Every year there are handful of racing events that capture the imagination of the great British public. Royal Ascot is a favourite of many, and of course who hasn’t heard of ‘ladies day’? The Cheltenham Festival too, is now imminent and right up there with the most exciting racing festivals, not only in the UK but worldwide. The Cheltenham Gold Cup, with its price money of £600,000+ is testament enough to the pedigree of those taking part in this illustrious four day event. For most though, the real cherry on the cake of UK racing is and has always been The Grand National, held annual at the Aintree racecourse in Liverpool.
This prestigious event has been held every year for around 180 years now (aside from being voided in 1993 due to a false start fiasco) , which alone a mind boggling fact, and goes to show how and why this event has built up such a dedicated following over the years. Millions upon millions of Brits tune in every year to watch the Grand National on TV, or if they’re lucky, at the aintree course (which has an impressive capacity of 75,000 – just out of the top 10 biggest capacity racecourses on the planet) . Some have their eye on a huge priced outsider, others sick to The Grand National Favourites like glue. We all have our own approach.
Run over a distance of 4 miles 514 yards, and with horses jumping 30 fences, the race attracts the cream of the crop of the racing world. With prize money topping £1,000,000 last year for good reason many trainers have one eye on the Grand National many months before it even takes place. To win it gets you written into the history books and is an accolade that money simply can buy.
So where to place your pennies or pounds? From those interested in a casual flutter all the way to professional gamblers at the other end of the scale, all punters have to take their chance and make their choice. Some don’t have much in the way of a system (‘the close your eyes and point’ crowd), whereas others take their time to study the form and follow particular trainers or horses.
Outsiders have been known to upset at the National with a handful of 100-1 winners over the years (including consecutive 100-1 winners in the 1928 – 1929 Nationals). If you’re more one for the favourites though, this year you’ll likely have your eye on the likes of Total Recall and Blaklion, effectively joint favourites at around 10-1. There’s not exactly been a torrent of favourites winning the Grand National in recent years, though interestingly joint favourites did win in 2008 and 2010, so it may be that competition may spur on those deemed most capable of winning. Time will tell!