The Grand National, the world's most famous steeplechase and one of the few sporting events with national, even worldwide, resonance, stands as the centrepiece of a three-day meeting at Aintree.
Scheduled to take place in 2013 on Thursday April 4, Friday April 5 and Saturday April 6, the annual event draws in 150,000 spectators from the city of Liverpool and beyond, and also attracts a worldwide TV audience. The John Smith's Grand National itself is televised in 140 countries and attracts an audience estimated by Aintree at 600 million.
But for those on the ground at Aintree, whether it is in the salubrious Princess Royal stand or the bustling Tattersalls, or even amongst the open spaces and revelry of the Steeplechase enclosure, the experience goes well beyond the fascinating Grand National. Three days of high quality racing, often featuring Cheltenham Festival winners, support the main event, and the amenities, nightlife and restaurants of Liverpool are just a 15-minute train journey away.
Thursday: Grand Opening Day - the racing highlights are the Bowl Chase, the Aintree Hurdle and the Fox Hunters' Chase, which is run over the National fences.
Friday: Ladies' Day - an increasingly popular fixture, which marries top racing - including the Melling Chase, the Sefton Novices' Hurdle and, over the National fences, the Topham Chase - with one of Liverpool's top social occasions.
Saturday: Grand National Day - the most famous steeplechase in the world takes centre stage, with a classy supporting card including the Liverpool Hurdle, Maghull Novices' Chase and Mersey Novices' Hurdle.