Bookmakers expect online turnover on the Randox Grand National to top £100million following its one-year hiatus.
While a virtual race was held 12 months ago – one that proved an extremely popular diversion for many who were experiencing lockdown for the first time – there is nothing like the real thing.
“Although betting shops are still closed, such is the popularity of the Grand National, we are still expecting online turnover across the UK to top £100m, as the nation welcomes back the great race after its absence in 2020,” said Coral’s David Stevens.
“Last year we had to make do with a virtual Grand National, but even that was the most watched televised racing event of the year, and the most bet on, confirming the appeal of this famous sporting contest.”
This year’s race sees Cloth Cap head the betting at a prohibitive price following two imperious wins this season – but that does not necessarily mean bad news for the bookies. Especially as support behind another runner has the potential to snowball.
“While Cloth Cap is certain to start favourite after impressive wins in his last two races, we saw when Tiger Roll won his second National as 4-1 market leader two years ago that, such is the unique nature of the betting on this race, a winning favourite isn’t always bad news for us,” said Stevens.
“That’s because the public can latch on to any runner in great numbers, which soon builds up our liabilities, even on some less obvious contenders. We’re also braced for a significant gamble on Minella Times, the mount of Rachael Blackmore, who made history when becoming the first female rider to be crowned top jockey at last month’s Cheltenham Festival.
“The odds on her big-race mount have already tumbled to 10-1 from 20-1, and while no female rider has ever won the National, Rachael certainly has what it takes to end that run.
“We avoided a multi-million pound hammering when Katie Walsh finished third on hot favourite Seabass eight years ago, but victory for Minella Times on Saturday would spark the biggest ever payout on a female rider in racing history.”
Ladbrokes have reported money for another female jockey, Tabitha Worsley, who rides Sub Lieutenant for her mother, Georgie Howell. Having been 100-1 he is as low as 40s now.
“After Rachael Blackmore claimed top jockey honours at Cheltenham, punters are betting on more history being made in the Grand National,” said Jon Lees of Ladbrokes.
“Not only is Rachael a popular choice to become the first female jockey to win the race, but the less well known Tabitha Worsley has also found favour, with her mount Sub Lieutenant, who is trained by the rider’s mother, also well backed. Tabitha was featured on BBC bulletins this morning and punters have clearly fallen for her bid’s fairytale charm.”
Betfred expect money for two other outsiders – along with Cloth Cap and Minella Times.
Spokesman Matt Hulmes said: “When you think of the Grand National, you can usually expect the unexpected, but all the talk has been of one horse who looks tailor made for Aintree.
“Punters were taking the 5-1 about Tiger Roll two years ago and I expect Cloth Cap will be the most popular selection.
“I can see the money continuing to arrive for Minella Times after Rachael Blackmore was plastered all over the papers after Cheltenham. The horse was 14-1 earlier in the week and is now into single figures. Discorama and Kimberlite Candy are names that could strike a chord with the public.”