In 2018 the opening day of the Aintree Grand National Meeting will also have a new look and feel. Grand National Thursday is set to honour the local sporting talent that’s come out of Merseyside with a ‘Champions Lounge’.
The three-day Aintree gets going each year on the Thursday. Despite the crowds being nowhere near as big as Grand National Day, it’s still a hugely popular day on the jump racing calendar. The Aintree racecourse can still expect around 35,000 people to come through the turnstiles and outside the Cheltenham Festival this is one of the most popular racing days for jump racing fans. The racing gets going on Merseyside at 1:45pm and with seven top-class races to enjoy the Thursday card always attracts runners from National Hunt yards from both the UK and Ireland.
When is Grand National Thursday?
The date of the Aintree Grand National Meeting can often vary and this is mainly due when Easter falls each year. In 2018 the three-day meeting is actually a bit later that usual with Easter Sunday being on April 1st this year. This is great news for both trainers and punters though as the gap between the Cheltenham Festival and the Aintree Grand National Meeting in 2018 is longer than some previous years.
With the 2018 Cheltenham Festival finishing on Friday 16th March, and the opening day of the 2018 Aintree not until the 12th April then there is a full 26 days between the two. This gives horses, that would have raced at Cheltenham, a little bit longer to recover, plus it also gives trainers more time to prepare their runners – meaning there’s a much better chance we’ll see the top horses running at both these big festivals in 2018.
Why Go to Grand National Thursday?
The event will open day one with a new name ‘A Day For Champions’ with the main attraction being a Champions Lounge where racegoers can chat to sporting heroes from both past and present. The lounge will be hosted by BBC Breakfast’s Dan Walker next to the Aintree parade ring. Q&A sessions with rumoured stars like Michael Owen, Kenny Dalglish, Graeme Sharp and Olympic gold medallist Sam Quek ready to mingle with the Aintree race goers.
Some say this is the BEST day on the UK Jump Racing calendar offering FOUR grade one races. A number of Merseyside sporting champions will be there for the new Opening Ceremony, and attending the new Champions Lounge. Aintree will also use this day to collaborate with the RAF for their centenary celebrations.