The Grand National Steeplechase is one of the world’s most iconic horse races. It attracts crowds upwards of 150,000 to Aintree Racecourse for a full three-day program of racing in April each year. But make no mistake; the true focus of the racing festival is upon one race event; a daunting steeplechase across more than 30 formidable fences and touted as one of the world’s toughest races. A prize purse of a million pounds attracts a field boasting the best equine steeplechasers from across the world. This thrilling spectacle involves up to 40 courageous horses and riders galloping at top speed across the 4.5-mile course with inevitable falls reducing the numbers that make the finish line, and making for some heart stopping moments.
There would be few racing fans in the UK that aren’t aware of the Grand National’s most famous champion – Red Rum, winning the race on no less than three occasions in the 1970’s. But the Grand National brings more than the thrill of seeing a new champion forge to the finish line each year. It has a significant impact on the local and national economy. Huge numbers of punters across the world place bets on the race, and it is broadcast to roughly 600 million viewers in 140 countries. Course attendance ticket takings, corporate entertainment packages, and services provided to racegoers swell the financial return to the economy on top of the millions of pounds involved in gambling takings from across the world.
Aintree Racecourse turns over close to £30 million, and tourism officials estimate the local economy (the Liverpool region) benefits by a sum of more than £10 million from the racing festival.
There are a myriad of opportunities for small and large business operators to benefit from the tourist influx, including providing travel, accommodation, entertainment and dining services.
With broadcasting rights, betting and tourism activities the mainstay of the financial benefits flowing on from the racing festival, there are many ways for enterprising individuals to tap into related business opportunities. Tourists and locals alike indulge in fashion and beauty products for their day at the big race and many want to kick on after the event for sight-seeing and to entertainment venues, restaurants, and bars. Photographers, racing commentators, food producers, suppliers of ladies hats and fascinators, taxi and limousine operators are just some of the diverse businesses that benefit from the race.
Outside of the local economy, the national economy benefits further as many tourists stay on after the racing program is ended and travel on to other parts of the UK. The tourism industry, in particular, is almost as big a winner as the finishers in Aintree’s world famous steeplechase.