It’s the biggest day in the world of horseracing, as 40 of the world’s finest steeds compete over a gruelling four mile race to see who will take the £1 million prize and a place in racing history.
For most of us, the Grand National IS horse racing - with almost the entire country getting involved as offices and families set up their very own sweepstakes, drawing a horse at random and then cheering on their favourite until the finish.
The Aintree race has been a British sporting institution since 1839, when a horse called Lottery won and Captain Becher fell at a now world famous brook which takes his name. That race saw horses jump a stone wall, cross ploughed land and finish over two hurdles - a far cry from the modern course.
RUNNERS AND RIDERS
The final list of runners for the 172nd Grand National was confirmed today, and getting involved couldn’t be easier - so if you’re looking to set up your very own Grand National Sweepstake, here’s how to do it.
Round up 40 friends or family to take part. If you can’t find that many, don’t worry - it just means everyone will have to take more than one horse, which ultimately means more money for the winner.
Print out two copies of the official runners list, which can be found on the Grand National’s free sweepstake kit here. Cut out the names of the runners from one copy, fold them up and put them in a hat. Keep the other sheet intact, as it will be the record of who draws which horse.
Set a price for your sweepstake - it can be whatever you like, depending on who is taking part, and the most common charge is £1 for every horse drawn giving you a prize pot of £40.
Draw the horses. Go round your competitors and ask them to draw a name out of the hat, then make sure to write their name down next to that horse on your record sheet, so you know who has which horse. Make sure all the horses are assigned before the race begins - or you could agree to donate the pot to charity if no one draws the winning horse.
Tune in for the big race at 5.15pm, Saturday April 6, live from Aintree, and cheer on your pick. Then make a note of the winning horse and present the lucky competitor with their winnings.
You can split the winnings however you like, so the winner could take it all or you could have first place winning half the pot, second place taking a quarter and third and fourth taking an eighth. Whatever you choose, just make sure you tell people what the prizes are before selling them a horse’s name.
FALLERS AND FINISHERS
The odds on the final racers will change right up to the finish, but already there is one horse that everyone will be hoping to draw out of their sweepstake hat.
Last year’s winner, Tiger Roll, is the hotly tipped favourite to take the title again this year - and if he succeeds he would become the first back-to-back Grand National winner since the mighty Red Rum won the race in 1973 and 1974.
Being the favourite won’t count for much in the heat of a race where anything can happen as horses and riders navigate 30 fences over two laps. These famously ferocious obstacles claim riders every year and in 1928 the race finished with only two horses still going. In 2001, only four of the forty horses completed.
Of course, horses are intelligent animals and many continue to race even if they lose their rider - but if your sweepstake choice has lost their jockey and crosses the line first don’t get too excited, as in order to win both horse and rider must cross the finish line.