The Grand National is such a major event that it has become a part of British culture, above and beyond merely being an annual steeplechase race. The most valuable jump race in all of Europe, the Grand National is popular even among many people who have no affinity for horse racing at any other point in the year.
Indeed, so iconic is the race, that it is watched by an estimated 500 to 600 million people in over 140 countries around the world. Audiences across the Atlantic are also at an advantage, as its broadcasting rights are protected in the United Kingdom, meaning that it has to be shown on free-to-air TV in the UK, as opposed to satellite or cable.
In the USA, it is possible to place a bet on the Grand National by the following means:
In foreign nations and US states where betting on the Grand National is legally possible, online horse betting is the go-to solution for anyone seeking out jackpot prizes relating to the event. Users can then add horses to their betting slip with one click, and place a wager with a second click, making it the easiest way by far to wager on horse racing events.
All of the online betting sites that can be considered worthy of a bettor’s attention will always have at least one or two active offers for any new signups. Typically, these will take the form of free bets and matched bet bonuses, and they can be claimed straight away when a user creates a new account
‘Free bet’ offers are a popular type of offer, but users will receive only the payout from winning bets made using the offer’s funds, which means that the stake normally returned alongside the winnings is not awarded. On the flipside, matched bet bonuses return both the winnings and the amount wagered. However, in a majority of cases, the person claiming the offer must wager the bonus value a particular number of times before being able to claim any winnings.
Horse racing events across the world are viewable instantly via the ‘horse racing’ section of a betting site. In other countries, particularly the UK and Australia, horse racing is often given an extra degree of presence.
People travelling to Aintree for the Grand National, and who do not wish to use a betting app or a mobile website for any reason, can instead go to a window teller to place their bets. Upon noting down the race number, the nature of the bet and the wager amount, a teller can provide an instant calculation of odds and potential winnings.
Bets can also be placed at OTB parlours. These provide simulcasting from different racecourses at the same time, and betting terminals which are essentially computerized versions of tellers.
Notable OTB locations in the US are restricted to just a few states rich in horse racing culture. Legal options for horse betting in the US include:
Betting in New Jersey: Back in March 2007, Favorites at Vineland became the state’s first off-track betting location, shortly followed by ‘Favorites at Woodbridge’ several months later. Two more Favorites branded parlors opened a few years later in Gloucester Township and Toms River. The state’s first Winners branded OTB, located in Bayonne, also opened during that time.
Betting in Pennsylvania: OTB parlors which provide betting services on thoroughbred events can be found in Grantville, Erie and Bensalem. Parlors which provide simulcasting and betting facilities on Harness races. These can be found in Wilkes-Barre, Washington and Chester.
Betting in West Virginia: The Hollywood Casino located in Charles Town is the state’s nucleus when it comes to thoroughbred wagering in West Virginia. Simulcasting and offering odds for hundreds of prestigious events across the racing calendar. The Mountaineer Casino Racetrack in Chester is also highly respected, and offers the same range of betting opportunities.
Betting in Indiana: Indiana has two OTB locations at present, and these are Hoosier Park (in Anderson) and the Indiana Downs Racetrack (in Shelbyville).
In the US, there are three sites that stand out in particular as excellent providers of the latest Grand National odds for American bettors.
Bet at TVG: Associated with popular fantasy sports site FanDuel, TVG offers live race simulcasting and a seamless online betting experience. Its relationship with FanDuel makes it well-known as a provider of potentially life-changing jackpots and prizes.
BetAmerica: BetAmerica is a leading authority when it comes to thoroughbred horse racing. Maintained by racing experts, the site offers odds and liver coverage of over 300 tracks across a number of different continents. The daily contests relating to handicapping also promise some significant payouts to winners, and there is not a day that goes by where this is not the case.
Twin Spires: With users across the world, Twin Spires not only provides the latest odds for the most important events, but also retains a sizeable chunk of the global horse racing audience through its video service, Twinspires TV. It offers live streaming, via an interface that can be customized as the user desires.
Over in the UK, bookmaker shops – which are essentially much smaller versions of OTBs that also offer sports betting – are plentiful on just about any major street. Even so, online betting is still the most popular way to place bets on the Grand National across the Atlantic. Two of the most popular online bookmakers are bet365 and Betway.
Bet at bet365.com: Most customers of bet365 live in Canada, Australia and the UK. bet365 covers hundreds of racing tracks, with live streams of races in the UK & Rep. Ireland also available to customers, provided that they meet a minimum wagering requirement.
Bet at Betway: Gaining over two million customers since launching in 2006, Betway offers a very attractive bonus offer for new registrants. One of its unique selling points is the HorseFinder function, which displays very competitive prices on across multiple markets in hundreds of different horse racing events on the calendar.
Single bet: With a single bet, the horse must come first – nothing else is good enough. Two or more single bets in one betting slip form a multiple, or an accumulator where all must prevail. Naturally, this leads to a bigger payout.
‘Place only’ bet: Normally, ‘Place’ bets require a horse to finish first or second, but payouts are available for third or fourth-placed horses depending on the number of runners.
The bookmaker’s payout rate is unaffected, but place bets typically reduce any forthcoming payout (vs a ‘single’ bet) by 50%, 75% or 80%. With place bets, there is no difference in the payout between a horse finishing first and finishing second/third/fourth, unless there are special conditions – usually via a promotional offer – which dictate otherwise.
Each-way bet: The horse is backed to win and place, and if the horse is victorious, then the win and the place pay out, alongside the two stakes.
Accumulator / Multiple bet: There are several types of accumulator that are popular amongst bettors, as only some of the horses involved need to win/place. The number of winning lines is also the automatic stake multiplier.
Trixie: A minimum of two selections from three must win. Winning lines: 4
Each Way Trixie: As with the regular Trixie, but now a horse merely being ‘placed’ is good enough. Winning lines: 8
Patent: 2/3 selections to win/place. Winning lines: 7
Yankee: 2/4 selections to win. Winning lines: 11
Lucky 15/31/63 and ‘Goliath’
Lucky 15: 1/4 selections | Winning lines: 15
Lucky 31: 1/5 selections | Winning lines: 31
Lucky 64: 1/6 selections | Winning lines: 63
The horse that all eyes will be on for the 2020 Grand National is Tiger Roll. The horse is famous for winning the Grand National in 2018 and 2019, becoming the first horse to claim repeat wins in such a way since the legendary Red Rum.
As of October 2019, Tiger Roll can be backed at around +800 for a ‘threepeat’, with weights determining if a chance is likely. Another horse looking likely, and with great odds at +2000, is Burrows Saint. This horse is trained by Willie Mullins, and was the Irish Grand National winner in 2019, but with Burrows Saint still only seven years old, he may be too young for the gruelling Aintree race.
One of the best aspects of the Grand National is that it simply throws up surprise result on surprise result. One horse to watch this year, aside from the two horses already highlighted, is Magic of Light. Trained by Jessica Harrington, the horse finished second at the Grand National in 2019 at staggering odds of +12500. The mare is a +3300 shot this time out, and other contenders around the same price include Pleasant Company (photo-finish in 2018, unseated rider in 2019) and Rathvinden who was ridden to third place under jockey Rudy Walsh in 2018
While Tiger Roll is now written into Grand National history as a double champion, the horse that most associate with the famous race is Red Rum. A horse with one of the most recognisable names on the planet, Red Rum achieved a trio of Grand National wins when he was first over the line in 1973, 1974, and 1977. His 1973 race stands out in particular, with the thoroughbred closing a 30-length gap to win the race. Red Rum, who it is claimed never fell in over 100 races, is such a part of Aintree legend that he was buried at the winning post, to watch over all future Grand National winners.
At the other end of the winners’ scale is Foinavon. A +10000 shot back in 1967, Foinavon was at least 100 yards behind the field when Becher’s Brook was jumped for the second time. A loose horse at the 23rd fence cut across the entire field, causing every horse in the race to either be unseated, or refuse to jump – with two exceptions. Foinavon was so far behind that he had a clear shot at the fence, clearing it and running on for the most improbable victory of all.
For years the time of Red Rum in 1973 was seen as an unbeatable mark around the Aintree course. That time of 9 minutes and 1.9 seconds smashed the previous record of 9 minutes 20.2 seconds set by Reynoldstown in 1935. ln 1990, Mr. Frisk put in by far the most astonishing Grand National run of all time, finishing the race in just 8 minutes 47.8 seconds. That race is one of only two to end before the nine-minute mark, with the other being Many Clouds’ win, in 8 minutes 56.8 seconds, back in 2015.
There are a number of steps a horse must take in order to be qualified, and able to take a place in the Grand National. Each year there are hundreds of horses that set out looking for Grand National bids, but those horses are whittled down, until a maximum of 40 are left to take their place at the starting post.
The first criteria is the horse’s age, as any horse running in the Grand National must be at least seven years old in order to take part. Horses must also show good form in the National year, running in at least three recognized chases. The horse must also have shown the ability to ‘stay’, finishing in the top four of a race at least three miles long. The horse must also meet a minimum handicap standard, attaining a rating of 120 or greater by the BHA Head of Handicapping.
Meeting all these requirements will give a horse a shot at being selected for the race, but given the number of horses that hit the selection criteria, nothing is guaranteed.
Run at Aintree Racecourse on a left-handed track, the Grand National is a handicap steeplechase, and the maximum handicap is 11 stones, 10 pounds. The race is known for its difficulty, with the full race length being 4 miles, 514 yards, on a natural grass surface that is often soft, or even boggy, as one might expect in North-West England in early April.
The race sees the horses jump 30 fences over the span of two laps of the course. This means that by the second lap, the fences are often slightly battered by the horses, and the jumping point is soft under hoof. The fences are also much larger than those on conventional National Hunt tracks, though their height has been reduced through the years for safety reasons.
Many of the fences (such as The Chair, Canal Turn, and Becher’s Brook) are now just as famous as the course itself. The fences themselves are topped with spruce, sourced from the nearby Lake District, and since 2012, their cores are composite plastic – as opposed to the traditional wooden core. The Grand National even features a water jump, which adds another twist to the layout of this famous race.
The Grand National is an old race. Just how old it is has become a matter of debate over the years, but the race was founded by William Lynn, who leased the land in Aintree from the 2nd Earl of Sefton. Lynn set his course and built a grandstand, laying the foundation stone in February 1829.
The races from 1836-1838 may have been the first Grand Nationals, and they also may have been run at Maghull rather than Aintree, with the exact specifics lost to history. The 1839 race was certainly run on the Aintree course though, and this is often accepted as the first true Grand National. This was also the time that the race sprung from local to national, with the building of the railway reaching the Liverpool area, and opening up the race to people from all over England. The 1839 race was won by Jem Mason, on a horse named Lottery.
The race changed from a chase to a handicap in 1843 after Edward Topham, a member of Lynn’s syndicate, took over from the original proprietor, who was suffering from ill health.
The first, and far from last, wild race in the history of the Grand National was run in 1928. In misty conditions and heavy going, 41 of the 42 starters fell, leaving Tipperary Tim as the only horse still going. At odds of +10000, he snatched the win from Billy Barton, the only horse who was remounted by his jockey.
The Next Grand National will be run on Saturday, April 4 2020. The race is due to start at 5:15pm local British time.
The Grand National used to have more riders, but in 2020 the race will be capped at 40 horses for the showpiece event. There are other races at the meet with different numbers of entries.
The Grand National prize pot totals £1 million for the single race. The winner takes half of that money, banking a cool £500,000, with the event paying places down to £5,000 for finishing 10th.
The Grand National has had 13 winning mares over the years, but the most recent winning mare was Nickel Coin in 1951. Since then the best result achieved by a mare is second, by Gentle Moya (1956) and Tiberetta (1958). The last mare to place in the top four was Dubacilla, who finished fourth in 1995.
Grand National tickets cover a variety of price ranges, depending on the level of service wanted. The cheapest single day tickets can be had for as little as £27, with full hospitality packages costing over £1,000 for the long weekend.
The Grand National race itself lasts for just over nine minutes in most years. The event itself is a three-day festival that runs from Thursday to Saturday at Aintree Racecourse.