every April. And the Grand National is such an established tradition that many people who have no interest in racing at all, suddenly develop a keen interest just for this one day every year.

The first race was first run in 1839 and the race today is one of the most difficult steeplechase courses in the world. There are 40 starters in every Grand National, but it’s by no means guaranteed that they will all complete it. The fences are numerous and difficult on this course that covers a distance of four miles, three furlongs and 110 yards and so much can happen during the two circuits of the race course that even the strongest of favourites can never be considered a ‘sure thing.’

The Aintree Festival is three days of horse racing action, starting off with the Grand Opening Day, followed by Ladies’ Day (otherwise known as Fabulous Friday) and culminating on the Saturday with Grand National Day. This year the Grand National falls on Saturday 11 April and over 150,000 people will flock to the Aintree race course to watch the race in person. A further 9 million will watch the big race on TV.

Part of the fun of being at the races is to have a few bets on the horses you think will win. It adds to the excitement as you watch the race build-up and wait for starter’s orders. Most people will do their racing betting online at sites such as bet365 and Paddy Power these days, rather than queue up to get their bets on in the betting ring at the course. The online sites offer the best prices and great deals such as a free bet when you first sign up.

If you’re thinking of going to the Grand National while visiting the UK this spring, be sure to book your tickets soon as seats are selling out fast, though you’ll probably be able to get tickets for the Tattersalls enclosure up to the last minute.

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