WAGs step aside for National fever

The catwalk queens have had their day. Today Aintree reverts to a venerable old battlefield of dreams and punting pin-stickers as experts-for-the-day have an annual flutter on the Grand National.

The world’s most punted race is in its 173rd year, and the magic endures around Becher’s Brook, the Canal Turn and, most notoriously, The Chair.

Kate Miller, William Hill spokeswoman, said: “We estimate that if all the betting slips from the National were placed end to end they would stretch from Liverpool to Las Vegas and back.”

Bookies expect turnover on the Grand National to smash all existing records with an industry-wide figure of €275m wagered.

Coleen Rooney — wife of Manchester United ace Wayne Rooney — led an invasion of would-be WAGs for Ladies Day yesterday, but their extravagancies will pale into comparison with the 220,000 pints and 7,000 bottles of champagne that will be quaffed today in the 80 public bars across the course.

Cork’s own Jonjo O’Neill is confident his Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Synchronised is in the form of his life as he bids for a rare Gold Cup-Grand National double.

“He came right in time for the Gold Cup and he just seems really well. If he had been third, fourth or fifth in the Gold Cup, everyone would have been saying the National was the right race for him,” O’Neill said. “We’d have loved to have put him in a glass case and just hugged and kissed him forever but he’s a racehorse and this is the race that suits him.”

O’Neill never won the world’s most famous steeplechase during his illustrious riding career, but has already won it as a trainer as Don’t Push It gave Tony McCoy his first National two years ago.

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