The Grand National is just around the corner and with it comes the cheeky punt, the office sweepstake, the annual bet. Bookmakers across the country are hoping to tempt in new customers with promotions, offers and giveaways. Here’s what you can expect from this year’s race.
With the cold and dark of winter still a relatively close memory, Grand National day is one of the first events that really let’s you know spring is here and summer is on its way. This year it will fall on Saturday, April the 4th with the race beginning at 17:15 British time at the famous Aintree racecourse just outside Liverpool. People from all around the country, the world even, will flock to Merseyside in the week before Easter to watch it.
The Grand National started in 1839. The 9-to-1 fourth favourite Lottery became the first winner. The race evolved into its current form over the next years and decades, but eventually settled down into what we know today. It is run over four miles and two-and-a-half furlongs. In new money that’s 6.9 kilometres. Horse and jockey do two laps of the course, clearing thirty jumps. Some of these have become famous in their own right. Becher’s Brook, with its big drop before the landing, and the Canal Turn, as the riders begin the long run back to the grandstand, are well known even to people outside of racing.
It attracts some of the biggest audiences for any race. The racecourse itself holds over 70,000 spectators. It is estimated that 600m tune in to follow the race every year, watching it in over 140 countries; it’s not just the Brits who like it.
People do not just watch it, of course. A lot of us have a flutter on it. Around half of the adult population of the United Kingdom choose to put their money where their mouth is, with £300m being bet on the race in the UK alone. Accurate figures are hard to find, since so much gambling goes on behind the scenes.
Its length and the difficulty of its jumps makes the Grand National a test of endurance, skill and the relationship between man and horse. The £1m prize pot is not the real attraction, though with the winner taking home more than £500,000, it’s not bad either. The real reward for winning is the legacy, the story, the glory.
By putting down some money you can be part of that. Here’s what you need to know about Grand National offers.
A lot of bookmakers will offer free bets to any new customers who sign up. But around Grand National weekend these tend to disappear. You’d think that with the biggest racing weekend of the year coming up, bookies would be looking to attract the most punters. But for many of these people, it will be their only bet of the year. Bookmakers don’t want to waste money on attractive offers for customers who won’t stick around.
That’s why if you want to take advantage of the free bets bookies hand out then it is best to sign up to your chosen site a few weeks before April 4th. By mid-March you should be ready to go.
One of the most common types of sign up bonus is the deposit boost. When you open your account and make the first payment into it the bookmaker will match what you pay up to a certain amount. These boosts can be broken down in different ways. A bookie may just give you the extra cash to gamble with as you see fit. Or they may break it down into a certain number of free stakes, such as three free ten-pound bets.
Another type of offer is the risk-free bet. This is where the bookmaker will refund your stake if your first bet does not win. Each site comes with its own terms and conditions on how you will be able to claim these free bets. Read them carefully to make sure you’re getting what you want.
If you see a ‘non-runner no bet’ offer that means that if you place a bet before the race begins, but the horse you choose has pulled out before the start, then you get your stake back.
You’ve got your betting account ready to go. You’ve claimed your bonuses. You’re studying the form and ready to put some money down. So, what can you do?
The simplest bet you can place is a bet to win. It’s exactly what it sounds like. You back who you think will win and if they finish first you are in the money. The favourite this year is Tiger Roll, chasing a third Grand National victory in a row. Expect it to be the punters choice.
You could also place an each-way bet on a single horse. This is essentially two bets. The first is a to win bet. The other is a to place. If a horse finishes in the top 3 or 5, it depends on the amount of horses in the race and will be announced before the race starts, you will win. So, if a horse comes first and you’ve placed an each-way bet on them, you win twice. If they only place, you only win one side of the bet.
You could also go for a forecast. That will have you trying to predict the exact order for a certain number of horses. Usually its first, second and third, but you can do just first and second. This is a lot harder than a to win bet and carries with it better odds.
You can combine different bets together into a multiple or accumulator. This lets previous races on the day effect how much you could win on the Grand National. You might bet on three different races and if all those come in, you’ll get a much higher return.
Grand National is one of the highlights of the calendar. The excitement of this fantastic race is only heightened if you’ve got money on it. It’s a great way to round off a Saturday full of great racing.