A sell-out crowd of 70,000 people cheered on Grand National winner Noble Yeats as punters were allowed back at Aintree racecourse for the steeplechase for the first time since 2019.
Rain and hail showers on Saturday failed to dampen the spirits of racegoers arriving for the final day of the three-day Grand National Festival at the Merseyside course, and the sun came out for the world-famous race.
The Duchess of Cornwall presented the Randox Grand National trophy to owner Robert Waley-Cohen and congratulated his son Sam Waley-Cohen, who won his final race before retirement.
Crowds cheered on the winner for the first time in three years, after the race meet was canceled due to coronavirus in 2020 and held behind closed doors last year.
Gabriella Nielson, 27, from Prescot, Merseyside, said: “We have missed it so much. It’s such a good day for everyone to get together.
“When you win it is the best feeling ever.”
Her friend Rachel Carhart, 30, who was returning to Aintree for the 10th time, said: ” I love it, it’s my favorite day. The atmosphere is amazing.”
Nicky and Steven Baird were at the racecourse with their father George, after the family originally planned to come for his 70th birthday in 2020.
Mr Baird, from Glasgow, who wore a checked suit and bow tie with sparkly loafers, said: “We ended up having a Zoom call for his birthday instead so not quite the same as Aintree.
“Today is going to be electric. We want to see Rachael Blackmore win in person this year.”
Ms Baird added: “We’re so excited to be here. I think it’s 100% going to be extra special this year, it has to be.”
Among those attending were Zara Tindall, Defense Secretary Ben Wallace, and former Liverpool FC manager Sir Kenny Dalglish.
Coronation Street star Antony Cotton said: “It’s always lovely to be here and I’m thrilled to be back, especially given the last two years that everybody has had. It’s just nice to be out of the house.”
Hollyoaks actress Jorgie Porter, at the races with fiance Ollie Piotrowski, said: “You can feel the buzz here today that everybody is excited that we’re all out in this situation
“It’s a huge thing, but I think particularly this year, because we’ve missed it so much.”
Football pundit Chris Kamara said: “It’s unbelievable. I know that’s my catchphrase but I have never been to the National before, so thanks to Betway, who invited me, I’ve ticked it off the bucket list, so it’s great.”
Carl and Laura Gallimore had traveled from Birmingham to Aintree for the first time.
Mr Gallimore, 38, said: “We just had to duck for cover to miss the big rain shower but the sunglasses are back on now so fingers crossed it is going to be a nice day.”
Ian Hares, 36, and friends, from Andover, Hampshire, were also visiting the racecourse for the first time.
He said: “It is amazing. I’ve been watching the Grand National on the television all through my life and I have always wanted to be here so it is a massive thrill.”
Judith Beckett, 69, from Chesterfield in Derbyshire, returned to the course after attending Ladies Day on Friday.
She said: “This is the big one. It is wonderful to be back, it was so lovely yesterday.
“It’s been a long two years.”