Families, country sports enthusiasts and racing fans from across the country converged on Aintree racecourse on Sunday (23 October) for the Countryside Alliance Family Raceday.
The fun started with a hard-fought charity race in aid of Countryside Alliance Foundation. Nine riders representing hunts raced over a mile and a half of the hallowed Aintree turf on horses loaned from top trainers.
In a close finish, the race was won by former Grand National-winning jockey Ryan Mania – now master huntsman of the Berwickshire hunt, closely followed by bloodstock agent David Redvers and Aintree staff member Molly Dingwall.
Between them, the charity riders have raised more than £10,000 for the Countryside Alliance Foundation.
At the sell-out Lunch, Countryside Alliance special awards were made to Oliver Dale who raised the most sponsorship money – more than £2,000 – and to David Redvers, Oliver and Ryan Mania who each lost around a stone and a half to take part in the race.
Ryan Mania said: “It’s a great relief to have won! I think I might have been a little disappointed not to have come home first today. It felt really good to be back but I have no plans to make a return – I’ll stick to hunting hounds!”
A full day’s racing took place after lunch including the Old Roan Chase. Race-goers also enjoyed a host of family and country orientated fun, from pony rides and the famous Lamb National, to a fly casting demo, displays of greyhounds and falconry and laser clays, as well as lots of shopping.
Guests also entered the popular ‘Need for Tweed‘ competition which selected the best dressed guests from a photo booth, where race-goers posed with fun props. Three ladies and three gentlemen were selected as finalists, in their best and most glamorous tweed attire. The winners were then chosen and were interviewed in front of the crowd. The large Fairfax and Favor bags looked wonderful, and the winners were thrilled with their vouchers.
Live and silent auctions also helped raise funds for the Countryside Alliance’s charity projects which include Fishing 4 Schools, Falconry for Schools and Casting For Recovery UK & Ireland.