A Guide to Betting on the Grand National


A Guide to Betting on the Grand National


There are many highlights spread throughout the British racing season. However, there is really only one contest which captures the attention of a nation - attracting the punting pennies of your mates down the pub, work colleagues, elderly relatives, milkman, barber etc. That race of course goes by the name of the Grand National, and it takes place each year at Aintree in April.

But what exactly is this race which draws such unrivalled attention? And most importantly, what factors should we be considering when attempting to unearth the winner? Let’s take a closer look.

What is the Grand National?

In its simplest terms, the Grand National is a staying handicap chase – albeit an extreme one. Whilst the trip of 4m2½f is right up there with the longest races of the season, it is really the fences which set this race apart. Featuring a cast of formidable spruce topped obstacles, including The Chair and Becher’s Brook, these fences are a far cry from the type seen in a standard chase contest.

What is a Handicap Race?

A handicap contest such as the Grand National is simply a race in which the weights carried by the runners is directly related to their ability - the better the horse the more weight they are required to carry, with the aim being to provide all runners with a theoretically equal chance of winning.

So, when wondering why the top weight in the Grand National carries more weight than the others, it is simply because they are the best horse in the race, and the other runners need to carry less weight in order to have a chance of catching up.

Factors to Consider

Whilst the Grand National can seem like something of a lottery, we can attempt to improve our chances by taking into consideration a number of key factors:

Course Form/Jumping Ability

A proven ability to jump the Grand National fences counts as a big plus, be that in the Grand National itself, or the Becher Chase, Grand Sefton, Topham Chase or Foxhunters Chase.

In general, look for those runners who rarely fall or unseat, and steer well clear of horses who regularly come to grief. If a runner is unable to cope with even standard fences, they will most likely come unstuck around here.

The Going

Most horses have a going preference and are only able to show their best under their favoured conditions. And this is where it can pay to consult the weather forecast. Lots of rain in the area? Look for those runners whose best efforts have come on soft ground. A clear forecast? Seek those who favour quicker conditions.

Trainer Record

Look out for a trainer who has been amongst the winners and placed positions in recent weeks and be wary of those experiencing a sequence of poor results. Pay particular attention to an in-form trainer whose runners have run well in the Grand National in previous years.

Jockeys

And don’t forget those brave men and women in the saddle. One useful pointer can come via the big-name jockeys attached to a particular owner or yard. In the Grand National the larger owners and trainers will often have two, three or more runners; with the stables number one jockey then having the choice of which horse to ride. Taking note of this choice can be a tip in itself.

Placing Your Bet

Even for infrequent punters, it is still worth making the effort to assess the available betting options to ensure you are receiving the best deal. Remember to:

Shop Around for the Best Price

Prior to placing your bet, be sure to check a selection of bookmakers in order to determine which firm is offering the best price for your fancy. Why back a horse at 20/1 with firm A, if that exact same horse is available to back at 25/1 with firm B?

Check the Place Terms

A standard handicap of 16 runners or more will usually pay out each way on the first four positions. However, in the Grand National many companies will pay out on at least six places, with some even going as high as seven. Needless to say, the more places the merrier for each way punters.

Ante Post Betting

Ante Post Betting is the term used to describe bets played in advance of the final declarations, which in the case of the Grand National is the Thursday before the race itself. The benefit of an Ante Post bet is that you will often obtain odds greater than those available on the day. The downside however is that, under standard Ante Post rules, all non-runners are settled as losers.

However, many firms will offer special Non-Runner No Bet (NRNB) deals on Ante Post bets for the Grand National. Look out for the NRNB conditions, which signify that even should your horse fail to line up on the day, you will still receive your ante-post stake back.

2022 Grand National Best Bets

  • Mount Ida each way @ 33/1 with William Hill - This one lit up the 2021 Cheltenham Festival when coming from a seemingly impossible position to land the Kim Muir Challenge Cup, with the manner in which she finished her race suggesting a step up to this trip may well suit. Seeming likely to get her preferred going, in what is undoubtedly her big target of the season, she looks a solid each way bet with Hills paying out on the first six home.
  • Kildisart each way @ 40/1 with Ladbrokes - Hailing from the yard of Ben Pauling, Kildisart was well fancied ahead of the cancelled 2020 edition of the race, and actually gets in here off a 2lb lower mark having done little wrong in the interim. Catching the eye when a staying on fourth over an inadequate 2m4f at Newbury last time out, he’s yet to fall in 12 career chase starts and can go well for James Bowen.
  • Fortrescue each way @ 33/1 with Coral - And last but not least, the horse who has only just snuck into the race - Number 40 on your card, Fortrescue. A perfect 14 from 14 in terms of completions over fences, and only outside the first three in three of those starts, he handles soft ground well and arrives on the back of a career best effort, having lowered the colours of Fiddlerontheroof last time out at Ascot.

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