If you are going to be sitting down on Saturday 5 April to watch the Crabbie’s Grand National, you won’t be alone. The steeplechase race is one of the world’s most popular horse races and is expected to draw an audience of 600 million worldwide who will watch the race live on TV as it happens.
It’s already possible to get antepost prices on the Grand National – at the time of writing the favourite is Teaforthree, priced on Betfair at 10/1. The advantage of using a betting exchange like Betfair is that you can place and lay (accept) bets, so if you get a good price early on, you’ll have the possibility of laying it back as the big race day approaches and the odds shorten.
There are few horse races as exciting as the Grand National, and that’s mainly to do with the difficult nature of the course, with its gruelling 30 jumps and the fact that it is a long race – 4 miles, three and a half furlongs in all. As it’s such a long race, you can even place bets in-running with Betfair if you see potential in a particular horse halfway through the race.
If you’ve got young children who have never watched the race, there are a couple of great family films about the Grand National which are a good introduction to what it’s all about. One is Champions – the true story of jockey Bob Champion who was diagnosed with testicular cancer at the height of his career in 1979. Despite having to undergo surgery and chemotherapy treatment, Champion went on to win the 1981 Grand National riding Aldaniti. The victory gained Champion and Aldaniti the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Team Award in the same year. The film, starring John Hurt, was based on the book Champions Story – written by Champion with journalist Jonathan Powell.
Another family film about the Grand National is the fictional story of National Velvet, a 1944 technicolor film starring Elizabeth Taylor as a young girl called Velvet who trains her horse to take part in the Grand National and then goes on to ride the race herself. It’s an idyllic image of England and English life, for the most part set in the rolling Sussex countryside – a perfect Sunday afternoon movie.
By the time the real race is about to be shown, the kids will probably be as excited as you are, jumping on the sofa and cheering on their favourite horse!