I’m not a fan of the Grand National. When the yellow signs appear, warning drivers of road closures, a little part of me groans inside. While I’m sure it’s a great thing for our city, in terms of attracting visitors from out of town, and boosting the economy, for those of us that live alongside the racecourse it is little more than an inconvenience.
That said, Aintree weekend has become an annual holiday for us. We leave town for a few days to avoid the irritation of being stopped by community officers demanding to see ID and proof of address, before allowing us to slowly drive through swarms of tired and inebriated racegoers – in scenes reminiscent of an early episode of the The Walking Dead. And we get to spend time with our friends in the tranquil surroundings of West Sussex.
And I do have objections to the horse racing itself – I believe 4 horses died at Aintree this year – but it would be hypocritical of me to make a big deal about the horses while chewing on a bacon butty. All that aside, I do have a small amount of pride that one of the biggest races in the calendar, The Grand National, takes place in my home town. But I hate that this so-called sport of kings also provokes ridicule like they’re allowing the common folk to take part in this otherwise elitist activity and then mocking them for their enjoyment. It’s hard to tell whether the sport, during this three day event, is the horse racing or the people watching.
“For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbors, and laugh at them in our turn?” – Jane Austen, Pride & Prejudice.
It’s upsetting to see the national media reports about Aintree. This year, the Daily Mail had a particularly long and tedious article for each day of the event. The primary focus being on classless ladies wearing short skirts, drinking beer, smoking fags and flashing their knickers (albeit unintentionally, due to strong winds).
They took every opportunity to mention the dress code: “Dress Aspirationally” inspired by Coco Chanel. But looking at the photos, I see no difference in the outfits from any other year – Ladies have always made an effort to wear their best dresses, find the best hats and make sure they’re looking chic and glamorous for the day.
The Daily Mail would have you believe that the dress code was implemented because Liverpool ladies don’t know how to dress well. And that the dress code was largely ignored.
What they overlooked was the thousands of elegant dresses, serious racegoers and sensible, well mannered people that descended on the racecourse to have a fun day out.
Any photos they included of smartly dressed ladies from Liverpool, were hidden so far down the over indulgent and lengthy article that few people would have persevered as long as I did, in order to see them. Once again The Daily Mail has gone to great lengths to portray Liverpool women as rude and crass.
I read this article and felt my blood boil. What purpose had the Daily Mail to send this guy to Aintree other than to insult the racegoers. To look down on the event, the attendees, and the city. The Daily Mail went on to post another article dedicated to photos of girls falling over. A blatant desire to ridicule and cause embarrassment to the individuals concerned who have had their pictures published without their permission and made to look stupid on a worldwide platform.
Racing has become a popular day out, I’ve attended a few racing events across the country, usually as part of a hen do, but they don’t receive the kind of coverage that Aintree gets. Maybe because The Grand National is a big race or maybe because it’s an opportunity to mock us. To hear it ridiculed when compared to Ascot or Cheltenham is little more than snobbery, and a direct insult of Liverpool. Of course it’s different, because every city is different. This is how we do it in Liverpool. Scousers are celebrated for their humour, charm and big heart. So you can expect a bright, vibrant, fun event.
Stop trying to shame us for it.