The complete guide to betting on the Aintree Grand National Festival, brought to you by Racing Post.

The Aintree Festival isn’t all about the Grand National, there are plenty of other top-class races

Do back prominent racers on the National course

Changes to the fences have made them safer in the sense of reducing fallers and also the severity of some of the falls that inevitably still take place.

For punters, that means we should be thinking a bit more Warwick and Sandown when we look at Aintree. At those tracks, cumulative errors end at least as many chances as blunders do. It also makes it harder to make up ground, when forward momentum can be checked by something as minor as having to put in an extra stride.

At Aintree, where the fences remain daunting, there is an added advantage to those who can go off in front and, unencumbered by the big field behind them, ping fence after fence.

Don’t mind the gap

Quite a lot is made of the time between Cheltenham and Aintree. Runners at both festivals this year will have had only around three weeks off but, while horses will have been trained to the minute for Cheltenham, the modern Graded performer typically has their season backloaded, so in practice peaking in mid-March rarely means being over the top by early April. It will be a factor with certain horses, but it definitely does not apply universally.

Don’t go overboard on Irish-trained runners

The Grand National aside, Irish trainers don’t target Aintree with anything like the numbers or quality they do at Cheltenham. For instance, in the last ten seasons they have generally struggled on the first two days. Generally speaking, though, the first two days have been dominated by the home contingent. Willie Mullins farmed races at last month’s Festival, but Aintree doesn’t have anywhere near the same appeal to the Irish and they won’t have as many runners. Indeed, since the start of 2007, Mullins and De Bromhead have had only 17 winners between them at Aintree – that’s just four more than they had together in four days at Cheltenham last month.

Shop around for best each-way terms

Cheltenham is in a class of its own when it comes to fiercely contested handicaps, but those at Aintree can also prove fiendishly difficult to solve. A horse can often run a career-best and finish fifth or sixth, so look to bet each-way with bookmakers who are paying out on more than the usual three or four places.

Follow horses who ran well at the previous month’s Cheltenham Festival

Since the start of 2006, had you blindly backed every horse who finished in the first four at Cheltenham who then returned within 60 days of that run at Aintree in April, you would have made a £1 level-stake profit of £99.96.

Avoid dodgy jumpers

The stiff fences and flat track mean runners jump at faster speeds than they are used to and that can prove too much of a test for those who are not sure-footed. In a similar vein, horses who travel strongly tend to be well suited by Aintree’s sharp contours.

Don’t get carried away with horses who have got round in the Grand National before

Tiger Roll went back-to-back three years ago, but the previous six winners were running in the race for the first time and runners who have gone well in the Irish, Scottish or Welsh versions are well worth noting. It also appears to have become a younger man’s game since the fences were modified and the take-offs levelled. It is nowhere near the test it used to be and the last six runnings have gone to horses aged younger than ten, including eight-year-olds Many Clouds (2015), One For Arthur (2017) Tiger Roll (2018) and Minella Times (2021) while nine-year-old Rule The World broke his duck over fences in the 2016 edition, when 15 of the 16 finishers were less than ten years of age.

Don’t just follow the market

Only the great Tiger Roll has justified favouritism in the last decade and five of the last ten Grand National winners ranged in price from 25-1 to 66-1. In fact it has proved costly to follow favourites at the meeting in general. A £1 bet on all favourites or joint-favourites at Aintree in April since the start of 2011 yielded a loss of £41.76.

Check out the best offers from bookmakers

For instance, bet365, Betfair, Paddy Power, BoyleSports and Betfred are already offering five places on the great race and, come the day, there will probably be even more places up for grabs.

Do keep Nicky Henderson’s Cheltenham Festival winners on your side

Since the start of 2011, eight of them have followed up at Aintree for the Seven Barrows handler from just 11 runners. Keep an eye out for his two winner’s at this year’s festival, Supreme winner Constitution Hill and Mares’ Hurdle heroine Marie’s Rock should either turn up at Aintree.

Be flexible

Look to respond promptly to things that are happening on track and don’t be tied down by your original thoughts. Also look for form lines that are working out well and be quick to react accordingly.

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