Approx no. of meetings
Rail from London (2 hours and 5 minutes)
Railway station to Racecourse (15 minutes from Liverpool central to Aintree)
Taxis – Black cabs are very good. Alpha has an excellent app and got us safely to the track but on Sunday morning our “Booked” cab was taken by someone else, this is not great service.
This track is like the rock and roll of horse racing. Five or six different stands, including our fabulous seats in the west tip. Bookies (tic-tac) are omni present and the tote is available across the course. One of the cleverest set up of bars and food outlets we have seen at any track, (little and often is definitely the best).
Many places around town, but we settled on the Beech Mount hotel. Lovely little place, friendly staff and a good buffet breakfast to set one up for racing and drinking. But like everywhere in Liverpool during this weekend, seriously hyped in price for the festival weekend.
A variety, we were in the West Tip at £82 a ticket, but we also managed to reduce our costs by using Racing4Rewards points. If you are not doing this scheme and you like racing, you are missing a serious trick.
(1) Return after the challenge has been completed, this time for a jumps meeting.
14 April 2018– UK Tracks Visited (43)
It is hard to know where to begin when talking about a visit to Aintree. Yes, there is madness and organised chaos, yes, there are crowds a plenty and booze flowing by the gallon. But overall one get’s a sense of a seriously well-run event, from the staffing to the policing.
Let’s start with arrival at the track. A taxi ride across town from our hotel, with a great detour via Anfield and Goodison Park with what would be the epitome of our experience with the locals on the day, incredible friendliness. Within a mile of the track the huge police operation became evident and rather like the Notting Hill Carnival, it was real light touch community policing, not obtrusive or at all aggressive. On the gates tickets were scanned and we were both checked with metal detectors and bag searched. This is a great thing, as we felt both safe and secure. In fact, I suspect Madam Hoof rather enjoyed the attention, I know I did.
The festival site is well sign posted and simplicity itself to find one’s way around. Tip number 1 for the future; leave yourself enough time to get around the site. Even sneaking through the festival village to get to the West Tip was a good 10 minutes at the height of the day. Tip number 2, if you want a seat to see the horses parade for the National, be prepared to miss seeing the race before and watch it on the screen. Buy yourself a drink and then wait for the parade to appear. If you can get a seat or stand beside the weighing room, you will even be able to sneak a copy of the picture everyone wants, the group shot of the 40 (38 this year) jockeys before they go to their mounts. As the riders go to their owners and trainers for last orders, you have just enough time to slip back to your seat.
Be ready for the noise. Yes, the obvious comment would be what did you expect? But seriously there are two things that dominate this event, firstly the roar from the crowd, the first instance of which was when the first race got under way. The adulation screamed from each mouth as Tiger Roll almost relaxed too soon and required a photo finish, was deafening. No, the other noise I refer to is the softly spoken “sorry” every time someone got in your way or blocked your path. For all the concern of drinking and 70,000 people at an event, this was the best behaved and most polite race crowd yet.
The location of the parade ring behind the main stands does create a small tidal flow between the track and the ring, but this is certainly reduced by the very cleverly designed main stands which allows the horses to be viewed without leaving your suites.
The day completed, there is the nightmare and panic to get home. No, wrong again. From the police and community officers making sure no drinks were taken outside to the people giving away free flip flops to protect the girl’s feet (after a day in high heels), everyone did their bit to make it all work like clockwork. The ticket sales for the trains, pre-printed and the excellent queuing system for the trains which ran every 7 minutes back into Central made a lot of other large volume events look disorganised. Once in town, a cheeky bottle of wine and Vietnamese food at the excellent Pho in Broad Street (5 stars) and we grabbed another cab back to the hotel.
Aintree and the Grand National are an institution, the MC stylings of Matt Chapman were hilarious and the event itself is one that will have fond memories in our hearts for years to come. You have made us enjoy large scale horse races as much as we already enjoy a quiet Thursday in Clonmel or Lingfield. We look forward to our return.