The presence of armed police at Aintree for the Grand National 2017 festival this weekend is NOT in response to a direct threat police have said.

In a statement released this morning, police said their armed presence is to give Aintree Racecourse鈥檚 thousands of guests 鈥渧isible reassurance鈥?

Police Commander, Chief Superintendent Claire Richards, said: 鈥淢erseyside Police constantly review its staffing levels for any large-scale public events and as per normal race goers can expect to see high visibility policing across the three days of the event.

鈥淭hey may also see an armed presence but I want to reassure them that this is not in response to any direct threat aimed at the festival but just as a visible reassurance for the thousands of people who will come through the gates over the three days.?/p>

Armed police at Aintree
Armed police at Aintree

Today is the first day of the Grand National weekend, one of the biggest events in the sporting calendar and consistently attracts more than 150,000 people during the three-day festival.

Despite the attendance figures, the festival has an excellent record of deterring crime and anti-social behaviour and Merseyside Police has been working with the racecourse and the Jockey Club, local councils, Mersey Travel and other partners to plan the event with public safety as a priority.

Chief Supt Richards added: 鈥溾淲e want people to have a safe and enjoyable time and make sure their day at the races is memorable for all the right reasons.

鈥淩ace goers should expect to undergo the normal security checks, including bag and transport searches and badge checks.

Armed police at Aintree
Armed police at Aintree

鈥淥nly pre-booked vehicles will be allowed onto the Aintree site and there are restrictions on parking around the course which will be rigorously enforced.

鈥淚 would also like to take this opportunity to ask race goers to spare a thought for residents, who accept the huge numbers of people visiting the area with very good grace every year.

鈥淲e鈥檇 ask visitors to show local people the same courtesy and to treat the area with respect.

鈥淥fficers on duty will be taking a common sense approach but I want to make it clear that anti-social behaviour will not be tolerated.?/p>

Race goers have also been advised to not leave any of belongings unattended, drink responsibly and to report any suspicious or criminal activity.