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Saturday 20 March 2021

Why the Grand National is So Fascinating to Punters

On the face of it, there is little logical reason to recommend betting on the Grand National, yet two-thirds of British adults place a wager on it. Many of those are taking a punt for the only time in the calendar year in the world’s most famous steeplechase. Even if you stuck a pin in the extra-large racecard, you probably wouldn’t have picked out Rule The World, a maiden over fences, who won at 33/1 in 2016. Auroras Encore three years earlier and Mon Mome in 2009 both defied even bigger odds in the Aintree showpiece. Only four favourites have obliged since 1998, so it certainly doesn’t pay to blithely follow the market leader as so many do. Tiger Roll became the shortest-priced winner for a century in 2019, but horses of his ilk are once in a generation and that’s not a cliché. Bookmakers knew it, which is why he was returned at 4/1.

With a maximum field of 40 runners to choose from and only a fraction of those usually boasting experience of the unique Aintree course, it’s hard even for prop punters and the tipsters. If a horse jumps out to their right over The Canal Turn, then they forfeit more than just ground. 

In days of yore, the jockey might end up in the Leeds-Liverpool Canal as the Grand National course turns sharply. That obstacle is one of several on the track which is bigger than regulation steeplechase fences. 

Weird as this might seem, it’s not always the larger jumps that catch racehorses out. The Foinavon fence is one of the smallest to get over at Aintree, yet became infamous for the pile-up in 1967 which led to a 100/1 outsider bearing that name winning the Grand National. In a race as unpredictable as this, you would think that puts people off. Far from it. The great British public seem to almost relish the challenge, gambling in hope rather than expectation.
If you’re wondering where to watch and bet on live horse racing & greyhounds events like the Grand National, then you have lots of choice, including tv coverage and free streaming on bookmakers’ sites. Things to look out for relating to the big one at Aintree include getting extra places for each-way bets. 

This is a smart way to play the Grand National, as you receive a fraction of outright win odds for the horse placing. You can expect this to cover down to fourth minimum if having your bet ante post (i.e., weeks in advance of the race) or even more places nearer the time. 

Perhaps, it’s that the Grand National is so hard to win which explains why it has always struck a chord with people. A marathon distance of four-and-a-quarter miles, revised downwards from four-and-a-half when someone got the trundle wheel out and remeasured the track, makes this the ultimate test for horse and rider. 

Backing the Grand National winner is something to celebrate at any rate. Finding the best handicapped horse from so many definitely warrants a pat on the back.