Fancy a flutter? Place your bets for the Grand National

It is the world's most-famous horse race, a true test of stamina over four-and-a-half gruelling miles... and come 6 April, Brits from all walks of life will be placing a bet in the hopes of cheering home the winner of the Grand National.

Grand National

Pic: AFP/Getty

If you fancy a flutter this year but are baffled by the bookies, check out our beginner's guide to placing your bets.

Betting odds explained
It might seem confusing but you don't need to be John McCririck to understand the odds.

Simply put, the odds reflect the horse's perceived chance of winning, based its previous form. If the horse comes home in front, you receive your stake back, plus your stake multiplied by the odds. For example, if you bet £10 on a runner at 5/1 and win, you'll get your £10 back, plus £50 (5 x £10), giving you a total of £60.

You may find that some runners are on offer at prices such as 7/2. To decipher what that means, simply divide the first number by the second, eg. divide seven by two and you get a figure of 3.5. That means you would win three-and-a-half times your stake.

Win or each way?
In a 40-runner race like the Grand National, it is always worth placing an each way bet. With an each way bet you will win cash back if your horse wins or places, and with so many runners, the bookies will pay out on the first four, or even five horses home.

It is effectively like placing two bets, a 'win' and a 'place' bet, on one horse. Typically, the bookies will pay a quarter or a fifth of the odds on any horse that finishes in the first four, so at least you'll get some money back. If you're lucky enough to win, you will take home the cash from both the 'win' bet AND the 'place bet'.

Do bear in mind, however, that an each way bet is really two bets, so while a win bet might cost you just £10, in order to add the 'place' bet you'll need to pay £20 - £10 for the win, £10 for the place - or halve your stake to place £5 each way.

Where to bet?
There are plenty of options when it comes to placing your bet these days. If your local high street boasts a bookmakers, you will often find there is a help desk on hand come Grand National day, to help betting beginners with placing their bet.

Alternatively, there are numerous online betting sites available now, where placing a bet is as simple as clicking a button. Just be aware that you will need to open an account and input your card details in order to use betting websites.

One thing to look out for on Grand National day is offers, of which there will be plenty, both online, on the high street, and in your Saturday newspaper. Many of the papers offer vouchers or offer codes, so it's worth taking advantage of any free bets that might be available. Online bookies will also have a range of tempting 'free bet' offers, in many cases simply for signing up as a customer. But it's worth remembering that you may need to 'play through' your online freebie, meaning that it won't pay out until you've staked a further set amount.

Who to back?
The Grand National is a notoriously tricky betting proposition, even for those 'in the know'. For betting beginners, it's worth picking up a newspaper on the day, all of which will provide a Grand National guide featuring a few lines assessing each horse's chances.

But since it was first held in 1839, when the aptly named Lottery was first past the post, the race has always thrown up surprise winners. Who could forget 100/1 shot Mon Mome powering home to win in 2009? And last year, Neptune Collonges forged home at odds of 33/1 to snatch victory from Sunnyhillboy.
So if studying the form is just not your style, there's no harm in choosing a name, jockey, or racing silks that you like. Currently heading this year's betting are Irish raiders On His Own (8/1), Seabass (10/1), who finished third in 2012, and Prince de Beauchene (11/1). But perhaps you fancy Harry The Viking to plunder the bookies' bank accounts at 40/1. Or could Alex Ferguson's What A Friend live up to his name at 50/1?

Whatever your choice, there is nothing quite like watching those 40 horses pounding towards the first fence, flying The Chair, and nipping round the Canal Turn. And who knows? Come 4.30pm, you could be quids in.

Who do you fancy to win this year's Grand National? Leave your comments below...
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