The calm after the Cheltenham storm… but roll on Aintree.
As the famous Cheltenham Festival came to a close over a sun-drenched racecourse on Friday, racing fans are feeling the ‘holiday blues’.
However as one door closes, another opens and attention will now turn to the Aintree festival, home of the Grand National.
The Merseyside meeting begins on Thursday April 7 with the Grand National headlining the three day event, on Saturday April 9.
Racing fans more than made up for enduring last year with no crowds as some 280,627 piled into Cheltenham racecourse over the four days, to witness the greats of the sport go head to head with each other.
From the jaw dropping opener as Constitution Hill demolished a highly competitive field for Nicky Henderson and jockey Nico de Boinville, to the boos in the rain on Wednesday as legendary dual Grand National winning horse, Tiger Roll, was beaten on his final appearance.
However the highlight of the week came in the final race, as the horses were ready for the flag to drop for the final time underneath the setting sun, the record crowd of 73,875 fans sung away…
‘Don’t take me home’
It's been special to have crowds back at the track this year 👏 pic.twitter.com/uLNqfP54jj
— Racing TV (@RacingTV) March 18, 2022
Despite the record crowds, beautiful weather, stunning conditions and world class racing, it was the Queen of Cheltenham, Rachael Blackmore, who again stole the show.
Aboard the Gold Cup runner up in the previous year, A Plus Tard, Blackmore powered up the infamous Cheltenham Hill to win comfortably and become the first female to win the Gold Cup.
“She was here last year and beat everyone but she didn’t have the crowds and people to appreciate how brilliant she is.
“It’s great for her that today she’s going to get all that adulation. We’re so lucky to have Rachael Blackmore. He was given a bravely cool ride and this is what dreams are made of,” stated A P McCoy to The Irish Post.
Along with racing, she will now head to the Aintree festival attempting to become only the fourth jockey to win back to back Grand Nationals.
Blackmore is expected to ride Minella Times again, the horse that achieved her dream since she was a kid riding her ponies.
Like Cheltenham, Aintree will welcome back fans for this years festival and with 150,000 fans expected throughout the three days, it will be a special week.
The Grand National is run over 4 miles and 2 and a half furlongs with 30 jumps and 40 horses.
The jumps are some of the biggest in the sport and are a chilling test, not for the faint-hearted.
If the Aintree festival has a dash of the enthralling excitement of Cheltenham, we are in for a special three days in Merseyside.