First day of Grand National Festival dedicated to NHS as 10,000 free tickets given to staff

The tickets were given to NHS staff as a thank you for their heroics during the pandemic.

The bad weather failed to put a dampener on racegoers’ spirits for the first day of the Randox Grand National festival 2022.

Traditionally known as Liverpool Day, Thursday at Aintree is about more than just the horses and jockeys.

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It’s a day for the people, and this year the Jockey Club is celebrating the heroics of our NHS staff across the region.

And in honour of our heroes and heroines, 10,000 tickets were handed out to NHS staff.

As the festival progresses, more than 500 million people in more than 140 countries will stop and watch the best jockeys battle it out on Aintree's world-famous turf.

Here’s what the punters had to say on day one:

‘It’s NHS day, and we’ve all worked really hard’

Sue tells us why she’s come to The Grand National

Sue said: "We are looking forward to lovely company, having a drink and getting loads of winners. It's NHS day, and we've all worked really hard this year, and we want to come and enjoy ourselves ... in the freezing cold."

‘The fashion, the people, it’s always a great day’

Leanne tells us why she’s come to The Grand National

Leanne said: "It's just the best out of all the racing festivals. The fashion, the people, it's always a great day."

‘It’s the first time we’ve ever been’

Demi tells us why she’s come to The Grand National

Demi said: "It's the first time we've ever been. Geoff works for the NHS, and we got free tickets, so we thought, why not."

Long awaited return of Grand National

This year sees the return of spectators to the racecourse for the first time since 2019. The event was cancelled in 2020 for the first time since the Second World War as the country went into lockdown. The race went ahead last year but was held behind closed doors due to the ongoing pandemic.

The three-day race meet at Aintree begins on Thursday, continues on Friday with Ladies Day and culminates with the world-famous steeplechase on Saturday.

Thousands are expected to arrive at the racecourse and visit the region over the three-day event, with millions of pounds set to be generated for the local economy.