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The Grand National remains the world's greatest steeplechase. This huge test of horse and rider will continue to attract a large audience at Aintree on 8 April when 40 horses set out to cover the 41/2 miles over 30 fences.

This year the Western and Central enclosures have been given over to coach and car parking and Tattersalls, formerly the Paddock, has been extended, resulting in a better view of the course. Aintree is situated a mile from the M57 and M58 and is served well by train.

British Rail's InterCity West Coast is now operating the luxury return train journey, using scheduled services with Pullman service, for travellers from the South-East, going from London Euston to Lime Street station in Liverpool. Passengers complete the trip to Aintree from Central station, a short walk from Lime Street. For £95, the racegoer receives a full English breakfast and a four-course dinner on the return trip, though there is limited spaces.

Aintree also offers hospitality packages, though these are selling quickly. A luxury day out with County Lawn badge and reserved dining table in a chalet on the Paddock lawn costs £165 plus VAT per person.

For atmosphere and value, the Steeplechase enclosure, with its increased facilities, affords close-up views of some of the most famous fences in steeplechasing, Becher's Brook, the Canal Turn and Valentines. Car parking is available, making this a suitable enclosure for the family.

Breakfast will be served from 7.30-9am in the Rendezvous restaurant, situated behind the Glenlivet Stand, for those racegoers wishing to enjoy the build-up and have an early flutter on the Flat meeting from Hong Kong, transmitted live by satellite, before racing starts at 1.45pm.

Martell Grand National, Aintree, 8 April.

First race 1.45pm, Grand National 3.45pm, last race 5.15.

Train: Mersey Rail from Liverpool Central (short distance from Lime Street) to Aintree (journey time 12 minutes). Station is opposite course. Road: the course is north-east of the city, one mile on A59 from the M57 (which links with M62) and M58 (M6). Follow A59 to Liverpool and AA signs to for routes to car parks. Airports: Liverpool International is 20 minutes from course, Manchester 40 minutes.

Admission: Queen Mother Stand: roof (standing only) £60; reserved seats sold out/ County Stand: roof (standing only) £55; Aintree roof (standing only): £65; reserved seats sold out. Glenlivet Stand sold out. County Lawn (formerly the County enclosure) £29; Tattersalls (formerly the Paddock enclosure) £16 adult, £4 child. Steeplechase enclosure £7, £2. Postal applications accepted up to 27 March. The Aintree Racecourse Company Ltd, Aintree, Liverpool L9 5AS (Bookings: 0151-523 5322; Main office 0151-523 2600; fax 0151-530 1512).

Parking: County reserved sold out; Central £13; Steeplechase £5.

British Rail luxury train (0171-922 6409/6433); Trains depart Euston at 8am and 9am, arriving Liverpool at 10.56 and 11.56am respectiveley. Return: depart 6.45pm, arrive 10pm and 7.45pm, arriving 11.10pm.

Details of forthcoming events with information on tickets and venues should be sent to: The Sports Desk, The Independent, 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL. Fax: 071-293 2894.

Compiled by Paul Maher