Springtime is an excellent time of year for those seeking a spectacular Ladies Day at the races. Hot on the heels of the big event at the Cheltenham Festival comes this Merseyside marvel at what may be the most famous meeting of them all. We are of course speaking of the Aintree Grand National – possibly the one fixture of the year which truly grabs the attention of the nation.
Such a major event deserves a full festival of supporting action, and the Grand National duly gets one, with the big race acting as the headline act of a three-day meeting in April each year. Featuring among those three days is one of the UK’s most popular Ladies Days. A key date in the social calendar of the local lasses and those from further afield, this fixture can always be counted upon to sell out in double quick time.
The Aintree Grand National Festival takes place in April each year, running from a Thursday through to a Saturday. Ladies Day sits in the middle of the meeting on the Friday, a day before Grand National Saturday.
Ladies Day attendees will be treated to a total of seven excellent races, with the first getting underway at 1:45 pm, and the runners setting off in the last at 5:15 pm. For those who want to get the party started early, gates open at 10:30 am.
Excellent as the racing is, the entertainment value of the action on the track is more than matched by events off it. The vibrant display of fashion is suitably recognised in the “Style Awards”, with truly spectacular prizes on offer. In 2022, the winner received, £5,000 cash, a £500 fashion voucher, a Spa Break, a Health Package, two tickets to Ladies Day 2023, and a £1,000 donation to their chosen charity… all well worth getting dressed up for! Throw in live music, and a post-racing DJ set to keep the party going, and you have a Ladies Day which is tough to beat.
With all the additional entertainment on offer and the exceptionally high quality of the racing, Ladies Day tickets are understandably slightly more expensive than for a standard Aintree fixture. The track nevertheless attempts to keep things as affordable as it can, with a whole host of options available.
From £53 – The Festival Zone may be the track’s cheapest ticketing option, but it certainly crams a lot of value into that price. Racegoers in this enclosure will benefit from excellent views of the closing stages of the racing, access to the Parade Ring and Winners Enclosure, live entertainment in the Red Rum Garden, all the craic of the Irish Bar area, and Live Music on the Aintree Pavilion. Be sure to book early as these tickets tend to be snapped up very quickly.
From £74 – Named in honour of a famous Grand National winner, this area includes everything available in the Festival Zone, in addition to a reserved, covered seat, access to a private bar, and spectacular views of the final fences.
From £81 – This swanky terraced area, located just past the winning post, enables racegoers to look out over the racecourse, Parade Ring and Winners Enclosure, in addition to granting access to a private bar on the ground floor in the grandstand.
From £81 – Situated almost bang in line with the winning post, this stand grants exceptional views of the closing stages, Parade Ring and Winner’s Enclosure. Entertainment and refreshment can be found in the private bar on the ground floor, Red Rum Garden and Aintree Pavillion.
From £100 – Located alongside the final furlong, this ticket grants access to the Red Rum Garden, Aintree Pavillion, Tommy Wallis Suite, and a partially covered standing area.
From £120 – The central location of this enclosure affords easy access to the Red Rum Garden, Queen Mother Lawn, Festival Zone and Aintree Pavillion. The main added extra is access to a private first-floor bar with live entertainment and an outdoor balcony area.
From £131 – Located just beside the Lord Sefton Terrace, this location brings many of the same benefits, with the addition of a complimentary Racecard Voucher, and a Sophisticated Street Food Voucher.
From £275 to £805 – In addition to all of the above, a range of luxurious Hospitality Packages are available. Included amongst an extensive list of options are al fresco dining experiences, three-course meals, afternoon teas, complimentary bars, and plenty more besides. See the hospitality section of the track’s official website for further details and prices.
There is no shortage of options from which to select, and whichever enclosure you choose you are all but guaranteed a Ladies Day to live long in the memory. Note that all prices quoted refer to a single adult. If arriving in a party of 10 or more, we would recommend contacting the track in advance as group discounts may be available.
In addition to all of the socialising, flowing booze, and live entertainment, Aintree Ladies Day does of course also provide a thrilling card of racing action. And not just any old racing, with the seven-race card being one of the track’s very best of the entire season.
Four Grade 1 events – effectively the Premier League of racing – feature amongst the day’s seven contests, guaranteeing thrills, spills, and excitement aplenty. Whilst the betting ring will be a hive of activity prior to all seven races, that buzz may be a little louder ahead of the following contests.
The Top Novices’ Hurdle, the Mildmay Novices’ Chase, and the Sefton Novices’ Hurdle are Grade 1 contests one and all, but it is The Melling Chase which traditionally attracts the highest quality of performers. Expect a packed parade ring and raucous atmosphere as the crowd clamours to catch a glimpse of these equine superstars in the flesh.
Competitive handicap events make up the rest of the card, with the Topham Chase providing the day’s biggest spectacle as the runners tackle 2m5f and the imposing fences of the Grand National course.
Aintree Racecourse provides a wonderful green oasis in the midst of the Merseyside suburb of Sefton and has done so ever since first opening for business back in 1829. Despite now being renowned around the world as a jumps racing venue, the track was actually used solely for flat contests in the early years. The jumps made their debut in 1836, with the Grand National appearing for the first time in 1839.
These days the course is dedicated exclusively to events over obstacles, with the action taking place on one of three courses. Hurdling events are held on the unimaginatively named Hurdles Course, whilst the Mildmay Course provides the stage for the standard chase contests. Most famous of all is the expansive Grand National course and its array of famous obstacles, including the likes of The Chair, Becher’s Brook and Canal Turn.
Whilst the course and racing on offer have enjoyed a high profile for some time now, it is only in relatively recent times that the facilities off the track have grown to match the action on it. Ever since being taken over by the Jockey Club, Aintree has never taken a backwards step in continually improving the race day experience.
Now home to no fewer than five Grandstands – including an impressive £30 million facility opened in 2008 – Aintree is one of the most thoroughly modern racecourses in the country, and almost unsurpassed in terms of the facilities on offer.
Whichever enclosure you attend, you will find a raft of food and drink options readily available. The Festival Zone, the Princess Royal Food Court and the Red Rum Garden are open to all and provide a diverse selection of sustenance, offering everything from traditional burgers, fish and chips, and pizzas, to a range of international cuisine including curries and street food. And, rest assured you will never be far away from a little liquid refreshment to wash it all down. Fully stocked bars are to be found throughout the course, in addition to a range of specialist mobile vendors, offering Champagne, Prosecco, gin and much more besides.
Whilst many of the food and drink facilities are available to all ticket holders, certain areas of the course come with a few added extras specific to that enclosure, including:
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