As race enthusiasts across the United Kingdom gear up for the 2014 Grand National, the time has come to look back at the rich history of this race. First time bettors might not be familiar with the tradition of the Grand National, its special place in British sports, and the trends that have dictated winners over the years. Before placing your bets next week, join us on a quick journey through the 185 year history of one of horse racing’s greatest spectacles.
Long before bettors could log on and place their Grand National bets with a few quick clicks of a mouse, the Grand National had its humble beginnings as the brainchild of Lord Sefton. Leasing the land at Aintree from Mr. William Lynn, the owner of Liverpool’s Waterloo Hotel, Lord Sefton built a course and grandstand on the premises and held the first race in July 1829.
Although the 1839 race is considered the first official Grand National, the history of the race stretches back farther than many of the sporting world’s most heralded events. For those unfamiliar with the race itself, the Grand National is a Steeplechase that sees horse and rider cover 4 miles 3 ½ furlongs and completing 30 jumps over two circuits.
With a purse of £975,000 last year in 2013, the Grand National has become the most valuable jump race in the whole of Europe. Interestingly enough, bettors have been flocking to the Grand National in increasing numbers in recent years. The race is particularly popular among fans who do not typically watch or bet on the sport during other times of the year.
Early Dominance Gives way to Competition
The early years of the Grand National saw many of the same horses, riders, and owners win the Grand National on a repeat basis. Red Rum is the winningest horse in the history of the Grand National with three victories and two second place finishes, but those all occurred between 1973 and 1977. Red Rum’s owner, Noel Le Mare, is tied for the most victories by an owner.
Likewise, jockeys and owners dominated the Grand National’s early history with many of the winningest jockeys, owners, and trainers have dominated the course between 1839 and 1876. Since then, the Grand National has become more difficult for bettors to figure out with repeat victors few and far between.
During the past decade, bettors have struggled to catch onto any trends in victors at the Grand National. Going back to the 2003 race at Aintree, no horse, jockey, or trainer has managed back-to-back victories or even repeat victories. Only one owner, Trevor Hemmings, has managed to see two horses reach the winner’s circle. His horses won in 2005 (Hedgehunter) and 2012 (Neptune Collonges).
Favorites, Long shots all in Play at Aintree
Bettors flocking to sites like Britbets.com in recent years have had their work cut out for them analyzing the race, its past trends, and the current field to find a winning combination. In the past decade alone, the Grand National has seen three heavily favored winners, two long shot winners, a grey winner, and a flood of Irish winners
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