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Last Updated: Friday, 2 April, 2004, 13:36 GMT 14:36 UK
Ladies compete in fashion stakes
By Frank Keogh
BBC Sport, Aintree

Jennifer Connor and Stephanie Malone
Jennifer and Stephanie planned their outfits months ago

There are few sights quite like Ladies' Day at Aintree's Grand National race meeting.

It is almost as if half of Liverpool has been waiting for the chance to dress up and party - the equivalent of a Scouse Bank Holiday.

And the result is a colourful one as an array of glamorous - and not so glamorous - women prompt a variety of curious looks from male racegoers in the 50,000 crowd.

Aintree has seized on the marketing possibilities, and stages a 'Looking Good' fashion contest, with a 23,000 Jaguar car as the first prize.

The 2004 competition attracted more than 700 entries, boasting various degrees of style. They ranged from perma-tanned young women in micro dresses to a towering gent on stilts.

Students Stephanie Malone and Jennifer Connor joined the contestants, and were revelling in the occasion.

"It's a good atmosphere, and it's just nice to get dressed up and have a laugh," said Stephanie, of Walton, Liverpool.

The 18-year-old said she has been looking forward to the day for months - and shelled out 600 before Christmas for her hand-made fluorescent pink and orange dress.

Jennifer, 20, who opted for a lilac lace and silk outfit, said: "Everyone looks gorgeous. The older people look dead classy."

Housewife Erica Cooper, a resident of Knotty Ash - home of Liverpool's famous comic Ken Dodd - was enjoying her first trip to Aintree.

"We are dead excited. We've been looking forward to it for ages - I started getting ready last night!" she said.

Erica Cooper and Linzi Atherton
Erica Cooper (with Linzi Atherton) is paying her first visit to Aintree

She was joined by Linzi Atherton, 25, who was keeping as keen an eye on the fashion stakes as the racing.

"I just like to have a nose and see what all the other girls are wearing," she said.

"You can see there's a lot of women wearing feathers, and hair slides instead of hats. Beads and pearls - they are in as well."

The day at the races goes on into the evening as hordes of people head into Liverpool city centre for a chaotic night on the town.

"It's mad in town, but everyone's dead friendly, so there's no trouble," said Stephanie Malone.

With a day touring the course, and more than the odd drink, Ladies' Day at Aintree shares much of the same demands as its grander summer version, at Royal Ascot.

It is a stamina test, worthy of the Grand National itself. And the groups of ladies walking barefoot, clutching well-worn stilettos, in the early hours of Saturday, bear testimony to that.




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05 Apr 03  |  Horse Racing


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