Saturday sees one of the world's grandest horse races take centre stage at Aintree Racecourse as the Grand National brings its annual dose of intrigue for steeplechase fans and punters alike.
It's an event of both sport and non-too-salubrious entertainment as crowds flock to Merseyside for one of the biggest days on the racing calendar.
However, the gruelling race is much more than just laps around a track. Over the near four and a half miles, 30 fences must be negotiated as 40 horses attempt to clinch a famous victory.
With the race set to take place on Saturday, here's a look at all of the latest information heading into the 2014 running of the Grand National.
|2014 Grand National Odds (accurate at time of writing)|
|Prince De Beauchene||16-1|
|Pineau De Re||20-1|
|The Rainbow Hunter||28-1|
|Lion Na Bearnai||28-1|
|Night in Milan||33-1|
|Chance Du Roy||33-1|
|Across the Bay||40-1|
|Quito De La Roque||40-1|
|Last Time D'Albain||50-1|
|Rose of the Moon||50-1|
|Raz De Maree||50-1|
|Minella For Value||66-1|
Some punters will be lucky enough to find themselves at Aintree for Saturday's showpiece, but most will have to go down other routes to line their pockets. The Grand National website provides a guide to the online form of betting:
Betting online allows you to scan all of the various sites to find the most favourable odds with some websites even dedicated to comparing the odds at many different sites and showing you the best available. If you’re in a betting shop you don’t have that advantage and instead have to take the odds on offer there.
You also get to bet at your convenience, avoid the queues and take up better free money offers when you relax in the comfort of your own home, or at work, or wherever you happen to be at the time!
Along with payouts for winners, most sites give rewards for five places. So taking a gamble on a runner that might finish near the head of the pack could pay off as well.
Several sites also have listings of the sweepstakes, and The Telegraph provides one that fans can print off and keep up with. Even those not willing to place money on a horse can keep up with the race and enjoy tracking the Grand National.
Aintree Picks and Tips
Each Grand National provides multiple horses and jockeys with experience, but none comes with more bravado than Teaforthree.
The 10-year-old led in 2013 with just two fences remaining before Auroras Encore, who was a 66-1 shot winner, overtook Teaforthree as he eventually settled for third place. This year, the gelding comes in as an 8-1 favourite to take the crown, per Oddschecker.
Outside of Teaforthree, another horse to look for is Rocky Creek, who is a 16-1 shot to claim the crown.
Brian Healy of RacingTips.com provides analysis on the Paul Nicholls-trained runner:
Rocky Creek looks an ideal type for this race, chasing home Triolo D’Alene in the Hennessy at Newbury before chasing home Cheltenham specialist The Giant Bolster next time at that venue.
Paul Nicholls’ charge is effective on a range of ground conditions, and has only once finished out of the frame in ten starts under rules when down the field in the 2012 Albert Bartlett at the Cheltenham Festival.
Quickly switched to fences after, he has chased home the likes of Harry Topper, Dynaste, and the aforementioned Triolo D’Alene and The Giant Bolster and there could be further improvement to come upped further in trip.
Another horse gaining attention leading up to the Grand National is Long Run. The nine-year-old took home the 2011 Cheltenham Gold Cup and is partnered by popular amateur jockey Sam Waley-Cohen.
The Grand National, even riding in it never mind winning it, was an early dream of mine when I started out riding horses. It's a race that has been very kind to me and as Long Run has had such an impact on the life of everybody in our family, it would be amazing if we could win it.
It's the greatest race in racing.
A 14-1 shot, Long Run is another horse that should feature as they clear the final fence.
Whether punters fancy the likes of a proven winner like Teaforthree who has experience on the challenging track or one of the underdogs, keeping an eye on the 2014 running will be worth the watch.
Final Picks: Teaforthree (8-1), Rocky Creek (16-1), Long Run (14-1)