Why racing fans don’t like to bet on the Grand National

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Why racing fans don’t like to bet on the Grand National

Every year, the Grand National comes around and millions of people all around Britain remember that horse racing exists. It’s a day much beloved by bookmakers, as people who don’t usually bet on horse racing (or at all, in many cases), decide to punt on a horse whose name they like or pick a jockey whose silks are in nice colours. Come tea time, the race is run, the bookies have had their best day of the year, and a tricky quiz question ten years from now has been born.

If the above sounds cynical, it’s only playfully so. People can enjoy things, it’s not the end of the world. But while even transatlantic cousins head to Canadian-sports-betting.com to look into punting on the National, and other showpiece races like the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe or the Kentucky Derby, these are races that make seasoned fans groan heavily and, in some cases, swear off betting for the day. If that sounds counter-intuitive, consider the following facts.

The Grand National is a chaotic mess of a race

There are forty horses in most editions of the National; at least, there are forty who enter – some never even start because they get to the line and don’t fancy it. And while these are thoroughbred horses, that many in a race is a recipe for havoc. It is in some ways as though the fun runners from the London Marathon have been allowed to join the main race. To make a long story short, you can spend weeks studying the form guide, pick a horse who’s been steadily improving, and then watch as they get boxed in by two also-rans while a 40-1 long shot takes the laurels. 

The National creates controversy

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Horse racing is a controversial sport, not much beloved by animal rights campaigners for obvious reasons. It’s simpler to defend racing when you can point to a well-run race where eight horses go out and eight come back in, and the winning equine can look forward to a career on a stud farm. As we all know, the National doesn’t tend to go off without at least some harm to at least one horse involved, and the showpiece fences are considered to be needlessly tough on the runners. As this is the most publicised horse race in the UK calendar, it’s one that drives people’s perceptions and even legislation – often in ways that aren’t great news for regular punters.

More betting means less reliable odds

Every bet that is placed on a horse race affects the odds that bookmakers set. A lot of activity on one horse can mean it’s “backed in” from odds in the high teens to something much shorter. For a punter watching the prices closely, which many racing fans like to do in order to find value, the hugely irregular betting action on a race like the National can be a nightmare. Many people who regularly bet on races during the rest of the year don’t bother with this showpiece event because it’s simply too frenetic to trust.

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Author: Suzanne Ashton Founder, Everything Horse email: sashton@everythinghorseuk.co.uk

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