THE GRAND National meeting kicks off this afternoon at Aintree Racecourse.

And the police are taking no chances with the first behind closed doors running of the three-day Festival.

The authorities have warned punters to stay away and from trying to get a peep of the action.

Local police have even told racing fans not to gather in groups of over six in their gardens.

Around 30,000 punters are normally welcomed to the opening day of the Festival, but this year only a small number of owners and officials will present.

Ch Supt Paul White said: "We know the event is traditionally a huge part of Merseyside's social calendar and attracts large crowds.

"This year's event will be taking place behind closed doors, which is a huge shame, however we are clearly in unprecedented times.

"We have been working closely with Aintree to ensure the festival can still take place safely.


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"As such there will be a proactive and proportionate policing operation."

Saturday's Randox Health Grand National is off at 5.15 and the final field was declared this morning.

Cloth Cap remains the red-hot favourite with most bookies at 4-1.

But Rachael Blackmore has been booked to ride Minella Times and Henry De Bromhead's horse has been backed into as short as 9-1.


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Remember to gamble responsibly

A responsible gambler is someone who:

  • Establishes time and monetary limits before playing
  • Only gambles with money they can afford to lose
  • Never chase their losses
  • Doesn’t gamble if they’re upset, angry or depressed
  • Gamcare –
  • Gamble Aware –

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