The Grand National - The Amateur’s Favourite



It’s the biggest event in horse racing, and perhaps the one occasion where experts and novices have an equal shot at backing a winner. Ladies and gentleman, we give you our guide to The Grand National.

First officially held at Aintree in 1893, The Grand National is indisputably the world’s most famous and prestigious horse race. Beloved by millions as a staple of the British sporting calendar, it’s also highly controversial, due to the dangerous nature of the course and the increased risk of a 40 horse race.c

Yet it’s precisely this risk which makes The Grand National so exciting, and such big business. An estimated 600 million people watch the race from around the world, with approximately £150 million wagered in Britain on race day in 2013.


Becher’s Brook:

The most famous fence is Becher’s Brook, named after Captain Martin Becher, who was instrumental in founding the race. Becher also won the first unofficial Grand National in 1836, before falling into the brook and ending his racing career three years later. It’s notorious for the size and angle of its 6 foot 9 inch drop, but has been modified in recent years in order to make it safer for both the horses and the jockeys.


Then and now:

The oldest surviving footage from the race is from 1911. It was discovered by a collector in 2007, when he purchased a film canister at Graham Budd’s sports memorabilia auction. Today, the race is far more professional, broadcast live on Channel 4, with big-name sponsors (this year Crabbie’s) and a £1m prize fund.


Beating the odds:

Perfect for amateur bettors, The Grand National can cause frustration for those who know their horses, as widespread public betting based on the horses’ names or jockeys’ colours alone can massively affect the odds. Indeed the favourites win rate is only 15% according to

In the last century, five 100/1 shots have been ridden to victory, including the 1928 winner Tipperary Tim, who was one of just two horses to complete the course.


Winning traits:

There are a few hints as to which kinds of horses tend to do well, or badly, throughout history. For instance, only three grey horses have ever won the race in its 180 outings; not great odds. However, grey horses remain popular, perhaps due to their rarity, which makes them easier to follow around the track.

The average age of the winning horses is 9.9, with those close in age either side also doing well, although the oldest winning horse, Peter Simple, was 15, and five horses have won when they were five-years-old.

There are hints and tips for picking a Grand National winner wherever you look, but the majority of bettors won’t even glance at the form, making it more a question of luck and subconscious knowledge. That’s the beauty of it.

If you want to take a punt on the winner, head over to our affiliate partners, Betfred and Totesport where you will find a full list of this year’s horses and odds, with options for Outright, Each Way, Forecast and Tricast betting.