The Grand National is Britain’s biggest betting race of the year, staged every April at Aintree Racecourse in Liverpool.
The National, as it’s affectionately known, is run over a marathon trip of 4 miles, 2-and-a-half furlongs with 30 of the most testing National Hunt fences to jump in the process. The race is open to those aged 7 and over (previously 5) though in truth most winners are in the 8-9yo bracket.
Given the huge popularity and prominence of this race on the equine scene, we have covered betting offers, history, the venue and more items associated with the National here comprehensively.
Grand National General Info
Despite being a handicap race and not a Grade One such as the Cheltenham Gold Cup or the King George Chase, the National is the richest steeplechase in Britain with a prize fund topping £1 million. Alongside the Gold Cup, this is the race all trainers, owners and especially punters want to win.
When is the Grand National?
The Grand National meeting is staged over three days in early April each year; Thursday is A Day for Champions, Friday is Ladies Day and Saturday of the meeting is Grand National Day. Both Britain and Ireland’s top staying chasers are usually sent for the race, sometimes after an assignment at Cheltenham in March.
The big race itself is set to be the sixth race of the day on Saturday 6th April at 5.15PM, a day that also sees three Grade One races worth a combined £350,000.
Why is the Grand National so eagerly awaited?
Although the reasons are primarily jumping ability and stamina, the Grand National is seen by many as the sternest test in all of horse racing with past winners of the race safely ensconced in the memories of fans everywhere.
A Grade 3 chase but one which is a handicap, i.e. all the runners carrying different weights according to their ratings, the race has always been massively popular but has risen in quality over the years with now bona fide Cheltenham Gold Cup contenders also often being aimed at this race.
The Grand National’s status as the biggest betting race in Britain is unlikely to change anytime soon. 40 runners line-up for this event and as such we get to see some really big priced winners. It’s hard to pick the winner of this race but then that is part of its charm.
One Grand National tradition away from the racecourse is to run sweepstakes whereby participants each put in money and then pick out a Grand National runner at random – often it’s thought this is just good a way of trying to back a National winner than reading the form!
Grand National Betting Offers
Given its status, betting on the Grand National is a ferocious business which brings together gambling pros with those looking to play 50p each-way. Betting on Grand National day reaches enormous levels, the race regularly attracting over £150 million in bets helped along by the offers that bookies throw out on the big day.
What sort of offers can we expect?
Although not standard for other ante-post bets, most firms run a ‘non-runner no bet’ offer in advance of the festival meaning you can back your horse in advance, taking a better price, but will receive your stake back as a refund if your horse doesn’t make the final field.
Grand National 2019 betting will be part of broader offers by bookmakers during the festival, deals including money back specials, enhanced odds and a lot more besides.
Betting on the Grand National
Before placing any bets on the National it is very much recommended that you don’t go into the race under informed. There are a range of tools you can use and some crucial points to remember when considering your Grand National bet.
How to Choose a Bookmaker for Your Grand National Bet
Despite competition in the market being fierce and all prices posted online for all of us to peruse, not all online bookmakers will offer the best prices and/or the best offers. With that in mind ensure, as a minimum, that you:
- Read bookie reviews – make sure they are up to date and well written
- Check all the odds – some runners can vary starkly in price in advance of the race
- Check promotions – Grand National betting offers will be listed on all the major sites, choose the right one for you
- Check for live streaming – if you can’t get near a TV, make sure you’ve picked a bookie which will be streaming the race live for you as long as you’ve placed a bet
- Contact the bookie – although promos are advertised and T&C’s are available, always click the ‘live chat’ or email and simply ask any questions you have, it’s the quickest way to understand any hidden terms
Each-Way Betting During the Tournament
In many other races punters are happy to simply bet on the nose, but with 40 runners to choose from and plenty of bookmakers paying out on 5 or even 6 places an each-way bet is often the way to go.
An each-way bet is essentially two bets, a win and a place bet on the same horse. For the ‘win’ part of the bet, the selection must win the race and for the place part the horse must finish ‘in the places’, in the Grand National’s case this is in the first four unless of a special offer as mentioned above.
Imagine your horse is 10/1 with the bookie offering ¼ of the odds for the first three places and you wish to back it each-way. A £5 each-way bet in this case will actually cost £10 in total. If the horse goes on to win; you would receive £55 for the win part (£5 at 10/1 plus your original stake) and a further £17.50 for the place bet.
Had the horse finished 2nd, 3rd or 4th in this instance, only the £17.50 return would be forthcoming by virtue of your £5 stake going on at a quarter of the actual odds (10/1 effectively becoming 5/2). Look out for extra places being offered by your bookie during the festival though, most firms will oblige both online and in the shops.
History of Betting on the Grand National
Alongside the Gold Cup at Cheltenham, the National has long since been regarded as one of the top betting races of the calendar and in fact it’s the one that generates the most money. Backers tend to latch onto runners in this race as they often compete in more than one renewal, Red Rum being the very best example.
How Many Races Are There and How Much Money Do They Generate?
There are 21 races across the three days of the Grand National meeting worth a combined total of £3 million in prize money. These races are run over a weekend during which bookmakers expect to lay bets totalling well over £500 million across the UK.
The 2018 winner of the Grand National was Tiger Roll, a well backed victor having also done well at the Cheltenham Festival in March. History can help us to pick the winner of this event as it helps us to understand what it takes to be the champ, though only a tight band of runners age-wise tend to be successful.
Other notable Grand Nation al winners have included Foinavon, Red Rum, Aldaniti, Bobbyjo, Hedgehunter, Don’t Push It and One For Arthur all of which were massively popular with the betting public leading up to and no doubt after the race.
Grand National 2018
The 171st running of the Grand National was a special one. Staged on April 14th, 2008, the race was once again the highlight of Aintree’s showpiece three-day festival with betting turnover reaching new heights.
A typically frantic start to the race meant for some early brushes with the top of the fences as riders literally jockeyed for position. The race settled down and by the beginning of the second circuit Pleasant Company had taken the lead.
As the well-backed Tiger Roll began to get into the race, another fancied runner Ucello Conti lost his rider with only three to jump which left Seeyouatmidnight challenging Pleasant Company for the lead.
Tiger Roll, a 10/1 shot, began to make a move and hit the front going over the penultimate fence. On the run-in past the “elbow” Davy Russell’s mount extended his lead but on the run up to the line Pleasant Company fought back and almost caught the winner, in the end going down by just a head at 25/1.
In the end 38 runners had started the race and all were returned successfully to the stables after the race with no fatalities. Saint Are was treated by vets on course and subsequently retired from racing but was not injured long term.
Tiger Roll had been an incredibly popular winner, going off 10/1 joint second favourite behind 7/1 chance Total Recall and its thought the win cost the bookmakers millions.
Grand National 2017
The 2017 running of the Grand National, this time the 170’s running of the race, was run on April 8th with the maximum 40 runners taking part.
Given the full field and all the excitement and noise, it’s perhaps not too surprising that a couple of false starts occurred and the race went off a little late. As the race finally got underway the usual pushing, shoving and fast pace to the first fence followed before the race eventually settled down.
Well-backed 10/1 shot Definitly Red, trained by Brian Ellison who had aimed the horse at the Gold Cup at Cheltenham, was unfortunately pulled-up at Valentine’s fence while fancied eight-year-old Saphir Du Rheu fell at the 11th fence.
As the second circuit began, 20/1 shot Rogue Angel was sent to the front by Bryan Cooper with Saint Are and favourite Blaklion close in behind him. The order remained largely unchanged at the front end around five fences from the line when the 8/1 jolly Blaklion moved up to challenge Rogue Angel under Noel Fehily.
By this time amateur jockey Jamie Codd had gotten another well-backed runner, Cause Of Causes, into contention too as the roar began to really emanate from the stands while One For Arthur began to make some progress from further back.
With two to jump, One For Arthur went for a big jump but bumped into leader Blaklion as Cause Of Causes now moving up to challenge for the lead. At the final fence, One For Arthur (14/1) went into the lead and ran a few lengths clear at the “elbow” before increasing his lead to score by 4½ lengths at the line under a jubilant Derek Fox. Cause Of Causes, Saint Are and Blaklion completed the placed horses.
One For Arthur became on the second Scottish-trained horse to win the Grand National and the first since Rubstic in 1979. Trained by Lucinda Russell, he returned home after the event to a hero’s welcome.
Placing Bets on the Grand National Race
Choosing your Grand National bet may not be an easy task and so remember to be well clued up before the big day.
Thoroughly research all the runners and riders the day before the race, make sure your horse likes the probably ground conditions and make sure you’ve got the best possible odds available on your chosen app or bookmaking site.
To compliment your bet, be sure to grab any and all special Grand National promotions that are being offered as, aside from the usual rollover requirements, you can expect to get genuine free bet offers and odds enhancements.