The Crabbie’s Grand National Festival is one of the biggest events in the scouse calendar and each year it seems to get bigger and better.
A glamorous day at the races is the perfect start to summer but if you’ve never been before it can be quite alien. From the Chanel inspired dress code to placing bets and the best places for a pre-race champagne breakfast, we’ve got you covered.
The Crabbie’s Grand National is one of the most exciting events in the sporting calendar which spans across three days starting on Thursday 7th April 2016.
Thousands of spectators flock to Liverpool’s Aintree Racecourse in North Liverpool to watch the magnificent horses in action and have their chance at winning big.
The three day festival is broken up into three main events:
Grand Opening Day
The curtain raiser for the entire event lands on Thursday 7th April this year and is the start of the 2016 Grand National Festival. No time is wasted on opening day as the race’s get underway with seven different events throughout the day including Steeple Chase, Hurdle and NH Flat.
Ladies Day is the biggest event of the weekend for the ladies as this day is all about you! It’s a day which is reported in news outlets around the UK so make sure you dress to impress with your best hats at the ready.
Compete in the style stakes to win best dressed and prepare to feel like a celebrity as you have your photograph taken by the oodles of photographers, who are at the racecourse throughout the day.
Grand National Day
The most famous day of the weekend is, of course, Grand National Day; the main event takes place on Saturday the 9th April 2016 and will see the world stop to watch the drama unfold on one of the biggest sporting betting days of the year.
40 horses and jockeys line up to race across the 4m 2 ½f course to be crowned Grand National Champion 2016.
Preparing for the Races
From getting a new outfit to having your hair and makeup done, no expense is spared for a weekend at the races.
Many women and men spend a lot of time, money and effort preparing for the races so it’s a good idea to book any beauty appointments well in advance, particularly if you’re in Liverpool as these days book up months and months in advance.
The dress code of the Grand National has been discussed for many years and last year the Chanel inspired dress code went down well. This year, the official Crabbie’s Grand National website states the dress code is preferably smart; “Aintree is a spectacle of colour for all three days of the festival, with many using their trip as an opportunity to showcase their favourite race day outfits. Hats are optional too, but are frequently worn.” They also state that fancy dress and sportswear are not permitted, so dress to impress.
As stated a number of national and local news outlets come to the races to not only comment on the sporting events, but to report on the fashion choices of men and women across the weekend, so choose your outfit wisely if you want to make headlines.
Getting to Aintree
Arriving at the races can be utterly manic if you’re not organised!
The best way to arrive at the Grand National Festival is via rail. Aintree’s train station is located opposite the racecourse and with frequent trains running to Liverpool city centre and the surrounding areas; this is by far the quickest way to get around.
If you’re planning on driving, be wary of the vast amount of traffic which will be passing through the area and the backlog this is likely to cause. There is parking available but only for 1,800 cars so you’ll need to book in advance.
You can also arrive by bus or taxi, but once again take into consideration traffic and the large amount of people looking for taxi’s so we’d advise booking one in advance to both arrive and leave the festival.
A Guide to Betting
If you’ve never been to the races before or even placed a bet, it can be daunting but extremely thrilling, particularly if you win!
If you’re going to the races, it’s always best to have a look at the horses and jockeys before the race begins, which can be seen in the Parade Ring around 20 minutes before a race is due to start. This can give you a good indication of who you like the look of and who you want to place a bet on, especially if you don’t understand odds too well.
There are a number of ways to place a bet at the Crabbie’s Grand National, either in person or electronically via the app. You can also place your bets before you arrive via external betting shops but we don’t think this is half an exciting.
There are two places to bet at Aintree: The Tote and The Bookies. The Tote is different as your stake goes into a pool with other betters, if you win, the amount you win will depend on how many other winning tickets there are.
There are a number of different bookies at the Grand National, so make sure you shop around to find the best odds on each race.
Here is a step-by-step guide to placing a bet
- Select your favoured horse(s) from the list of runners and riders and note their name(s) and number(s).
- Decide the amount – or stake – you are comfortable to bet with.
- Choose the type of bet you would like to place.
- Decide which betting operator you are going to place your bet with.
- Tell the betting operator the horse’s number, the amount you want to bet and the type of bet.
Betting can be complicated but it is a lot of fun once you get the hang of it. Here is a video by Racing Explained which explains the betting process.
Even though the gates don’t open until 10am and the first race doesn’t start until 1.40pm there is plenty to do before arriving at Aintree.
For many men and women, it will be an early start as preparations begin as soon as the sun comes up. Fitting in hair and make-up appointments is the least of your worries, as the celebrations begin at the crack of dawn and you’ll need to be dolled up ready for breakfast.
A number of restaurants and cafes will be opening early and serving up a delicious champagne breakfast to ensure your race day gets off to a fabulous start.
If you’re looking for the ultimate champagne breakfast in Liverpool, then both our Carpathia Champagne Bar & Restaurant and our Bastion Bar & Restaurant are offering a champagne breakfast to ensure you start the day as your mean to go on.
Our race day champagne breakfast is available to both guests staying in the hotel and the wider public.
Everyone knows that race weekend in Liverpool is one of the busiest weekends in town and following the races which finish at around 6pm, the city centre is filled with racegoers returning to town to celebrate their wins or drown their sorrows.
If you’re hungry, 30 James Street’s Carpathia Restaurant has a number of special offers available for race weekend.
Enjoy a post-race three-course meal within the stunning Carpathia restaurant which boasts incredible views across Liverpool’s skyline and waterfront. The specially created menu features some of the very best dishes which are handpicked by our chefs and feature some of the freshest and locally sourced ingredients.
If you’re excited about the upcoming Grand National but don’t have tickets, then head to The Shankly Hotel on Victoria Street where you can relax and watch the races from the comfort of The Bastion Bar & Restaurant.
The Bastion Bar & Restaurant is inviting you to enjoy the races from 1pm on the 8th and 9th of April, where you’ll be able to enjoy a delicious two-course meal whilst watching the races and having our bet jockey take your bets and place them for you so you don’t miss a moment of the actioN.