When many of us think of horse racing we tend to think of its raw sporting form, we think of the odds and bets, and we think of the runners. And yet there is a much deeper and broader culture to horse racing bubbling underneath the surface that stirs emotions within all types of spectators. It’s part of the reason why large events, such as the Grand National, are so deeply interlocked with our heritage and modern day society. From the gambling side to the aesthetics of the venue itself, it is quintessentially an opulent affair that we savour being a part of, by any means necessary.
Having been seen as the ‘sport of Kings’ in previous years, horse racing has a rather aristocratic lineage, and as such the National Hunt events that are hosted up and down the country pay homage to that bygone sophistication and etiquette. Those gracing the stands at Aintree Racecourse in Liverpool, will don their finest outfits as a means of both respecting the history of the affair, and to be aspirational to those who are watching from home. This is most evident in Aintree’s plea for the spectators attending Ladies Day, held on the 8th April, imploring them to recapture a more classic dress code that reflects what the races are all about.
The Grand National is also a time for people, both sports fans and not, to partake in some lighthearted punting to immerse themselves in the action. With the Grand National just around the corner, and the outcome of Cheltenham Festival impacting on the odds, popular bookmakers like Coral try to make betting a smooth and enjoyable process for all. After all, having a punt and taking a gamble on those competing is all part of the events atmosphere and culture; you could say it would be rude to have one without the other.
Spread out over three days, it allows for the momentum to build from the time the gates open at 10am on the Grand Opening Day, and ensures the drama doesn’t cease until the enthralling finale. The very fact that the steeplechases and jumping take place over more than one day emphasises how important it is to spectators and competitors alike. It is an epicentre of activity where records can be made and broken, and as such it commands its audience in a very unique way when compared with other competitive sports.
Regardless of whether you’re for or against the event, whether you’re interested in the Grand National betting odds or not, there is no escaping that it is a thriving sub-culture that has grown and adapted with our own.
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