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Grand National 2024: A guide to placing your bet on the big race

2 months ago

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a serious punter or someone who’s never set foot inside a racecourse, when it comes to this iconic Merseyside event everyone fancies a flutter.

It’s the drama and history of the Grand National at Aintree Racecourse that gets everyone excited.

And while just watching it is thrilling enough, if you see your horse racing towards the finish line first with hopes of a few quid coming your way, it’s more of a buzz than ever.

So when it comes to boosting your chances of romping home with a winner, what’s your best bet?

You can study the form

Looking at how horses have performed before the National or in previous Nationals might give you a clue as to which are going to do well, so grab a copy of a newspaper or go to one of many websites to check how all the runners and riders have done. Seasoned racing fans will even study pedigrees to spot horses with stamina in their breeding: the last six National winners were all bred in Ireland where staying power is premium and with 30 fences and a distance of four miles, two furlongs and 74 yards that’s definitely a factor.

Go for a good story

You can always bank on a good story to come out of the National so you might want to go for a horse or jockey with a tale to tell. This year that could be owner-rider David Maxwell who’s trying for victory on Ain’t That A Shame, a horse he bought for the race. At 45 he’s old enough to be most of the other jockeys’ dad! He was brought up Northern Ireland where his father was a trainer and stud owner, but it’s his mum Judy who became the focus of one of racing’s greatest mysteries, the kidnap of Shergar, when those who’d taken him called her to demand a ransom. 

Aintree Racecourse - The Guide Liverpool - Grand National 2024 Opening Day
Aintree Racecourse – The Guide Liverpool – Grand National 2024 Opening Day

Trainers can be the ones to watch

There are some stand out trainers like Henry de Bromhead, or Gordon Elliott who’s got three National wins under his belt, including the ever-popular Tiger Roll. This year he’s hoping he can repeat his victory with eight horses in the running, Delta Work, Chemical Energy and Galvin being the most fancied. But another great trainer Willie Mullins has also got eight horses taking part, with I Am Maximus and Meetingofthewaters tipped to do well. 

Favourite jockey

Simply enough, it might just be a jockey people choose to back. Rachael Blackmore, the first female to win the Grand National on Minella Times in 2021, is bound to be popular again this year when she’s riding Minella Indo, but you might have your own favourite: like Derek Fox who’s had four rides in the Grand National and succeeded twice with wins for trainer Lucinda Russell – last year on winner Corach Rambler – or Mark Walsh who’s seen as one of the best jockeys around right now and is riding Cheltenham Festival winner Limerick Lace. 

Bookies’ best bet

It’s not a bad idea to plump for the bookies’ favourite and this year that’s last year’s winner Corach Rambler.  It’s bidding to become the ninth dual winner of the race, and only the second horse after Tiger Roll to win back-to-back Nationals since Red Rum in the ‘70s, having warmed up well by finishing third in the Cheltenham Gold Cup last month. The only draw back to backing the favourite is that the odds are going to be low so unless your stake is high you’re unlikely to net a fortune.

Aintree Racecourse - The Guide Liverpool - Grand National 2024 Opening Day
Aintree Racecourse – The Guide Liverpool – Grand National 2024 Opening Day

Outside chance

Above all, never forget the National is a lottery and widely accepted as a race where anything can happen which is what makes it such fun. If you fancy a flutter but you only want to part with a couple of quid, you could still win a decent amount of money by betting on an outsider with good odds – five National winners have been 100-1 outsiders including, most recently, Mon Mome in 2009. 

It’s all in a name

It could be you just pick a name that leaps out of the page at you – like Foxy Jacks, I Am Maximus and Mr Incredible, or Mac Tottie.  For most of us it’s just a bit of fun.

Spot the silks

If you’re not interested in studying the form or finding a favourite jockey there are simpler ways to pick a potential winner, like looking at the silks the jockey is wearing. The colours worn by the jockey represent a horse’s owner and allow commentators and spectators to differentiate between the horses, so you might just opt for Janidil’s green and yellow stripes or go for The Goffer’s royal blue with red markings.

But remember – just have fun and, as a rule of thumb, never bet more than you can afford to lose!

To keep up to date with the Grand National Opening Day live coverage click here.

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