Grand National 2019: A Racecourse Experience With History on the Cards

Britain’s most famous race, the Aintree Grand National, takes place next Saturday 6th April at 5,15pm. Millions will watch the event on television – they call it the race that stops a nation – but tens of thousands will make their way to Aintree, near Liverpool, to catch three days of stellar racing action.

Indeed, the Aintree Festival has grown up organically around the Grand National race, adding more Grade 1 events down the years to become a more rounded experience. The big race on the Saturday still gets top billing, of course, but the three-day event has become a highlight of the British sporting calendar. However, the 2019 Grand National has got a real shot in the arm of late, potentially turning it from a sporting highlight to something sports fans tend to treasure most of all – a chance to witness history.

Tiger Roll has become the main focus

The reason for all the excitement is the scintillating form of Tiger Roll, who was the winner of the 2018 Grand National. The horse is the hot-favourite for the race, looking to become the first horse in 45 years to win consecutive Grand Nationals. It’s an incredibly tough feat to achieve, arguably tougher than the Triple Crown in American racing, given the small number of horses to have won more than one Grand National throughout the event’s history.

As it stands, Tiger Roll will go off as the shortest-price favourite since Poethyln back in 1919, with current odds averaging about 4/1 (Betfair, Ladbrokes). To give you a bit of perspective, the average price of the winner over the last decade has been something around 30/1.

Statistically, you could make a case against Tiger Roll. He has won around a third of his 33 races to date, seemingly not the sort of record a legendary career is built on. However, there is a marked difference in the gruelling long-distance national hunt events than, say, flat racing. For example, Tiger Roll’s strike rate is higher than that of the great Red Rum.

More worryingly for Tiger Roll’s trainer, there is no shortage of top horses in the race. Anibale Fly, who was second in the recent Cheltenham Gold Cup, is the second-favourite at 12/1 (William Hill), and the tough Rathvinden is also taking money on the exchanges at the same odds.

Value available away from favourites

A lot of bookies will provide a free Grand National bet as part of a promotion for the race, so it is obviously worth exploring some of those at bigger prices. Blaklion (40/1, Unibet), Pariofbrowneyes (33/1, Unibet), Ballyoptic (50/1, Bet365) and Tea For Two (80/1, Bet365) all make good cases for finishing in the places at least.

Aintree Grand National history

Yet, on race day, the crowds will be firmly behind Tiger Roll. The course has become nothing short of a cult hero, having the ability to save his best when under the spotlight of the biggest events. Not only is he a Grand National winner, he is also a four-time Cheltenham Festival winner, putting him in company with horses like Arkle, who transcend the sport of horse racing.

Before betting on the race, it’s worth looking back at some of Tiger Roll’s latest performances. His win at Cheltenham in the Glenfarclas Chase was one of supreme mastery over his field of competitors. The result was never in doubt, and a similar performance will ensure race-goers at Aintree next week will have the chance to watch history unfold in front of their eyes.

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