Grand National

The Grand National is the most famous jump race in the world and takes place over unique spruce-covered fences at Aintree in Liverpool. It is the highlight of a three-day meeting in early April which features many of the top horses from the Cheltenham Festival. The Grand National is the most popular betting race of the year and is watched by a worldwide TV audience of around 600 million. Famous winners include Red Rum (1973, 1974, 1977), Tiger Roll (2018. 2019) and Aldaniti (1981).

The Race

The Grand National is a handicap chase over an extended four miles and thirty fences. It was first run in 1839 with victory going to the appropriately-named Lottery. The fences include the notorious Becher’s Brook and The Chair where many races have been lost over the years. Only four other races take place over the Grand National fences each season; The Grand Sefton Chase and The Becher Chase in December and The Topham Trophy and Fox Hunters’ Chase at the Grand National meeting.

The Grand National is the most valuable steeplechase in Europe with prize money of £1 million. There have been changes to the course and the entry system in recent years in order to improve the safety of both horse and rider. It remains a gruelling test and one of the most coveted prizes in the world of sport.

Famous Grand National Winners & History

Red Rum is the only horse to win three Grand Nationals. His first victory in 1973 is remembered as one of the most thrilling Grand Nationals ever run. He came from an impossible position to wear down the long-time leader Crisp. He then defeated L’Escargot in 1974 with the runner-up gaining his revenge the following year. Rag Trade defeated Red Rum in 1976 but he returned to gain a record third success at the age of 12 in 1977.

Crisp is not the only unlucky loser to go down in Grand National folklore. The most famous loser in the history of the race was Devon Loch, owned by Her Majesty The Queen Mother. He was clear on the run-on in 1956, only to spook at something and come to an abrupt halt.

The Grand National produced another epic story In 1981 when Bob Champion rode Aldaniti to victory. Champion recovered from cancer to ride in the race while his mount had returned from a career-threatening injury. The race inspired the movie “Champions”, starring John Hurt and Edward Woodward.

In 1993 the race was declared void after several jockeys failed to realise there had been a false start. Jockey John White completed the course in front on Esha Ness, only to be informed of the chaos behind him after passing the post. Four years’ later the race had to be abandoned on the Saturday after the course was cleared in the wake of a bomb threat. The race eventually took place on Monday with Tony Dobbin winning aboard Lord Gyllene.

Key Grand National Trials

Previous form over the big Aintree fences is a plus when assessing your Grand National tips. Some horses do not take to the fences and you will know your fate very early in the race. Ten of the last 12 Grand National winners had at least one previous run at Aintree.

Horses that raced at the Cheltenham Festival the previous month also do well here. The Cross Country Chase was the stepping-stone to the National for Tiger Roll in 2018 and 2019. Don’t Push It and Pineau De Re had warmed up for Aintree by running in the Pertemps Hurdle Final and Many Clouds had finished sixth in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

The Haydock Grand National Trial, Eider Chase and Welsh Grand National have provided surprisingly few Aintree clues. These events can be very testing and it is possible that the winners often leave their Grand National hopes behind by having such a hard race.

Grand National Betting Trends

Betting on the Grand National is regarded as a bit of a lottery and recent results certainly support that theory. Mon Mome was a shock winner at 100-1 in 2009 with Auroras Encore returning at 66-1 in 2013. Neptune Collonges (2012) and Rule The World (2016) both won at 33-1 while Pineau De Re (2014) and Many Clouds (2015) were both 25-1 outsiders.

Prior to Mon Mome’s victory, Foinavon (1967) had provided the biggest Grand National upset when scoring at 100-1. His success came when he was the only horse to safely navigate the 23rd fence after loose horses caused havoc.

There have only been two clear favourites to oblige in recent years, Hedgehunter in 2005 and Tiger Roll in 2019. Don’t Push It (2010) was joint-favourite after a huge gamble on Tony McCoy’s mount on the day of the race.

Grand National Stats

The class of Grand National entries has improved in line with the safety improvements. Horses rated 148 and over have the best recent record in the race. Following a run of three consecutive eleven-year-olds, horses aged 8 or 9 have won the last five renewals. The last twelve-year-old to win was Amberleigh House in 2004.

Stamina is a key factor in finding the Grand National winner. All but one of the last twelve winners had won at least once over three miles or further. All of them had raced ten or more times over fences and at least three times during the current season.

Top Trainers and Jockeys

Gordon Elliott has now won the Grand National on three occasions; Silver Birch (2007) and Tiger Roll (2018, 2019). He needs one more winner to equal the record shared by George Dockeray, Fred Rimell and Ginger McCain. This race has so far eluded Nicky Henderson who finished runner-up with his first National runner Zongalero back in 1979.

The leading jockey in the history of the race is George Stevens who won the race five times between 1856 and 1870. Richard Johnson has ridden in the race 21 times without success, coming closest on What’s Up Boys who finished second in 2002. He will take heart from the fact that Tony McCoy did not ride the Grand National until his fifteenth ride aboard Don’t Push It (2010).

Betting on the Grand National

The Grand National provides the highest betting turnover for bookmakers of any horse race. Grand National ante-post betting is available throughout the year but begins in earnest with the publication of the weights in mid-February.

Bookmakers always have fantastic Grand National bet offers for new customers. Existing customers can also benefit from enhanced place terms, sometimes down to seventh place, and a wide range of special bets. You should make sure that your bookmaker offers the “Best Odds Guarantee” as the starting prices are almost always shorter.

Summary

Grand National Day at Aintree is one of the most exciting sporting occasions of the year. Millions of “once a year” punters have a flutter on the Grand National and watch the thrills and spills on their television sets. Legends like Red Rum and Aldaniti have put horse racing on the front page of newspapers. Tiger Roll was denied the chance to equal Red Rum’s record of three victories by the Coronavirus Pandemic in 2020 but the dream lives on for another year.

Best Grand National Betting Sites

Check below to see our recommended list of top Grand National betting brands:

  • bet365 Horse Racing

    Bet365 Horse Racing
    GET UP TO £100 IN BET CREDITS

    New Customers Only. Min deposit £5. Bet Credits available for use upon settlement of bets to value of qualifying deposit. Min odds, bet and payment method exclusions apply. Returns exclude Bet Credits stake. Time limits and T&Cs apply. Full T&C's Apply

  • Betfred Horse Racing

    Betfred Horse Racing
    BET £10 GET £30 IN BETS

    New UK & NI customers only. 18+. Sign up using promo code ‘SPORTS60’. Deposit & place first sports bet at a minimum of £10 in one bet transaction at evens (2.0) +. £30 paid in free bets within 48 hours of bet settlement, expires 7-days after issue. Doesn’t apply to customers who place their first bet on the Virtual Grand National. E-Wallet & Prepaid Card restrictions apply. Your first bet must be settled within 60 days of bet placement. SMS validation may be required. Game restrictions apply. Maximum 30 Free Spins on selected games. Free Spins expire after 7 days. Full T&Cs apply. Full T&C's Apply

  • Coral Horse Racing

    Coral Horse Racing
    GET £20 IN FREE BETS

    18+ New UK+IRE customers. PayPal and certain deposit and bet types excluded. Min first £5 bet within 14 days of account reg at min odds 1/2 = 4 x £5 free bets valid for 7 days on sports, stake not returned, restrictions apply. T&Cs apply. Full T&C's Apply

  • Ladbrokes Horse Racing

    Ladbrokes Horse Racing
    BET £5 GET £20 IN FREE BETS

    18+ New UK+IRE customers. Paypal and certain deposit types and bet types excluded. Min £5 bet within 14 days of account reg at min odds 1/2 = 4 x £5 free bets. Free bets valid for 4 days on sports, stake not returned, restrictions apply. T&Cs apply. Full T&C's Apply

  • William Hill Horse Racing

    William Hill Horse Racing Logo
    BET £10 GET £30 IN FREE BETS

    New William Hill online customers only. Min. unit stake of £10/€10 at odds of 1/2 or greater. Only the “win” part from EW bets will count. Free bet terms, payment method & country restrictions apply. Free bets credited as 3 x £10/€10. Free bet stakes are not returned as part of the settlement of successful free bets. All Free Bets must be wagered within 30 days. Full T&C's Apply

  • Unibet Horse Racing

    Unibet Horse Racing Logo
    MONEY BACK AS A BONUS UP TO £40

    New customers only. 18+, BeGambleAware.org. Min deposit £10. Money back as bonus. Wagering requirements: Sportsbook 3x at min. odds of 1.40 (2/5), Casino 25x. Only one bonus can be used at a time, Sportsbook bonus must be wagered before using the Casino, unless the bonus has been forfeited. Bonus will expire after 7 days of opt-in. Full T&C's Apply