The Grand National is one of the biggest and most famous horse races in the world. It takes place in April each year at Aintree racecourse in Liverpool in the UK.
The race has been run since 1839 and is one of the toughest that any horse or jockey can face, covering a distance of 4 miles 514 yards (6.907 km). To make things even harder, the participants must navigate their way over 30 obstacles, including some of the biggest fences in the sport.
The race offers a prize fund in excess of £1 million and prompts a huge amount of wagering. In fact, betting on the Grand National has become part of British culture and for many citizens it is the only time of year that they place a bet. In 2013, total betting exceeded £150 million for the first time.
Betting on the big event
If you are from the USA and want to bet on the Grand National, it is good to learn about the different markets that are available. This is especially useful if you are planning on travelling to the UK to place a bet on Aintree racecourse events in person. Many top UK bookmakers such as Paddy Power are present during the festival and there are plenty of betting terminals where members of the public can bet on and view horse racing.
If you are planning on placing a bet on the Grand National, you will need to choose a horse from up to 40 entries. The range of markets available will depend from one bookmaker to another but popular bets include:
- Winner: Backing a horse to win the race outright.
- Each-way: This is essentially two bets, a win bet and place bet, on the same horse. If your selection comes first, both the win and place bets pay out. If your horse does not win but finishes in one of the places (usually top four at the Grand National) only the place bet pays out. The place bet usually pays out at a quarter of the win odds. Many punters choose to back long-priced horses each-way.
- Place bet: This is a straight bet that your horse will finish in the top four. Unlike the each-way bet, it is not a combination of two bets.
In the UK, many workplaces organise sweepstakes where participants pay an entry fee to pick a horse at random and the prize pot is handed to the winner or divided amongst the top places. You can also organise sweepstakes amongst groups of friend and families. They are a great way to add a little more fun to the event.
But Aintree is not all about the Grand National, it is just one part of a larger three day festival which includes Ladies’ Day on the Friday plus live music events each evening before the showpiece race finally gets underway late on Saturday afternoon. If you can’t decide which horse to pick, the tradition in the UK is to close your eyes and stick a pin in the list of runners!