How to bet on the Grand National
A complete guide to betting at Aintree
The Grand National is the world’s most famous steeplechase and 40 runners and riders will go for glory over a gruelling 4m2f at Aintree each April.
You can read about all the trends that will help you pick a winner in our how to bet on the Grand National guide below and don’t forget to check out our thoughts on the big race with our Grand National tips.
What is a handicap?
The Grand National is a handicap which means in theory, the best horse in the race carries the most weight, and the worst horse carries the least.
Each horse is assigned a handicap mark based on their official rating from the handicapping team and from that the weights are allotted. The highest rated horse will carry 11st10lb, while the lowest weight a horse can carry is 10st.
In recent years a rating in the mid to late 140s has been required to win the Grand National with Minella Times winning off 146 in 2021 when ridden by Rachael Blackmore and One For Arthur scoring off 148 in 2017.
The first of Tiger Roll’s Grand National victories came off only slightly higher, 150, but he carried 11st5lb to success in 2019, a mark of 159.
Only Many Clouds has a higher winning mark since Red Rum in the 1970s, winning in 2015 off a figure of 160.
Can an outsider win?
The race has become a lot classier in recent years and a better calibre of horse running in the race has taken some of the unpredictability out of the Grand National.
With 40 runners it is more than likely that you will end up with double figure odds for your chosen mount even if you decide to side with one of the more fancied runners.
However, if it is a real outsider you are looking for, take comfort from the victories of Rule The World (2016) at 33/1, Auroras Encore (2013) at 66/1 and Mon Mome (2009) who galloped to success at a whopping 100/1.
The luck of the Irish
Irish-trained horses have won the last three Grand Nationals and are responsible for almost half of the entries in 2022, which can be found in our Grand National runners list.
The first four home were all Irish trained in 2021 with Henry de Bromhead saddling the first and second. Therefore it is wise to pay close attention to those put through their paces in the Emerald Isle before boarding the ferry to Holyhead, when thinking about how to bet on the Grand National.
Does the trainer matter?
We’ve just learnt that Irish-trained horses have dominated the Grand National recently, but who are the names to look out for in our how to bet on the Grand National guide?
De Bromhead trained the winner last season and is sure to be targeting the race once again, while Willie Mullins’ name is synonymous with National Hunt racing and he trained Hedgehunter to win the race in 2005 before returning to finish second 12 months later.
Gordon Elliott is the winning-most current trainer having saddled three Grand National winners and a name that must be respected, while Ted Walsh sent out Papillion to win in 2000 and has seen his Seabass and Any Second Now both place in the race since.
The leading UK trainer Paul Nicholls won the race with Neptune Collonges in 2012, but his great rival Nicky Henderson is yet to add the Grand National to his distinguished CV.
Donald McCain saddled Ballabriggs to win the Grand National in 2010 and his father ‘Ginger’ is one of three men who have trained four Grand National champions.
Age isn’t just a number
A wise old head used to be the first port of call when looking at how to bet on the Grand National, but nowadays a young progressive chaser with stamina to burn is often the way to go.
Four of the last six winners have been eight years old when storming to success at Aintree, while the other two were a year older at nine.
In the three years before that it was 11-year-olds who claimed the spoils, with Neptune Collonges (2012), Auroras Encore (2013) and Pineau De Re all approaching pension age when staying the 4m2f test best.
Eight-year-olds have fared best of all in the last 20 years, with the highest proportion of entrants placing (12%) and also 43% completing the course.
Who are the best riders?
The weighing room is going through a changing of the guard of late and some of the established names of the past will no longer be printed in your racecards.
Davy Russell was aboard Tiger Roll on both occasions he won the Grand National and he is the winning-most jockey still riding.
In fact, Robbie Power, Daryl Jacob, Ryan Mania, Derek Fox and Blackmore are the only present-day jockeys other than Russell to taste success in the race.
Harry Skelton, Paul Townend and Coral ambassador Tom Scudamore are just some of the names still searching for their first victory over the famous birch at Aintree.