A world-famous steeplechase with 40 runners and 30 unique obstacles to jump – anyone could be forgiven for needing some pointers for how to bet on the Grand National.
The Aintree showpiece sees an estimated global audience in the hundreds of millions, while two-thirds of UK adults place a bet on the race. While the race may be cancelled for this year, it's worth learning a few lessons from the annual event when it comes to betting. With this in mind, here is our Grand National betting masterclass.
Be aware of Aintree trends
Knowing key stats about the race doesn't guarantee you'll find the winner, but it can help to eliminate some of the horses from contention. Younger horses – those aged seven – have a poor record in the Grand National, for instance.
That trend is a negative for Burrows Saint, who was prominent in the 2020 Grand National betting prior to its cancellation after winning the Irish equivalent last Easter. It doesn't preclude a horse with that profile from winning, but it may give you pause before taking a punt.
Youth isn't the quality that is valued most at Aintree. Adaptability to the spruce-covered fences and abundant stamina are more desirable.
Stats can be skewed in exceptional cases. We're talking Red Rum and in more recent times Tiger Roll here, because history is always there to be defied.
Remember it's a handicap
Much is made of the Aintree factor. The Grand National is a major sporting occasion that captures the imagination of everyone involved in the jumps horse racing, but the simple fact is the event is less of a lottery than it used to be.
In the interest of equine safety, many of the fences have been made safer. It's cynical to go so far as to label it as a glorified staying handicap chase, but there is some merit in that view.
The weights are released several weeks in advance, so there is plenty of time to study them. This gives you the opportunity to spot badly handicapped horses and ones that are well-in at the weights.
Remember, if a horse races after its allotted rating for the Grand National comes out and performs well, then there's no additional penalty or rise in the weights that can touch it.
Look closely at key trials and course form
A horse taking to the fences at Aintree is essential if you're to have any hope of success. Although modified, the obstacles still need to be respected and horses that make several mistakes just aren't going to get home over the marathon four-and-a-quarter-mile distance.
Past course form – in previous Grand Nationals, the Becher Chase over the fences in December and even the Topham Chase held 24 hours before – can give you pointers. If a horse is better off at the weights from last year's race, then it could well reverse the form.
Other key Grand National trials to consider include these events:
- Welsh Grand National (Chepstow)
- Classic Chase (Warwick)
- Thyestes Chase (Gowran Park)
- Eider Chase (Newcastle)
- Bobbyjo Chase (Fairyhouse)
- National Hunt Chase (Cheltenham)
- Cross Country Chase (Cheltenham)
- Midlands Grand National (Uttoxeter)
- Irish Grand National (Fairyhouse)
- Scottish Grand National (Ayr)
Know what the experts say and bet each-way
It's always good to make your own mind up and draw your own conclusions, but many Grand National odds and tips are given by out by industry experts and insiders. You can find these online or in the local and national newspapers.
Just remember that professional tipsters aren't right all of the time, but get things correct more often than not. Finally, the key piece of advice when it comes to betting on the Grand National is to go each-way.
Bookmakers now regularly offer extra places once the race has declared around 48 hours beforehand. There's nothing worse than backing a horse just to win and it hitting the frame, because you get zero back.
Each-way betting is the only sensible course of action with the Grand National with generous fractions – a quarter and sometimes a fifth – available down as far as eighth with some firms. You can actually turn a tidy profit just through horses placing.