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In pictures: Aintree Ladies Day 2015

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Colourful hats, high heels and beautiful gowns were the order of the day as Ladies Day got under starter's orders at Aintree's Grand National Festival.

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It is a day where the fashion, rather than the racing, takes centre stage.

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Attendance for the opening day on Thursday was up about 1,300 on last year with 34,000 people coming through the gates.

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Racegoers were making the most of the warm weather.

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Off to a stylish start was this co-ordinating couple enjoying the sunshine at the steeplechase.

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Pop star Rebecca Ferguson said she was looking for "confidence and people who are happy in their own skin" as she judged this year's Aintree Ladies Day Style Contest.

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TV presenter and fashion guru Gok Wan also attended and joined Rebecca Ferguson in judging the style contest.

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Aintree racecourse managing director John Baker has said he wanted to protect women against "unfair" coverage this year, adding any photographers taking shots that enforce negative stereotypes could have their accreditation revoked.

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Ladies Day has been a fixture of the race meeting since the early 1990s, but it seems these male race-goers were keen to enter the spirit of dressing up too.

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A woman reapplies her lipstick in the Liverpool sunshine.

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Image caption A group of Ladies enjoy themselves on Day 2 of the Aintree races at Aintree Racecourse

The day is an opportunity for friends to come together in their finery.

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There was no shortage of "selfies" as racegoers captured themselves at their best.

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The meeting has been a British sporting institution since 1839, when the aptly-named Lottery won the first official race.

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The clean-up at the end of Ladies Day will have to be swift - thousands more racegoers are due to arrive at Aintree on Saturday for the Grand National race.

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