An Idiots Guide to Betting on the Grand NationalPublished March 27, 2017
Horse racing fans have plenty to get excited about during the National Hunt season. Think the Cheltenham Festival, the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury or Kempton on Boxing Day.
But, there is one race that captures the imagination of the general public more than any other, the Grand National.
Part of the appeal of the Grand National is just how difficult it is both for the horses and for punters to pick winners. So, let’s give you a hand with some important considerations for betting on the Grand National.
Settle In, It’s a Long Race
The Grand National is run over a stamina sapping four miles, 514 yards. Not only do the horses have to complete two laps around the Aintree Course but they have to navigate 30 fences along the way.
For that reason, your selection for the Grand National better be a stayer (a horse that has proven stamina reserves over long distances). It also better be a highly skilled jumper as getting over fences and water jumps gets tougher and tougher the more tired the horse becomes.
Each-Way Betting is King
The Grand National’s not just about the test posed to the horses, it’s also about the sheer number of them taking part.
Each year, upwards of 40 horses compete in the famous race which is a major reason why it’s so difficult to pick a winner.
But, you can come out of the Grand National with a healthy profit even if you don’t pick the winner with each-way betting.
An each-way bet is effectively two bets. The first is on the horse to win the race and the second is on it to finish in a set number of places (it’s generally the top five for the Grand National).
You’ll only get about a quarter of the win odds on the place portion of your bet but with so many long odds selections in the Grand National, you can win a healthy profit from each-way betting so it is a great option.
Keep an Eye on the Going
The Grand National takes place at the beginning of April. If you’ve ever experienced spring time in the North West of England you’ll be aware that it’s hardly the most predictable time of year in terms of the weather.
That’s definitely something to be aware of when it comes to betting on the Grand National. Some horses prefer firm or good ground while others thrive on softer or even heavy conditions.
Before placing your bet, make sure you check the going and how the horse you want to back has performed in similar conditions.
It’s Not Just About the Horse
When trying to pick a winner of the Grand National, or indeed when attempting to win big with any of the 2017 Grand National betting, it always makes sense to see what sort of form the horses are in.
Ask yourself questions like, how are the horse’s recent results? Do they tend to run well at this time of year? Have they won at Aintree before? How have they fared against top quality horses or in big fields?
But, form goes further than just the horse. It can pay to take a look at how they jockeys are performing. There’s nothing like a confidence in top level sport and a jockey on a good run can be a big bonus in the Grand National.
Then there’s the form of the trainers. Racing tipsters always have a look at the form of individual yards to see how fit, healthy and in form their horses are running.
If your horse has won at Aintree before, comes from an in form yard and the jockey’s had a good couple of days at the festival, it’s time to steam in!
Wise Heads Tend to Prosper
Just like humans, racehorses can be characterised as either experienced or raw. Grand National winners are found in the sweet spot between youth and experience, generally between nine and 11 years old.
Younger horses often find it difficult being around 39 other competitors while their inexperience of the distance and jumping challenge can hurt their chances. On the flip side, older horses who have lost their physical edge don’t have a chance no matter how experienced they are.
Watch Those Weights
The Grand National is a handicap race. That means that each horse is assigned a certain amount of weight to carry relative to how good they are judged to be by the official handicapper.
In theory, the assigned weights should see all 40 horses cross the line at the same time. Of course, in practice that’s never going to happen but it still makes good sense to note the weights.
It takes a very strong horse with a huge heart to win the Grand National carrying the maximum weight of 11st 10lb and anything over 11st warrants further inspection. The lowest rated horses also have a poor record, usually because they’re not very good!