There are few horse racing events that capture our attention as a nation, but the Grand National, held at Aintree every April, does exactly that. This year, it’s taking place on Saturday 8 April, the final day of the three-day Aintree Festival.
What probably captures our collective imagination the most about this race, and the reason that it’s so avidly watched every year as well as the unpredictability of the outcome. Of course, there’s always a winner, but it’s by no means sure that the favourites will even finish, let alone finish first. During the race’s long history – the first Grand National took place in 1839 – many an outsider has defied expectations and ended up being the winner.
Perhaps just because it’s such a lottery of a race is why so many people decide to have a bet on the Grand National, especially those who don’t bet on any other horse racing event at any other time of the year. A massive amount of betting is done around the Grand National – with more than a quarter of the UK adult population choosing to back a horse to cheer round the course every year. Last year, an estimated £150m of Grand National bets were taken by the bookies.
So, in a race where no horse is a certainty, how do you go about picking the best horse to back and put your money on?
• The easiest option is to seek out some expert advice and Grand National 2017 tips online for ante-post betting. Already, a number of horses have been tipped with a strong chance of winning the Grand National, based on their previous form. These include Ucello Conti, The Last Samuri and Holywell. The earlier you bet, the better the odds tend to be. The only downside to ante-post betting is that the horse you choose may be withdrawn before race day, in which case you lose your bet anyway.
• Another idea is to check out the recent trends in Grand National winners, in terms of weight, age, and experience. The Grand National is a handicap race, which means that the better the horse’s stats are, the heavier weight they’ll carry in the race. The top-weighted horses haven’t been winners in recent years – in fact in the last 20 years only three winners have carried over 11st 3lb. Looking at the ages of previous Grand National winners may also help you narrow down the field – many winning horses have been 9-11 years old. Last year’s winner, Rule The World, fit this pattern as he was 9 years old. Generally, the winners of the Grand National aren’t novices on the course – previous Aintree experience serves them well. If you like doing your research, these three factors – weight, age and experience – will help you filter your betting choices.
• Many people don’t want to consider the form and statistics of the horses and jockeys taking part in the Grand National. Instead, they choose a name that means something to them (and it’s surprising how often a horse’s name can have significance), or the jockey colours that are most pleasing to their eye. They might even close their eyes and stick a pin in the newspaper to choose a random horse to back.
• Others enter a sweepstake at work or in family groups where there’s no bookie involved; it’s simply putting a set amount into the pot and pulling out a name. Whoever’s horse wins gets to keep all the cash.
However you decide to pick your horse for Grand National Day, and whether it wins or not, the race will certainly be a thrilling one to watch!