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Sell-out crowd gathers for National


Runners and riders clear a fence at Aintree

Runners and riders clear a fence at Aintree

Runners and riders clear a fence at Aintree

Thousands of expectant punters have gathered at Aintree for the sold-out 165th John Smith's Grand National.

The world's favourite steeplechase race is also expected to attract 600 million TV viewers across the globe.

Bookmaker William Hill said it anticipated £200 million would be wagered on the big race alone, which is due to start at 4.15.

It will be worth £975,00 in prize money, making it one of the richest jump races in Europe.

Wags such as Coleen Rooney, accompanied by her son Kai, and Alex Gerrard gave an additional touch of glamour to the occasion.

It comes on a bumper day of sport for Merseyside as Liverpool and Everton played out their rivalry in an FA Cup semi-final at Wembley.

Fans of both sides walked around the racecourse with stickers proclaiming "I'm a Red" and "I'm a Blue" and watched the game on screens throughout the course.

The race also marks the 52nd and last time the BBC broadcasts the event before it moves to Channel 4 for the next four years.

The big favourite this year is Synchronised, ridden by 16-times champion jockey AP McCoy.

But punters also backed Katie Walsh, the 27-year-old sister of star jockey Ruby Walsh, to become the first woman to win the Grand National with Irish gelding Seabass.