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A Beginner’s Guide to Betting on the Grand National

October 25, 2017 01:21:00 AM
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Aintree Grand National 2013

"Aintree Grand National 2013" (CC BY 2.0) by stacey.cavanagh

Horse racing and betting go hand-in-hand. In fact, it is hard to imagine one without the other. Even people that do not gamble on a regular basis may have an annual bet on one of the major horse races (such as the Grand National) each year. In 2017, it was estimated that the more than £200m was wagered on the Grand National alone. If you have never placed a bet on the Grand National before, this simple guide will get you up to speed in no time.

The form

To help you decide which horse to pick, bookmakers will display a form guide or ‘race card’ on their website pages. A race card will typically look like this:

  • 541-21 Horses Name CD (Trainer) 9 11-9 Jockeys name

The first numbers indicate recent results, with the most recent on the right. A dash marks the end of a calendar year. The C and D indicates a previous course or distance win, while the last numbers represent the age and weight of the horse. Other information such as the length of the race, the going (ground conditions) and the number of runners may also be displayed.

In a handicap race, such as the Grand National, the horses carry different weights (allocated by a handicapper) in order to create a more even race, with the best horses carrying heavier weights than the slower horses.

Finishing Post At Aintree

"Finishing Post At Aintree" (CC BY 2.0) by Paolo Camera

Reading the odds and placing a bet

The odds represent the probability of success that the bookmaker has set for each horse and how much money you could win from your bet. The odds format can vary in different parts of the world. In this guide, we are using UK fractional odds, but any online odds converter site is useful and easy to use if you require decimal odds or otherwise.

The most basic bet you can place is a win bet. You simply pick which horse you think will win the race and decide how much you are willing to stake. If you need help with your selection, you could consult a specialist Grand National fans site for tips.

For example, a £1 win bet at odds of 5/1 pays £5 plus your £1 stake back for a total return of £6. An each-way bet is essentially two bets rolled into one. The first part is a win bet and the second part of the wager is a place bet, which means that the horse must finish in the top places. The number of qualifying places varies as follows:

  • 7 runners or less = 2 qualifying places
  • 8-16 runners = 3 qualifying places
  • 16 or more runners = 4 qualifying places

For place bets, the bookmaker will normally pay 1/4 or 1/5 of the odds.

For example, if your horse wins a race with 10 runners, a £1 each way bet at a price of 8/1 pays £8 plus your £1 stake back from the first half of the bet, and £2 (1/4 odds) plus your £1 stake back from the second half of the bet, giving a total return of £12. However, if your horse finishes second or third, you still get £2 plus your £1 stake from the second bet giving a total return of £3.

There are many other types of bets you can place on the Grand National but now you know the basics, your days of closing your eyes and sticking a pin in a list should be over!

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