Few opportunities to place a bet are met with such fervour as the Grand National. It is the horse race that it is acceptable for son, daughter, mother, father, nan and grandad to all have a flutter on, and the bookies will take millions of pounds from punters in the run-up to Aintree’s showpiece event on Saturday.

Of course, there is always the chance you could strip the bookmakers’ greedy mitts of some of their profit, but with only three favourites winning this renewal in the past eighteen years – and winning prices ranging from 25/1 to 66/1 for the last five champions – clearly the ball is in the court of the sportsbooks.

So is it worth betting on the Grand National? Of course it is! It’s only a bit of fun at the end of the day, and also if you back the pick of our betting tips you *might* just get a decent run for your money.

Vieux Lion Rouge to Make Aintree Roar

When analysing the field prior to the Grand National, it’s always good to get a look at any horses that have won high profile races in the past year or so. The large and noisy crowds, the quality of horse in tow….winning a high grade contest is a fantastic insight for punters.

A horse in this company who certainly ticks that box is Vieux Lion Rouge, who triumphed in the Becher Handicap Chase on this very stretch of turf back in December, before following up with a win in the Grand National Trial at Haydock Park in February.

Those two renewals offered a fantastic glimpse at a horse that appears to have all the star quality required to win the Grand National. Of course, the David Pipe trained eight-year-old will need other things to go his way – no more rain in Liverpool, ideally – and a slice of luck to avoid the traditional ‘traffic’ of fallen horses and prostrate jockeys, but the suggestion is that he can go very well on Saturday.

And you’ll be able to boast to friends and family that you backed the winner of the Grand National!

Groundhog Day

Any previous successes in the Grand National are warmly received by punters too, of course, as it indicates a fondness for the unique perambulations of Aintree plus a certain level of comfort in running more than three-miles with chaos occurring all around.

So, Ucello Conti’s sixth place in the Grand National 12 months ago was a tantalising glimpse of what could be, and given the extraordinary form of his trainer, Gordon Elliott, at the Cheltenham Festival recently there are plenty of converging betting trends to admire.

The French horse has improved considerably since joining Elliott’s yard, and his best work has come on softer ground over these long distances: he was just two-and-a-bit lengths behind Vieux Lion Rouge in the Becher Handicap Chase, and just one back from the highly-fancied Last Samuri. He stayed on well too in that 3m 1f jaunt.

And then came the second place in the Thyestes Handicap Chase at Gowran Park in January, another Grade A renewal.

So this nine-year-old really does tick plenty of boxes this week, and at 20/1 punters young and old can hope for a steady return from their each way investments.