Grand National 2017: Betting on the Favourite

Many Clouds - Grand National Winner
The 8th April 2017. Pencil (5:15 Aintree) on your calendar. Get ready for the most spectacular steeplechase in the world. I wonder which horse you fancy to win this year's Grand National.

Are you ready to bet?

Perhaps you have your eye on the favourite. Take a look at the complete guide to the Grand National horse racing festival

This famous National Hunt race was inaugurated in 1839 when a horse named Lottery won at 5/1f. Horses race over 4 miles and 514 yards, two gruelling circuits, 30 fences. It's a tough, hard-as-nails race, for horse and jockey.

If you ask someone to name a horse race they would probably say the Grand National. If I asked you to name a winner of this prestigious race what would you say?

Red Rum, Aldaniti, Foinavon...

Outstanding horses have won the Grand National. At times it hasn't been the best horse in the field. A little bit of luck can go a long way in a race of changing fortunes.

Which horse has the best chance of winning? It must be the favourite!

Did you know that the shortest priced winner of the Grand National came in 1919 when Poethlyn won at 11/4f?

Many punters love to bet favourites. In fact, the vast majority of the money bet on every race goes on the first and second favourite. How do the favourites go in the Grand National?

Let's take a look at the results since 1994. How many favourites have won?

Just 5, and two of those were joint favourites.

  • 1996 – Rough Quest 7/1
  • 1998 – Earth Summit 7/1
  • 2005 – Hedgehunter 7/1
  • 2008 – Comply Or Die 7/1JF
  • 2010 – Don't Push It 10/1JF

It's startling to consider the previous winning favourite came in 1982 when Grittar prevailed for trainer Frank Gilman.

The winning favourite before this was the imperious Red Rum in 1973, his first Grand National victory for the legendary trainer Ginger McCain.

Previous to that, Merryman II won for Neville Crump. Can you guess the year?

1960!

Just eight favourites have won since 1959.

Perhaps it's time to reconsider betting on the favourite. Five horses have confounded the bookies winning at odds of 100-1. The last being Mon Mome in 2009.

In fact, the last six years has seen winners returned at big odds.

  • 2011 – Ballabriggs 14/1
  • 2012 – Neptune Collonges 33/1
  • 2013 – Auroras Encore 66/1
  • 2014 – Pineau De Re 25/1
  • 2015 – Many Clouds 25/1
  • 2016 – Rule The World 33/1

Is it any wonder bookmakers don't mind you betting on the favourite?

In the last 70-years, just nine favourites or joint-favourites have won. Worse still, 37 have failed to complete the course.

The Grand National has £1000,000 in total prize money, while the winner picks up £561,300.

There is a lot at stake.

This most famous steeplechase turns horses into legends. The three-times winner Red Rum (1973, 1974 & 1977) passed away in 1995 but his memory, victory, the story will live long in the hearts of all who love their racing.

Time will tell who wins this year.

I wonder if it will be the favourite.


4:45 Doncaster Racing Tips (1st April) Brocklesby Conditions Stakes (Plus 10 Race) (Div II) (Class 4) (2yo)

Bill Turner, Brocklesby Stkes
The Brocklesby Conditions Stakes over 5f. The going at the time of writing is good to soft. Division II of this first two-year-old race of the season. The first division and second division have 11 juveniles entered from a first declaration stage of 28. Sadly, Mark Johnston's entry has been withdrawn. 

Considering he won this race in the last two years his colt would most likely have been favourite. 

On first impressions, this looks the stronger of the two division. A number of trainers had two or three horses earmarked for this race so it is a puzzle to work out who may be favoured. 

The betting is key for this race. 

Interesting to see Bill Turner fields one of three fillies to make their debut here. Hellovaqueen is a homebred daughter of Hellvelyn who shone many moons ago for Bryan Smart. This grey filly will not be two until 15th April. Turner has a fine strike rate in this contest over the years with six victories. Probably the best of those was seen in 2002 The Lord. 

Turner has been quoted as saying that winning the Brocklesby has been increasingly difficult over recent years. His last winner came in 2013 Mick's Yer Man. By all accounts, Hellovaqueen has been showing up well on the gallops but one of a handful of juveniles in training at Sigwells, Somerset. In fact, Turner suggests when quoted by ATR that he wasn't sure if she would make the race. At present, she is declared to race so it would seem likely. 

Homebreds are often a little slower to come to hand, which may be a slight concern. With this handlers reputation,  there is also a fear that she may be under priced. However, if past performances are anything to be judged it would be a brave man to say victory won't come the way of owner Mrs A F Horsington. Turner's grandson, Ryan While claims a handy 5lb allowance from a decent draw. On balance, I would take a watching brief simply because this last few runners have been slightly disappointing. Certainly, last year's runner, Crucial Moment, was poor. 

The major contenders:

Interested in Clive Cox's Move To The Front. The stable can ready a debutante and a high draw is an advantage if getting to the rail. This son of Lord Shanakil is owned by Paul & Clare Rooney although a cheap yearling purchase at just £10,000. That price tag is a slight concern especially if there is an expensive horse or two in opposition. 

Richard Fahey's Requinto Dawn cost just 7,000E as a foal. 

Interesting to note that we have one horse with racecourse experience. Jurisprudance is a daughter of Panis, trained by George Baker. She was 11-1 on debut at Saint-Cloud, France when running on well after a slow start. That experience will be a big advantage although a wide draw in stall two. It could be worse if she was drawn on the extreme birth. 

Conclusion: Move To The Front wasn't an expensive purchase but if fancied in the betting could go well. Hellovaqueen hails from a stable who know how to win this race more than any trainer in the history of the Brocklesby. It is sad to hear that Turner's string of two-year-olds is weaker in numbers if not ability. The number of juveniles in any trainer's string correlates to potential stars. On balance, I would have to take a watching brief but always a fan of Turner I will be cheering his filly to win. Racecourse experience is a huge advantage at this time of year, especially so when all opponents are unraced. Many of these juveniles will be clueless. Jurispruance ran well in Saint-Cloud and will appreciate this extra half furlong. This filly would have gone close to winning on debut if not for a slow start and should go well. It is always wise in these first few weeks of the juvenile season to let the form settle. It is the major guide to finding a winning level of ability. Place efforts can sometimes be misleading and the reason why it pays to be very careful. Interesting race.         

12:45 Newcastle Racing Tips (29th Aug) VERTEM.CO.UK/EBF IRISH STALLION FARMS MAIDEN STAKES (Plus 10 Race) (CLASS 4) (2yo)

An EBF Maiden Stakes over  7f 14y on standard going. A sizable field of fourteen two-year-old for the Plus 10 contest. 

A slightly unusual selection here with a debutante from Jedd O'Keeffe. To be fair this is a conflict of interests because generally speaking this handler has very few debut winners so unless this colt is above the norm he may struggle to prove victorious but, perhaps, hit the frame. Any horse can defy the odds. Balance Sheet is a chestnut son of Casamento, already gelded, which may be negative. This April foal runs in the familiar orange silks of Paul & Dale Chapman Racing. He was withdrawn from the sales as a yearling but sold as a foal for 52,000G. That is a fair sum for a horse and it is interesting to consider that this youngster received a Stakes race entry, which I would view as a positive sign. At odds of 28/1 with bookmakers and, no doubt, substantially more on the exchanges he may hold a bit of value. It is a concern that the stable have such a more win rate with horses making their racecourse bow but that doesn't mean he cannot show ability or have an each-way chance. I wouldn't say I would be sure he will hit the headlines today but at big odds there may be some hope. 

   

7 Things to consider when backing a horse

Horse racing is one of the most popular betting sports in the world. Like most sports, there are people who can make thousands from horse betting. However the majority of horse punters tend to be casual and usually place bets based on their lucky number or the name of the horse. By following the following seven tips and factors, you can make a calculated guess on which horse to place a bet on.



PEDIGREE

Betting websites, such as Paddy Power, show the breeding pedigree for each horse that is competing in a race. Most race-horses are now bred with selected horse types to ‘create’ the ideal race-horse. Be careful which type of horse you are betting on though, as different pedigree horses are suited to different tracks. If you do find that the track type is very suitable for the horse that is racing, then waste no time and place a bet on the horse.


TRAINER HISTORY

The outcome of a race can also depend on the trainer of the horse. Horses that are trained by the same trainers may perform better on different types of surfaces e.g. better performances on a soft surface track. In some situations there may not be a noticeable difference of the horses’ performance on different track surfaces. However, if you do spot that horses trained by certain trainers perform significantly better on certain tracks, then chances are the horse racing will also perform well and have a good chance of winning the race.

COURSE SPECIALIST

Although jockeys race on multiple tracks throughout their career, certain tracks can be stomping grounds for certain jockeys and may have experienced success multiple times on the same track. The chances of a jockey repeating their success on the same track a high considering they have the experience of racing on the track, and have the knowledge of how the track ‘plays out’. But like the other factors, choosing a winner based on the knowledge of the track isn’t enough. Other factors such as the type of horse being used will affect the outcome of a race. You can’t expect an experienced jockey to repeat their success using the slowest horse of the race.

TIME SINCE LAST RACE

Like every athlete, horses need time to recover from a previous race. A horse that is racing just a few days after their previous race may suffer in the next race when facing against horses that have had a few more days or weeks rest and are fully refreshed. Although a few days extra rest may give a horse an edge, make sure they are not out of action for too long. If a horse has competed in a race for a long period, e.g. a few months, then they will suffer due to lack of ‘race fitness’, which means they are also unlikely to win the race. Your best bet is to put a bet on a horse that has not raced in a few days, but is still fit enough to run the full race without any issues.


DROP IN CLASS

It is common in horse racing for horses to drop down classes if they are unable to compete at a higher level. When you are placing a bet on a race, keep an eye out for horses that have dropped down a couple of levels. Although previously being part of a higher class does not guarantee a win, the experience of racing at a higher level should give the horse a slight edge other their competitors.

DISTANCE TRAVELLED

Horses can be imported in from far and wide in order to participate in a certain race. If you notice that a horse has been brought in from far away to participate in a single race, chances are the trainer or jockey believes that the horse has a very good chance of winning the race. However be careful. Horses that have travelled a long distance are at risk from suffering from fatigue due to the distance travelled. This could lead to the horse performing worse in the race than anticipated.

JOCKEY WINNING STREAK

You should never underestimate momentum. A jockey that is on a winning streak is far more likely to carry on their momentum and extend their streak than a jockey who hasn’t won a race in a while. Although it is entirely plausible for a jockey on a winless streak to break it, the hot streak jockey should still be favourite to win. But as mentioned earlier, you should not just use winning streaks as your only metric for picking a winner. In this example, a course specialist that is on a losing streak has the potential to come away with the win over a jockey on a winning streak.

2:30 Brighton Racing Tips (5th Sept) BRITISH STALLION STUDS EBF MAIDEN STAKES (CLASS 5) (2yo)

An EBF Maiden Stakes over 6f 209y on good going. A powerhouse of a trainer who has shown the oldtimers a thing or two. It has to be Hugo Palmer. Most of his talented two-year-olds win in their first couple of starts but Colibri has bucked that trend. It wasn't for lack of try because this bay colt is actually held in some regard by connections. This bay colt is a son of Redoute's Choice in the familiar silks of  Al Asayl Bloodstock Ltd started hs career in a hot Goodwood maiden. Considering the win prize money was over £16,000 it told the calibre of that event. The starting price of 14-1 showed that connections were more hopeful than certain. He dwelt and suffered trouble in running so it was no bad performance to finish mid-division beaten just over six lengths from a quality horse in Lockheed. He was similarly double-figure odds when racing at the same distance at Newbury. To be beaten by just over a couple of lengths from ready winner Ultimate Avenue was a fair effort. This looks a very winnable race and I suspect Colibri will lead and take some catching.    

4:40 Lingfield (31st Aug) Speculative Bet OILFIELD INSURANCE AGENCIES MAIDEN AUCTION FILLIES´ STAKES (Plus 10 Race) (CLASS 5) (2yo)

A Maiden Auction Fillies' Stakes (Plus 10) over 7f on good to firm going. 

Eleven runners but just one big priced selection to feast our eyes. As we know, these tips can be rather hit and miss but that is the nature of the beautiful beast when you start poking a 20/1 shot with a sharp stick (to make it go faster!). 

So which filly do we have our beady eye on here? Joyful Dream may just have an ace up her hoof at big odds. This is a very restricted race type and this chestnut daughter of Dream Ahead is out of a poor mare but I have a sneaky feeling Stan Moore considers this 9,000E breeze-up buy to have a glimmer of ability. Moore is a canny old stick and not the kind of trainer to overrate his juveniles but it is interesting to consider he once had this February foal entered to run at Listed class. Clearly, she isn't to that level unless something quite astounding has happened like someone had put her shoes on back to front! But it does suggest to me that we may not have seen the potential of this little horse. She ran a cracking race on debut at odds of 100/1. I actually tipped her on this website and although finishing eighth was beaten less than three lengths. She was more fancied next start at Chepstow in a race which turned out to be very competitive for the auction class. It is intriguing that Moore sent her to run at Deauville, France last time out when finishing down the field in testing conditions. I can't imagine Moore sending her to glimpse the Eiffel Tower or nibble at frog legs. I think it was a sign, added to the other clues, that he fancies this juvenile can win a small race.     

This faster ground should be more suiting and a step up in distance could be in her favour.  With ace apprentice Josephine Gordon claiming a valuable three pound and just 8-3 on her back I get the feeling if Joyful Dream is going to hit the frame this could well be her day. At odds of 25/1+ I would give this juvenile each-way claims. 

2:40 Chelmsford (21st Aug) TOTEEXACTA MAIDEN STAKES (Plus 10 Race) (CLASS 4) (2yo)

A Maiden Stakes over 7f on standard going.

Nine two-year-olds take part. 

Accento will start hot favourite here after finishing fourth on debut at Doncaster over 7f. This bay colt is a son of Elusive Quality and a homebred from Al Asayl Bloodstock Ltd. He was outpointed by the talented juvenile Sam Harry in a race where the form has been franked. This Hugo Palmer-trained two-year-old was probably expected to win on debut and a month on the sidelines should see a bold second start. It is a sign of confidence that he was entered for the Convivial Stakes, just one of two for the stable, but the highly reputed Via Serendipity was given the green light in favour and finished a creditable third. Accento isn't much of a price and probably not one of the better juveniles in the stable but will go well today.

Simon Crisford has done remarkably well since starting his training career in 2015. He can prime a horse to win on debut and Ningaloo is fancied in the betting. This January foal is a son of French sire Siyouni out of an unraced mare. This colt cost 280,000G at the yearling sales when purchased by Crisford Racing. Difficult to assess this juvenile which doesn't have any lofty entries, although that doesn't mean it doesn't have the ability to go well. The betting is key. If starting favourite it would be a confident sign. However, if second best in the market it may just be the tag that the Accento will take some beating. Still a major threat.

Qatar Man shouldn't be discounted. This American-bred son of Archarcharch is owned and bred by Mubarak Al Naemi. This horse is held in some regard and if priced 10/1 & less would have fair each-way claims.

Paul Cole isn't the powerhouse he once was with fewer numbers in his string but make no mistake he know a winner. Tuscany is owned by Mrs Fitri Hay and a relatively cheap purchase at 35,000G. This son of Poet's Voice is ridden by Martin Harley. The betting is key here. If priced 8/1 & less SP would have respectable win and place claims. If outside this betting guide, I would take a watching brief.

Conclusion: A few juveniles here which are held in regard by their trainers. Accento has valuable experience which counts for a lot although over seven furlongs there is often enough time for a true talent to shine. Accento will take some beating but I wouldn't bet at even money or odds on simply there are horses in opposition. Qatar Man has the ability and may be a live danger while Ningaloo is short in the betting. If either is seriously backed I would fear them. It may be the case Qatar Man makes a fair each-way bet if 10/1 & less. I would take a watching brief if Qatar Man and Tuscany are priced outside this betting guide, which would suggest this isn't going to be their day.   

4:20 York (19th Aug) BRITISH STALLION STUDS EBF CONVIVIAL MAIDEN STAKES (Plus 10 Race) (CLASS 2) (2yo)

An EBF Maiden Stakes over 7f  on good to firm going.

Win prize money of £37,000 with the potential of a £10,000 bonus. No wonder this is a race which brings out some of the best maidens from the most illustrious trainers. A few of these will be contesting pattern race class in their next starts. Fourteen juveniles and most the apple of their trainer's eye. A race with plenty of future winners.

I will try to keep this brief as I am rushing about like a headless chicken. 

Black Trilby ran a cracking race at Goodwood and this horse has proven ability. Must have fair each-way claims at 15/2. 

Rivet is held in high regard by William Haggas and ran well on debut at Ascot over 6f. This step up in distance will be a plus and I'd expect a very big run.

Hugo Palmer has Via Serendipity at the top of his two-year-old list and the stable has been waiting for this race. This son of Invincible Spirit was purchased at the breeze-up sales for 320,000G. Pat Smullen is booked to ride which adds to the thoughts they mean business and owner V I Araci sent out a class juvenile in Koropick to slaughter the opposition at Thirsk. From what I understand, this bay colt is better. The problem? He may well have to be better because this is one hot maiden. No doubt Via Serendipity will be fit and ready to go well but it will take a mighty effort for a debutante to win. However, even with those concerns, I will be expecting a bold show. Fascinating horse. Win or lose make sure you follow this juvenile because if he doesn't win this season I'll be astonished.

Charlie Appleby had two horses entered for this at the first declaration stage. the other being Deningy, who takes his chance at 3:30 Sandown. Capezzano wouldn't head here in favour of that gelding for no reason and without a doubt, has ample ability. The stable's juvenile can go well on the racecourse bow and one to respect although I do feel those with experience will most likely hold the aces.

Conclusion: A fascinating race. I am very excited about this contest and all of the horses noted. Black Trilby impressed at Goodwood and I can see him having sterling each-way claims. Rivet will be thereabout. Definitely a tough nut to crack. Very excited by the potential of Via Serendipity. This breeze-up buy has real ability. Can he win on debut? If he does, he will be very smart and heading for Group 1 level. Capezzano is held in high regard although I do feel that originally Deningy was the first choice but for whatever reason plans have changed. Which horse to bet? Black Trilby would be my safest option with some value at those odds. However, this can be a tricky race and a big field can bring added problems. Via Serendipity has been a horse I have been waiting to run but I do think this is a test for a debutante.  


6:40 Kempton Racing Tips (17th Aug) 32RED CASINO MAIDEN AUCTION STAKES (Plus 10 Race) (CLASS 4) (2yo)

A Maiden Auction Stakes over 7f on standard going.

This looks a hot race for its grade with a number of two-year-olds who have proven ability while others shown promise.

Highland Lotus has gone well on her last two starts. This daughter of Foxwedge gets in here on a handy weight. A low draw is a positive and a likely to lead.

Magical Forest has been very consistent this term in four starts and beaten by a few talents. Marco Botti's charge has the blinkers applied for the first time to find that little extra. A fair level and will test most.

Daniel Kubler doesn't have many two-year-olds in his string and Bubble Bath ran well on debut at Kempton and will enjoy this extra furlong after battling to the line last time out and ran well. 

Both Tonahutu and Sir Dancealot have been backed and sit within their best betting guides which give fair each-way claims. 

One horse which could go well is Robyn Brisland's Masonic. Taking over from Nick Littmoden, owners, Franconson Partnership, do well with their purchases and this bay colt is an attractive son of Intense Focus. I saw him in the flesh at Yarmouth and a nice stamp of a horse. There was money for this juvenile that day and run well to finish second behind Chris Wall's Marilyn who could well be heading for greater things. This 4,500G yearling looks a bargain buy of some note and a recent entry for the Solario Stakes Group 3 give some confidence. The form of that debut has been franked by the third coming out and winning since. At odds of 10-1 there could be a little meat on the bone and hold each-way claims. 

Conclusion: Masonic is of interest at fair odds but this looks a stiff race for the grade with five or six two-year-olds heading to Kempton Park with plans to win. A wide draw is a slight negative for Brisland's charge but I can see this colt being competitive. Highland Lotus, Magical Forest, Tonahutu and Sir Dancealot look live dangers and that competitiveness does slightly temper enthusiasm.