Horse racing is a popular sport in England. Racegoers are always looking forward to the next big racing festival. The good news is that various exciting racing events take place at different times of the year. If you would like to follow or bet on one of the premier horse race events in the U.K., here is the ultimate guide on Aintree Grand National festival betting.
What is the Grand National?
The Aintree Grand National Festival ranks among the most revered horse racing events in the U.K. It is held in April every year at the great Aintree Racecourse located in Liverpool, England. It is attended by thousands of racegoers as well as millions of punters both in England and Ireland. The race provides an excellent opportunity for bettors around the world to bet on their favourite horses.
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Grand National History
How it all began
The history of the Grand National dates back to the 1800s. In 1939 Lottery would beat all the odds to win the first Grand Liverpool Steeplechase. James Mason was the jockey behind this horse. Later on, this race would evolve into what is today known as the Grand National. Back then, the horses raced through a ploughed land and jumped over a stone wall.
In 1843, Mr Edward William Topham would turn into a handicap. The Topham family owned vast tracts of land around the Aintree area. And even though the Aintree course belonged to Lord Sefton, the Topham family raised enough money to buy it in 1949.
The Grand National Festival has endured some challenging times between 1916-1918, 1941, and 1945. During 1916, the organiser of the race had to move it to the south of London. This area is now home to Gatwick Airport. However, during the second period, the race did not take place at all.
Vincent O’Brien is one of the most prominent trainers in the Grand National race and beyond. The Racing Post ranked him as the greatest influencer of horse racing across the globe, having trained three horses that won the Grand National and Nijinsky, a Triple Crown winner with a record that’s yet to be broken.
On top of that, he won the Grand National title three times consecutively, but with different horses. These were the Early Mist in 1953, the Royal Tan in 1954, and the Quare Times in 1955.
Devon Loch was another influential figure in the growth and development of the Grand National festival. This horse had a few outstanding performances. After winning two races, he took a commanding lead in the 1956 Grand National. Three jumps were the only obstacles for Devon Loch to win yet another race. Unfortunately, 40 yards to the finishing line, he jumped and fell on his stomach, leaving E.S.B to win the race. The jockey tried to push him on to continue with the race, but he failed to continue.
People came up with several theories as to why Devon Loch jumped suddenly and fell. However, it is not well known why he did it. When asked by reporters, Dick Francis, the jockey who was riding him, said that he heard a loud cheer from the crowd, which startled him, prompting him to think that there was another hurdle to jump.
Red Rum was a Thoroughbred with an impeccable steeplechase record at the Grand National. He won it three times in 1973, 1974, and 1977. In 1975 and 1976, he managed the second position.
Red Rum has won much acclaim because many considered the race as the ultimate test for horses. It is a challenging race that demands immense skill and resilience.
In the 1973 race, Red Rum won it in style. He made a stunning turnaround after being 30 lengths behind. In sports history, this race ranks as the 24th greatest moment of all times.
Grand National race format
The Grand National race is about 6.07 kilometres long. It is a two lap’s race, and each horse has to jump 30 fences. With a price fund of £1 million, it is undoubtedly one of England’s most valuable races.
The Grand National roots may be traced back to 1839, but Edward William Topham is credited for transforming it into a handicap race in 1843. In case you are wondering what handicapping is all about, it means that the fastest horse has to carry more weight than a slower horse. The ultimate objective is to even out the race as much as possible.
The horses get a somewhat even chance to win a fair race. However, some horse racing enthusiasts at the Grand National look at this as punishing the best horse.
What does the future of the Grand National look like?
During the 70s and 8Os, the Grand National race seemed to have lost its popularity. In 1983, the owners of the course sold it to the Jockey Club after its sponsorship changed. Since then, the race has garnered a lot of hype and lived to expectations over and over again. Millions of fans are anxiously waiting for the 2021 Grand National race. It has been home to the most talented horse racers.
The Grand National Course
The Aintree Racecourse is the official home for the Grand National Race. The only time races did not take place on the course was during the First World War.
This course is about five miles away from the beautiful city of Liverpool. With a good transport network that includes a train station and roads, the Aintree course is quite accessible by fans from all over England. John Lennon Airport is also nearby. Additionally, it boasts of some world-class facilities. It is among the races that take place during the National Hunt season.
The Grand National course is a highly sought-after race track. Every jockey dreams of racing on this racecourse. It is about 4 miles long and 4 furlongs long.
With 16 fences and various degrees of width and height, it is the ultimate racecourse. Racegoers enjoy watching horses navigate the two challenging circuits. As of today, the Grand National is the longest run race across England.
When it comes to fences, the Grand National presents a diverse experience to racers. In this section, we’ll list some of the most famous fences.
Horses have to jump the Bercher’s Brook twice during the Grand National Race.
Over the years, this fence has emerged as one of the most challenging obstacles due to a 6ft 9-inch drop. Jumping over it demands great skill from the horse and its rider.
In the 80s, this obstacle became controversial after the death of three horses. The management had to contend with immense pressure from the animal rights group. Eventually, the management behind the racecourse caved in and modified it.
Foinavon was a famous horse that was a surprise winner of the Grand National Race in 1967. With odds of 100/1, this horse triumphed over the rest who were slowed down by the 23rd fence. Since then, the organisers decided to call the fence they ran on the Foinavon in 1984.
The Canal Turn
The Canal Turn is one of the fences at the Aintree race track. It is part of the Grand National Steeplechase. Horses have to jump it as the 8th and 23rd fence.
What makes it unique is that it is located on a sharp left bend. As soon as horses negotiate this corner, they have to jump it. At a 90 degrees’ angle, jockeys have fallen while trying to get past this obstacle.
Apart from the First Fling’s death in 2002, this obstacle has recorded the other six fatalities since 1839.
The organisers of the Grand National named the Booth after John Booth, who was a renowned fence builder. Thousands of racegoers relish watching horses jump over this 5ft high fence with an open ditch.
Standing 5ft high, the Valentine’s Brook fence is quite challenging. In 1840, a famous horse known as the Valentine made a unique cock screw jump that left many racegoers in awe.
The Chair is another notable fence at the Aintree festival. It is situated in the first circuit, and it is called Chair because a judge had to sit close to it. This allowed him to easily determine the distance between the winner of the race and the runners up. Unlike in other fences, the horse only jumps this obstacle once.
How to get to Aintree
You can get to the Aintree Racecourse by car or train. Below are the routes you can use.
Most people prefer to get to the Aintree course by train. Using the carriages is fun because racegoers enjoy a sing-along. Racegoers in these carriages are always in a party mood, and this makes the trip blissful.
The Aintree train station seats opposite the racecourse. During the festival, a train leaves for this destination at a frequency of seven minutes, and racegoers find this service quite convenient. With six-car trains, horse race enthusiasts can access the racecourse with the utmost ease.
If you prefer to drive to Aintree, the Grand National Festival organisers recommend that you use the A59 route. It is one mile from the M57 and the M58 road.
Also, the organisers ensure that there are enough posters to direct motorists. The best bit is that there is plenty of parking space that accommodates hundreds of vehicles.
Grand National betting guide
Among the National Hunt races, the Grand National is undoubtedly the punter’s favourite. It provides promising odds, meaning that you stand a chance to win big during this event.
Where to bet on the Grand National
Tote betting is popular throughout the great Aintree racecourse. Once you are on the racecourse, you only need to look for Tote signs. Choose one, walk-in, and place your bet. Usually, Totes accept cards and cash. It is one of the most convenient ways to place a quick bet. The tote provides over six bet types for punters, and you can wager on a minimum of £2.
As the Grand National festival approaches, you can get into any betting shop and bet on your favourite horse. You will find these shops in the streets of Liverpool and other cities. Additionally, various bookmakers set up shops in designated areas of the racecourse. You could walk into one and place a bet during the race.
If you prefer to bet from the comfort of your home or while on the go, you can try your luck during the Grand National race online. Various bookmakers provide incredible online horse racing betting platforms as well as competitive odds.
Another straightforward way to place a bet at the Grand National festival is by calling your bookie. All you need to do is tell them the name of your preferred race, the name of the horse, and the stake you want to wager.
The Grand National betting odds
Most bookmakers offer the best odds for the Grand National racing festival during this time of the year. With the right betting strategy, you could win big during this event. The best time to bet on this event is during the race days when the odds are at their peak.
Popular Grand National bet types
Outright betting is a unique type of bet that revolves about betting on the entire Grand National betting tournament, instead of a single race. The odds in outright betting are more lucrative. For instance, you could bet on the horse that will take the Grand National title.
Most punters who love to bet on the Grand National festival prefer the each-way bet. If you place this bet, you are guaranteed returns if your horse takes the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, or 4th position.
With some bookmakers, the sixth winner also counts. However, your stake is doubled whenever you place this wager. This means that a stake of £5 becomes £10. The amount of money you win depends on the finishing position of your selected horse. If the horse you chose comes first, you win more money. And if it takes the second position, you have lost some points, but you have still won.
A straight forecast bet is where you choose two contending horses and indicate the order in which they will finish the race. For example, you could say horse A will take the first position while horse C will take the second position.
The reverse forecast bet is the opposite of the straight forecast. You pick two horses to finish the race in first and second position in this kind of bet. However, you don’t have to specify which horse will take the first and second positions in any order.
Best betting sites for the Aintree Grand National Festival
When it comes to online horse race betting sites, you need to choose wisely. However, identifying the best one could be a daunting task because there are plenty of online operators. Here is a list of the best sites for the Aintree Grand National festival.
Bet365 is one of the few betting sites that allow punters to watch and bet on live races. Its live streaming service covers all the major racing events, including the Grand National festival.
Having been in the online betting season for long, Bet365 has an excellent online betting platform. The website is not only well organised but also easy to navigate.
The kinds of markets that you can expect to find at Bet365 include Totes, fixed race, forecast, and so on. Additionally, you get a cash-out option, which is extremely useful for those who prefer multi bets.
With friendly payment options, you can fund your betting account instantly and place whichever bet you like.
If you like a good old fashioned horse race betting experience, then Betfred is your ideal betting site. And you will not get higher odds on any other platform. With a minimum of £0.01, you can bet on Grand National Festival markets on this site.
Betfred boasts one of the best customer support. They are always ready to take your queries and resolve your problems. You can reach out to them via live chat, email, or phone call.
Being one of the safest betting providers, you are always guaranteed a payout. First-time punters can enjoy various promotions and bonuses offered by Betfred on horse racing.
Over the years, Betfair has grown to become one of the most sought-after betting operators. One of their most popular futures on horse racing is the betting exchange. Some of its odds are 20% higher than the ordinary odds. You could even get odds that are about 200% higher on the bet exchange program.
Live Streaming and in-play betting are other exciting services that Betfair offers. You can bet on the leading horse after a race starts and follow the race online from your preferred device.
When it comes to depositing and withdrawing money, Betfair has a myriad of convenient options. These are the likes of PayPal, Skrill, Neteller, and so on.
Racebets is a well-known betting site among horse race betting enthusiasts. This site is dedicated to providing the best betting experience. It covers all the races that take place during the Aintree Grand National festival. And with a host of betting options, there is something for everyone.
Racebets is among the few elite betting operators that provide punters with statistics on each fixture. As such, a punter can make more informed decisions and increase the chances of winning.
Given that it is a niche site, it guarantees punters more fulfilling betting opportunities. Aside from that, Racebets is known for its stellar customer support. The friendly staff is always ready to listen to you and resolve all your issues.
The other desirable service offered at Racebets is in-play betting. You can comfortably rest assured that you can still bet on your favourite horse even if a race begins before you place your bet.
The popularity of 888sport is resonating with horse bettors tremendously. Launched in 1997, this site has built an exceptional reputation through delivering stellar betting services.
New customers can expect a bountiful welcome offer at 888sport. The horse racing markets and odds offered by this provider include the Grand National among other elite festivals.
The 888sport betting platform is well optimized for both desktop and mobile phone devices. If you like to bet on your phone, you will get a similar experience as those using a computer.
What time does the Aintree Grand National Festival start?
On the first day of the race, the first fixture will commence at 5:15 pm. However, the gates will open at 10:30 am to allow racegoers into the grounds. The late start is meant to attract more viewers.
Which is bigger, the Cheltenham Festival or the Grand National?
It is difficult to compare the Cheltenham festival and the Grand National. While the latter attracts more punters, the prior tends to attract a bigger crowd.
Grand National Festival 2021 Schedule Day 1- Day 3
Day 1- Thursday 8th April – Liverpool’s NHS Day
Day 2- Friday 9th-Ladies days
Day 3- Saturday 10th Grand National Day
If you relish horse race betting, the Grand National presents you with the perfect opportunity. You can either place your wagers online, in betting shops or on Totes.