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Last Updated:  Saturday, 5 April, 2003, 17:46 GMT 18:46 UK
Aintree diary: Day three
By Sophie Brown
BBC Sport at Aintree

Bookmakers were relieved at the Grand National
Bookies made up for a disastrous Cheltenham Festival
The bookies had a terrible time of it at the Cheltenham Festival with a record number of favourites winning.

But they fought back at Aintree, where big-priced winners were all the rage.

The failure of the Grand National joint-favourites Iris Bleu and Youlneverwalkalone (along with several other well-backed runners) to make the frame was a huge relief for bookmakers.

But they were stung by a couple of large gambles on Monty's Pass.

William Hill laid a bet of 5,000 each-way at 33-1 in March and another of 10,000 each-way at 20-1 a week later and had to pay out 393,000 - the biggest winning bet in National history.

Aintree was more like Royal Ascot on Saturday as the weather was warm and sunny.

This helped boost the crowds, who have turned up in record numbers at this year's Grand National meeting.

The attendance was up 10% on Thursday (22,450) and 11% on Friday (47,430) while 68,180 turned up for the final day, an increase of 7.5% on last year.

One of the busiest places at Aintree during the three-day Grand National meeting is the racecourse stables.

There are two yards which can accommodate 157 horses with some trainers ringing ahead of the meeting in order to book certain "lucky" boxes.

Each Grand National winner has his or her name put on a winners' board at the stables while a plaque is also put above the door of the box that they use.

The winners are also given the option of returning to the same box the following year.

Red Rum occupied the same stable on each of the five times that he ran in the Grand National and Ginger McCain likes all his Aintree runners to be housed there.

Aintree have produced the first A4 racecard in Britain to give racegoers a souvenir of the 2003 Grand National.

Basically, it is just the normal racecard stretched into an A4 shape.

A small - and very unscientific - poll of punters revealed that the bigger racecard was not proving hugely popular.

"Normal racecards fit in your coat pockets or handbag - trying to hold up binoculars and cling on the oversized card is very awkward," was a typical response.

However your selection did in the Grand National, at least it will have done better than Mystic Meg's.

The prescient one had tipped Kingsmark in her column in The Sun only for the horse to be withdrawn on Thursday because of an "unforeseen" injury.

Links to more Grand National 2003 stories


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