R-Aintree at Ladies' Day as the downpour drenched the dresses

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Thousands of women upped the fashion stakes in the sunshine this morning at a sold-out Grand National Ladies' Day.

But an April shower hit in the afternoon leaving race-goers rather less dapper and more rain-dampened.

Racing almost took a back seat while WAG queen Coleen Rooney led the way as an estimated 50,000 punters attended the second day of the festival at Aintree.

Girls and women from all over the country flocked to the racecourse to parade their glad rags and style sense.

Wayne Rooney's wife, who yesterday backed a 50/1 winner, was decked out in a black and white skater style number with a floral print and black Christian Louboutin heels.

Joanne Sloan, 39, from Southport said she was there to prove that Merseyside girls are not all "trashy" dressers.

She was wearing a corset-fitted jewel top with a bustle at the back in pinks and nude from Tony Brown and a black marabou.

She said: "We have got a bad reputation when it comes to dress sense but I think we can do it all, vintage, classy and glamour."

Others were there to show off their own wares, such as Elaine Kivi, 57, from Birmingham.

She said: "I am here to show off my skills, I make hats. I bought feathers in turquoise, aquamarine, lilac and yellow to make the one I am wearing.

"It is my first time at Ladies' Day at Aintree and so far, so good.

"It is great because everyone just dresses to look their best and the men make an effort too."

Jockeys made their annual visit to Alder Hey Children's Hospital to meet patients and parents this morning.

They were led by 16-time champion jockey AP McCoy.

He said: "I have been coming to Alder Hey for quite a long time, we come here before the National every year.

"Hopefully it takes the kids' minds off things a little bit and makes their day a little bit easier but I think more importantly it creates awareness of how important places like Alder Hey are.

"Most of the lads riding in the National are here and they (the kids) will maybe tell their friends that they met this jockey or that jockey who was riding and maybe be lucky enough to meet one of them that won."

Emma Owen, marketing and public relations manager at Aintree, said the organisers were taking security "very seriously" in the wake of disruption to the Boat Race last weekend.

She said: "Security arrangements here are business as usual, we had the bomb scare here years ago so security is always very high.

"What happened at the Boat Race was unfortunate, but that was a stretch of the River Thames, which is harder to protect."

She added: "We take any information we receive very seriously, whether it affects the safety of horses or jockeys, or members of the public attending the race."

The 150th Grand National in 1997 was postponed and the racecourse evacuated after an IRA bomb threat minutes before the start.

Some 60,000 people had to be moved out of the course.

A field of 2,300 ladies competed to be named the best-dressed woman at Aintree today in the Matalan Style Contest.

Kelly Platt, a 31-year-old quality assurance officer from Woolton, Liverpool, pipped the competition to the post with a vintage black 1950s dress which originally belonged to her grandmother.

She accompanied the outfit with a custom-made hat and black heels from Top Shop.

Speaking after the announcement at the course, which was drenched in rain as the good weather came to a sudden end this afternoon, Ms Platt said: "My nan would be beaming with pride, she passed away but I have seen photographs of her and she was very fashionable, and it is my kind of style.

"Vintage is about uniqueness and wearing something that is not out there on the high street.

"I am still in shock about winning, I did not expect it at all, there were obviously some beautiful outfits here today so I am quite surprised."

Actress Roxanne Pallett was among the panel of judges in the competition.

The former Emmerdale star was wearing a silver AllSaints dress.

Commenting on the trends seen at the festival this year, she said: "Two out of the three finalists were wearing vintage and I think it just shows you don't have to spend a massive amount on designer wear to look good and it is classic as well which is nice.

"It has been a mix of vintage and high street this year.

"I think people are not following trends so much as setting them now, so it is nice to have a real eclectic mix of women, it has been a real pleasure for us to see all this different mix of styles.

"It is not so much about how much you spend but about how rich you look and how you feel."

PA

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