Aintree is most famous among racing fans – and even those who don’t usually watch it – as the course for the Grand National. It’s more than that, of course, as there is scope for Aintree betting from April through to December.
The National happens around the start of that season and is easily the UK’s most-watched horse race – as well as a fine time to make a free bet – but by keeping an eye on the calendar you can keep up with all of the races and get to know the course a bit better. That will put you at an advantage when the Grand National does come around, and during the whole nine-month season.
What you need to know about Aintree racecourse
As well as the Grand National, Aintree is famous worldwide for being one of the toughest steeplechase courses in all of horse racing. Its fences, including the Chair and Becher’s Brook, have a well-deserved reputation for being some of the most imposing in the world, and have led to falls for many a horse and rider over the years.
Aintree is one of the longest-serving tracks in the UK racing calendar, which means that it draws a lot of interest from bettors and bookmakers alike. Picking the best Aintree betting site is often a matter of looking at the longest-running bookies, who will have a particular affinity with the traditions of Aintree and horse racing in general.
Aintree is a large complex – close to the horse track there is also the Aintree bike racing circuit which hosts a number of competition races and track days every year. It also hosts occasional concerts such as the Kaiser Chiefs’ 19 May “Night At The Races” gig. The horse racing is of course what the area is best known for, though.
While Aintree has a reputation as a dangerous course, with numerous falls every year, efforts have been taken in recent years to make it safer. These have included changing the materials used in the frame inside the fences to a softer, more forgiving fabric which is gentler to horses and encourages fewer falls. In past years, as many as 30 horses have fallen or unseated riders. At the Grand National in 2017, only three riders fell and no horses died.
What to look for in the best Aintree betting site
Despite changes to make it safer, Aintree is still a challenging course for jockeys and horses alike, and this should be taken into account by all smart punters when looking at bookmakers and their odds. Extremely short odds on a horse running over the steeplechase fences at this classic course should be viewed with scepticism, as a horse and rider will still be doing well to get around the course, let alone win.
The best sites with which to lay a bet on an Aintree event, then, will be ones that only rarely have an odds-on favourite, and whose approach to setting a book for a series of races reflects a sound knowledge of the sport and the course. Usually, but not exclusively, this will be shown by the more experienced, established bookmakers – the names you’ll see on the high street as well as online.
It’s probably fair to say that there is no one best Aintree betting site. There will be different times when different bookies offer odds that suit your needs, and it is best to shop around and use a bet comparison site when you intend to bet on an event around this difficult course. Before even considering making your bet, it would make sense to evaluate a minimum of three different bookmakers and decide between them after considering who has the best odds for your needs as well who offers goliath bets, round robin bets and four fold bets.
Additionally, it is always worth bearing in mind who has the best offers at any time, so be sure to read our betting guide. If you need to sign up with a different betting site in order to get free bets which will make your process simpler, then do so. As one of the most established race courses in the country, Aintree is on the radar of all betting sites worth checking out, so you won’t be stumped for choice.
What do you need to know before betting on Aintree races?
A knowledge of the course is important if you intend to bet regularly on Aintree races fixtures – different courses work better for different horses and jockeys. The kind of horse who will gallop serenely to victory over the flat course at Epsom, and the jockey who will get the best out of them, could never win over the fences at Aintree. Much the same is true vice-versa. A little background knowledge can go a long way, particularly at the time of the Grand National, when novice bettors will place more money and affect the odds – which can favour smarter bettors who know how to place a lay bet at a betting exchange.
As the Grand National is the most famous race run over the fences of Aintree, it’s worth looking at it as a lesson before betting on any race at the course. One thing that stands out is that, while many courses are dominated by Irish-trained horses, this is not the case for the National. Across the last decade, Irish horses have won the National, but recently the race has been most usually won by British stables, as the National Hunt-style steeplechase races are more common in the UK than the flat and point-to-point races in which Irish horses dominate.
Because of its profile, the National attracts a wide range of horses and stables, and over the last decade races have been won by French horses too – Neptune Collonges, Mon Mome and Auroras Encore among others. Interestingly, perhaps due to their relative unfamiliarity to British audiences, the latter two horses would have been considered rank outsiders at 100/1 and 66/1 respectively. Even Neptune Collonges, less of a left-field selection, was 33/1 before the race, so if you’re looking for a good bet on Aintree races results, check out some of the longer-odds bets on French horses.
Also worth your attention is the increasing frequency with which female trainers are finding Aintree winners. Lucinda Russell trained One For Arthur, who lit up Aintree horse racing 2017 when winning the National at 14/1. This made her the third female trainer to coach a winner in British racing’s most prestigious event in the last ten years. The other two horses trained by women to achieve this feat? Mon Mome and Auroras Encore. So if you see a French horse trained by a female trainer at odds of 66/1 in the odds for Aintree racecourse, don’t assume it would be a wasted bet!
Where to find the best racing tips for Aintree
It is hard to predict which horse will win a race around the course, whether it be the Grand National, any of the Aintree races today, or at any other time of the year. Therefore, it’s not fair to frown too much if a tipster advises placing money on a horse that doesn’t win. The important information to take from the tipsters is, instead, something more technical – where you can find the best odds on a horse that has been underrated by the bookies.
Between one bookmaker and another, the odds on a horse can vary wildly. A horse at 25/1 with one bookmaker can easily be 40/1 or longer with another. You can manually compare the odds yourself, but checking in with the tipsters, who may have an encyclopaedic knowledge of the horses in a specific race, is often a good way of finding a good price on a contender who should be at much shorter odds.
Scour the internet for the best tips on horses running in Aintree races. Due to the larger field, the Grand National is harder to judge than most races and therefore it can be trickier to find value in the market. However, there are several events over the weekend of the Grand National, with a festival that goes on for three days and includes the Handicap Hurdle and Handicap Chase. If you don’t find much value in the odds for the National, then sometimes those races are the best place to find a worthwhile bet.
The best Aintree betting operators
How to find the best Aintree betting sites
The best sites for betting on Aintree horse racing will vary between races, and it is always a good idea to keep an eye on sites like Open Odds, who will accumulate the latest odds from all the major bookmakers and many of the less well-known ones. If you wish to bet on a specific race, then it makes sense to pick the specific bookmaker who offers the longest odds on the horse you wish to back.
If you wish to place an accumulator – for example, you want to bet on the winners of the National, the Handicap Hurdle, and the Chase, then look for the best spread of odds on those races and use a betting odds calculator to see which will give you the best return on your stake. An accumulator can be a very effective way to use a free £30 bet from one of the major bookmakers, which is an offer that often comes up around the time of major races and festivals.
It is also important to check the restrictions some sites have on free bets. Often there will be a minimum qualifying bet, such as you have to bet £10 on an outcome that is priced at least at Evens, or 1/2, and then you will be awarded a free bet for a certain amount. Some bookmakers will match the value of your first bet with another free bet around the time of a major sporting event such as the Grand National, so it is always worth looking at a range of different bookies.
Best bookmakers for Aintree betting
While the odds offered by different bookmakers will vary, and you can find value with a number of different ones, it is worth bearing in mind some other factors when it comes to placing bets with them. Your betting return is the most important thing, but if a few different bookies are offering the same odds then it is good to have tie-breaking factors in mind as well. It is often in this area that the more established bookmakers as well as some of the more innovative newer companies shine through as the best option.
On a one-off bet, the greatest priority is and always will be the odds offered. However, if you are looking to run an account with a bookmaker and bet regularly on horse racing, details like which bookies offer Best Odds Guaranteed, different bonuses for new customers and additional aspects such as that can be vitally important too. The following three are some of the best possible bookmakers for Aintree betting choices. This is based on the odds they offer, their bonus and free bets, and their reputation as reliable bookmakers offline, online, or both. In combination with knowledge and betting tips, these are three of your best choices.
Option 1: William Hill
Perhaps the biggest name in UK betting, William Hill are one of the bookmakers that even non-bettors have heard of, and it’s no surprise that they take a lot of money around the time of the Grand National. This can work in your favour, as one of the influences on betting odds is money taken on a particular horse. So if you have an outside tip, there is a good chance that Hills will be offering quite forgiving odds on it, making it a perfect place to put your money.
They also have some attractive offers, particularly when it comes to jump races. A £30 free bet when you place a first bet of £10 or more on odds greater than 1/2 is generous and another intriguing bet is that they’ll give you a 15% free bet offer when your horse wins by more than five lengths in a jump race. These offers can really add up if you pick a winner in the Handicap Hurdle and it then romps home, making Aintree a great place to make some money.
Option 2: Ladbrokes
Ladbrokes is another of the venerable institutions of UK betting, with shops the length and breadth of the British Isles, and is another shop that will take a lot of business every Grand National festival season – as well as the rest of the year, of course. Their offers are also of a very high quality, with – for example – initial bets of up to £50 matched in free bets as long as the odds on the first bet are Evens or longer. One thing to note with Ladbrokes is that they have some of the most forgiving odds of any UK bookie, with horses often priced at 33/1 that are 20/1 elsewhere.
It should also be noted that Ladbrokes are both online and offline bookmakers, so if you don’t want to go to the betting shop you can enjoy it online or on the app, and like William Hill they are a popular bookmaker so you can be confident that during the Aintree festival they will be taking a lot of bets on different events – meaning you are likely to find some good value on betting odds. And with some great wagering opportunities allowing you to make a crafty draw no bet or even an up and down bet, it really opens up your options.
Option 3: Paddy Power
The third of a trifecta of popular, prestigious bookmakers, Paddy Power are a company that takes betting seriously and sets odds well in advance of major events. This is good news if you’ve been following the National Hunt season as you can look for the best odds ahead of the big races like the Grand National. Knowing what you know about the kind of horses and trainers who deliver results in the big Aintree races, you can make sure to get the best odds on those races.
Paddy Power are renowned for having good offers on football derby betting too, and every week will offer bettors money back when their bets don’t come off. As one of the most respected bookmakers in the business, you can be confident when betting with them that you will get fair odds and will have plenty of loyalty rewards for repeat betting with them.
There’s no reason for your Gold Cup bet to fall flat
It pays to know racecourses if you hope to make money betting on horse racing. If you’re going to get to know them then, given its unshakeable place at the heart of the UK racing scene, Aintree is a wise place to start. Knowing Aintree’s tendency to be soft – due to the often rainy conditions on Merseyside in the Spring – and its steepling fences, means you can be a better judge of which horses will thrive and which will pull up lame. That’s a good start and, as any racing bettor will tell you, a good start is important in this game.