Sunday 16 September 2018

The Nation's Love for The Grand National

Everyone has their own take on sport. Personally for me watching F1, Golf or Cricket is like watching paint dry. I just can't get into these particular sports even though for many they're clearly nothing short of engrossing. Similarly not everyone loves horse racing. For some, race meetings happening day in, day out don't mean a great deal, and they much prefer a punt on the football or something along those lines.

What I have found though, is that even people who proclaim not to be at all interested in horse racing, can't help but get drawn into the excitement of the Aintree Grand National. Whether it's an office sweepstake or a bet for a pint against a mate, the Grand National is one of those sporting events that inevitably gets the whole nation glued to their screens. A 4 miles 3½ furlongs steeplechase over 30 fences, it's captivating each and every time it comes around. Of course the outcome of the race also feeds into the casual punters view of it. Either the hard luck stories start to come out, or for those that did somehow pick the winner, they suddenly view themselves as being 'in the know'. God forbid they predict the winner two years in a row, they shift to savant mode. Friends and family start asking them for racing tips. Their once lack of interest and complete lack of knowledge of racing is rendered irrelevant in favour of their water diviner-esque Midas touch!

There are other types of Grand National gambler of course. There are professional gamblers, with a genuine and thorough knowledge of racing (though the Grand National can still be a crap shoot as there are so many variables), the 'I'll have a pound each way on....' crowd, the Outsider hunters looking for that once in a life time gigantic odds win, and the inevitable "I liked the name of the horse, the first part of it is the same name as my great uncle' types. Good luck to all of them I say, they help to make up what betting on the Grand National is all about.

Of course the excitement around the Grand National should be of no surprise, as it's been a sporting mainstay for longer than most of us have even been alive. The first official Grand National took place all the way back in 1839 and it's gone from strength to strength since. The stories the race tells  build history upon history. Whether it's Red Rum winning three times (1973, 1974, 1977), or horses winning at crazy odds like Mon Mome, trained by Venetia Williams, at 100-1 with bookmakers (and god knows what on the exchanges), these are all moments that are written and will remain. Not many people can say they're written into the history of a time, place or occasion, so it's no wonder that an event like the Grand National attracts equine excellence and the best jockeys, trainers and owners in the racing world.

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