The Grand National is a major sporting institution in Great Britain and it is also hugely important to the economy in the Liverpool area.
Hosted annually at Aintree during April, the race is a handicap steeplechase over four miles 514 yards with 40 horses jumping 30 fences over two laps of the course.
It is the most valuable jump race in Europe, with a prize fund of £1 million on offer. Aintree has been described as ‘the ultimate test of horse and rider’ with fences like Becher’s Brook and The Chair permanently etched into racing folklore.
The Grand National is the highlight of three days of top class National Hunt racing which attracts around 150,000 spectators to the course.
The event won Tourism Event of the Year at The Mersey Partnership’s Annual Tourism Awards in 2011, highlighting the impact the National has on the region.
Local hotels are invariably full when the meeting takes place, as over half of all attendees of the event come from outside of the area.
Restaurants are full, places of interest are packed out and local transport is stretched to the limit, providing business with a big financial boost.
There’s also a huge amount of sponsorship poured into the event from international brands as well as local names, all eager to be associated with such a prestigious event.
Local tourist board officials have put the value of the race meeting to the Merseyside hospitality economy at over £10m, while Aintree itself turns over in excess £30m during the meeting.
With broadcasting rights, betting and tourism activities being the main financial benefits flowing on from the racing festival, there are numerous ways for enterprising individuals to tap into related business opportunities.
Fashion and beauty businesses enjoy a huge boost to their income around the National as racegoers prepare to look their best for their big day at the races.
Outside of the local region, the national economy also benefits as many tourists stay on after the racing ends to travel to other parts of Britain. The tourism industry is almost as big a winner as the first-past-the-post in Aintree’s world famous race.
The financial impact of horse racing really should not be underestimated. A 2013 report from Deloitte calculated that the British horse racing economy generated nearly £3.5 billion, and the growth in online betting is likely to have seen that figure rise over the past few years.
Sport in general is big business, with ticket sales in Britain worth well over £20bn per year. Further research by Deloitte revealed that more than 70m tickets were sold for sporting events in 2015.
There were three horseracing events in the top 10 in 2015 – Royal Ascot, the Cheltenham Festival and the Epsom Derby – and the Grand National’s continuing popularity means it could join that trio towards the top of the rankings over the next few years.
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