The 2020 edition of the Randox Health Grand National Festival is less than 3 months away, and this year’s festival will see the opening day get a brand new name. Alongside Ladies Day (#FabulousFriday) on Friday 3rd April and the “World’s greatest Steeplechase” itself on Saturday 4th April, the festival will kick off with Liverpool’s Day on Friday 2nd April.
The National is arguably the most popular event on the British racing calendar, with everyone from seasoned bettors to casual racegoers keen to participate in horse racing betting during the festival. Renaming the first day of the festival to Liverpool’s Day pays a much-needed tribute to the city that’s been home to Aintree racecourse since it was built almost two centuries ago.
A New Era For Liverpool
The city of Liverpool has seen a lot of transformation during the hundreds of years that it has been hosting the race, and certainly in the last decade thanks to extensive regeneration. This new honour provides a great opportunity to introduce the city as a destination for tourists since the festival itself is typically watched by people in over 100 different countries across the globe.
As John Baker, Aintree Racecourse managing director, clarified “With the dawn of a new decade, we are pleased to celebrate the unique heritage of the city of Liverpool”.
The day itself will showcase some of the cultural highlights of the city, with a soundtrack provided by the Fab Four, a Red Devils display, and a live performance from Liverpool-born soprano, Laura Wright.
2020 will also see an improved experience for racegoers, with the extensive refurbishments to the Queen Mother Grandstand having just been completed, which include improved seating and a new private bar. Aintree is set to undergo further improvements later in the year, with changes planned for the Queen Mother Lawn and the Red Rum Garden.
Despite the festivities, racing action will begin as usual from the outset. Uniquely, Liverpool’s Day is one of only three race days in the British Jump racing season to include two open Grade One contests and two Grade One novice races.
The Grade One highlight on Liverpool’s Day will be the 3m1f Betway Bowl, contested on the Midmay Course. The roll call of winners at this event includes some of the greatest horses in modern racing history, such as Desert Orchid, See More Business and Wayward Lad.
Next up will be the only Grade One open hurdle in the UK to be run over two and a half miles: the Grade One Betway Aintree Hurdle. This race is a good one for winners of the Champion Hurdle at the preceding Cheltenham Festival, and the 1977 edition was even regarded as the greatest hurdle race in British racing history thanks to the dead-heat finish that year by Night Nurse and Monksfield.
The two mile Grade One Devenish Manifesto Novices’s Chase, commemorating eight-time National runner Manifesto who won in both 1897 and ’99, kicks off the novice chase action. This will be followed by the Grade One Doom Bar Anniversary Juvenile Hurdle (4 year olds), a 2m1f race that often makes a great partner to Cheltenham’s JCB Triumph Hurdle.
The Randox Health Foxhunter’s Chase gives an opportunity for amateur riders to tackle the iconic Aintree racecourse; this 2m5f chase is restricted to point to point and hunter horses. Unlike the National itself, the Foxhunters’ Chase has been won consecutively by a number of horses throughout the years, including On The Fringe in 2015-16, and Katarino in 2005-06.
The only horse to ever win the Grand National three times (unless Tiger Roll can top that this year), Red Rum, is commemorated in the two mile Grade Three Close Brothers Red Rum Handicap Chase. And finally, the recently upgraded Grade Two Nickel Coin Mares’ Bumper – regarded as the greatest British mares’ bumper run – will close out Liverpool’s Day racing with the opportunity to see the National and Cheltenham stars of the future.
Anybody looking to invest in the next potential National or Cheltenham star will get the opportunity to do so at the annual Goffs UK Aintree Sale, which will be held after racing has finished on Liverpool’s Day, as is tradition.