Plunging necklines and enough hairspray to kill off a rainforest – yes, you guessed it – Ladies Day at Aintree Racecourse has come round again for another year.
There can’t be many who missed the parade of ostentatious hats and deep orange tans on display at this year’s event, a colourful curtain riser to the biggest horse race in the country, but this year there was a cloud of controversy surrounding Ladies Day before it had even arrived.
All photographers caught not taking the ‘correct image’ at the event, stipulated John Baker, head honcho at Aintree Racecourse, would be kicked out for unfair coverage.
It was made abundantly clear that any photographers who took shots which ‘enforced negative stereotypes’ could even have their accreditation revoked, with Mr Baker explaining: “We want to overwhelm the negativity, to push the positivity to the front.
“Our event is full of character, it’s fun, and that’s generated by the personality of the Liverpool people.
“We have to absolutely protect that because it’s at the core of what we are, and we have a responsibility to our customers to project the correct image.”
Ladies Day at Aintree Racecourse has become almost a tradition since it began in the early 1990s, but one that has secured itself into national consciousness as if it’s been there forever.
Tens of thousands of race-goers attend every year and the Grand National generates TV viewing figures in the hundreds of millions from across the world.
So with last year’s coverage of the fixture in the press being largely negative (it was dubbed ‘Ladies Day carnage’ complete with some rather unflattering images), Aintree organisers were this year determined to stay focused on the positive aspects of the racing celebration.
This decision may have had something to do with the fact that recently a pub close to Aintree Racecourse was criticised for plastering unflattering pictures of Ladies’ Day attendees all over its walls.
The Queens at Aintree is decorated with framed black and white photos of women who can be seen sitting in litter holding a bottle of alcohol and being carried over a man’s shoulder with her legs akimbo.
Though the pub said the shots “embrace the culture and banter heard in Liverpool”, is it any wonder that members of the southern media appear to use events like Aintree Ladies Day to sneer at northern women who at the end of the day, are just enjoying a day at the races?
Whether we like it or not, drunkenness on a scale such as this one, seems to have become part of British culture.
And bearing in mind, this is only my opinion, although lairiness and questionable dressing may be what Aintree Ladies Day is known for, surely this is just behaviour that can happen every weekend up and down the country?
If it was turned into an elitist event, like Ascot, wouldn’t it lose its charm – surely it’s the people and the reality that makes it such a popular event?
Famed ‘WAG’ Lizzie Cundy thinks so.
She said: “I adore Aintree. ‘If you are at Ascot, especially if you are in the Royal Enclosure, it is so strict, from the brim of your hat to the length of your hem.
“At Aintree, we are more adventurous, more daring, it’s less pompous and more fun.
“The snobs may frown on it, but many of us enjoy being noticed and looked at.”