Gambling, drinking, and partying while wearing your most extravagant and pompous hat? It must be the British upper class at the notorious Aintree Grand National.
Socialites have been going to the races since long before the Peaky Blinders were a thing. Pampered in their most prestigious clothing (you know the drill, the more extravagant, large and pompous the hat, the better), the races are perfect depictions of the British upper class. An excuse to gamble, drink and party amidst all the dramas that entail a race, horse racing is a yearly event that has attracted the likes of celebrities, TV personalities and even the British Royal Family. Amongst all the different races, the most notorious and prestigious of them all, The Aintree Grand National, is only a month away.
First run in 1839, the Aintree Grand National is a handicap steeplechase race that covers a distance of 4 miles and 514 yards, with 30 fences to be jumped. The course is known for its difficulty, with fences such as Becher’s Brook and The Chair presenting significant challenges to both horse and rider. It is a race steeped in history and tradition, with many legendary horses, jockeys, and trainers having left their mark on the track.
Starting with the Grand Opening Day, which takes place on a Thursday, the event kicks off with a bang. It’s a day to see the finest fashion statements, with the ladies dressed in their best outfits, and men sporting sharp suits and hats. The racing action is equally impressive, with four high-quality races, including the Manifesto Novices’ Chase and the Aintree Hurdle.
Up next is Ladies Day, held on a Friday. This is often dubbed the “fun day” at the races, where fashion takes over, and the ladies come dressed to impress. The racing is also top-class, with the Melling Chase and the Topham Chase being the standout races. The atmosphere is lively and fun, with music, food, and drinks adding to the excitement.
And finally, of course – Grand National Day. This is the main course of the races, and the atmosphere is electric. With over 40 horses and jockeys competing in this famous steeplechase, t The race is a grueling four miles and two furlongs, with 30 fences to be jumped. The buildup to the race is intense, with the bookmakers taking bets, and the crowds cheering on their favorite horses. But that’s not all – the day also features other high-quality races, including the Ryanair Stayers’ Hurdle and the Handicap Chase.
So get ready to experience the thrill of a lifetime at the Aintree Grand National – it’s an event that’s not to be missed!
Contrary to popular belief, anyone can attend the races. Tickets go for as low as 20 pounds for the most basic of entrances during opening day, all the way up to 110 pounds for the most exclusive access. Prices do soar on Ladies Day and Grand National Day, with the festival zone ticket reaching around 80 pounds and the most exclusive ones going for well over a thousand.
The Dress Code
This might come as a bit of a surprise, but the Grand National doesn’t actually have a dress code, which means all the dresses, hats and extravagance are more of a social custom than an actual requirement. That being said, fancy dress seems to be the way to go, with a particular mention that anything vulgar or derogatory may be denied entrance. Makes sense.
Dress code aside, since fashion takes such a prime seat at the races, Ladies Day hosts what is known as the Style Awards – celebrations of all the colour and innovation that the races host.