Horse racing is one of the most popular sports to bet on online with huge sums turned over on it each year.
The sport appeals to a large proportion of punters because of the myriad of betting opportunities that it offers.
On almost every day of the year, there are several meetings, while major race days, such as the Grand National, attract great popularity and betting turnover.
As well as the fact there are so many races to get involved in, horse racing also has many types of bets meaning punters can get involved in different markets which, in some instances, can involve betting on a variety of factors.
Whether it be a simple win or each-way bet or a winning-distance bet, there is a vast array of bet types for punters.
Online horse betting has very much taken off in recent years with bettors now having the ability to place wagers across a variety of different sports or venues all from one place.
This form of gambling has become the norm for the vast majority of punters, with retail betting as well as betting at the track reduced over the years.
The Grand National is one of, if not, the most well-known horse races in the world. The race, which is over four miles in length, takes place over jumps with the 40-strong field leaving the ground 30 times in a contest that lasts nearly 10 minutes.
The race takes place at Aintree, in Liverpool, and given there are 40 horses in the race, it’s become one of the most prestigious races in the world to win with many jockeys, trainers, and owners stating it is the race they want to win most of all.
One of the most distinctive things about the Grand National is the jumps themselves. The fences, as they are known, are the most unique that a horse will encounter not just only that season but throughout its entire career.
They are unlike any others around the country in that some stand at up to six feet in height, while they are also one of a kind in their make-up being made from spruce.
Some of the fences even require the horses to jump over the water with others built on a turn making them even more challenging. As such, the Grand National is seen as the ultimate test for a jumps horse.
From a betting perspective, the Grand National is one of the biggest betting medians of the entire horse racing season, with more people than the usual punter getting involved.
It’s commonplace for someone’s only bet of the entire year to be on the Grand National with millions of people desperately trying to figure out who is going to emerge victoriously.
It’s an event in which many will have a vested interest, along with family, friends, and work colleagues.
The Grand National is synonymous with famous winners down the years. Perhaps the most famous of all of them was Red Rum, who to this day remains the only horse to have won the race three times, with the last of those victories coming in 1977. He is, perhaps, the greatest Grand National winner of all time.
If you wanted a reason to bet on the Grand National, look no further than Mon Mome’s victory in 2009. The horse, who was sent off at a 100/1 chance, stormed clear to win by 12 lengths showing that any horse, regardless of its odds, can win the famous race.
While those winners were a little further back in history, the most famous victor in recent times is certainly Tiger Roll, who really caught the public’s imagination in a very similar mould to that of Red Rum.
Having won the race in 2018, ‘The Tiger’ as he became affectionately known, stormed home to win the race 12 months later and in doing so became just the fifth horse to win the race back-to-back.
The Grand National is a handicap which means that every horse running has an official rating with each rating corresponding to the weight the horse has to carry.
The best horse on ratings carries the most weight and so on with the 40th horse carrying the lightest weight. The theory behind this is that it makes the race an even playing field.
For punters, the aim is to try and find a horse that is actually better than its rating and is therefore what’s known as ‘well-handicapped.
In essence, the horse is running with less weight than it should do and so it has a better chance of winning than its rating suggests.
As mentioned, there are many different types of bets on horse racing. When deciding to bet on a horse it is important to note this as it can occur that a horse doesn’t need to win for you to make money.
The most common bet is a straight bet which is when you are simply betting on something to happen. So, in the case of horse racing, you are betting on a horse to win a race, or ‘on the nose’ as is commonly referred to in the world of racing.
A slight variation of a straight is an each-way bet. This is where you are betting on a horse in both the win and place markets, which, in a race such as the Grand National, often pays dividends.
With so many runners involved, the likelihood of finding the winner is much smaller and therefore the odds are much bigger meaning it’s frequent to still win money if your horse places.
Bookies offer a huge number of places on races like the Grand National, with some firms paying out on the first 10 horses home, so there is plenty of scope for each-way punters.
Another common wager type is an exacta. This requires you to pick the first and second-placed horses in a race. This can be a straight exacta which is the 1-2 in the correct order, or a reverse exacta where it doesn’t matter what order the selected horses finish in.
The final commonly-used bet type is a trifecta. The premise of this is to back the three horses that finish first, second and third in a selected race. This is obviously very tricky so the payouts for punters are normally appealing.
Given there are so many variables when it comes to betting on the Grand National, it’s important to have a proper betting strategy, which can be the difference that gives you the edge over a bookmaker over a long period of time.
Having an effective betting strategy is arguably just as important as the specific bets you place.
The number of horses, fences, as well as the pressure on the jockeys, means it’s imperative to have a good understanding of the field.
With that in mind, many punters find it a good idea to pick more than just one horse and back them each-way. This means you are backing the horse in both the win and place markets, which, given there are so many runners, is often a shrewd play.
This is because, more than often than not, the price of each horse is much higher than in a normal race and therefore even if a horse doesn’t win but places, there will still be a decent payout from the bet placed in the place market.
It’s a well-known fact that finding the winner of the Grand National is very difficult and therefore it’s a race that, in particular, studying the ‘form’ is key for.
Studying the form is as simple as looking back through a horse’s recent results and seeing how they have performed. It’s not an exact science and there are occasions when a horse that is totally ‘out of form’ roars back ‘into form’ and wins out of the blue, but more often than not, it’s a wise move to look at horses that have been running well.
There are, of course, many factors to consider when reading the form, such as ground, distance and who is riding the horse, but the main aim is to try and establish the horse’s ability and well-being versus the rest of the field.
It’s important to consider the above if you’re to give yourself an edge over the bookies.
Given the uniqueness of the Grand National, it is rare that a horse who is hopelessly out of form wins because the race is the true test of a racehorse and thus, it is much harder to suddenly turn things around.
As such, when deciding who to back, it is prudent to select a runner that is in form and therefore is a confident frame of mind. Remember that once you’ve made your selection, you must search out the very best odds for your horse and shop around accordingly.
As well as this, course form, particularly in the Grand National, is very important in one’s betting strategy. As mentioned, the uniqueness and variety of the race mean that it is often won by a horse that has experience around Aintree and over the Grand National fences.
Most horses never see fences like the ones on the Grand National course and thus experience jumping them stands them in very good stead moving forward.
It’s not unheard of that horses with no experience win on their first attempt at Aintree, but more often than not, it pays to follow horses that have knowledge of the course.
Another important factor to consider in your betting strategy is the ground. For many, the ground is one of the biggest things they consider when choosing who to back in a horse race.
This is because some horses thrive when the ground is dry (known as good or quick ground), while others prefer it when the ground has been softened by the rain (known as soft or slow ground).
Some horses are said to ‘go on any ground’ meaning they are flexible on the surface they run on, but others are very ground-dependent and really struggle if they don’t have their optimum conditions.
The best way to find this out is to look back through a horse’s past performances where the ground description will be displayed.
Another way to check a horse’s ability to handle a certain type of ground is to check its breeding and whether the mare (its mother) or sire (its father) were successful on it.
If a horse has yet to run on, for example, quick ground, there is no reason to suggest it won’t handle it, but in the first instance, it’s probably safest to not back it and see how it fares.
This method should prove prudent over the long term.