(Image credit: Paul / Flickr)
The 2017 Grand National gets underway very soon with Aintree racecourse set to host three days of festivities capped off with the biggest jump race in Europe. This year, the Grand National will take place on 8 April at 5.15pm local time with 40 horses competing for £1 million in prize money.
Where to Bet on the Grand National Online
A total of 110 horses entered the race this year, but the field has been culled down to 70 horses and will eventually be further reduced to a starting field of 40 horses. Although there is still some uncertainty regarding who will be running and what the prices will be on the day of the race, we do have a pretty good idea of which horses will enter as favourites.
Online horse racing sites have wasted no time in opening their markets and are now taking wagers on every potential runner in the Randox Health Grand National as well as other supporting races happening this week at the Aintree festival. Vieux Lion Rouge, Definitly Red, More of That and Cause of Causes are all looking particularly strong as the likely favourites with odds right in the range of 10/1 to 12/1.
Betting on the Grand National is always heavy, with racing bookmakers this year anticipating upwards of £100 million being bet in the UK alone between on-action wagers and betting sites. Even more money will exchange hands across the world with a viewership that is likewise expected to top 600 million.
Key Grand National Betting Trends
Picking a Grand National winner is exceedingly difficult considering the length of the course and the troublesome fences that can change the entire dynamic of the race. However, that does not mean we need to go in completely blind. There are some helpful trends from which we can glean actionable information and narrow down the field to a more manageable number.
Surprises are a given and trends can be broken, but it helps to at least establish a starting point using history as a guide.
One of the most obvious trends that sticks out like a sore thumb when you look at previous Grand National winners is the age of the horse. The sweet spot for winners seems to be from 9 to 11 years of age based on previous outcomes. More recently, 11 has been the magic number with three of the past five winners being 11-year-olds.
Going back 20 years to 1997, we see that 17 of 20 winners were 9, 10 or 11 years old. The exceptions over that time were Many Clouds in 2015 (8 y.o.), Amberleigh House in 2004 (12 y.o.) and Bindaree in 2002 (8 y.o.).
Again, looking at the past results shows that the Grand National tends to favour horses carrying less weight. Fourteen of the last 20 winners were carrying between 10st and 11st. While this trend holds true over the longer term, the average winning weight has gone up in recent years. Six of the prior 12 winners carried 11st or more.
Weight is worth keeping in mind as it does hold true that less weight has favoured horses over the long run, but do not make this a primary decider. Weight would serve better as a tiebreaker if you find yourself stuck between two or more horses.
Experience and Stamina
The Grand National is as technically challenging as it is grueling. Long term trends indicate that prior experience at this exact race as well as experience in other races of similar lengths improve a horse’s chances.
As William Hill notes here, 13 of the past 20 winners had already placed at the Grand National or another similar race elsewhere. That same post also points to an even more poignant statistic: nearly every one of the past 45 winners had already won at least one race over three miles.
Experience and stamina matter. Look for horses that are experienced at the Grand National itself or that have proven themselves over long races.
If you would like an even more in-depth discussion of Grand National betting trends, you should also see this website. He goes into great detail analyzing trends, determining if they are statistically significant and presenting all the information you need in easily digestible bites. It’s clear a lot of work has gone into putting together the numbers published on that site.
Schedule and Betting Favourites
The festival at Aintree runs three days beginning 6 April and running through 8 April. In all, we’ll be treated to 21 races (7 on each day) with the Grand National itself happening on the evening of the final day.
Below is the full schedule, all times local.
Thursday: Grand Opening Day
- 45 PM: Novices’ Steeple Chase
- 20 PM: 4YO Juvenile Hurdle
- 50 PM: Betway Bowl Steeple Chase
- 25 PM: Aintree Hurdle
- 05 PM: Foxhunters’ Steeple Chase
- 40 PM: Red Rum Handicap Steeple Chase
- 15 PM: Mares’ Standard Open NH Flat
Friday: Ladies Day
- 40 PM: Handicap Hurdle
- 20 PM: Top Novices’ Hurdle
- 50 PM: Midmay Novices’ Steeple Chase
- 25 PM: Steeple Chase
- 05 PM: Topham Steeple Chase
- 40 PM: Doom Bar Sefton Novices’ Hurdle
- 15 PM: Champion Standard Open NH Flat
Saturday: Grand National Day
- 45 PM: Handicap Hurdle
- 25 PM: Mersey Novices’ Hurdle
- 00 PM: Doom Bar Maghul Novices’ Steeple Chase
- 40 PM: Handicap Steeple Chase
- 20 PM: Stayers’ Hurdle
- 15 PM: Grand National Steeple Chase
- 16 PM: Pinsent Masons Handicap Hurdle