The Grand National is the most watched horse race in the World, with an estimated 500-600 million viewers in over 140 countries tuning in to see the annual showpiece. With up to 40 horses jumping over 30 fences around a course which is four and a half miles long, the race is always dramatic and sees many once-a-year gamblers becoming involved – either through placing a bet at the bookmakers, taking part in a sweepstake or both!
In this guide I look at all the factors you should consider when placing a bet on the Grand National. I start by explaining the rules behind the race and consider whether you should place a win or each-way bet. I then look at the race card, and the information you’ll be able to use in selecting your bets. I finish with a guide to gaining the best value for your bet and overview of the race.
The Grand National
The Grand National is a steeplechase handicap ran over four and a half miles at the Aintree racecourse. The race is run over much larger fences than you would normally find in conventional National Hunt racing with many of the fences being iconic – particularly ‘Becher’s Brook’ ‘Canal Turn’ and ‘The Chair’. The fact that the race is a handicap means that the better horses in the race will actually carry more weight than their rivals, this weight being added into the saddles of the jockeys – the actual job of the handicapper is to try and have all horses finishing in a dead heat! There are no age restrictions in the race, meaning that a horse could conceivably run year after year in the race (unlike such races as the Derby where only 3 year olds are able to compete). Usually the race comprises of 40 runners, but this can be lower if a horse is withdrawn on the morning of the race.
Grand National Betting – Should I bet Win or Each-Way?
This is a question that is asked many times on the morning of the race – unfortunately this is a decision that you have to make. However, I will try to guide your decision. Firstly, you should ask yourself if you want to go for that ‘big win!’ – you’ll win much more if you place a straight win bet. An each way bet will still pay out larger if the horse wins, but you’ve got some insurance as you are guaranteed a return if the horse is placed – this might definitely be the way to go if backing a horse deemed to have little chance, and therefore offering very large odds.
Grand National Betting - The Race Card
A race card will show several pieces of information – although the format might vary. Each horse will have a number (from 1 to 40) alongside the name. Grand National day will see many people gambling on a ‘name’ and topical names will always attract a great deal of money. You’ll also see the colours the jockey will be wearing (which will aid you when watching the race). Below the name of the horse you’ll see the names of both the jockey and the trainer. The details section shows you the age of the horse, the amount of weight it is carrying and the form. The form shows the last outing to the right, meaning that Tidal Bay for example, finished 2nd last time out. A finish outside the top 9 in the race will be shown by a zero. The dash in the form shows results from a previous year, and letters represent the following:
U – Unseated Rider
P – Pulled Up
F – Fell
R – Refused
The odds will be published in the days leading up to the race. You’ll also find a rating for each horse – this will vary depending upon which newspaper or website you use. As you can see, Tidal Bay is the top rated horse of the three listed.
Getting the Best Value
Many people will place a bet where they will not specify a price beforehand, meaning that you’ll receive the ‘starting price’ – an industry wide standard. However, many betting websites will now offer a best odds guaranteed offer, meaning that if you take the odds when you place a bet, and the starting price is different, you’ll receive the better of the two prices. Therefore if betting with a site that does offer this service, always take the price!
If placing an each way bet, look at the each way terms. These will normally be stated in the following way:
1/5 odds 1-2-3-4
This means that if a horse is placed, you’ll receive 1/5 of the odds (so a 10/1 shot becomes 2/1) and the horse needs to finish in the top four. These each-way terms can vary, and some bookmakers might pay out on the first five or even the first six horses to finish – so ensure you are getting the best deal you can.
The Grand National – Overview
The Grand National is one of the highlights of the sporting year, and it is hard to match the excitement of cheering your horse all the way to winning line. Whether you pick your horse based upon a name you like, or you have studied the form greatly, ensure you get the best possible deal from your chosen bookmaker and make them pay out as much as possible – don’t worry though, they’ll have a profitable day whatever the outcome!
Best Bookie For Grand National Bets
The high street chains often offer great deals for the Grand National, competing to get the bets from occasional bettors as well as regulars. For me, one outfit stands out from the crowd with free bets and great bonus deals, this is Coral.
I recommend you check their offer for the National, and many other sporting events over at www.coral.com.
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