Grand National: For the first time since Covid, audiences return sold out

A group of men in suits holding beers, three women laughing, a couple in sunglasses watching the races.

Everyone was really excited to dress up and see the steeplechase in person again (Images: PA/Reuters)

Around 70,000 people cheered on Grand National winner Noble Yeats today as bettors were allowed back at Aintree Racecourse for the famous Steeplechase for the first time since 2019.

Rain and hail pelted down most of the second day of the Grand National Festival, but that didn’t stop anyone from celebrating.

Coronavirus canceled the event in 2020, forcing last year’s races behind closed doors.

As a result, thousands of people were excited to return to Merseyside.

Many returned to the races as part of an annual tradition, while others experienced the excitement for the first time.

Gabriella Nielson, 27, from Prescot, Merseyside, said: “We missed it so much. It’s such a good day for everyone to get together. When you win it’s the best feeling ever.’

Her friend Rachel Carhart, 30, who was returning to Aintree for the tenth time, said: “I love it, it’s my favorite day. The atmosphere is incredible.”

It comes after women finally got to shine again for Ladies Day on Friday, with one taking home a £5,000 prize for the best-dressed woman.

A group of men in suits holding beers.

Nobody has been able to enjoy the races since Covid in 2019 (Image: PA)

A couple in sunglasses watching the races.

Although it rained for most of the day on Saturday, the sun came out during the steeplechase (Picture: PA)

Three women laugh.

People described the atmosphere as ‘electric’ and ‘full of buzz’ (Image: PA)

Racegoers watch a race as they take part in the final day of the Grand National Festival horse racing meet at Aintree Racecourse in Liverpool.

The race was completely sold out on Saturday (Picture: Getty)

The festival was completely sold out on Saturday. The sun came out just in time for the steeplechase – won by jockey Sam Waley-Cohen, 39, who recently announced it was his last race before retiring.

The Duchess of Cornwall presented Mr Waley-Cohen with the Randox Grand National Trophy.

The races were particularly meaningful for Nicky and Steven Baird – who originally bought festival tickets for their father’s 70th birthday in 2020.

Aintree, like so many others, was forced to throw a Zoom milestone birthday party and was a key treat for the Glasgow family.

“It’s going to be electric today,” Steven said.

Nicky added: “We are very happy to be here. I think it will be 100% very special this year, it has to be.”

Among those in attendance were Zara Tindall, Defense Secretary Ben Wallace and former Liverpool manager Sir Kenny Dalglish.

Noble Yeats ridden by Sam Waley-Cohen on her way to winning the Randox Grand National Handicap Chase during Grand National Day of the 2022 Randox Health Grand National Festival at Aintree Racecourse, Liverpool. Picture date: Saturday April 9, 2022. PA Photo. See PA story RACING Aintree. Photo credit should read: Mike Egerton/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use is subject to restrictions. Editorial use only, no commercial use without the prior consent of the rights holder.

Noble Yeats was ridden by Sam Waley-Cohen as they won the Randox Grand National Trophy (Image: PA)

First placed Noble Yeats, ridden by jockey Sam Waley-Cohen, celebrates winning the Grand National Steeple Chase on the final day of the Grand National Festival horse race at Aintree Racecourse, Liverpool.

Sam Waley-Cohen won his last race before retiring (Image: Getty)

Racegoers react to watching the Betway Handicap Chase during Grand National Day of the 2022 Randox Health Grand National Festival at Aintree Racecourse, Liverpool.

As is tradition, many people would have bet on horses to win (Image: PA)

A woman who fell on the floor on Ladies Day.

On Friday, women saw glamor and competed to be the best dressed during Ladies Day (Image: Splash)

Coronation Street star Antony Cotton said: “It’s always nice to be here and I’m really excited to be back, especially given the last two years everyone’s had. It’s just nice to be away from home.”

Hollyoaks actress Jorgie Porter said of the races with fiancé Ollie Piotrowski: “You can feel the excitement here today that everyone is excited, that we are all in this situation

“It’s a big thing but I think especially this year because we missed it so much.”

Football pundit Chris Kamara said: “It’s unbelievable. I know that’s my catchphrase but I’ve never been to the National so I crossed it off the bucket list thanks to Betway inviting me so it’s great.

Others were watching the festival for the first time including Ian Hares, 36, and his friends from Andover in Hampshire.

Ian said: “It’s amazing. I’ve watched the Grand National on TV my whole life and I’ve always wanted to be here so it’s a huge thrill.

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Justin Scacco

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