A Novice’s Guide to the Grand National

As a winter that wouldn’t seem out of place in Westeros finally appears to have bowed out, the timely arrival of some April Aintree sunshine should make for a delightful weekend at the 2018 Grand National. If you’re still a maturing mare when it comes to the horse races, then neigh bother, we’ve got you covered with our preparation guide for the big day out.

Red Rum Statue Aintree” (CC BY 2.0) by Paolo Camera

Do your research

As useful as the race day guides can be, there’s no harm in researching the thoughts of the internet’s many tipsters. A simple Google search can be a punter’s best friend in this day and age. Our advice is not to rely on the one tipster but rather to look into a handful and note down a few picks for each race. Then, when it comes to the day itself, you can compare their thoughts with the form guides and deduce your final picks.

Another thing to note is that the interval between each race will be no more than half an hour. This isn’t a lot of time to, hopefully, collect your winnings, place your bets on the next race and grab another drink from the bar. You can avoid the mad rushes to the bookie stands by using an online bookmaker like Betfair, which offers top tips for Grand National in the build-up to the famous race.

Terminology

For any foals attending their first horse racing event, here are a few terms you might want to scrub up on before the 12th April.

Each way bets are the most popular kind of wager at the Grand National, especially in the races containing a large field of runners. When you place an each way bet, you are effectively placing two bets, one on the horse to win the race and the other on the horse to finish in the top four or five places (depending on the bookmaker) with reduced odds. So when you ask for “a £5 each way bet on horse A”, don’t be surprised when the bookie replies, “that’ll be £10 please”.

The highlight of the festival is always Saturday’s Handicap Steeplechase, with a £1 million purse up for grabs for the top ten finishers. A handicap race doesn’t consist of three-legged horses but, in fact, creates a fair playing field by allocating the horses’ weights based on their ability and previous record.

Last year’s 14/1 winner One For Arthur (pictured) made it seven consecutive Grand Nationals without a favourite winning the main event. Image via Twitter, @MirrorSport.

Everyone fancies themselves as an expert on race day and many will claim they know the biggest banker. This isn’t their friend from Barclays’ investment offices but the horse they think is a sure winner. If you overhear anyone bigging up Waiting Patiently as a banker in the 2.50PM for example, then the chances are your money will be safer elsewhere.

Look the part

Last but not least, there’s no official dress code at the Grand National but smart and vibrant is always the general consensus. If you’ve been waiting for an opportunity to showcase your fresh blue three-piece, then the Grand National is a “banker”.

Fancy dress is not permitted so perhaps save the morph suits for Halloween. As the jockeys won’t be the only ones donning colourful outfits, make sure you dress to impress, especially on Ladies Day.

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