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Last Updated: Saturday, 3 April, 2004, 11:12 GMT 12:12 UK
Aintree diary: Day three
By Frank Keogh
BBC Sport at Aintree

Bob Champion
Champion was back at the scene of his most famous triumph
A host of celebrities were at Aintree for the 157th running of the Grand National oln Saturday.

Among the crowd were Princess Anne, Liverpool footballer Michael Owen, his club manager Gerard Houllier, comedian Johnny Vegas and actor David Jason.

Bob Champion, who secured a fairytale triumph on Aldaniti in 1981, was revelling in the big-race atmosphere.

Champion recovered from cancer to win the world's most famous race, and his story was turned into a film.

"I always get a great buzz coming here - I love it," said Champion, who reported himself to be in good health.

He listed Ruby Walsh, Tony McCoy and Tony Dobbin among his favourite current riders. "I'm a great Tony Dobbin fan because I think he's the complete jockey," said Champion.

Jockey Alan Dempsey may not have been celebrating victory at Aintree on Friday, but he did have some good news after becoming the father of a baby girl.

Wife Becky gave birth to a girl, who weighed in at 7lb 4oz, just hours before Alan rode over the Grand National fences in the Topham Chase.

But Alan never looked like securing a dream win - he pulled up his mount Super Nomad before the 12th fence.

Stylish Kate Hallam won a new 23,000 car in a best-dressed racegoer contest at the course - the only problem is she cannot drive.

Kate, from Buxton, Derbyshire, wowed the judges in her grey Prada suit and saw off competition from 700 other contestants.

"I've seen the car, it is a lovely ultra-violet colour and I'll be taking some driving lessons as soon as I can," she said.

Police have reported no major problems despite bumper crowds at the course.

Thursday: 26,200
(Last year: 22,450)
Friday: 50,500
(Last year: 47,430)
Just three arrests were made on Ladies' Day, when Aintree saw a record Friday attendance of 50,500, and three on the opening day.

"They were all for minor offences, such as drunk and disorderly. It's been really busy, but we've had no particular problems, which is excellent," said Merseyside police spokesman Anne Hobson.

Despite being rated third favourite, there could really only be one winner of a virtual Grand National and Red Rum made no mistake.

A broadcast-quality simulated version of the National, aimed at finding out the champion of champions, was shown on BBC TV in the build-up to the actual 2004 running.

Rummy, a record three-time winner of the big Aintree race, finished ahead of L'Escargot and Rhyme 'n Reason.

Bets from the public were not taken, but racing pundits placed wagers in aid of the Injured Jockeys' Fund.

Punters who followed Lydia Hislop's advice on the BBC Sport website were celebrating on Friday night.

TV pundit Lydia tipped Royal Shakespeare in the Martell Top Novices' Hurdle, and the outsider ran out a 25-1 winner.

Monty's Pass wins Grand National
05 Apr 03  |  Horse Racing


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