The Aintree Festival | Beating The Odds

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The Aintree Festival | Beating The Odds

The Aintree Festival is upon us... culminating in the greatest event in Jump Racing, the Grand National!  From John o'Groats to Land's End and all points in between, the £1 million lottery is loved across the length and bredth of the country. Old, young, rich or poor, it doesn't matter. From tipsters to housewives, judges to barrow boys, everyone loves the Grand National. After all, nothing quite matches the Aintree Roar!

So join us as we review the festival; from placing a lucky 15 to picking a winner, we've got you covered in our handy 'How To' guide to The Aintree Festival

Horse Racing


Many of the 31 million adults (18+) living in Britain placing a bet on the Grand National this Saturday will do so in the belief that the race is an absolute lottery, which is apt as the first winner of the race back in 1839 was, indeed, a horse called 'Lottery'.


Beating The Odds - Facts 'n' Stats to Bear in Mind! 


Red Rum (pictured) may be a record-breaker, but there's more to Aintree than just stats. No other race demands so much of horse and rider than the Grand National, which is only won with both in complete harmony! With this in mind, read on to see how the odds are usually beaten!


With forty horses racing over four miles, two furlongs and 74 yards (6.907km) jumping 30 fences - some as big as 5 feet 2 inches (1.57 m), with ditches of up to 6 feet (1.83 m) wide - you can see why the race has become known as a lottery, highlighted by the fact that the most number of finishers in Grand National modern history is just 23 (of 40 that are always declared to run) in 1984.


In 2001 only two horses successfully jumped all 30 fences - while another two were remounted having fallen once before; something that will never happen again as you can no longer remount any horse that has fallen in any race anymore. 

To be frank, any horse can win the £1 million race, and in recent years we have seen 100/1 shot Mon Mome (2009) and 66/1 poke Auroras Encore (2013) take the finish line in front, while the last three victorious horses have been priced up at 33/1 and 25/1 (twice). 

In the 70 races of the post-war era (excluding the void race in 1993), the favourite or joint-favourite has only won the race nine times (in 1950, 1960, 1973, 1982, 1996, 1998, 2005, 2008 and 2010), and have failed to complete the course in 37 Nationals.


The Grand National grabs the attention of this island like no other, but it also resonates around the world; 600million around the globe will watch this year’s renewal. The Grand National will be shown live on ITV for the first time and is set to break peak viewing records.

By the way, just in case you were wondering... Red Rum is the only horse to have won three Grand Nationals - the first coming in 1973 (the year Stan James were formed) and then again in 1974 & 1977, while he finished second on the only other two times he ran in the race (1975 & 76).

Trends to help you find the Winner! 

•             9 of the last 10 winners have been aged 9 to 11

•             Gay Trip (1970) was the last Grand National winner who hadn't previously won over at least three miles.

•             Each of the last 10 Grand National winners had run at least 10x over fences before the start on the big day at Aintree.

•             Since the war only seven Grand Nationals have been won by horses carrying more than 11st 5 lbs.

•             6 of the last 10 Grand National winners ran over hurdles in the season they won the Grand National.

Based on these trends - Ucello Conti (16/1) has a great chance, while we can tell you that StanJames' Head of Racing Communications Ed Nicholson had chat with trainer Jimmy Moffatt and he tells us his Highland Lodge (20/1) has been trained all year for just this one race. He is a horse that likes to run fresh and he has won over these unique Aintree fences before... just sayin', so don't shoot the messenger!

So, if you’re new to horse racing, we’ve outlined a few jargon busting pointers to help you navigate one of the busiest punting weeks of the year.

Typical Bet Types 

Win. You’re feeling confident, this horse is going to win the race and there’s no point even considering any other possible outcome. This is bet is also known as ‘on the nose’.

Do – When your horse has jumped the last fence with a clear lead and only an act of God would prevent it from winning, remain magnanimous in victory and simply mutter something humble such as, ‘Yes, it was difficult to see anything beating that really, an obvious selection...’ 

Don’t – Scream, wild eyed, at the television, imploring the jockey to ‘Whip him! Kick him! What’s the matter with you man?!’’ when it is obvious to all that your horse has gallantly run his race and is now busy backpedalling through the field with other beaten horses for company. Albeit a common sight up and down the land, this is not the done thing.

Each-way. It’s a big field, and even the favourite’s odds will return a profit if it places, so you split your stake in two and have half on the win, half of the place. Assuming your horse can go close, you’re likely to win something here, surely? This bet is also known as ‘win and place’. The place part will be a proportion of the win odds, typically 1/4 at the Festival.

 Do – Take advantage of our 'happy hour' specials (see Twitter (@stanjamesracing) and other Aintree Specials, such as when we pay an extra place, the first five instead of first four. Big race days such as the Festival can be rich pickings for selective punters and mathematically, an extra place is a huge edge on an each-way bet.

Don’t – Re-double the volume of your desperate, red-faced pleas to the jockey when you realise that having looked a live chance two furlongs out, you’re now grimly battling for the last paying place, and a quarter of the odds is the very best you can hope for. This vision is a credit to absolutely no-one.

Placepot. The Festival is famous for some enormous placepot dividends. Your job is to correctly select at least one horse to place in each of the first six races, which is somewhat harder than it sounds.

Do  – Your maths! Putting more than one selection in a leg multiplies the cost of your original stake. For example, picking two runners for all six legs at a £1 stake would cost you £64! However, you can stake as little as you like per line assuming it makes a minimum of £2 in total.

Do (ii) - Try and avoid favourites where you think you can. These are ‘pool’ bets which means that correctly swimming against the community tide can reap significant rewards. In a nutshell, the more favourites that don’t place, the bigger the payout is likely to be. This makes it much tougher of course.

These are the most popular bets, but you'll come across such exotic phrases and terms during the four days: Yankees, Trixies and Goliaths are all part of the bettors lexicon. When you place a bet, our system will automatically caluclate the total cost for you, but if you're interested in working out the stakes and cost before, then don't forget to use our helpful BET CALCULATOR. It breaks down a goliath into small, bit-sized chunks that everyoine can easily digest and understand.    

Tips and Information:

In such a busy and high profile week of racing, everyone will have an opinion of the likely winners. They could be Festival bankers or handicap blots, listening to everyone will only end up in disaster as you realise that you’ve backed every single runner in the first race, including plenty that haven’t even lined up at the start, effectively locking in a loss before racing has even started.

So where can you find reliable sources of tips and information? The Racing Post (the paper for everything, or online for slightly less) for a taste of what’s broadly recognised as the industry standard, or there are many online sites such as that are peppered with easy to follow form guides for each runner and race, as well as straight forward betting suggestions. Tabloids are generally a no-no and the ‘man down the pub’ is generally a buffoon. 

However, you might also like to take a look at what's under your nose:  

Placing a bet at StanJames

Whenever you load a race, you'll be presented with the following, which is a wealth of information... 

The meeting and race time are highlighted. You then have five icons at the top:

Statistics STATISTICS:  By clicking here you'll open a new window, that has lots of information about the horse, trainer and jockey. We'll explain these below!

Results A quick and handy 'RESULTS' service, perfect for checking if you've picked a winner!

Commentary COMMENTARY: you can listen to the race, perfect if you're on the move!

Race Predictor Race PREDICTOR: This is a handy source of information for people new to Aintree. It will predict the race based on previous results and form. You'll notice that upon clicking here you're also offered tabs such as Naps and Tips, Hot and Not and Snapshot, which are handy as they provide information on how the majority are betting, their tips and reasons for them and who's currently leading the betting. Sometimes the majority are right!

You'll note that there is also a 'Race Overview'. This provides a brief bio of the contenders for each race and will usually recount previous races between runners. Only a fool will overlook the overview as there are often some gems of information hidden away in there! 

Horse Racing


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